The big mollusks of the Tridacnidae family can be weakened by transport and by incorrect care. Changes in the lighting and other environmental factors can have a negative impact on these animals, making them weaker. Normally, the symbiotic algae produce energy in the form of glucose, which is necessary for the animal’s tissues. If this energy production is disturbed, the animal will be inevitably weakened. The weaker it is, the less chance it will have to adapt to the new environmental conditions. In fact, it seems that most of the losses during commercial procedures are due to the above mentioned problems.
A question to the Tridacnidae expert, biochemist and molecular biologist Dr. David Yellowlees:
What do you think of a glucose replacement for a weakened Tridacna? This could be done by, for example, taking the animal out of the breeding aquarium and transferring it to a smaller container, filled with sea water from the original aquarium. In this water some sucrose is dissolved (normal sugar). The Tridacna has to stay in this solution for some time before it is returned to the aquarium. In this way, we expose the animal’s tissues to a solution of sucrose which is broken down by acids and enzymes into glucose, fructose and carbohydrates, which are normally absorbed by the animal and transformed into other compounds (ATP), essential components for energy production. As soon as the animal’s tissue comes into contact with the sugar solution, the carbohydrates penetrate inside by osmotic pressure, thus improving the energy production in symbiotic algae. This all works as theoretical reasoning. The question we need to ask is whether this type of treatment makes sense from a scientific point of view, or whether it could even be damaging to the animals in any way. I think that this treatment, which in the experiments conducted by me has been effective, is at least not dangerous, according to what has been observed so far. What is your opinion?
Dr. David Yellowlees:
I think that the explained procedure is correct. These mollusks need glucose, and the sugar bath provides it to the symbiotic algae stabilizing the organic exchanges. I do not know which influences the amino acids could have in this way, however small doses of amino acids could make sense too. Anyway, for bioavailability reasons, I would use Glucose (dextrose) instead of Sucrose (common sugar).
Dr. David Yellowlees, Researcher of biochemistry and molecular biology at James Cook University, Australia
Put some sea water (aquarium water) in a container adding Glucose (dextrose) to it. Doses: one teaspoon in 2 liters of water. The Tridacna has to stay in it for about 60 minutes. Repeat the treatment for at least three consecutive days. However we strongly advise against submitting healthy and well adjusted animals to this treatment, to try to force them to grow somehow. This would surely result in more damage than benefits. Apply the treatment exclusively to animals which show signs of stress derived from transport and lack energy.