Crayfish Egg Care 101: [All Your Questions Answered]

Crayfish Egg Care

If you are keeping crayfish for some time now, chances are at some point you’ll find your crayfish carrying eggs. Now, this will be a big moment in your crayfish keeping journey.

Seeing eggs might make you confused and you may want to know what to do now. What are your responsibilities? Well, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.

In this article, I’ll answer all your questions regarding crayfish eggs. Hopefully, by the end of the article, you’ll feel confident seeing your crayfish is finally turning out to be a MOM!

When The Female Crayfish Develops Eggs?

There is no specific time of the year when the female crayfish develop eggs, especially in captivity. If the environment is right, you’re feeding high-quality food and the water parameters are in the right range, then the sexually matured female will soon develop eggs.

You can see the female carrying eggs under her belly. At this stage, the eggs are still unfertilized. That’s where the male crayfish comes in.

The male crayfish will mate with the female and deposit a sack of sperm on the female. Then the female crayfish will pass her eggs through that sperm sack and throughout the process, the eggs will get fertilized.

The fertilized eggs will be placed under the female’s tail until they are hatched into little crayfish babies.

crayfish grazing on a leaf
Owner: Vanessa Brilli

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Crayfish Egg Care: Infographic

crayfish egg care for beginners infographic

Want to get a printable version of this infographic? Click here! [If you want to use this infographic on your website, please link back to this post as the source!]

How To Tell If Crayfish Eggs Are Fertilized?

There are a few ways to tell if the crayfish eggs are fertilized or not:

  • If the female is ‘berried’, that means if you can see the eggs under her tail, then the eggs should be fertilized.
  • Fertilized eggs start with black color. With time, you’ll see yellowish/white splotches on the eggs. Soon these splotches will develop into the eyes of the babies. This will indicate the babies are very close to hatching.
  • Unfertilized eggs develop orange color in them. The crayfish will also eat her unfertilized eggs.

Do Crayfish Lay Unfertilized Eggs?

A female crayfish can develop eggs on her own. However, without the male’s sperm, the eggs will stay unfertilized. With time, the female will shed the unfertilized eggs and eat them. You can also see the eggs turning orangish if they are unfertilized.

colorful crayfish hiding and peeking
Owner: Stefan Brown

How Long Does It Take For Crayfish Eggs To Hatch?

The hatching time can depend on many things, mainly:

  • The species of the crayfish
  • temperature of the water
  • water parameters
  • the overall environment, etc.
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As you can see, it is quite difficult to exactly calculate how long the eggs will take to hatch. However, in most of the cases, the eggs take at least 3 to 4 weeks to hatch.

Can Crayfish Lay Eggs Without Mating?

The female crayfish will shed her eggs if they are unfertilized. She will only get ‘berried’ if the male’s sperm sack is present and the eggs get fertilized.

The female can get the male’s sperm sack only after mating. She can store it for the next 6 months. So, if within that period the female develops eggs, chances are the eggs will get fertilized and the female will lay them under her tail.

Otherwise, the unfertilized eggs will be shed and the female will eat those.

How Do Crayfish Protect Their Eggs?

After the female mates with the male and receives the sperm sack, she’ll start fertilizing the eggs. The eggs will go through the sperm sack and sit under the female’s tail.

This is a very vulnerable state for the female crayfish. Other fishes can easily attack her and she won’t be able to escape quickly because of the eggs. For this, the females typically will dig through the substrate and hide under a burrow.

This burrowing activity provides protection to the female crayfish as well as to her eggs.

That’s why we recommend keeping at least 4-5 inches depth of substrate in the crayfish tank. This is necessary for the female to burrow and feel safe.

crayfish tank setup
Owner: Mary Kot

What Color Are Crayfish Eggs?

There are lots of things you can understand from the color of the crayfish eggs. Though the exact color will depend mainly on the species of the crayfish, you’ll get a general idea from it.

Fertilized eggs generally start their journey with black color. With time as they get more developed, the color will lighten. In most cases, the eggs will get brownish as they develop.

As the embryo develops, it will consume more egg yolk. As a result, the eggs will start to get more transparent with time.

Do Crayfish Die After Laying Eggs?

Crayfish will not die after laying eggs, especially if you take the correct steps. When you see the female is berried, that means carrying eggs under her tail, then you should immediately separate her to another tank.

Don’t keep any other tank mates there. Feed the female high-quality food, do regular water changes and keep lots of hiding places. If everything is right, the female will hatch the eggs safely.

After hatching, the babies will stay with the mom for some time until they age a little. During this period, the babies will typically stay underneath the mom, catch floating food particles and eat them.

Once the babies start to swim around on their own, then you should separate the mom crayfish from her babies. It may sound cruel, but the mom will eat her babies once they become independent. That’s why you need to separate her.

If you follow all these steps properly, then your crayfish shouldn’t die after laying eggs.

For taking care of the babies, go through my baby crayfish care guide. I’ve explained everything that you need to know for taking care of them.

orange berried crayfish with eggs on white substrate
Owner: Mary Kot

Can You Eat Crayfish Eggs?

These crayfish eggs are almost similar to fish eggs. There are arguments on this topic of whether you can eat crayfish eggs or not.

The raw eggs of crayfish are not edible for humans. Due to bacteria and other harmful microorganisms, you can not eat crayfish eggs in raw forms.

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But, you can eat crayfish eggs by cooking various recipes for these eggs. After cooking these crayfish eggs, these eggs will turn red coloration from black. Several food lovers shared their opinion of trying crayfish eggs with mixed flavors of salt and mild sweetness with smooth texture.

Moreover, crayfish eggs contain great nutritional values, including calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, etc. But, you should avoid crayfish eggs if you are a cardiac patient. Due to having high saturated fats, the experts suggest not eating crayfish eggs.

Sometimes, people may feel nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and other digestive issues after eating crayfish eggs. If you experience such health issues, you should stop eating crayfish eggs.

orange crayfish closeup
Owner: Preston Soult

What Do Crawfish Eggs Look Like?

If you’re a crayfish hobbyist, you may wonder what crayfish eggs look like. Although crayfish are aquatic creatures, their eggs are far different than fish eggs.

The crayfish carry up to 650 eggs at a time in their abdomen. So, you may notice lots of small eggs of reddish-orange hue color. These crayfish eggs look small and spherical.

Each egg of crayfish can have up to 2.50 mm in diameter. Also, it weighs only 0.017 g. So, the crayfish eggs are a bit heavy to sink at the bottom of the water after being released.

However, the size and weight of crayfish eggs vary according to the size of the crayfish. Besides, the coloration of crayfish eggs changes from time to time. The darker crayfish eggs become lighter in color as soon as they reach in fertilization period.

How Many Eggs Do Crayfish Lay?

The number of eggs that crayfish lay depends upon several factors. Such as the health of the crayfish, the size of the crayfish, crayfish species, environmental conditions, etc.

You might know that crayfish lay eggs on several times a year. The average number of eggs that crayfish lay ranges from 100-150 each time. In each season, a crayfish can lay around 4000 eggs.

Generally, the larger crayfish can lay around 500-650 eggs each time. However, only 50% of the total crayfish eggs can survive.

How Often Do Crawfish Reproduce?

The reproduction season for crayfish starts from autumn to spring. Although crawfish mate in the autumn season, they take time to hatch the eggs. After hatching the eggs, your crawfish may lay eggs during the spring season.

To have the next batch of babies, these crayfish may take around 5-7 months after hatching one round of eggs. Some female crayfish can reproduce more than once time in a year. But, you must ensure the right environmental condition to help your crayfish reproduce often successfully.

Baby Crayfish Care Infographic

baby crayfish care infographic

Want to get a printable version of this infographic? Click here! [If you want to use this infographic on your website, please link back to this post as the source!]

Frequently Asked Questions

What to do when crayfish lay eggs?

When crayfish lay eggs, it is important to provide them with proper care to increase their chances of survival.

Crayfish lay eggs several times a year and the average number of eggs ranges from 100-150 each time. The larger crayfish can lay around 500-650 eggs each time.

The first step is to separate the female crayfish from other tank mates to prevent them from eating the eggs. The eggs need to be kept in an appropriate environment with the right water temperature, pH level, and oxygen levels.

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The eggs will hatch in 2 to 20 weeks depending on the species. Once they hatch, the newborn crayfish should be fed appropriately and kept in a separate tank until they are large enough to be introduced to the main tank.

Will crayfish eat their eggs?

Crayfish generally do not eat their fertilized eggs. The female crayfish collects her fertilized eggs as they are laid and secures them with her pleopods. She then protects and cleans the eggs until they hatch.

However, other tank mates or predators may eat the eggs, so it is important to separate the female crayfish and provide the eggs with proper care to increase the chances of survival.

Do baby crayfish need their mom?

Baby crayfish do not need their mom for survival, but they do need appropriate care and a suitable environment. 

Baby crayfish are born fully formed and can fend for themselves. However, they are vulnerable to predation and need a safe and suitable environment with appropriate water temperature, pH level, and oxygen levels.

If the baby crayfish are kept with their mom, it is important to monitor her behavior as she may attack and eat her own offspring.

Do female crayfish carry eggs?

Female crayfish carry eggs. They have paired ovaries where the eggs are produced. The matured eggs remain near the margin and the immature eggs occupy the center.

Females have oviducts at the base of the second walking legs. It is from here that eggs will be shed. The female crayfish carries the fertilized eggs attached to her pleopods until they hatch.

Where are female crayfish eggs stored?

Female crayfish eggs are stored in the ovaries and brood pouches, which are two specialized organs located within the female crayfish’s body.

The ovaries are located on either side of the crayfish’s body, and they produce and store the eggs until they are ready to be fertilized. The brood pouches, also known as oostegites, are located on the underside of the crayfish’s body and are used to carry the fertilized eggs until they hatch.

The eggs are attached to the brood pouches by small hair-like structures called setae.

Can crayfish eggs survive without their mother?

Crayfish eggs are naturally black in color. The eggs are initially dark and opaque, and as they develop, they will change to yellowish/white splotches. Soon those splotches will develop into the eyes of the babies.

If the eggs are fertilized, they will remain black in color throughout the incubation period until they hatch. However, if the eggs are not fertilized, they will turn white and become fungus-covered.

Why did my crayfish’s eggs turn white?

If your crayfish’s eggs have turned white, it is likely that they were not fertilized. White eggs on crayfish are usually infertile. The eggs of a female crayfish will turn white if they are not fertilized by a male crayfish’s sperm.

It is also possible that the eggs became fungus-covered due to poor water quality or environmental conditions.

Final Words

So, this is all about how to take care of the crayfish eggs. I hope I’ve answered most of the common questions that beginner crayfish keepers ask.

When you see your crayfish is carrying eggs, don’t get worried. It is perfectly natural and the mom crayfish will do most of the things on her own.

All you need to do is ensure a proper and safe environment for the mom crayfish.

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Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of AcuarioPets.com. I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.

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