Crayfish are freshwater crustaceans found in rivers, lakes and ponds. People raise crayfish for pleasure and as a food source in aquariums and domestic ponds. Also called crawfish and crawdads, crayfish look like small lobsters with antennae, a ribbed tail section and pinchers on their forelegs. Crayfish are bottom feeders and they do not get along well with other species. Carnivores, they will eat fish, but they are also a natural food source themselves and fish will eat them.
Aquarium crayfish require 5 gallons for each individual. Larger, 20-gallon-plus aquariums are ideal for housing multiple crayfish. Keep a temperature range of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit with a hard water pH of 7. Provide shrimp pellets and blood worms as food and use a filtration system in your aquarium to filter excess food and feces. Crayfish are messy and will dirty a tank. Also provide structures for hiding and housing in your tank. Crayfish like to hide and are especially sensitive during molting phases.
Crayfish in ponds require less maintenance than crayfish in aquariums. They will burrow in mud, utilize natural structures and feed on insects, plants and baitfish. You can supplement natural food sources with pellet feed if your population density is high or you're raising crayfish commercially. Add features like rocks and submerged logs to your pond to provide organic matter and hiding places that help reduce predation on your crayfish. Hiding places are critical to crayfish survival, as birds, raccoons and other animals will prey on your pond.
Crayfish are available through commercial suppliers but you can transplant them from natural bodies of water as well. Wire crayfish traps baited with hot dogs will catch them in rivers and lakes. Simply lower the trap into an area of water with little current and tie it to a tree. Wait a few hours and check the trap for crayfish. Placing a hot dog on a string with a weight and lowering it by hand will also catch crayfish. They will hold the hot dog while you lift them from the water and place them in your bucket of water. Transplant the crayfish to your home environment quickly to prevent stress and possible death.
Check your local laws regarding trapping and fishing for crayfish before collecting them from a natural body of water. Catching crayfish is legal in most areas but researching the laws is important.