Can You Put Crayfish In A Community Tank?

Can You Put Crayfish In A Community Tank

This site does not constitute pet medical advice, please consult a licensed veterinarian in your area for pet medical advice.

Though it is not recommended to keep crayfish with other fishes, many of us just don’t want to look at a single crayfish in a tank. I understand, but crayfishes are not compatible with most other fishes. With that being said, you may keep some fast moving fishes with dwarf crayfishes.

You can put dwarf crayfishes (Cambarellus) in a community tank. However, the fishes need to be fast moving and you shouldn’t put any bottom dwellers.

Most crayfishes are unsuitable for keeping in a community tank. That’s because, crayfishes are very aggressive creatures and like to hunt. Even two of them can’t stand each other in a single tank.

But if you are careful, you can keep some fishes with dwarf crayfishes. But even then, there are still chances that your crayfish can harm some of the fishes. If you are okay with that, you can put dwarf crayfish in a community tank.

But the tank mates need to be chosen carefully. I’ll talk about the suitable tank mates in this article.

What Are The Dwarf Crayfishes?

Dwarf crayfishes are a specific type of crayfish that don’t get too big. Most of them get about 1-2 inches long when they are matured. Dwarf crayfishes generally fall into the (Cambarellus) group.

Here are some of the popular dwarf crayfishes:

Cambarellus / Mini LobsterAverage Matured Size
Orange CPO Dwarf Mexican1.2 – 1.6 inches
Brazos Dwarf Crayfish1.2 – 1.5 inches
Cajun Dwarf Crayfish1.6 inches
Alabama Dwarf Crayfish1.6 inches
Wild Color Dwarf Mexican Crayfish1 – 1.5 inches
Blue Brazos Dwarf Mexican Crayfish1.6 inches
Blue Cajun Dwarf Crayfish1.6 inches

Among these, the most popular and common one is the Orange CPO crayfish. It is mostly available in most of the local fish stores. Many crayfish keepers have successfully kept Orange CPOs in their community tank.

However, they did occasionally lose a fish or two. Here are some important pointers you need to be aware of when keeping crayfish in a community tank:

  • Even with dwarf crayfishes, you fishes are not completely safe. Despite of their small size, dwarf crayfishes can try to jump on the fish and hurt them. Even if they can’t eat the fish, their sharp claws are enough to pinch the fins. So, don’t keep any expensive or your favorite fish in the community tank with crayfish.
  • Do thorough research before choosing the tank mates. The tank mates need to be chosen according to the crayfish. You can’t just get a crayfish from the store and throw it in your established community tank. The crayfish can wreck havoc in the tank.
  • Be sure to keep lots of hiding places in the tank. The more hiding places there are, the safer the crayfish will feel.
  • Keep the crayfish well fed. When they are fully fed, they generally don’t try to hunt down food. Make the diet interesting with enough plants and protein.
  • Don’t get carried away and get 2 crayfishes for your community tank. 2 crayfishes are much more dangerous for the fishes than a single crayfish. Moreover, the two of them will most definitely fight with each other to establish dominance in the tank. Things will surely get dirty in your community tank.
  • If you want to keep 2 crayfishes together, then definitely read my guide on it. You’ll know the DOs and DONTs.

What Kind Of Fish Can You Put With A Crayfish?

The type of fish you can keep depends on the type of crayfish. I’ll mention the suitable tank mates for dwarf crayfish, medium sized crayfish and large crayfish aka freshwater lobsters.

Dwarf Crayfish Tank Mates (Cambarellus Sp. / Mini Lobster)

Here are the popular dwarf crayfish species:

Cambarellus / Mini Lobster
Orange CPO Dwarf Mexican
Brazos Dwarf Crayfish
Cajun Dwarf Crayfish
Alabama Dwarf Crayfish
Wild Color Dwarf Mexican Crayfish
Blue Brazos Dwarf Mexican Crayfish
Blue Cajun Dwarf Crayfish

Dwarf crayfishes generally get about 1-2 inches long. They are also comparatively slow compared to most tropical fishes. That’s why dwarf crayfishes can be kept with most of the fishes.

Here are the suitable tank mates for dwarf crayfish

Good Tank MatesBad Tank Mates
TetrasBetta fish
Swordtails, Mollies, Platies, etc.Shrimp
Red Tail SharkCorydoras
Hatchet FishPlecostomus
Rosy Red Minnows, Rainbow Darters, etc.Any Bottom Dwellers
Barbs, Danios, etc.Other Crayfish
NB:Even the good tank mates can fall into the prey of crayfish. When it comes to crayfish, nothing is certain.

Medium Sized Crayfish Tank Mates (Procambarus Sp.)

Here are the popular Procambarus crayfish species:

Ghost Crayfish
Electric Blue Crayfish
Neon Red Crayfish
Self-cloning Marmorkreb Crayfish
Christmas Tree Crayfish
White Specter Crayfish
Scarlet Crayfish
Orange Ghost/Fireball/Firecracker Crayfish
White Tubercled Crayfish
Waccamaw Crayfish
Sapphire Crayfish

These crayfishes are not a good choice for community tank. They are large enough to threaten most of the tropical fishes. These crayfishes will try to eat anything they can get their claws on.

They try to establish authority over other crayfish in the same tank. That’s why it is not even recommended to keep two of these together in the same tank.

Some tank mates might work with them. However, you are strongly advised to practice caution with these crayfishes.

Here are tank mates that might work:

  • fast moving tetras, danios, etc.
  • Rasboras
  • Definitely avoid bottom dwellers like plecos & corydoras!

Large Sized Crayfish/ Freshwater Lobster Tank Mates (Cherax Sp.)

Here are the popular Cherax crayfish species:

Zebra Crayfish
Supernova Aka Blue Moon Crayfish
Blue Pearl Crayfish
Thunderbolt Crayfish
Emerald Fire Crayfish
Apricot Crayfish
Indigo Blue/Black Scorpion Crayfish
Red Chili/Red Brick Crayfish
Blue Kong/Blue Claw Zebra Crayfish
Snakeskin Blue Moon Crayfish
Tricolor Blue Moon Crayfish
Yellow Sun/Yellow Arm Blue Moon Crayfish

These crayfishes are even larger than the Procambarus species. So, you can pretty much guess they are not safe for most of the tropical fishes. I wouldn’t recommend them in a community tank at all.

You can try keeping some fast moving fishes like Tetra, Hatchetfish, Rainbowfish, etc. with them. However, things might get ugly!

Don’t Keep Monster Fishes With Crayfish

Crayfishes can also become the food of larger fishes. Especially during molting, crayfishes become very vulnerable. In this stage, similar or slightly larger fishes can attack the crayfish. So, you need to think about the safety of the crayfish too!

Don’t keep monster fishes like Oscars, Cichlids, Arowanas, etc. with the crayfish. As a rule of thumb, you should stay away from anything that is bigger than the crayfish.

How To Keep Crayfish From Eating Fish?

In order to keep your fishes safer from the crayfish, you need to keep the crayfish well fed all the time. When the crayfish is well fed, he’ll not feel the necessity to hunt for food.

Also remember to keep the diet interesting with plenty of vegetables and proteins. Commercial foods like algae wafers are also a good choice. You can learn more about crayfish food in my best foods for crayfish guide.

Also, keep lots of hiding places in the tank so the crayfish doesn’t feel threatened. They love to dig. So, enough substrate depth is also necessary for burrowing.

All these measures can’t guarantee that your fishes will always be safe from the crayfish. Even if the crayfish is well fed, he can attack a slow moving fish at night. It is in their natural instinct.

So, if you plan to keep crayfish in a community tank, you better make yourself prepared to lose one or two fishes once in a while.

About Muntaseer Rahman

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