This was from another thread. Rather than derail the topic, I'll cross-post here.
Thanks for the reply. I'm hoping to grow a small quantity in a tank. There are plenty of obstacles to overcome before I can get started.
Forget the tanks (at least for the time being). I'm presuming you want to work with Unionide as you've mentioned Eastern Elliptio. Artificial environments are infinitely more complicated than self regulated lakes or rivers. I've done several artificial systems, but for other reasons in my work. Tanks get unruly quickly and there is no turning back as the entire system needs to be sterilized and the bio-waste properly disposed. It's not like tropical fish. You'll need reliable pumps (including redundancies), upwelling systems with UV sterilization, micro-filtration and an independent food source. Mussels don't eat everything in their midst, but only a few seasonally specific cells that can only be reared and monitored under laboratory conditions. Clearly a case of go big or go home, otherwise I'd not even consider it without the aid of highly experienced management biologists and a lot of money to burn.
Even with all that resolved, pearl harvests are measured in kilograms per hectare, not pieces per cubic meter. The chances of a single gem from a small closed system is infinitesimal. It's likely the knowledge gained would have little bearing on a large scale operation.
My mentor, Ed Ricketts said it best. The rule of thumb is observation, speculation then replication. There are no short cuts. Without a solid grasp of the two formers, the latter is only a path to failure.
Please don't get me wrong, I admire your enthusiasm and encourage higher learning, but new industrial pearling is a long row to hoe.