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Phylum Mollusca > Class Bivalvia
File clams
Family Limidae
updated May 2020
Where seen? These clams are sometimes seen our Southern shores, near reefs.

What are file clams? File clams are bivalves that belong to Family Limidae.

Features: 4- 6cm. Long, fleshy tentacles fringe the mantle which are sticky and detach easily when touched. Some species are attached to a hard surface by byssus threads, or building a nest lined with mingled byssal threads.

Like scallops (Family Pectinidae), some file clam species can also 'swim'. They clap their shells together using a strong adductor muscle, creating directed jets of water that emerge from either side of the hinge and propels them in the opposite direction. To distract the disturber, the clam may shed wriggling tentacles. Unlike scallops, file clams can move using their tentacles to 'row' with the shell in a vertical position.

What do they eat? Like many other bivalves, file clams are filter feeders. They use their siphons to suck in water and filter out microscopic food. The water also brings fresh oxygen to the animal.

Status and threats: The Common file clam is listed as "Vulnerable" on the Red List of threatened animals of Singapore.

Swimming file clam can swim!
Terumbu Pempang Tengah, Jul 12

Common file clam stuck to a rock.
Sisters Island, Aug 12

Swimming file clam wedged in a crevice.
St John's Island, Oct 20

Photo shared by James Koh on flickr.

Some File clams on Singapore shores

Family Limidae recorded for Singapore
from Tan Siong Kiat and Henrietta P. M. Woo, 2010 Preliminary Checklist of The Molluscs of Singapore.
*in red are those listed among the threatened animals of Singapore from Ng, P. K. L. & Y. C. Wee, 1994. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened Plants and Animals of Singapore.
^from WORMS

  Family Limidae

Lima vulgaris=Lima lima (Common file clam)
Lima sowerbyi=^Lima vulgaris

Limaria sp. (Swimming file clam)
Limaria fragilis
Limaria orientalis

Limatula bullata

  • Family Limidae on The Gladys Archerd Shell Collection at Washington State University Tri-Cities Natural History Museum website: brief description and photos.
  • File shells (Lima lima) Tan, Leo W. H. & Ng, Peter K. L., 1988. A Guide to Seashore Life. The Singapore Science Centre, Singapore. 160 pp.
  • Family Limidae in the Bivalves section by J.M. Poutiers in the FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes: The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific Volume 1: Seaweeds, corals, bivalves and gastropods on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) website.
  • Tan Siong Kiat and Henrietta P. M. Woo, 2010 Preliminary Checklist of The Molluscs of Singapore (pdf), Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore.
  • Tan, K. S. & L. M. Chou, 2000. A Guide to the Common Seashells of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. 160 pp.
  • Chou, L. M., 1998. A Guide to the Coral Reef Life of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. 128 pages.
  • Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore. National Council on the Environment. 163pp.
  • Abbott, R. Tucker, 1991. Seashells of South East Asia. Graham Brash, Singapore. 145 pp.
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