One Louisiana crawfish breeding colony consists of carefully selected healthy, sexually mature 4 females and 1 male that are ready to reproduce.
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.