What’s The Maximum Time Crayfish Can Survive Out Of Water?

How Long Can Crayfish Live Out Of Water

It is not uncommon to see a crayfish walking on land. You might wonder how long can a crayfish live out of water? Also, why do they get out of water? Well, I was curious too and here’s what I found:

A crayfish can live 5-7 days of out water. In a humid environment and marshy area, crayfish can live for several months out of water.

Why crayfish goes out of water? How do the breathe? I’ll try to answer all these questions in this article.

Why Crayfish Goes Out Of Water?

Crayfish goes out of water when there is lack of oxygen in the water. In the wild, crayfish often move from one place to another by walking out of water. It is not a problem for the crayfish, especially if the area is humid and marshy. Crayfishes can do this to explore other areas, find food or more suitable place to live.

In captivity, the crayfish will try to get out of the water if there is not enough oxygen in it. That’s why experienced crayfish keepers always recommend to leave a air pump ON 24/7 in a crayfish tank.

If you can’t get an air pump, just reduce the water height a few inches and place a stone or wood in the middle of the tank. Make sure the stone or the wood breaches the water surface. It’ll ensure the crayfish can get out of water if it wants without being able to escape from the tank.

colorful crayfish hiding and peeking
Owner: Stefan Brown

How To Make Sure Enough Oxygen In The Crayfish Tank?

You already know why crayfish gets out of water. It is mainly because of lack of oxygen in the water. Now, you might ask, how to increase the amount of oxygen in the water.

See also  How Big Do Crayfish Get? [31 Inches?!]

That’s a very good question and extremely important for keeping crayfish.

There are mainly 2 ways to dissolve oxygen into aquarium water. Let me walk you through both of the ways:

1. Using An Air Pump

Every fish keeper knows how to setup an air pump. But do you know how to set it up safely?

You take an air pump, connect it to a air tube and connect the opposite end to an air stone. Then turn ON the pump and air will flow through the air stone.

There is nothing wrong with it, but I’ll recommend some safety options:

  • Use a check valve between the air stone and the air pump. The check valve will ensure no water goes back to the air pump from the tank.
  • It is recommend to use an air flow regulator. The regulator will let you control the air flow through the air stone. It’ll make sure there isn’t too much air pumping through the air pump.
  • It is safe to place the air pump some place higher than the crayfish tank. It will further ensure nothing from the tank goes back to the air pump.

Now that you know how to setup an air pump safely, you might wonder how actually an air pump increases the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water? It is not as straightforward as you might think.

The air from the air pump doesn’t increase the oxygen level. It is just simple air, not oxygen. So, how an air pump increases the amount of oxygen?

When the air from the air stone hits the water surface, it agitates the surface. By agitating, I mean it disturbs the water surface and make it ripple.

This water surface agitation allows oxygen from the air to get dissolved into the water. This is how an air pump can help to increase the amount of oxygen in water.

orange crayfish walking on gravel
Owner: Preston Soult

2. Increasing The Surface Agitation

If you don’t have an air pump yet, don’t worry. If you understand the basic principle, there are many other ways to increase oxygen in the tank water.

See also  How To Clean A Crayfish Tank?

Just remember this, for increasing the amount of dissolved oxygen, we need to agitate the surface of the water.

Now, there are many ways to agitate water surface. Here are a few ideas:

  • You can use a powerhead. Make sure to setup the powerhead in such a way that it pumps out water along the surface. Or you can direct the face of the powerhead towards the surface. It will increase the surface agitation.
  • Wavemakers are also a very good option to increase surface agitation. If you have the budget, go for it!
  • If you are using a HOB (Hang On Back) filter, then reduce the water level about 1 inch below the HOB. The water fall from the HOB will create enough surface agitation for oxygen to get dissolved into the water.

Here’s What I Am Currently Doing

crayfish tank surface agitation

I am using a SOBO 320f filter. It is a very basic and simple internal power filter. I have detached the body from the filter and just using the powerhead.

This filter comes with a spraybar. I have attached the spraybar with the powerhead in such a way that the flow is directed along towards the surface of the water.

It creates enough surface agitation!

How Do Crayfishes Breathe?

I want to conclude the article with how crayfishes actually breathe. Their breathing mechanism is very special and I want to share it with you.

Crayfishes have very special gills that are different than fishes. With these gills, crayfish can breathe oxygen from the water. But what makes the gills special is, they can also absorb oxygen from the air.

To absorb oxygen from the air, the gills need to be moist. That’s why in a humid & mushy area, crayfishes can spend months out of water without any problem!

blue crayfish peeking through an aquarium decor hideout
Owner: Mary Kot

Frequently Asked Questions

Can crayfish breathe underwater?

Crayfish can breathe underwater using their gills to extract dissolved oxygen from the water. The gills are located on the sides of their bodies, protected by a hard covering called the carapace. These gills extract oxygen from the water as it passes over them, allowing the crayfish to survive and respire underwater.

See also  Can You Put Crayfish In A Community Tank?

Do crayfish breathe air?

Crayfish can breathe air as long as their gills remain moist. Their gills are capable of extracting oxygen from moisture in the air, which allows them to survive on land for short periods.

Can crayfish live on land?

Crayfish can survive on land for a few days to a few weeks, depending on the environmental conditions. If the area they are in is humid and has some water sources, they can survive longer.

However, they are primarily aquatic animals and require water to breathe and regulate their body temperature.

Do crayfish have gills?

Crayfish possess feathery structures known as gills, which are located on the sides of their bodies, beneath the carapace.

These gills are rich in blood vessels and allow the crayfish to extract oxygen from the water as it passes over them. The gills also facilitate the release of carbon dioxide.

The efficient functioning of their gills enables crayfish to respire and obtain the oxygen they need to survive underwater.

Can crayfish live in tap water?

Crayfish can live in tap water as long as the water is dechlorinated and free of other harmful chemicals.

Tap water may not contain enough dissolved oxygen for crayfish to survive, so it is important to ensure that the water is well-aerated.

Crayfish are also sensitive to changes in water temperature and parameters, so it is essential to monitor the water parameters regularly.  

Can crayfish drown in water?

Crayfish can drown in water if they are unable to access oxygen. Crayfish breathe through their gills and require a constant supply of oxygen to survive.

If the oxygen levels in the water are too low, or if the crayfish are unable to reach the water’s surface to breathe, they may drown. It is important to ensure that the water in which crayfish are kept is well-aerated and has sufficient oxygen levels.

Sharing is caring!

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.


This site is owned and operated by Muntaseer Rahman. AcuarioPets.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.