Why Do Crayfish Flip Over?

Why Do Crayfish Flip Over

It is not common to see your crayfish flipped over. However, it can happen and there are a few reasons behind this type of behavior. If you are first experiencing this, it can be quite shocking for you. Here’s what you need to know:

Crayfishes flip over when they are molting. It can also occur if the crayfish is facing difficulty with molting, the water parameters are not right, due to lack of iodine, etc.

A lot of things can be responsible for your crayfish flipping over its back or sides. I’ll try to explain each of them in details.

Your Crayfish Is Just Trying To Molt

Crayfishes generally flip over to their sides of backs when they are molting. It is actually pretty normal.

So, if you find your crayfish flipped over, there is no need to be alarmed yet! Just observe it and see how’s the molting process going.

If the crayfish is flipped over for more than 3-4 hours, then I’ll say something is wrong or they crayfish is having problem with molting.

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There Is Some Problem With Molting

Crayfishes generally face problem with molting when something is wrong with the water. Lack of iodine can also cause this problem.

The Water Parameters Are Not Right

Crayfishes are generally very hardy creatures. They can handle a wide range of water parameters.

Here are the ideal water parameter ranges for crayfish:

Water ParameterIdeal Range
Ammonia, Nitrite, NitrateClose to 0 ppm
Temperature65 to 80 Degrees Fahrenheit (19 to 27 degrees Celcius)
pH6.5 to 7.5
GH4-10 ppm
KH3-10 ppm
TDS100-300 ppm
Important NoteConsistent water parameters are more important than trying to hit the correct number. If your tank water pH is 8.0, it’s not the end of the world for crayfish. Just make sure the parameters are consistent and do not change rapidly.

If you find your crayfish facing problem with molting, the first thing you need to do is check the water parameters. Some of the parameter can be way off and causing the problem.

I’ll pay special attention to the ammonia, nitrite & nitrate. You can use API Master Test Kit to check all these water parameters.

Keep in mind that ammonia is very dangerous for any living animal inside the aquarium. Even a slight amount of ammonia can cause lethal affects to the crayfish.

If you see ammonia & nitrite reading is not close to 0, then you’ll need to perform an immediate 50% water change.

Even after water change, keep a close eye to the water parameters and try to find out what’s causing the ammonia in the tank.

I know water parameters can get very confusing for the beginners. If you are still confused, check out my water parameters guide for crayfish. I hope everything will get much clearer!

The Tank Is Not Cycled

If you keep crayfish in an uncycled tank, then you’ll face hundreds of problems. If you don’t know yet what nitrogen cycle is, check out this guide of mine. Though this guide is for shrimps, the principles are pretty much the same.

Never release crayfish in an uncycled tank. If a tank is not yet cycled, it means that there is still ammonia present in the tank. As I’ve mentioned before, ammonia is deadly for any living creatures.

Unless the tank is properly cycled, this ammonia will not get away. So, cycle the tank first.

Don’t be impatient and cause health risks to your crayfish!

Lack Of Iodine

Iodine is extremely important for crayfish’s growth. If the water parameters are okay yet your crayfish is struggling to molt, then it might be facing lack of iodine.

Fortunately, adding iodine to the diet is very easy. You’ll just need to feed foods that are good in iodine. Some options can be:

  • Good quality shrimp pellets
  • algae wafer
  • Shrimp with its shell (Very good source of iodine)
  • small pieces of Nori (the seaweed used to wrap sushi)

In most of the cases, doing these will solve the problem of your crayfish flipping over.

However, crayfish can also flip over when they are close to death.

Maybe You Should Get Ready To Say Goodbye…

If you’ve performed all the things I mentioned above and still there is no improvement, I would say you need to get ready for saying goodbye to your little pet.

Sometimes crayfish flip over when it is too late and nothing can be done. The crayfish might also get too old and die naturally. Whatever the case is, you need to prepare yourself mentally.

  • Just because your crayfish is going to die doesn’t mean that you can’t make its last days happy. Keep an eye on the water parameters and try to keep them in the ideal range.
  • Feed your crayfish good foods. Preferably the ones he like most. If he is not strong enough to hunt for food, use a tweezer and bring the food closer to its claws.

Here are some of the options you can try after your crayfish has died:

  • Some hobbyists flush down the crayfish in their toilet. Though nothing is wrong with it, you might need to consult with the authority and check if it is okay to do so. But I don’t like this approach and think it’s humane.
  • I like to wrap the crayfish with some pieces of tissue, put it inside a shoe box and bury the shoe box in the garden. I think this is the most honorable and environmentally suitable approach for dealing with any dead pet.
  • Though you might not like to read this, but some hobbyists eat the dead crayfish. If the crayfish is freshly dead, I suppose you can eat it and nothing bad will happen. However, if it is dead for a long time, bacteria will infest it soon and it will get unsafe for human consumption.

So, this is all I know about crayfish flipping over. In most cases the crayfish is just trying to molt, so there is no need to get tensed.

If the crayfish stays flipped over for more than 3-4 hours, perform the steps I mentioned above.

I hope everything will be okay!

Muntaseer Rahman

I have been keeping shrimps as a pet for many years now. I’ve fallen in love with these cute pets from the moment I saw them. That’s why I am writing articles to share my shrimp keeping knowledge with you.

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