Common Names: Flame scallop
Range: Tropical Western Atlantic Ocean: Caribbean to Central America
Natural Environment: Inhabits shallow reef environments and found embedded among stones, rocks, and coral rubble.
Water Requirements: They are not fussy about water quality; in fact, nutrient rich environments suit them. The following are good water quality parameters: Calcium 380 to 430 ppm, alkalinity 2.5 to 3.0 meq/l, pH 8.1 to 8.2, nitrate 25 to 40 ppm, specific gravity 1.024 to 1.0
This is an attractive species, but it is short-lived in aquaria. It persists to be available in many aquarium shops because its mantle is deep red and adorned with long and slender reddish tentacles. It has the ability to swim by opening and closing its shells and expelling water from its internal cavity, similar to how a jet engine expels air. Flame scallops also have a row of tiny eyespots around the edge of the mantle similar to Tridacna clams, which helps them to see predators and escape by jetting away.
In shops they are usually in small aquaria, sometimes in what are called racetracks, which are a row of small cube-shaped acrylic containers, making them readily viewable and accessible for sale. Once placed in the home aquarium, they prefer dimly lit protected places, usually the back corners of the aquarium or between piles of rock or corals, where they can hide from view. If you place one of these animals in an open, well-lit area to show off its nice colors, it will flit here and there, sometimes knocking things over while seeking a dimmer, safer area in the aquarium.
As for its nutritional needs, it’s a filter feeder, therefore it needs to be fed a supply of preserved and/or live phytoplankton at least once daily. Since its nutrition is not met while being transported, nor usually while in dealer tanks, its initial feeding in your aquarium is extremely important. My suggestion is placing it between two small rocks in an area easily assessable and dimly lit. If it feels safe there, it will attach itself, where it can be hand-fed using small flows of food from a turkey baster. In fact, my photo shows its byssal thread/foot coming from the rear portion of its opening, and once finding a suitable place to call home, will securely fasten this appendage to the substrate it’s sitting on. Products that can produce nutritious suspension matter may help extend their stay in our aquariums.
Flame scallops are pretty, but they rarely last much longer than six months in captivity. Keep in mind they have a natural lifespan of about five years, and its quite possible many are already half that age when collected. Without a good feeding regimen, their remaining lifespan will be greatly shortened. Please don’t buy one if you aren’t going to take the pains to feed it properly.