What Do Crayfish Eat? The Crayfish Diet

Aquarium Crayfish Diet

Although crayfish are among the most popular pets to own, there are a lot of people that still have no idea about what this creature likes to eat. The answer is funny, actually. Crayfish are considered omnivorous and eat anything from insects, to fish, meat, and shrimp, as well as vegetables and plants like Java moss.

Crayfish as a State Symbol

Let’s first start with a cool little nugget of information. The Pocambarus Clarkii, also known as the crayfish is the official state crustacean of Louisiana. This was established in 1983.

Some people also call Crayfish either crawdads or crawfish. Scientists say that currently, we know of 540 different species of crayfish all around the world. These types of crustaceans will use freshwater bodies as their natural habitat. In the wild, they can be found in the running water of rivers and other small streams. As long as their gills are wet, they can survive on land, although they are aquatic creatures. They are related to lobsters and in many ways are just smaller versions of these creatures.

You might also like my articles on octopus species that can be kept as pets, on how to stop fish from getting stuck to filter intake, and whether you can put a fish tank inside your bathroom.

The lifespan of the average crayfish is anywhere between 2 and 3 years.

Their Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Crustacea
  • Class: Malacostraca
  • Order: Decapoda
  • Superfamily: Astacoidea

Their Diet

Because they are omnivorous, crayfish are able to eat basically anything that they find. This means that their diet can be any combination of plants like Hava moss, carrots, frozen peas, and other vegetables, along with table scrap, sinking pellets, insects that fall into their tank, fish, some types of meat, and even shrimp.

While in the wild, these crawdads won’t refuse a meal made of decomposed plants and grass that are rotting in the water. These are very easy to eat because decayed leaves are a lot easier to rip with their claws because they are soft. This means that your crayfish can also eat rotten plants from around your house. If you have spinach leaves or lettuce leaves that are going bad, just cut them into smaller pieces and throw them in the tank. These will be a great treat for these creatures.

Crayfish in tankIf you want to diversify the diet of your crayfish you can even feed it small minnows, guppies, and other types of smaller fish. If you want to get more than one crayfish, make sure you keep them each in their own tank. Also, if you add other fish in the same tank as your crayfish, it might take only one day until you notice that the crawfish has eaten all of the fish in the tank.

If you throw in their tank dead fish from other tanks, they will happily eat those as well.

Crawfish are also known to eat a lot of snails, bacteria, and algae because these are found in abundance in their natural habitat along rivers and streams. This means that this pet will have no problem eating any bacteria and algae that might grow in its tank. This means that the water inside the tank will be most of the time purified and clean.

You shouldn’t expect your crawfish to feed off only algae and bacteria. You should also make sure you give it enough food to prevent it from starving. If you have more than one crawdad in a tank and they don’t have enough food, they will quickly resort to cannibalistic practices and will fight and even eat each other.

Another important thing to know about their diets is that as soon as they reach adulthood, they will start eating considerably fewer proteins per meal. This means that when your crayfish becomes an adult, you will have to switch its diet from a meat and fish one to one that is more inclined towards vegetables.

Physical Description

Different crayfish species will have different colors and sizes. Usually, you will notice that young specimens have a light tan color on their body, while adults will become a deeper shade of reddish-brown. These aren’t de only colors a crawdad can have. Some will be blue, while others will be green. The usual crayfish will have a size that varies between two and seven inches. They have a hard shell that covers their body and protects it. They also have sensory bristles on both their pincers, appendages, and legs, which will help them to smell, hear, feel, touch, and even eat things. They use their gills for breathing.


Crayfish are considered oviparous creatures. This means that after mating, the female will keep all of the eggs in its swimmerets that are located close to her tail, just under the abdomen. The small baby crayfish won’t just leave their mother when they hatch. Instead, they will stick to her tail until they are old enough to be self-sufficient. They will be able to eat on their own and will usually feed off of the tiny pieces of food that they will find in the water. They will go on their own way only when they are old enough to do so.

Their Bite

If a crayfish bites you, you shouldn’t feel anything more than a little sting. It won’t be very painful. Only if you have a larger specimen of crayfish will the sting bite feel more painful. If you know how to pick up this creature, they won’t be able to bite or escape. YOu should pick them up by grabbing them from the midsection to prevent any issues. It will take a little while for you to understand how to pick them up properly, but as soon as you do, you will never get bitten by a crawfish again.

The Uses of Crayfish

This creature is intensively used as a food source, being part of many recipes. People from many parts of the world consider the crayfish a delicacy. One of the most popular recipes will be made using boiled crawfish.

Some fishermen also use crayfish as bait. They will be great bait for catfish, pike, and other fish.

A lot of people also keep them as pets in aquariums. They have beautiful colors and their species are varied, making them great for aquarium life lovers.

Being so versatile, crayfish will be used for a lot of reasons. The fact that they can be both raised as pets and cooked in recipes causes a lot of tension between animal lovers and food lovers.

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