How To Take Care Of A Pet Crayfish

Freshwater Crayfish make excellent pets due to their quirky look and interesting characteristics. Crawfish, crawdads, and mudbugs, no matter by what name you know, are basically a type of freshwater crustaceans. There are more than 500 species of crawfish that can be found worldwide. Crayfishes are very active creatures and fun to watch. Digging, creating little hills and mounds, hiding among shady rocks and plants, and burrowing in the sand at the bottom of their tanks are some common activities of them.

Crayfish are easy to maintain and do not take up much space in your house. They do not require any particular care or regular visits to the veterinarian, making them affordable pets for families of various sizes, whether they live in a little apartment or a huge house. All they need is a tank, the right type of food, and a little bit of your attention. With proper care, crawdads can live in a tank for up to 2-3 years as a pet. Because of their easy maintenance, they are perfect for first-time pet owners. However, if you are unsure how to take proper care of a pet crayfish, this article will help you with that.

How To Get A Crayfish For Your Home?

Crayfish are widely available, and you can quickly get one from a pet shop or aquatic store where other fish and sea life are sold. They won’t cost you much unless it’s of a rare species. It is suggested to do some research on the various species and their unique requirements before you start purchasing. Starting with a single crayfish is a smart option until you grasp how to care for them properly.

Another option for obtaining a pet crawfish is to hunt it in its natural habitat and bring it home. Crayfish can be caught in lakes, shallow rivers, and streams in several regions of the world. If you think you can catch one on your own, it will also be fine for keeping in your home.

Get a Crayfish for Your Home

No matter if you buy it or hunt your pet crayfish, they will need to adjust to their new circumstances. So, you should also ensure that the crawfish you bring home is healthy. If it is not moving around much and appears sluggish, it may have an illness that is affecting its well-being. If in doubt, consult an aquatic veterinarian who specializes in crustaceans.

Care Guide For A Pet Crayfish

Although we have mentioned that crayfish are a very handy pet to maintain, there are some basic factors you should follow to keep your pet safe, sound, and active. This section will discuss them briefly.


Crayfish are territorial and aggressive, so it’s better to keep only one of them in a 10-15 gallon tank. It’s better not to put them in a tank where other fishes are already there. Crayfish love to live alone and explore each inch of their tank. If you wish to keep more than one of them in a tank, choose a much larger tank with enough space. 

Moreover, you have to line the bottom of the tank with about 2 inches of fine sand or very small stones to allow him to dig. To give plenty of hiding places for them, you can install castle decorations, PVC pipes, tiny clay pots, etc., in the tank.

Plus, use artificial plants instead of real ones since they will destroy natural ones. Finally, consider setting up a filtration system suited for the size of your aquarium to keep it clean. After every two weeks, remove 15% of the water in the tank and replace it with fresh and clean water to maintain a proper pH level. You can use pH testing kits to verify that your crayfish’s water is balanced correctly.

How to Housing Pet Crayfish


The majority of your crayfish’s food should consist of sinking shrimp pellets or lobster bits. Feed your crayfish a tiny amount of shrimp pellets once a day. Pellet feeds are high in protein and include all of the nutrients that crayfish require to grow and create robust shells. But remember that you should never feed your crayfish alive or uncooked shrimp as they carry infections.

Plus, use vegetables to supplement your crayfish’s diet. You can cut some vegetables like leaf lettuce, cabbage, carrot, or cucumber into small strips and drop them at the bottom of the tank. Crays can also have frozen aquarium foods, such as daphnia, bloodworms, and brine shrimp. However, don’t overfeed your pet crayfish as it can make them soft and weak. Remember to scoop the uneaten foods after feeding them; otherwise, they will decompose soon and make the water dirty.


Your crayfish will lose its outer shell every few months and make space for a new one that is large enough to fit its expanding body. You might want to throw away the old shell afterward. But you should not do such as it will feed on the shell for several days to obtain the nutrients and minerals required to form a robust new layer of armor. After your crayfish molds, don’t feed it for the first 3-5 days. It will only eat the old exoskeleton during this period. 

Iodine shortage has been found to kill molting crayfish oftentimes. So, when your crayfish starts to come out of its shell, add a few drops of potassium iodide to the aquarium.

More importantly, with its fragile body exposed after molding, your crayfish will be especially sensitive to starvation and assaults from other fish. So, you can keep them separately in a different tank during and after molting.

How to Molting Pet Crayfish


In the home aquarium, most crayfish species will breed at any time; however, providing high-quality meals and keeping the water clean can aid in inducing breeding behavior. When mating starts, the male places a sack of sperm on the female, who afterward fertilizes her eggs by passing them through the sperm. After this point, the female should be placed in a separate tank independently.

The eggs usually hatch after about four weeks, and the baby crayfish will appear. Although the female crayfish is expected to care for the young for a short time, you should consider removing the babies from the mother’s tank after a few days to avoid them from being eaten.

Identifying Illness

Like any other pet, crayfish can also fall sick, although they tend to remain healthy most of the time. They primarily fell ill because of improper water conditions. It’s easy to identify whether they are in sound health or not. Crayfish are usually playful and active creatures. However, you will notice sluggish behavior in them during molting, and they won’t eat properly. If you don’t find any trace of molting and they still behave like that, it is likely because they are unwell. In such a scenario, you have to consult an experienced vet specializing in crustaceans.

Final Thought

Crawfish are easy to maintain and take care of as they don’t require much of your attention and time. However, if you look after them sincerely, they will give you a much longer companion. In the previous sections, we have suggested the best methods to care for a crayfish using our knowledge and long experiences with crustaceans. We hope you have found this article insightful and will follow the guidelines to take your pet crayfish’s best care.

Murphy Bernier

Murphy Bernier

Murphy Bernier is a New-York based freelance writer, professional blogger and certified dog trainer. She networks shelter pets to help them find homes and volunteers for rescue groups as she is passionate about dog rescue and adoption. From a very early age, she developed extensive animal handling skills from her dad, and that’s where her love for animals started.

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