Can I keep crayfish?
Many people are reluctant to keep crayfish because they might make a mess of the aquaruim.
There are species which like to eat plants and fish and some even move the soil. Not all species show this behavior. Dwarf-crayfish, with an average size of about 5cm, will not make a mess.
Crayfish come in different size (±5cm t/m 25cm), color and behavior. In general crayfish need harder water than most common fish because they molt. The outer shell of the crayfish can not grow. They will release the old shell and reshape a new shell.Usually they eat the outer shell again which is used for the new shell. You can also remove the shell from the water and let it dry. Dried shells look exacly like a living crayfish.
Crayfish are divided in different families. Some common families are:
There are many more but they are not often available in shops. Some hobby breeders might offer different species.
Procambarus- and Cherax crayfish should not be kept in a community tank. They will wreck the plants and grab fish when they can.
If you'd like to keep crayfish then setup your aquarium in such a way that the crayfish can not wreck anything. Some fast and cheap fish could be added as well.
Make sure you provide hiding places for the crayfish to retreat and hide after molding. In general it is not advised to keep different species together because chances are they will fight until the strongest survives.
Crayfish will virtually eat anything. From fish to meat, snails and plants, algea-wafers and other dry- and frozen food.
The number of crayfish that can be kept in a tank depends on the size. A couple of smaller crayfish((5 tot 12 cm) can easily be kept in a 60cm tank. Bigger ones (12cm and up) need at least 80cm for a couple, preferably even bigger. In a 100cm tank it is possible to keep 2 couples.
Cambarellus-crayfish can be kept in community tanks. These are usually smaller, fiendlier and to not wreck the setup and plants. Crayfish are excellent climbers. It is important to make sure the aquarium is completely closed because otherwise they will escape. With crayfish it is important to know what you are looking for and what your options are. Investigation of the characteristics of crayfish is really needed in order to come to a good choice.