What Are The Suitable Tank Mates For Crayfish?

What Are The Suitable Tank Mates For Crayfish

Choosing the suitable tank mates is extremely important both for the crayfish and the tank mate you choose. If they are not suitable for each other, either the crayfish will eat the tank mate or the crayfish itself will turn out to be the food.

These are generally the ideal tank mates for a crayfish tank:

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.

If you want to keep crayfish in a community tank with other fishes, there are lots more things you need to be aware of.

Why A Crayfish Only Tank Is Better?

If you want to keep lots of fishes in your aquarium, then keeping crayfish is probably not a good idea. Crayfishes are not meant to be kept with other fishes, especially fancy & expensive fishes.

Crayfishes are very aggressive, territorial and love to hunt other preys. Even two of them in a single tank can fight each other to death. So, if you haven’t bought a crayfish yet, please ask yourself if you can keep a single crayfish in a tank. This is the best approach to keep a crayfish.

I know many beginners will not like only a single animal in their tank. I get it. That’s why, if you are just starting out with fish keeping, crayfish might not be the greatest idea.

On the other hand, if you know what you’re doing and you absolutely love crayfishes, then just keep one in a single tank and enjoy its beauty.

In general, no tank mate is absolutely safe with a crayfish. Crayfishes are omnivorous & they’ll eat anything they can get their claws on. So, as long as you have a crayfish in the tank, no other fish is absolutely safe from it.

crayfish tank setup
Owner: Mary Kot

Dwarf Crayfish Tank Mates

I’ll divide this section into 3 parts. It will make the discussion a whole lot easier to understand!

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Tank Mates That Will Definitely Not Work For Crayfish Tank

Any fish that shows the following traits will definitely not work with a crayfish:

  • slow-moving fish (angel fish, betta, etc.)
  • bottom feeder (Pleco, Shrimp, Snail, etc.)
  • fish with fancy tails & fins (fancy guppy, fancy goldfish, etc.)

Fishes generally save themselves from crayfish by quickly darting away from the crayfish. If the fish is very slow-moving, then it won’t be enough and the crayfish will easily catch the fish.

Also, keep in mind that crayfishes are generally nocturnal i.e. they get active at night when most other fishes sleep (stay still). This gives the crayfish ample opportunity to catch its prey.

So, you need to consider these while choosing the tank mate.

Tank Mates That ‘Might’ Work For Crayfish Tank

This category includes fish that are relatively fast swimmer and like to stay at the top of the tank. Crayfishes are generally bottom dwellers and they seldom come to the top.

That’s why fish that stay at the top are relatively safer from the attacks of crayfish. Also, the fast-moving trait will make the fish safer from any imminent threat.

Some good choices can be:

  • Tetras
  • Danios
  • Red tail shark
  • Marble/Silver hatchet fish, etc.
group of orange dwarf crayfish
Owner: Preston Soult

My Recommendation For Crayfish Tank Mate

Now, I want to talk about what I recommend if you want to keep other fish in your crayfish tank.

I know it can be hard to look at an empty aquarium with only a single crayfish in it, especially if you are new to this hobby. So, if you absolutely want to keep other fishes in the crayfish tank and won’t mind if the crayfish eat a few of the fishes, then I’ll recommend livebearers.

Livebearers include molly, guppy, swordtails etc. They are called livebearers because they don’t lay eggs, directly give birth to the babies. Generally livebearers are very cheap and they reproduce very quickly.

After reaching sexual maturity, Guppies can give birth after every 30 days. Each time they can give birth to 20 to 50 babies. So, the crayfish might not keep up with the number of guppies in the tank.

Like guppies, Molly and Swordtails reproduce very quickly too! So, I think they can be an ideal choice if you are willing to sacrifice a few.

NB: Don’t get fancy guppy with large & fancy tails & fins. These guppies are generally more expensive and slow moving. They won’t be suitable for the crayfish tank.

How To Increase The Safety Of The Tank Mates?

By now, you already know that crayfishes are kind of the ‘prick’ in the tank. No fish is absolutely safe from them. However, there are some things that you can do to increase the safety of the tank mates:

  • Make sure there are lots of hiding places in the tank. Crayfishes love to hide themselves and it make them feel safe. When they are hiding, it is less likely they’ll attack others. Cuttings of PVC pipes can work great for this.
  • Make sure the substrate has enough depth. At least 3-4 inches of depth at the back of the tank is necessary for crayfishes. Crayfishes love to dig through the substrate and it makes them feel safe.
  • Put lots of visual barriers in the tank. Visual barriers can be stones, woods, etc. that block the view of the crayfish. This increases the safety of the other tank mates.
white crayfish on stone
Owner: Sandy Sharp

Can You Put Two Crayfish Together?

It is not recommended to keep two crayfish together. Crayfishes are very aggressive and territorial. Two of them in a single tank can fight each other to death.

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If you definitely want to keep 2 crayfishes together, you’ll need at least a 20 gallon tank. The bigger the tank is, the safer they will be from each other. Also, you’ll need to put lots of hiding places in the tank (preferably 5-6).

I have written a detailed guide on how to keep 2 crayfishes together. If you want to know more about it, feel free to go through that guide.

Please note that even if you do all the things I mentioned above, the crayfishes might still fight with each other. It is their natural instinct and there is nothing you can do about it. That’s why it is not recommended to keep multiple crayfishes together in a single tank.

Can Crayfish Itself Become The Food?

Till now all I have talked about is how your crayfish can kill other fish in the tank. Bot do you know the crayfish itself can become the food of other fish?

Well, I am talking about monster fish. If you are a monster fish keeper and keep crayfish with them, then your crayfish will surely turn out to be the food.

So, you’ll need to be careful about this too. Don’t keep crayfish in a tank where there are much larger & aggressive fish like:

  • Arowana
  • Oscars
  • Cichlids
  • Giant Gourami
  • Peacock Bass, etc.
blue crayfish coming out of a skull eye
Owner: Sandy Sharp

Frequently Asked Questions

What fish can live with crayfish?

Some fish that can live with crayfish are Hatchet fish, zebra danios, giant danios, Furcata Rainbowfish, Swordtails, Platies, Mollies, Red tail shark, Rosy Red Minnows, Rainbow Darters, Barbs, and other fast, surface dwelling fish that rarely go into the lower parts of the aquarium.

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Fish that sleep near the bottom of the tank will get eaten by crayfish and thus don’t make good tank mates.

It’s important to choose fish that can survive in the same water conditions as the crayfish without being large enough to bully or steal the food of the crayfish. They also must be fast enough to avoid the crayfish’s territorial nature

Can crayfish live with other fish?

Crayfish can live with other fish, but it depends on the species of fish and the temperament of the crayfish. Some fish that may be compatible with crayfish are fast, surface-dwelling fish that rarely go into the lower parts of the aquarium, such as Hatchet fish, zebra danios, giant danios, Furcata Rainbowfish, Swordtails, Platies, Mollies, Red tail shark, Rosy Red Minnows, Rainbow Darters, Barbs, etc.

What are some ideal vanilla lobster tank mates?

It’s generally recommended to keep vanilla lobsters alone in a tank, as they can be aggressive and territorial towards other crayfish and fish.

However, some keepers have reported success in keeping them with certain tank mates such as snails.

It’s important to choose tank mates that are similar in size or larger than the vanilla lobster, and to provide ample hiding places and territories to reduce aggression.

Can crayfish live with goldfish?

Crayfish and goldfish can potentially live together peacefully if certain conditions are met.

The tank must be large enough to accommodate both species, and the water conditions must be appropriate for both. Crayfish are opportunistic feeders and may eat smaller goldfish or nip at their fins.

Additionally, some species of crayfish can be aggressive and territorial, which may lead to conflict with goldfish.

Therefore, it’s generally recommended to keep crayfish and goldfish in separate tanks to ensure the safety and well-being of both species.

Can dwarf crayfish live with betta?

Betta fish are considered as bad tank mates for dwarf crayfish. Crayfish can be very temperamental and try to nip the betta’s fancy fins. However, some owners have successfully kept dwarf crayfish with betta.

At the end of the day, it all depends on the crayfish and betta’s temperamental as well as aggression level.

Do crayfish need tank mates?

Crayfish do not necessarily need tank mates to thrive. In fact, some species of crayfish can be aggressive and territorial, making it difficult to find compatible tank mates. 

Final Words

So, this is all about the suitable tank mates for a crayfish tank. It is always better to keep crayfish in a single tank. This is the best approach to raise a crayfish.

However, if you definitely want tank mates, a good rule of thumb is to choose the ones that are:

  • fast-moving
  • stay at the top of the tank

If you follow these simple rules & tips, the tank mates should be much safer from the cruel grasp of the 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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