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.

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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.

Why Is My Crayfish Upside Down?

Crayfish owners often get panicked after noticing their crayfish upside down. Some owners make the mistake of considering the upside-down crayfish dead.

Being upside down is a pretty common behavior of crayfish during their pre-molting stage. At the beginning of the molting period, crayfish take some preparation to run their shedding process smoothly.

In the pre-molting stage, these crustaceans absorb calcium from their surroundings and old exoskeleton. While preparing themselves for molting, crayfish may get upside down to start shedding their old exoskeleton.

Crayfish On The Back Not Moving

Generally, crayfish are active and territorial creatures. So, the owners may become worried when their crayfish do not move on their backs.

Firstly, you should not panic. There are several reasons why your crayfish are on the back and not moving.

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You might know that molting is a highly stressful phase for crayfish. When the molting process starts, crayfish tend to stay on the back. In this stressful phase, crayfish become soft and weak. So, you should check whether your crayfish start molting when they are lying on their back but not moving.

In addition, crayfish do such unusual behavior when they are stressed. The reasons behind their stress can be poor water quality, aggressive tank mates, no hideouts, etc.

Besides, your newly bought crayfish may stay on the back, not moving. When these crustaceans adapt to the new environment, they’ll become active again. Another thing to check in this condition is the period of the day.

If your crayfish lay on its back, not moving in the night, you should not become worried. Since crayfish are nocturnal, it’s a pretty usual trait of crayfish at night.

However, you should check how long tour crayfish stay on the back without movement. If your crayfish do not start moving within a week, you should check the health of your crayfish.

You can bring the crayfish out of the tank and monitor the sign of aliveness. It may possible that your crayfish lay on its back, not moving because of being dead.

Why Does My Crayfish Lay On Its Back?

It’s not common to see your crayfish lying on its back. The crayfish owners look for the reasons responsible for their crayfish laying on its back. Generally, stress is the common reason for lying on the back of crayfish.

Such stressful situation comes from improper acclimation, improper water parameters, ammonia spike, low temperature, incompatible tank mates, etc.

Besides, crayfish stop their movement during their molting phase. At the beginning of their molting, you may see your crayfish lying on their back.

Why Is My Crayfish Laying On Its Side?

Have you found your crayfish lying on its side for several hours? Then, your crayfish must be sleeping.

According to several kinds of research, the researchers found out that crayfish follow a stereotypical position while sleeping. Sleeping crayfish tend to lay on its side against the water’s surface. During this period, the electrical activity of the crayfish brain comes to a lower range.

You might find your crayfish lying on one side, especially at night time. So, these crayfish are just having some rest by lying on one side.

On the contrary, crayfish may lay on one side due to having problems in molting. If you see your crayfish to lay on its side in the molting period, you should take proper steps to fix its molting problems.

Do Crayfish Sleep On Their Sides?

The answer is yes! Crayfish tend to sleep on their sides against the water surface and remain motionless. You can find them sleeping in such a posture during both day and night time.

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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!

Why Is My Crayfish Tail Curled?

Have you ever noticed the curled-up tails of your crayfish? Curling tail is a behavioral response of crayfish depending upon several types of occurrences.

The most probable reason for crayfish’s curling tail behavior is stress. If your crayfish is stressed, it’ll show anxiety in its behavior. Your crayfish may stop eating due to stress.

Like humans, crayfish can also experience stress, anxiety, and fear. Due to excess produced glucose in their blood, crayfish may curl up their tails in stressful situations.

Another reason why your crayfish tail curl up is its aggression. You might know that crayfish have a territorial temperament. Besides, curling tail behavior is a defense mechanism of crayfish.

These crayfish exhibit such behavior when they prepare to face their predators. By showing muscle contraction, they can drive away their predators.

Besides, you can see your crayfish curl up their tails during pregnancy. These female crawfish keep their fertilized eggs beneath their tail side. To protect the fertilized eggs, the female crayfish can curl up their tails.

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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