1. The freshwater mussel life cycle starts with developing egg inside of the mother freshwater mussel. The mother freshwater mussel carries her eggs inside her shell in pouches called gills. The eggs soon develop into what are called glochidia (pronounced "glow-kidī-ee-ah", plural; glochidium - singular, pronounced "glow-kid'-ee-um").
2. Glochidia are about as small as a grain of sand and do not look much like a freshwater mussel. The mother freshwater mussel sets the glochidia free. Now the glochidia must find a host fish.
3. The glochidia are like caterpillars that metamorphose into moths. The glochidia must metamorphose into a freshwater mussel, but first they must make something similar to a cocoon on a fish called a cyst.
4. After riding around on the fish for several weeks the glochidia will metamorphose (or change) into a tiny freshwater mussel, fall off of the fish, and land on to the bottom of the lake or stream.
5. When the little freshwater mussels reach the bottom of the lake or stream they grow into adult freshwater mussels.
The life cycle is complete!
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