Saltwater clams from tropical seas have been portrayed in legend as man-eaters, swallowing divers by shutting them within their shells. Its easy to imagine why these stunning creatures have found a role in ancient stories due to their large size and range of vibrant colors and patterns.
The scientific genus, Tridacna, are marine bivalve mollusks with fluted shells that grow fleshy mantle tissue in bright attractive patterns. They live across a broad geographic range of shallow ocean waters, anchoring themselves to ocean rubble.
Giant clams grow symbiotically with the photosynthetic algae, zooxanthellae, in their mantle tissues - opening their shells to receive sunlight. Most of their nutrition is captured through this algae but they also absorb nutrients and filter feed from surrounding ocean water. These clams have become very popular in the aquarium trade with most species sustainably aquacultured or maricultured in ocean farms.