All About Lousiana Crawfish
looks, tastes, and smells like seafood, but doesn't come from the sea? It's the Louisiana Crawfish
– also known as Procambarus Clarki and the Red Swamp Crayfish, a freshwater shellfish that is
considered a Louisiana delicacy.
Crawfish resemble tiny lobsters, and are referred to by several common
names, including crawdads, crawfish, river crab, and mudbugs.
Adult Louisana Crawfish range from 3 to 5 inches and 1.8 ounces to 2.8 ounces. The natural habitat for the Louisiana Crawfish is from northern Mexico to Florida, and north to southern Illinois and Ohio.
Louisiana Crawfish is well suited to both aquaponics and major
commercial aquaculture operations. It is a very hardy species that can
tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, including low oxygen
levels, poor water conditions, and both low and high water temperatures,
though the Louisiana Crawfish thrives in temperatures between 72˚ and 86˚
F. Its ease of reproduction and lack of free-living larval stages are
other reasons this crustacean has been widely coveted for culturing
ponds and aquaponics systems around the world.
Louisiana Crawfish Diet
Crawdads are scavengers. They are a bottom dweller and will eat anything
they come across, as they are opportunistic eaters. They will eat all of the
leftover food your fish miss, as well as detritus and other waste off the bottom
of your aquarium. A healthy diet includes both vegetables and animal proteins. The primary diet
should include plant detritus, plant seeds,
green plant material, insect larvae, tadpoles, snails, high-protein fish and
crustacean sinking food.
To be successful in the maintenance and reproduction of brood stock in indoor
holding systems, be sure to:
* Select healthy mature adults
* Maintain warm temperatures (preferably between 72˚ and 86˚ F)
* Maintain good water quality
* Provide proper nutrition
* Isolate berried females (females carrying eggs) to hatching tanks
In a hatchery, Louisiana Crawfish can spawn almost continuously throughout the year if
conditions are suitable. They generally
reach sexual maturity by the age of three to six months. During reproduction, the male makes a small sperm packet and places it on the female's stomach. The female's eggs are then
passed through the sperm packet, then attached to the swimmerets on
the tail. The female will release her eggs between several weeks to months after mating
occurs, depending on water quality, food supply and other various conditions.
She will then brood her eggs for six to 10 weeks, depending on water temperature.
The number of eggs laid varies with the size and condition of
the females, but it usually ranges from 100 to 500 eggs. When hatched, fry are generally 5 mm
long at two days old, growing to 2 cm about one month later, and up to 3.2 inches within three months.
Broodstock And Hatchery
Breeding tanks should be checked every one to two weeks for
berried females. 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 six to 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.
Louisiana Crawfish are
cannibalistic, so they do require housing. PVC pipe sections in multiple sizes,
mesh bags, burlap, rocks, or anything that the crawfish can climb through and hide
in for shelter will suffice. Young crawfish will moult many times during their first year of
life, as they grow quickly. The shed exoskeleton (moulted shell) is used as a
source of calcium and is typically eaten by its owner or other crawfish. 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 Pets
Crawfish can be an exciting addition to your aquarium. The ideal tank environment consists 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˚ F.
Plenty of cover should be included in the aquarium,
including both rocks and plants, though the plants will not last long as the
crawfish get larger. Crawfish have a flexible exoskeleton that is repeatedly
shed as the animal grows. During shedding, they crawfish 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 crawfish is vulnerable to predators in the aquarium. If the exuvia (shed exoskeleton, moulted shell)
is removed from the tank after shedding, the crawfish 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.
Louisiana Crawfish are excellent escape artists! If the water level is near
the top of the tank, if you have rocks and decor large enough for them to reach
the surface, or if equipment such as airline tubing or heater cords extend over
the side of the tank, they will climb out. To reduce the likelihood of escape,
equipment should be suspended overhead so that it does not touch the sides of
the tank. If housed in an aquarium, a lid may be required.
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