Whether you wanted it or not, your crayfishes have mated and produced tons of babies. Now you there are hundreds of baby crayfishes swimming around in the tank. You need to know what to do, how to take care of them. Does the situation sound familiar to you? Well, you’re in the right place.
In this baby crayfish care guide, I’ll talk about the proper tank setup for the babies, how to feed them, how to increase the survival rate, and finally, what to do with them.
So, let’s get started!
Though this article is mainly about baby crayfishes, I want to start it with a little bit of crayfish breeding. Because that’s how the baby crayfishes get born, right?
Breeding crayfishes is pretty much straightforward. If you have a male and a female in a tank with a proper setup, they’ll breeding eventually.
When male mates with the female crayfish, he puts a sack of sperm under the belly of the female crayfish. The female crayfish then passes her eggs through that sperm pocket to the tail. The eggs get fertilized and attach themselves to the swimmerets of the female crayfish.
The eggs stay attached to the swimmerets for about 4 weeks. This is called the gestation period. The period can be influenced by many other factors such as temperature of the environment, season, water condition, etc.
In case of freshwater crayfishes, the mother take care of the babies for some time after they are born. However, as soon as the babies can swim around independently, the mother will try to eat them.
This is not the case for saltwater crayfishes aka lobsters. The mother doesn’t care for the babies after they are born.
Tank Setup For Baby Crayfishes
Enough breeding talk. Now we need to know how to setup a proper tank for the baby crayfishes. In this tank, the babies will stay for a few weeks until they get aggressive and start to attack each other.
For your convenience, I have divided the setup process into several parts. Let’s go through them one by one:
Substrate is very important for crayfishes. They need substrate to dig through it. Digging & burrowing is one of crayfish’s natural behaviors. So, you need a good layer of substrate for the babies.
I recommend using sand. Sand is easy to clean, maintain as well as perfect for digging. The babies won’t face a hard time digging through the sand and it will also keep them safe from one another.
In my substrate guide for crayfish, I’ve talked more about substrate, which one should you choose, what should be the substrate depth and so on. If you are interested to learn more about substrate for crayfishes, check out that guide!
The baby crayfishes need pristine quality water to grow. Also, the water needs to be free from chlorine & chloramine. For this, I suggest using a water conditioner.
A good water conditioner will take care of the chlorine and chloramine for you. There are lots of water conditioners available in the market. You’ll never know if a cheap one is working or not. That’s why I recommend getting one from a reputed brand. I’ll suggest Seachem Prime.
Seachem is one of the most reputed brands in the aquarium industry. You can trust their products with your eyes closed. Though they are a bit pricier, but you get what you pay for!
For pristine water quality, you’ll also need the tank to be cycled. If you don’t know what nitrogen cycle is, read this cycling guide of mine. Though it is for shrimps, the concept is pretty much the same.
For properly cycling a tank, we need a decent quality of beneficial bacteria. However, it takes time to grow such a colony, especially 4 to 6 weeks. If you don’t have that time, you can does some additional bacteria and the tank will be cycled quicker. I suggest using API Quick Start.
You can use it for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. It will establish a good beneficial bacterial colony almost instantly and you won’t have to worry about the dreaded nitrogen cycle.
For baby crayfishes, I’ll suggest a sponge filter. Nothing else.
Why not a HOB filter? Because the flow rate of a HOB can be too much for the babies. Also, crayfishes need aeration in their tank to grow properly. That’s why a sponge filter is the best. It will aerate the tank as well as filter the water.
Just get your hands on a big size sponge filter. The bigger the sponge filter is, the more beneficial bacterial colony it can hold and consequently, the water quality will get better.
This double sponge filter from Aquaneat seems pretty good to me for a baby crayfish tank. You can change the direction of the flow rate easily. This one is suitable for a 10 gallon tank. You can get two of this for a bigger tank.
Crayfishes need lots of hiding places in their tank. Even the babies need hiding places to keep themselves safe from each other. I’ll suggest to throw in some pieces of PVC pipes. These work great as hiding places for the crayfish.
You can also put lots of aquatic plants in the tank. Though the crayfish will eat the plants, a dense plantation will work great as a hiding spot too! Also, plants help to keep the water fresh & clean.
Don’t choose any expensive plants. Cheap hornworts, densa, guppy grass, etc. will do fine. Also, floating plants like duckweed, azolla will be great.
Crayfishes are excellent escape artists. They’ll find a way to escape from the tank if you don’t have a tank cover. Trust me with this.
You’ll must need a cover for a crayfish tank. Otherwise you’ll see baby crayfishes lurking around your living room soon!
Feeding baby crayfishes is very easy and straightforward. They’ll eat any food that is suitable for the adult ones. You’ll just need to crush the food pellets or algae wafer so the babies can fit them in their mouth.
If you want my recommendation for crayfish food, check out my crayfish feeding guide. You’ll know which foods I like to feed my crayfish, why I like them and what schedule I follow to feed my crayfish.
For baby crayfishes, I’ll suggest feeding the required amount everyday instead of every other day for the adults. They need more nutrition in order to grow properly.
Also, feed a protein rich diet. Protein is extremely important to grow. Crayfishes can eat pretty much anything under the sun. So, change their diet once in a while so the babies can taste different foods! It will also keep them happy!
How Many Babies Do Crayfish Have?
Well, needless to say the number of babies will depend on many factors, especially on the type of the crayfish. Generally, a female crayfish can hatch 400 to 1000 eggs at a time.
But that doesn’t mean you’ll get 400 baby crayfishes. Some will not hatch. Some babies might die after getting hatched. Also, the babies can get aggressive and attack each other. It is normal for crayfishes to attach their own and kill.
So, in the end, you’ll have much fewer baby crayfishes than the number of hatched eggs.
Do Crayfishes Eat Their Babies?
Yes, crayfishes eat their babies. Crayfishes are very bad parents. The mom will take care of the babies only for a few days until they babies start to swim around on their own.
Once the babies are developed enough to swim around, the mom can eat them. That’s why at this stage you need to separate the mom from the babies.
I’ve written a detailed article on this exact topic. If you want, you can read it here.
I know it sounds cruel, but that’s how nature works.
How Long Do Baby Crayfish Stay With Their Mother?
Baby crayfishes can stay with their mother for about 2 weeks. After being hatched, within the first 2 weeks, the babies stay under the tail of the mother crayfish.
This keeps the babies safe. During this period, the babies catch floating food particles with their claws and eat those. After 2 weeks, when the babies leave the mother, they can independently live on their own.
Soon, they’ll get matured and aggressive.
Do Baby Crayfish Need Air?
Baby crayfishes need air in their habitat. They need highly oxygenated water to live properly. That’s why it is recommended to use an air pump 24 x 7 in a crayfish habitat.
If you can’t get an air pump, place some large stones in the middle of the tank. The peak of the stones need to breach the water level. This way, the babies can crawl to the peak and get oxygen if there is low oxygen level in the water.
Do Crayfish Die After Giving Birth?
Crayfishes don’t die after giving birth. This is a common misconception among many. If the crayfish gets injured anyhow during mating, then it might die. But that’s exactly same as getting injured from a fighting.
So, in general, crayfishes won’t die after giving birth.
What To Do With The Babies In Future?
You need to think about the future of the babies from the very beginning. You can keep the babies in a tank only for a while. As soon as they start to get matured, they’ll attack each other for dominance. That’s how crayfishes are in nature.
So, if you don’t separate the babies soon, they’ll fight each other to death soon!
It is not feasible to keep hundreds of babies. You’ll need a separate tank for each of them and that’s just not possible for a regular home. So, what can you do with the babies?
- You can try to sell them. Contact your local fish store and ask them if they’ll buy the babies at a wholesale rate. If they agree, you can sell all the babies at a good profit margin.
- If the fish store declines to buy, you can sell some to other local hobbyists in your area. Just keep the price extremely cheap so people get interested to buy. However, make sure the buyer knows how to take care of them properly.
- If you can’t sell the babies, there is no other option than giving away. Just give away the babies to your local fish store or other hobbyists. They might find other suitable homes soon!