Crayfish are also known as crawfish or crawdad. They are actually freshwater crustaceans. In the looks department, they are similar to lobsters and may also resemble shrimp with claws. There are as many as 150 different varieties. The color of these animals can range from red to yellow to green or blue. They have gone on to become one of the favorite aquarium creatures. If you are also among the people who are fascinated with this crustacean, then it is important to remember that having crayfish as pets does demand a lot of hard work.
Crayfish Care and Feeding
Crayfish are known to live for 2 to 3 years. The size of the fish is about 3 to 8 inches.
Before you get the fish home, it is important that you set up the aquarium well. For one individual, you will need a 10 to 15 gallon tank. It is not recommended to keep a number of crayfish in a single tank, unless the tank size is really large, as they are known to be territorial. At the same time, it is not recommended that you put other fish in the fish tank along with the crayfish, as they may kill the fish. Fast swimmers also do not stand a chance against these crustaceans. Crayfish are known to escape easily. Therefore it is important to close the tank properly and do not leave any escape routes for them.
Sand and/or small gravel can be used to make the substrate for the tank. The substrate should be so made, that it is conducive for digging and burrowing. You may use aquarium plants as well. However, the plants may be eaten. It is not uncommon to see that the tank has been rearranged completely. Crayfish are commonly also known as builder fish, as they will be seen building caves, mountains, valleys using the substrate. The tank should have a number of hiding places for the inhabitants. The fish will be seen hiding throughout the day. They often only come out of hiding when it is time to feed.
Temperature and Filtration
If they have come from colder climes, then you will not have to be bothered about the temperature. However, if they come from the tropics, then you will have to adjust the temperatures. About 25 to 50% of water will have to be changed every week. It is important that a dechlorinator is added to the water when new water is added to the tank.
Other than the occasional fish, crayfish are primarily vegetarian. Lettuce, carrot, cucumber, zucchini, sweet potato, etc. can be fed to them. Shrimp pallets can also be fed to them. They are excellent scavengers. Therefore, you will see them hunting for food in the tank. After they have eaten their share of food, it is recommended that the leftovers be removed from the tank. Removing the leftovers can be a challenge, as crayfish are known to be hoarders of food, and will hoard food in their hiding places. Liquid calcium (approximately 2 to 3 drops for 10 gallon of water) should also be added to the water, for the development and strengthening of their exoskeletons. The molting process will be easier for them.
The males have larger pincers and narrower tails as compared to their female counterparts. Females have longer swimmerets, which are soft as well. They are useful for keeping the eggs. The female lays approximately 200 eggs, which are carried in a mass located below the tail. It will take a few weeks for the eggs to hatch. The baby fish are perfectly formed. Initially they will be seen hiding under the tail of the mother, but soon venture out on their own.
Apart from the fact that taking care of crayfish is rather difficult, it is always great to watch them. Their life cycle is fascinating. If you have two females in the same tank and they lay eggs, it is best to keep them in different tanks, so that they do not encroach on each other's space and kill the babies of the other one.