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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 develop 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 to keep at least 4-5 inches depth of substrate in the crayfish tank. This is necessary for the female to burrow and feel safe.
Crayfish Egg Color
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.
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.