If you are keeping a pair of crayfish, you might see babies lurking around after some time. Are the babies safe around their parents? Can the crayfishes eat their babies? I’ll talk about all of that in this article.
Crayfishes can eat their babies as soon as the babies completely get detached from the mother’s body.
Crayfishes are not good parents. So, if you want to keep the babies alive, you’ll have to provide extra care for them.
Some Species Provide Parental Care
Not all crayfish species are horrible parents. Some are ‘less’ horrible than the others.
In some species, the mother crayfish do not go after the babies as soon as they are hatched. The babies hang around their mother’s swimmerets until they are old enough to live separately.
In such cases, the mother will not go after the babies when they are under her swimmerets. The mother will only try to eat them after they get completely detached from the her body.
Taking Care Of The Babies
As I’ve said before, if you want to keep the babies alive and grow them up, you’ll need to take additional care for them. In wild, nature provides the necessities so the babies can grow.
However, in captivity, the babies are on their own unless you help them. Here are some ways you can take care of the babies:
Get Them To A Separate Tank
As I’ve already said, the mom crayfish can go after the babies and eat them after the babies get completely detached from the mom. So, if you want to keep the babies, you’ll have to move them into a separate tank.
It will keep the babies safe for some time. Make sure the new tank is properly cycled and suitable for keeping crayfish.
Provide Lots Of Hiding Places
Crayfish needs lots of hiding places in their habitat. The more hiding place you can provide, the better they will be. It will also keep the babies safe from attacking each other.
It is very easy & cheap to provide hiding places for the crayfishes. Just get some PVC pipe, cut them into smaller pieces and throw those in the tank. The crayfishes will use the pipes as their hideout.
You should also use lots of rocks, woods, etc. to create natural cave shapes. These hardscapes also create visual barrier which is very important to keep aggression between the babies under control.
If you have the budget, you can buy some decorative hiding places from a local fish store too! Do what you feel like, but make sure there are enough hiding places in the tank.
Crayfish needs at least 3-4 inches deep substrate level. They like to dig. It is one of their natural instincts which help them keep safe in the wild.
So, the baby crayfish tank needs to have a good layer of substrate. I like sand for crayfish tank. Sand is very easy to dig for the crayfish. It is also very cheap.
You can easily get a huge bag of pool filter sand for under $30. If you are not a fan of sand, don’t worry. You can also get small gravels as the substrate layer.
However, I think sand is more suitable for baby crayfishes as they might face a hard time digging through large gravels.
I’ve written a detailed guide on substrate for crayfish. If you want to know more about the substrate, don’t forget to check out that guide!
Filtration & Aeration
Crayfishes need good filtration as well as aeration. For filtration, you can choose a HOB filter. There are other options in the market too! But for crayfish, I think HOBs work best. You can learn about my crayfish filter recommendation here.
For aeration, you can use a simple air pump and air stone. Many crayfish keepers skip the aeration part. It is very important, especially for the baby crayfishes. So make sure you’ve got a good air pump ready on hand!
Feed Them Properly
You need the keep the babies properly fed. Though crayfishes are omnivorous, the babies will prefer a protein-rich diet more.
Here are some good options:
- Shrimp Pellets
- Algae Wafer
- Boiled fish
- Blanched vegetable, etc.
If you want to check out my recommendations for crayfish food, click here. I’ve also talked about feeding schedule and many other information every crayfish keeper should know.
Separate The Babies When You Notice Aggression
Crayfishes are very aggressive and territorial. You shouldn’t keep more than one crayfish in a small tank. So, if there is 5 babies in a tank, you’ll surely start to see aggression and fight as soon as the babies get a little bit older.
When you notice the aggression, you’ll have to separate the babies. Here are some of the options you can go for:
- If you are not ready to have 5 separate tanks for keeping crayfish, you can sell the babies to other hobbyist. Just look through the local fish keeping communities and publish a sell post. You can also use Facebook groups for this.
- If you don’t want to sell the crayfish or can’t find any buyer, then just give them away to other hobbyist who are ready to keep crayfish. It is better to see the crayfish grow properly than seeing them fighting with each other in the tank.
- If you can’t find any interested hobbyists, then you’ll have to contact with a local fish store. Just ask them if they can keep the crayfishes and sell to other customers. You can try to sell the babies at a fish store, but I doubt you’ll get any considerable money.
These are the most common available options you can try.
Raising baby crayfishes is hard and need utmost care. If you are not ready for that, don’t breed your crayfish. Crayfishes are terrible parents and they won’t take care of the babies.
At the end of the day, it is you who’ll have to take care of them. So, know what you are getting into before deciding to breed crayfish.