Crayfish – The Care, Feeding and Breeding of Freshwater Crayfish (Crawfish)

crayfishQuick Stats

Minimum Tank Size: 5 Gallons
Care Level: Easy
Water Conditions: PH 6.5-8 and Medium Hard to Very Hard
Temperature: 65-75 F (18-23 C)
Maximum Size: 3 inches (8 centimetres)

Introduction

For anyone looking for a quirky and interesting pet, the freshwater crayfish is an excellent choice.. They are easy to care for, extremely hardy, and often interact with their owners. While crayfish are definitely not safe for a community fish tank, it is well worth having a tank dedicated to crayfish just to enjoy their antics.

When choosing a freshwater crayfish, it’s important to know that there are well over 100 species of crayfish from around the world. While most crayfish require cool water, some require ¬†tropical temperatures to thrive. Before purchasing a crayfish, a owner should do some research to determine the crayfish species needs. If a crayfish is well cared for, they will usually live 2-3 years, with some species living even longer.

Housing

A single crayfish can be kept in a relatively small aquarium. A 5 to 10 gallon aquarium is usually more than adequate, especially if regular water changes are provided. Crayfish are notorious for hiding their food, and will often have a stash hidden away in a cave or flower-pot. On top of that, they are also messy eaters, and when coupled with hidden food , water quality can quickly decline. When doing water changes, you should always check for a stash of food in any of the crayfish hiding spots.

If more than one crayfish is going to be housed in a tank, then a minimum of 20 gallons need to be provided. Crayfish are cannibalistic by nature, and when a crayfish moults it is nearly defenseless until its shell hardens again. During this time, it will hide for a few days, so don’t be too alarmed if a crayfish disappears for a up to a week at a time. Because of this, it is very important to provide numerous hiding places and enough space for each crayfish in the aquarium –¬† unless someone wants their crayfish to become an expensive meal for the other tank inhabitants.

It becomes much trickier when it comes to housing crayfish with fish. There are many accounts of people successfully keeping crayfish and fish together, but given enough time, either the fish or the crayfish is going to be eaten. There is nothing worse than losing a large, expensive fish to a crayfish over the course of a night. Or alternatively, finding crayfish parts scattered across an aquarium, with a very full looking fish. While a person can certainly try to keep fish and crayfish together, it ends badly more often than not.

The filtration for a crayfish should usually be a HOB (Hang-on-back) filter. While a sponge filter is cheaper than an HOB filter, the air line leading out of the tank gives the crayfish a perfect escape route. If you leave the crayfish alone long enough, you will eventually see a crayfish running around on the floor of your fish room.

Feeding

A crayfish’s main diet should be comprised of sinking Shrimp Pellets, but they also enjoy some green vegetables and frozen foods in their diet. They are not picky when it comes to green vegetables and can be offered cabbage leafs, zucchini medallions and shelled peas. As for frozen foods, they happily accept small portions of frozen fish, daphnia, bloods worms and brine shrimp.

A word of warning – crayfish love aquatic plants and will eat any that are put in the tank with them. An adult crayfish can strip a heavily planted aquarium bare in a matter of days. So while it may be a good place to dispose of unwanted plant clippings, you should never put any plants in their aquarium that aren’t replaceable.

crayfishBreeding

Most species of crayfish will breed at any time in the home aquarium, though feeding high quality foods and keeping the water pristine will help trigger breeding behavior. Crayfish can be frustratingly hard to sex for someone new to keeping them, but the easiest way is to look at the swimmerets. The males will have swimmerets that extend past the back legs, while the females won’t have any past the back legs.

When mating begins, the male deposits a sack of sperm on the female who then passes her eggs through the sperm to fertilize them. After the eggs have been fertilized, they are then kept under the tail by the female who should be placed in a tank on her own at this point.

After around four weeks, the eggs will hatch and the young crayfish will emerge. The female crayfish will take care of the young for a short period of time, but should be removed after a few days to prevent the fry from being eaten. A large nursery tank is required if any number of crayfish fry are expected to survive as they are extremely cannibalistic like their parents.

The baby crayfish can be feed blanched cabbage leafs or lettuce leaves, and also consume detritus in the tank. As the crayfish grow, the larger ones should be removed from the tank as they will feed voraciously on the smaller crayfish.

Comments

    • says

      That’s a great tank for them. The hatchlings should be fine with such a large tank, even with the parents still in there. You’ll lost some, but if you provide enough hiding places you should be good to go.

  1. Gene Oser says

    Okay, So I have had craw-fish my whole life, This is the first time I have had them breed and the mom die’s while the eggs are still under her un-hatched. Is there a way to go about keeping them alive? I removed the mom from the tank I used a spoon and gently removed her eggs and put them in a separate Tupperware dish, Is there any other advice you could give me ?

    • says

      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. The only way that you could possible keep them alive is by using an anti-fungal, but I’ve never known anyone to keep eggs alive after the parent has passed away. That’s not to say that it can’t be done, but beyond trying to keep fungus off of the eggs, I’m not sure what else could be done.

    • says

      Also, just as another note, they should be kept in a full aquarium if at all possible. If they hatch in the tupperware, the water quality would quickly crash, and it would be very difficult to feed them in there.

  2. bradley says

    I have a fresh water lobster in my tank and for the first time he seems to be stiff and not moving and basically laying on his side.iv never seen this behaviour before and wondered what its from . If hes dying or ready to shed his skin. My other 2 lobsters are still healthy and active

    • says

      How long has it been laying on its side? During moulting, they may lie on their side for short periods of time while they shed. If it’s been more than a short while, then it sounds like it might be illness. I would consider checking your water parameters. Also, is your crayfish getting any iodine in its diet? Shrimp pellets and algae wafers are generally good sources of iodine which are very important for crayfish.

      • bradley says

        i feed them nutrafin max bottom feeder pellets and a piece of hake every few days, He has been on his side for about 20 min , i will check the water parameters as you said to evaluate the next step

  3. Emma says

    I was just wandering if all crayfish sexing is the same. I have 3 freshwater crayfish at home and have no idea how to tell because if it is all the same are males more rare than femles?

    • says

      As far as I know, all of the popular species of crayfish are sexed in the same way (though with the sheer number of species out there, I could be wrong). But the easiest way to tell is to look for the claspers on the male. I found this picture which makes it easy to see the difference.

  4. Tavia says

    I have a blue crayfish that seems to have babies attached to her. I have her in a 10 gallon tank with 4 small tropical fish. How do I help them survive? do I put in a tank divider? Do I need t separate her from the hatchings?

    • says

      A divided would work for now, and leave the hatchlings on her until they let go on their own. Once they let go of the mother, the mother can be removed. The problems come later when the crayfish hatchlings start to mature. They are very cannibalistic, and you will have very high mortality if they are kept together. Most people who try to breed crayfish have numerous tanks to split up the hatchlings.

  5. vanessa says

    Ok we just got our first crayfish and we are a little concerned with the tank. It is a 3 gallon tank with a huge rock. No lid on the top but water is not even half way up the tank. Any help would be great

    • says

      Sorry about the delay in getting back to you, but that tank should be fine as long as you keep on your cleaning schedule. Also make sure that your crayfish isn’t hording food, or that will quickly foul your water. I would recommended getting a lid if you can though, so you can fill the tank with more water.

  6. mark sagusti says

    we have a blue crayfish and the egg are all black but dose not seem to be growing. its been 4 days and how long dose it take to hatch ?

    • says

      Sorry about the delay in getting back to you, but eggs take a minimum of four weeks to hatch. And that’s only for warm water species. Cold water crayfish can have eggs on them for as long as six weeks. Hope this helps.

  7. Kevin says

    I was considering getting an orange dwarf crayfish for my. 10g. Most websites I have read say that they are fairly peaceful and can be kept in a community tank,. I have read some reports of them eating fish though. What should I think?
    Thanks

    • says

      I actually did an article on dwarf crayfish recently. You can check it out here.

      But in my experience, they are the only crayfish that can generally be kept safely in a community tank. With that being said, there is always some danger in keeping crayfish with fish. They will eat anything that they can, and if a fish is sick, or they just get an opportunity, they will try to eat the fish. This is much more rare with dwarf crayfish, but it is still known to happen in rare instances. So always proceed with caution.

      Also, you will still have to provide hiding places for the crayfish during molting, as fish will be more than happy to eat a small, vulnerable crayfish.

    • Anonymus says

      @ Kevin….

      I’ve had the same problem but with my Red Crystal shrimps and I managed to hatch the eggs with no problem.

      What you can do after you collect the eggs:
      – put them in a fish net(the one used to catch the fish in your aquarium) and put in in front of the output spray bar if you have a canister filter
      -put them in a breeding net and place the net under the output of your HOB filter.

      I had a canister filter and I used a fish net in front of the output spray bar to keep the eggs moving and aerated

      Good luck.

  8. Venessa says

    i just recently got a crayfish and bought shrimp pellets and was wondering how often should we feed him every website states what you should feed them but not how much

    • says

      Usually one or two small pellets is more than enough. I’ve read some estimates that they only need to eat about 5% of their body weight a day, so try to judge the amount of food based on that. Also, always check their cave during weekly cleanings, since they are known to horde food, and it can accumulate in their and foul the water.

  9. Kimberly says

    I just got an Australian Blue Lobster and I was wondering if I needed to put in some sort of bubble making machine? And how much I could fill my 10g tank upto?

    • says

      You don’t necessarily need a bubbler, but you should have some type of filter on the tank. I tend to use sponge filters, but just make sure that they can’t climb up the air line going into the tank. Also, you can filter the tank to within about two inches of the top with no problem. Just make sure that you give the crayfish a chance to acclimatize to the new environment, if it’s not currently fully submerged in water. This can be done by creating an environment where he can submerge or stay above the water if it chooses to at first.

    • says

      It’s best not to take it out unless you have to. You can cause problems for it if air bubbles become trapped in the gills. You’ll need to re-acclimatize it to water again, by placing it in a bucket where the water isn’t over its head for a least 24 hours, and then hold it upside in the tank to get rid of the last bubbles.

  10. Mark says

    I keep crayfish together with fish and they breed regularly. The orange ones, I find are the most passive. The blue and white ones sometimes have a go at each other but will usually only take a pincer off. They very rarely catch a fish, even at night, because they are relatively slow moving. If a fish is sick they will eat it. But healthy fish are usually safe.

    • says

      The dwarf crayfish I find are quite good with fish, and I’ve had limited success with electric blue crayfish. But I’ve also seen some that terrorize the tank. The only ones that I’ve never had any luck with are the red North American varieties. The few times I’ve risked keeping them with fish, it’s been nothing short of a chain saw massacre the minute the lights went out at night.

  11. Mark says

    My larger fish even share wooden barrel hiding places tgether with crayfish and I havent lost one yet. Crayfish can also be trained to take the pellet from your fingers if you have enough patience and it impresses guests no end

      • kansascutiemom says

        I posted a response to this elsewhere, but this is the thread I was searching for. Hand-feeding is indeed possible! I have three freshwater crayfish and they are amazing little critters. It took me about two weeks (maybe even a little less) to get them used to the idea, but now as soon as I put my hand in the water at feeding time, they come right out. They hold their pincers up (in a more “polite” fashion now instead of defense mode) and gently take their pellets right from my fingers. It makes me feel pretty darn awesome that they now trust me enough to let me feed them. I highly recommend crayfish for any aquarium owner… They have quickly become my favorite “water-pet!”

        • says

          That’s really amazing that you were able to do that. I always consider it a win when I can finally make my crayfish comfortable enough that they don’t hide all day. But they are one of the most interesting aquarium pets to keep, and I would recommend them to almost anyone.

    • says

      One of the best ways to improve a crayfish’s colour is through lighting. Assuming that you are feeding it a high quality food (spirulina, sinking pellets and vegetables), and keeping the water as clean as possible, you should add a fluorescent light to the tank. Many crayfish will become dull under an incandescent light, but a fluorescent light that mimics natural light can improve their colouring considerably.

  12. Rasmus Christensen says

    Hey. we just got ourselves a red clarkii crayfish and it is really a fun and cool animal. We were wondering if it would make any sense to feed it with living bait, maybe a scrimp or clam?

    • says

      They definitely appreciate live food in their diet, and ghost shrimp are a good, cheap option to feed them. With that being said, depending on the size of the crayfish and the tank, they may have trouble catching the shrimp. As for the clam, I don’t know if they’d be able to eat it. But even if they do find a way to get at it, most clams would be too large to fully eat, and the leftovers would really foul the water. I would stick to live food, and maybe even try other aquarium staples like blackworms that are easy to obtain and feed.

      • Rasmus Christensen says

        Thanks a lot Matthew. We have a 7 gallon tank, and it is about 8 cm long. It is pretty active and fast, but so are the shrimp I gues. I gues that we could try and bring a ghost shrimp home, and take it up again if it isn’t a succes.

        Thanks for this awesome website and forum. We have learned a lot from it.

    • says

      Some good places to find crayfish are aquabid.com if you’re in the United States, or on local forums. Many local forums have a section where people trade and sell fish. I have purchased many on my more rare fish on my local forum. Also, many of the larger chains can custom order crayfish for you. This are usually limited to some of the more popular and common types, so I don’t know if this is what you would be looking for.

    • Morgan says

      My white crayfish just had her babies last night i counted at least 15 i can’t possibly keep them all al though i have a 55gal tank she is housed with cichlids and the babies would surely be eaten if i kept them all have you Had good experiences with aquabids cause i heard on other sites it was a place to sell but with no reviews

      • says

        I’ve never actually tried aquabid, since I’m in Canada and very little of it ships to this country. With that being said, the people I know who have used it, have been pretty happy with it. Another option is Kijiji which is quite popular here for that sort of thing, and the thing that I find the best is local fish forums. Most major cities will have a forum focused on the area, and you can usually find really great people through the forum.

        If you decide to go with aquabid, I hope that you have good luck with it

  13. says

    hi i took a new lobster male and female and they are very rare pink color i would like to breed them and i will read your instructions and i comment this because this is very useful for children and others like us i am 14 years old and thank u again and again

  14. Zak G says

    I have a red dwarf crayfish in a ten gallon with 6 guppy tank mates and i was wondering if i should buy him a protective one opening cave? If i do have to buy her this can you direct me to a good cheap (-$10.00) cave o a website! Thank you!

    • says

      It’s always a good idea to provide a crayfish a cave, though I do believe that your crayfish would be safe from guppies. Of course I can’t say that with 100% certainty (and the guppies would probably turn into piranhas if I did), but I can’t imagine guppies threatening a crayfish even during a moult. And if you want to save money on a cave, you can always do it yourself. What I often do is bury a plain clay pot in the subsrate on it’s side. This creates a very affordable cave, and it will grow a thin layer of algae on it to give it that natural look. If you don’t like that, you can collect some flat stones from a local stream, allow them to dry out fully, and then clean them thoroughly. Once you’re sure that they are 100% clean, you can glue them together with aquarium sealant and create your own cave. Both of these ideas will cost under 5 dollars.

      • Zak G says

        What fish go well with a crayfish (he killed all guppies and the tetra(neon) and the ale guppy survived but if ii start over what fish would go well with him in my 10 gallon

        • says

          If you have a crayfish that regularly hunts fish, you really won’t find any fish that will go well with it. I’ve experimented on my own, and I haven’t found anything that can survive with an aggressive crayfish. I have heard that barbs can survive with them, but I’ve never tested that. I’ve even known people who’ve tried going with larger fish, and come home to a crayfish eating an arowana. Plus with larger fish, if the crayfish doesn’t get them, you can almost be sure that the fish will eventually get the crayfish.

  15. Tonya says

    My son bought a crawfish for his 20 gallon aquarium that also contains goldfish. Its been about six months with no problems even during moulting. My question is now she seems to be loaded with eggs. She is a solo crawfish. Will the eggs hatch? She’s been going into hiding last few days.

    • says

      It all depends on the species. There are so many species of crayfish out there, it’s hard to know which species you have. I’ve read that some can store sperm for some time, and others are parthenogenetic, which means they can reproduce without fertilization. If you have one of those species, then the eggs may be viable.

      What is far more likely though, is that the crayfish is producing non-viable eggs. This is fairly common, and the eggs will likely be abandoned fairly quickly, and you won’t see any crayfish hatchlings.

  16. Edward Clark says

    I am considering getting a pair of electric blue crawfish for my community 150G. could I keep another pair/color in the same tank. I never overpopulate with fish, have 2 magnum 350 filters and undergravel with 4 (model 5) pumps. If just the one pair would let some of the offspring survive, I would prefer that. Thank you so much for your input, I just found the site and I am fascinated so far. Edward

    • says

      It’s hard to give advice on crayfish, since they are all so different from each other. What I can say is that more people have success keeping electric blue crayfish with fish than many of the other species. But I will say upfront that anytime you keep crayfish and fish together you’re taking a risk. Eventually, the crayfish will start to pick off fish, or the fish will get the crayfish during a molting.

      The key to crayfish survival is giving them numerous caves and hiding places. The more places that they have to hide, the better their chances of not being cannibalized by other crayfish or eaten by the fish during molting. So if you’re will to risk your fish, then you should do well with even two pairs of crayfish in a tank that large. But if you’re not willing to risk your fish, then I wouldn’t do it. And don’t assume size alone will protect your fish – I personally knew someone who lost an adult arowana to a crayfish.

  17. Brandi says

    Hello Matthew I have a blue lobster and he likes to climb the decorative plants and water filter to try to get to the top of the water almost looks like he is trying to escape, is the behavior normal?

    • says

      It’s completely normal. All crayfish are born escape artists, and they will constantly try to find a way out. Before I started carefully covering my crayfish tank, I used to come home to crayfish running around in my basement. Just make sure that he can’t escape, and he should be fine.

  18. shane875 says

    Hey guys! I was wondering if anyone knew if it would be safe the have 1 crayfish and maybe 2 small creek chubs together in a 10g tank? Thanks.

    • says

      Creek chubs are a surprisingly tough fish, but you still take a risk when you put fish and crayfish together. Eventually, either the crayfish, or the fish will likely get injured or eaten. Though in some cases, you can get lucky and keep them together in a well set up aquarium.

      You should also know that creek chubs get really large. An average creek chub can grow up to 12 inches in length, and will soon need a much larger tank than 10 gallons. For adult creek chubs you need something along the lines of 55 gallons at the bare minimum.

      On a side note, it’s great to see someone keeping North American native fish. I had a tank set up for years with native fish (brown bullhead catfish and pumpkin sunfish), and they’re really underrated fish. I find them a lot more interesting than most of the tropical fish out there.

    • says

      I’ve never kept them together myself, but from what I read most species of crayfish will tolerate other species in their tank. I would make sure to have a large tank, with plenty of hiding places for them. Otherwise, you’ll like see some cannibalism in the near future. I would recommend at least 29 gallons, though larger would be better.

    • says

      In my experience, it tends to last about half an hour. What’s that saying – if mating lasts more than 4 hours contact a doctor?

      But all kidding aside, if they mate for too long you should try to separate them. Sometimes the mating goes wrong, and the male gets increasingly frustrated and may kill the female. Though hopefully by now, things will have worked themselves out in your aquarium.

  19. Nani says

    I have a little crawfish and shes been laying on her back for about a week. At first I figured she was molting, but after a few days and no progress Im a little worried. She will flip herself right side up, crawl around for awile and then flip back over. Last night she was zooming around and then all the sudden just flipped onto her back. Today I offered some food and she chowed down, but now shes on her back again. Any ideas?

    • says

      The general consensus is that this is caused by iodine deficiency. I would immediately pick up a marine iodine supplement, and begin to add it to your crayfish tank. Though you probably won’t see much improvement until your crayfish’s next molt.

  20. Jessica says

    My blue crayfish had babies about a week ago. A good majority of them are still hanging out under her tail, but there are a bunch that have left her and are moving freely about the tank. She seems to be very protective of them, and she doesn’t appear to have any interest in eating them….yet. Should I be moving her away from the babies now? I’ve planted a few lettuce leaves around the tank and drop some small sinking granules in every day for the babies to eat.

    • says

      I would remove the parent as soon as possible. You should also be aware that the fry are cannibals as well, so unless you have a very large aquarium for them, you’re going to lose a lot. It sometimes helps to subdivide the fry into separate tanks based on size. That reduces the cannibalism a fair bit.

  21. ryannurtanio says

    I have a red swamp crayfish,i heard that we have to find the ideal temperatures,but the problem is my aquarium is warmer,how to cool it down? Also,how to clean a sand gravel? I cant tell where’s the poo because i have a black sand.can someone help me?

    • says

      There are three main ways to cool down an aquarium. The first is relocating it to a cooler part of the house. The second is to limit the amount of sunlight that the room and aquarium receive. If neither of those would work, then you can set up a fan to blow across the surface of the aquarium. This will help to dissipate some heat.

      As for the sand, just hover the gravel hose a few centimeters above the surface, and it will pick up the waste without the sand. You may need to experiment a little bit, but the waste will always be lighter than the sand.

    • says

      There could be several reasons for this. It may be stress, water quality, or nutrition. I would start with checking your water quality, and looking for sources of stress (other crayfish, aggressive fish, etc). If that seems fine, I would try a marine iodine supplement, to see if that helps at all.

  22. nika says

    I got two crawfish from the WARF can I put them in my 29 gallon tank with my goldfish,gubbies,black mollies,neonfish

    • says

      I wouldn’t recommend that at all. A slow fish like goldfish would become a quick meal for the crawfish. The mollies and neons may be alright for a while, but you’re still asking for trouble in the long run. I don’t recommend keeping most species of crayfish wish fish. Though some people argue that it can be accomplished, I’ve had nothing but trouble when I’ve tried it in the past. And this is sentiment that is pretty widely shared by other aquarists.

        • says

          Goldfish really don’t like warm water tanks. They are a cold water fish, and if the temperature is too warm, for too long, they will start to suffer nerve damage, and may die. If at all possible, I would transfer them to a cold water tank as soon as possible.

    • says

      To be honest with you, a 5 litre aquarium won’t keep any crayfish – even juvenile ones alive very long. I would recommend a minimum of 19 litres at the minimum. And then it would only keep very young hatchlings alive. In my experience, you start to experience massive cannibalism by the time they reach about a centimeter in crowded conditions.

        • says

          It all depends on what country you are in. However, with that being said, you can often find very cheap, very basic aquariums at any of the major chain stores. Ignore the big kits that cost cost 40-50 dollars. Just buy the most basic aquarium they have (it’s usually hidden away somewhere or in the back), and then just buy a sponge filter with air pump for it. I know in Canada, you can purchase a setup like this for about 25 dollars. The sponge filter is about 15 dollars and the aquarium about 10, and then I use play sand for the substrate and river rocks to create caves. Very cheap, and yet still a great place to keep crayfish.

  23. Yulia says

    Dear Mattew,

    My crayfish is being still for the second day now, he moves a little bit and than freezes like dead, also his eyes start to seem blurry. I am scared and I can’t find any advice.

    • says

      It sounds like it’s getting ready to molt. Before a molt, its common for it to really slow down, and it will most likely try and find a hiding place soon. Beyond that, just make sure that your water quality is alright, and continue to try and feed it a high quality food (removing any excess, since they tend to stop eating before a molt).

      • Yulia says

        Dear Matthew,

        Thank you for the reply!
        Water quality is ok.
        I didn’t see him moving today at all and his eyes are paler than yesterday, is it bad?

        • says

          It doesn’t sound like an illness. My money is on it becoming ready for a molt. My crayfish would often get cloudy eyes right before a molt. Keep an eye on it though just to be on the safe side.

          • Yulia says

            Dear Matthew,

            Thank you very much!

            I keep an eye on him, but I don’t know what else to do – he doesn’t move at all, his eyes are completely clear now and he’s got something like bubble on his back – I think he might be dead= (((
            http://s23.postimg.org/f2zrw75p7/IMG_3547.jpg

            I took a picture, could you please tell what you think?

            Thank you!

            Best Regards,

            Yulia

          • says

            I’m sorry to say, but it looks like your crayfish has shuffled off this mortal coil. Once an invertebrate is sick there’s very little that you can do, unlike most species of fish which you can at least treat with medicine. You can tell from the filaments protruding from between the plates.

  24. Rasmus Christensen says

    Hey Matthew!

    I have a red clarkii crayfish and it has molted…. BUT! It is blue now!
    Is that a common thing? I cant seem to find info about a red crayfish turning blue on the internet.
    The decorations in the tank are all red, and the gravel is black. I dont know if this has anything to do with the color of the crayfish.
    I have one shrimp in the tank with it, and nothing else.
    I hope you can give me an answer on this topic.

    Just to make it clear, I am really psyched about this! It is awesome!

  25. dyston says

    Hey just caught a couple crayfish and already they start to breed I got two females what should I feed the females and how many days/weeks/month does it take for the eggs to be hatched

    • says

      Shrimp pellets should make up most of their diet. But you should also add blanched vegetables and frozen fish food too. I find blanched shelled peas, zucchini and romaine lettuce to be my crayfish’s favorites. As for the fish food, I occasionally offer cubes of bloodworms and brine shrimp to mine. If they are breeding, you may also want to consider adding a marine iodine supplement that you can pick up at fish stores.

      Just be careful having that many crayfish though, unless you have a huge aquarium. They are notorious for their cannibalism, and you’ll start seeing losses soon if you keep them in close quarters.

  26. dyston says

    Hey matthew I found out I got 7 female cold blooded and I don’t know what to feed them can you tell me what I should feed them

  27. Gilbert says

    I have 5 red 3 white and 2 blue with the 1 white one having eggs on her back, when she still with the other crayfish, she eat her own egg by pick it up from her back. So i move her to new aquarium, she always climb my pipe and then she fell, will the egg hatch?

    • says

      Crayfish will often eat their eggs if they are stressed. That behavior should trail off now that she’s in her own aquarium. I would expect that the eggs will still hatch, as long as they were fertilized in the first place.

  28. Mel says

    I separated my female into her own tank last night as he young were being released. I. I last looked at her around 1am and all was still good she was still releasing them but when I checked again at 6:30am the female had de clawed herself and all the young were dead with half still attached to mum. What did I do wrong or why do you think this has happened.

    • says

      I wish that I knew. That’s an extreme reaction, but it might be stress related. So many things can go wrong, it’s hard to pinpoint it. Was the water treated, and how did you introduce it to the tank?

  29. Anna says

    Hello! I have a white crawfish, female. She just went through her second molt. Her first one white and her second one blue, Im not sure what this means, some kind of nutritional deficiency? Also, she seemed to have injured her claw. She was holding very wide for a few weeks and now that she’s molted, the injured one is gone. Ive heard of them declawing themselves in certain situations, was this injury or stressed based?

    • says

      Unfortunately I can’t help you out with the reason for the colour change. There are numerous theories out there, but at this time I haven’t found one conclusive one as to why this happens in captivity.

      The injury during molting is a far more common problem. While there are numerous possible reasons as to why this may have happened, the most common one is that there is an iodine deficiency in your crayfish. This can be easily rectified by picking up a marine iodine supplement (use at maybe 50% or less recommended dosage amount)at your local fish store, and your crayfish should hopefully recover from its injury during its next molt.

    • says

      It depends what country you’re in you. In most countries you can order it online. And if it really becomes a problem, just make your own fish food and use it for crayfish food. There are numerous great recipes online, and most of them will still work well for crayfish. You may want to reduce the amount of shellfish and fish in the recipes slightly though, and increase the amount of vegetables.

  30. Nuwan says

    I’m Lost, i got one blue crayfish for 3 months (in a separate tank alone) now she is carrying black color eggs. i really don’t know what to do in this stage…. Ladies and Gentle, please advise???

    • says

      There’s not really much you need to do at this stage. Just keep the tank clean, and her well fed, and assuming that the eggs are viable, they should hatch in the near future. After they hatch, and the hatchlings become free moving, you should the mother from the tank. Then you run into the real problem, since crayfish hatchlings are cannibals, and you either find homes for them all, or let nature take it’s course.

  31. says

    I saved my crayfish from my biology class. He is a 3 inches long and mostly brown with a touch of red. I bought him a 1 gallon tank with a filter, lid, a hollow rock to hide in and a fake plant to climb up. I have been feeding him blood worms, lettuce and carrots. He was covered in a fuzzy fungus so I used Pimafix to treat it -per the reccomndation of the pet Co employee. He has barely moved since day 6 of the 7 day treatment. On the 7th day I changed 25% of the water like the instructions said and he is still extremely lethargic… I’m worried he will be dead any minute now…. and has barely eaten in the last 24 hours. Could the treatment be causing this? I have had him for 8 days now and he was fine before!

    Please help!

    • says

      Treatments like Pimafix can be very hard on even healthy invertebrates. Once you’re dealing with a fungal infection, you quite often lose the fish or invertebrate that you’re treating.

      With that being said, I would start changing the water regularly (around 10% daily), and remove any uneaten food. It may be that the crayfish is just having a hard time recovering from the treatment, so you may just need to give it time. Just keep offering it high quality food, and keep the aquarium clean. Good luck.

  32. Danielle says

    So heres my story me and my friends were cleaning out our stream and my friend finds a crayfish and thinks its a shoelace so almost steps on it she didn’t though. So we thought it would be cool if we kept it and guess what we don’t have anywhere to put it! What do we need to keep it? thx

    • says

      At the very least you need a 5 gallon container of some sort. Then you will need to add a filter. Probably the cheapest and easiest to find is a sponge filter, though you have to watch out for it crawling up the air hose. Also, make sure to give it a few hiding places in the container that you’re keeping it in. Beyond that, you just need to keep it well fed, and change about 15-20% of the water each week (making sure that you remove the chlorine from water). If you do that, then it should be happy and healthy.

  33. Rhiannon says

    i found a crayfish earlier today in a ricer near my house and i plan on keeping him but as of now i dont have any food. Are there any household foods i could give it until im able to get some pellets? I put a couple leaves of lettuce in the container a few hours ago but so far it hasnt touched it. Also how often should it be fed?

    • says

      It should generally be fed every day, though you only want to feed it small amounts and you’ll want to make sure that you remove any leftover food after 24 hours. Some of their favorite foods in my experience are lightly boiled zucchini or cucumber medallions, boiled broccoli florets and shelled peas. You can also offer very small amounts of salt water fish (ie. cod, tilapia, haddock, etc.) or very small pieces of shellfish like shrimp if you have it available. You need to keep the pieces small, or you’ll really foul the water though.

      Also, they generally prefer to feed at night, although they can be trained to be fed very early in the morning, or later in the evening. I know mine tend to be most active after the lights go out in their tank.

  34. Aram says

    I have red crayfish and she’s full of eggs from her tail and I have 3 small fishes and one other male crayfish is it okay to leave them?

  35. Ali says

    Move female dwarf crayfish with eggs – How to
    Can I move the female dwarf crayfish with eggs to a different tank? I see her juggling her eggs and I’m afraid that if I move her the eggs may come out? Any advice would be appreciated.

    • says

      You can move her, but it can be hard on your crayfish to move it into an uncycled tank. If you move her, then you will need to change the water daily, at least until the conditions stabilize. Also, you may want to find a more gentle way to move her. If possible, try using a large container to gently move her out of her tank. A net may be too hard on her and the eggs.

  36. Amy Priem says

    Matthew, thanks for all your crayfish knowledge. I am a third grade teacher and we teach with the FOSS kits. For the first time, we found a mama on Tuesday morning with eggs. We had worked with her on Monday so we have a pretty good indicator when the eggs were laid. Today, Thursday, we came to school to find another mama putting eggs under her tail. (Pretty fascinating) We have them in tubs so the kids can see them and work with them. We move them to a separate basin to feed them except for elodea in their containers. I have separated the mothers. How often should I feed them? Will the babies be okay in the basins as long as I put in homes and things for them to hide under??? The sad part is we will probably be out of school before any of them hatch.

    • says

      That sounds really exciting for the kids. I always loved stuff like when I was in school.

      They should be fed every day, but you will always need to searched for any food they have hidden during the weekly water changes and cleaning. The babies will most likely be eaten by the mothers if you don’t remove the hatchlings shortly after birth. They will still need places to hide from each other though, and you’ll still probably lose some to cannibalism unfortunately.

  37. Jennifer says

    We have a blue crayfish and we are getting ready to move, we have planned on rehomeing things out of our 30 Gallon tank. It is a big move.. we where wondering if our clam would be ok with the crayfish or if he would eat it? I can’t seam to find much information..

    • says

      Most species of crayfish prey upon clams, and while I wasn’t able to find any specific references to blue crayfish eating clams, it’s probably safe to assume that they would have similar habits to their cousins. A good rule of thumb is that a crayfish will try to eat anything that it shares a tank with – be it plant or animal. I hope this helps.

  38. kansascutiemom says

    I’m looking for the post where someone mentioned hand feeding their crayfish. We have three freshwaters and I wanted to confirm that this is indeed true – I hand feed them all! It took me about two weeks to get them comfortable with the idea, maybe even less than that, but now they all come out on their own when it’s feeding time! :) They hold up their larger pincers (nicely now – not in defense mode) and just wait for my hand. It’s so cool!! I’ve had many guests amazed by this little “trick” and its just one more thing I love about these little guys! :) They are by far my favorite aquarium pets!!

  39. danny says

    Hey my blue crawfish had no then mate and all of a sudden it had a sack of eggs weeks pasted and it buried the eggs after that the eggs turn pink? And the crawfish died what do I do with the pink eggs?

    • says

      They usually discard any infertile eggs, and when they begin to turn orange/pink, it usually means that they won’t hatch. This is especially true since they were discarded by the female. However, on the off chance that some might still hatch, the only thing to do in this situation is to keep the aquarium water clean, and watch and wait.

  40. danny says

    When I bought my blue crawfish, it was alone in a tank with a lot of tropical fish. Months had past since I had him and all of a sudden my blue crawfish had a black sack of eggs. The tank I had my crawfish was a 15 gallon, with two neon tetras. So my crawfish ended up burying the eggs after a while the eggs stated to turn pink, my crawfish ended up dying a few weeks later, but the pink eggs are still there what should I do?

  41. Alexandra says

    I have a really ill crayfish she is beautiful but has been itching like mad the last week and running around the tank like she is trying to climb out. it seems like she might have some irritating parasites under her belly and shes now become week from all the stress. Is there any medication I can add?

    • says

      It sounds more like there is a problem with your water. Have you tested your water parameters lately? I would experimentally do several large water changes over the next few days to see if that helps, and I would definitely get your water tested.

      I would also search your tank to see if there is anything rotting in there. I don’t know if your crayfish shares it with any fish, but a dead fish can negatively impact the water quality very quickly. And crayfish are also known to hoard food, so during the next water change, search to see if there are any hidden stashes of food.

      There is also a small chance that your crayfish is starting to moult, but I would start with the water and if that doesn’t help, then you could proceed to looking into parasites. But most of the more common parasites that I’ve encountered are easily visible, and you would see what looks like small worms on your crayfish.

  42. Alan says

    i have had 2 crayfish in my tank.. they fight alot… and i want to know its okay if they keep fighting? and when can they breed ?

    • says

      If they’re fighting a lot, then they will most likely eventually kill each other. You need to add ornaments and caves for them to hide in. More items in the tank will also help to break the line of sight, so they don’t see each other constantly. It’s also important to add caves, since the moment that one of them molts and has no where to hide, it will be defenseless and the other crayfish will kill it.

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