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Louisiana Crawfish ( Procambarus clarkii )

What looks, tastes, and smells like seafood, but doesn't come from the sea? It's crawfish, a freshwater shellfish that is considered a Louisiana delicacy. Crawfish resemble tiny lobsters, and are referred to by several names including crawdads, crawfish, river crab, and mudbugs.
The Procambarus clarkii, also known as Red Swamp Crayfish, Louisiana crawfish, Crawdad are a very hardy species of crayfish. Their natural habitat was originally distributed from northern Mexico to Florida, and north to southern Illinois and Ohio. The crawdad's have such a large desirability due to their positive aquacultural attributes for the ability to tolerate a range of environmental conditions, such as, fast growth rates, low oxygen levels, low & high water temperatures, ease of reproduction, lack of any free-living larval stages, & the ability to tolerate poor water quality conditions. This species is a major commercial crayfish and has been widely introduced into culturing ponds & aquaponic systems globally. Adults range on average from 3-5 Inches and 1.8 Oz - 2.8 Oz

Louisiana Crawfish Diet

Crawdads are scavengers, they are bottom dwellers and will eat anything they come across, as they are opportunist eaters. They will eat all of the left over food your fish miss, as well as detritus and other waste off the bottom of your aquarium. You want to offer both vegetables and animal proteins. Options for their diet should include plant detritus, plant seeds, green plant material, insect larvae, tadpoles, snails, high-protein fish and crustacean sinking food.

Louisiana Crawfish Reproduction

The key points to successful maintenance and reproduction of brood stock in indoor holding systems include:

select healthy mature adults
maintain warm temperatures (preferably 72 F to 86 F)
maintain good water quality
provide proper nutrition, and
isolate berried females to hatching tanks

In a hatchery crawfish can spawn almost continuously throughout the year if conditions are suitable. Louisiana crawfish generally reach sexual maturity by the age of 3 to 6 months. The male makes a little sperm packet and places it on the female's stomach. The females eggs are then passed threw the sperm packet where they are then attached to the swimmerets on the tail. The female will release her eggs several weeks to months after mating occurs, depending on water quality, food supply and other various conditions. She will then brood her eggs for 6-10 weeks depending on water temperature.
The number of eggs laid is varied with size and condition of the females and usually range from 100-500. When hatched fry are generally 5mm long at 2 days old, growing to 2cm 1 month later, and up to 3.2 inch in 3 months.

Broodstock And Hatchery

Breeding tanks should be checked every one to two weeks for berried females (females carrying eggs). Once the fertilized eggs are affixed to the female's pleopods, "swimmeretts" situated on the underside of the tail, It is highly recommended that berried females be moved to a separate tank. Berried females should be carefully netted, keeping them with their abdomen curled around the eggs during transfer to hatching tanks. (to prevent egg loss). Incubation takes approximately 6-10 weeks and the newly hatched juveniles rapidly become independent. The hatching tank will then become the nursery tank for raising the young Louisiana Crawfish.

"Homes" are essential, for crawfish, Louisiana crawfish are canabalistic so they do require housing. PVC pipe sections in multiple sizes, mesh bags, burlap, rocks, or anything that the crayfish can climb threw and hide in for shelter. Young crayfish will molt many times during their first year of life, as they grow quickly. The shed exoskeleton ( molted shell ) is used as a source of calcium and is typically eaten by its owner or other crayfish. The fry prefer vegetable food, boiled lettuce leaves left to decay, along with a high protein sinking pellet. Fry are very cannibalistic, so for a higher survival ratio a large tank is required.

Louisiana Crawfish as Pet

Crayfish can be a very interesting, fun, and exciting aquarium addition to your aquarium.
The ideal tank environment consist of about 5 inches of aquarium sand or gravel on the bottom with pipes, tunnels, decorative rocks and caves. You can plant hardy plants in the aquarium, but small, weaker plants won't survive. You will want to make sure the aquarium has a filter to keep the aquarium clean. Use an aquarium heater and thermometer to measure the water temperature and maintain the aquarium between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Plenty of cover should be included in the aquarium, including both rocks and plants (Although the plants will not last long as the crayfish gets larger). Crayfish have a flexible exoskeleton that is repeatedly shed as the animal grows. During shedding, they crayfish will lie slightly on its side, and will look dead, but in most cases it is not. The new shell is still soft and pliable, and during this time the crayfish is vulnerable by other predators in the aquarium. If the exuvia (shed exoskeleton, molted shell) is removed from the tank after shedding, the crayfish will likely die as this shed will be consumed for vital calcium. However If your water has enough calcium in it this will not be an issue.

Crawfish are excellent escape artists, & excellent climbers and they will escape from tanks if the water level is near the tank top, if rocks and decor are large enough for them to reach the surface or if equipment such as air line tubing or heater cords extends over the sides of the tank. To reduce escapes, equipment should be suspended from overhead so that it does not touch the sides of the tank and keep a lid on the aquarium.

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