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Crayfish care

Discussion in 'Insects, Other Invertebrates & Arthropods' started by Canadian Tired, Sep 14, 2018.

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    I am attempting to keep Orconectes Rusticus (the rusty crayfish). Since in most parts it is considered an invasive species, there really is little information on how to keep them alive (though many recipes for cooking them or killing them en-mass).

    I wanted to go over the events that led up to the creation of this page.

    For one, I have never attempted to keep crustaceans, nor was I equipped to handle them in captivity once they were in my possession. No pump, no filter, water that I brought home with the animals from a polluted river near my location (which I wont divulge because I like my fishing spot).

    The water was heavily contaminated with... Horrible things. weird arrow headed worms, red clay, human feces, hair algae and many other things that I was likely unable to perceive with the naked eye.

    My theory was that I could use the materials that I had acquired to jump start my tank.

    Day one through 5 everything was fine. I had 5 crayfish, one at 3" and three at 1", knowing that they are cannibalistic, I put them all in the same tank anyway. There had never been evidence of cannibalism in the enclosure, likely due to the rocks that I brought back being LOADED with detritus from the bottom of the creek.

    However after day three I started feeling anxious about the 3" bugger and split them up, one of the little guys stayed in the enclosure and three went into a separate tank which I will discuss in a moment. (keep in mind that every day I went to the creek to fetch fresh water for them).

    Then it rained. Stirred up the creek something fierce, yet i needed a water change regardless. I grabbed the water anyway... It was white (likely due to the die off of some bacteria)

    I should say that during this period I had been working on a pump from scratch along with a filter so that I could eliminate my need for fresh water from the creek.

    The enclosure of doom...

    I placed hair algae in the second enclosure along with the three C.fish. then i secured a lid on the container (which had more than enough hiding spots). I then placed it out of the way in a dark location thinking that the algae was providing oxygen to my pe(s)ts.

    The following day of course the three mini fresh water lobsters were on top of the rocks gasping for air on account of the oxygen being sucked out of the enclosure by the algae. I only knew this was what was going on because, sadly I had just finished learning that when algae was in the dark that it devours oxygen....

    Being the fool I am I decided to do a water change at this point.

    I should probably point out that crayfish are sensitive to something that at least I have been calling shell shock. (which could probably be exploited to limit their numbers where they are percieved as invasive) Negative temperature changes make young crayfish have seizures.

    I suppose this is the point where I should bring up crayfish plague:
    -crayfish are prone to flipping onto their backs unable to right themselves and perish quickly due to poor water quality, where upon they quickly die. This has been attributed to a fungus that is on the rusty crayfish, the fungus is lethal to european crayfish and australian crayfish so it is best not to mix the species in a tank (and why would you when they are aggressive mostly towards other species of crayfish anyway and it would likely lead to dead animals)

    I learned that if mixing water for crayfish it is best to add warmer water to the existing tank rather than colder water as it will make less of a difference in the long run (a +5 degree difference will likely only raise the temperature 1 degree depending on the amount of water in the tank). However, ideally exact temperature matches are obviously less dangerous.

    Bask to my lesson in my own stupidity...

    To save the crayfish I placed them in a much larger enclosure (all 5) everything was fine for a day or two (now day 5). all of a sudden though one of them randomly died, I assumed that the water was the problem and performed a water change to save the other four, this almost instantly killed 2 more crayfish as I rose the water level to touch them...

    (nitrite and ammonia and god knows what else claimed the poor things)
    (because I am dumb)

    Now I was down to 2 crayfish, Sadly a person said at this point that she would give me her fish pump at about this time. Currently I was using a water bottle gravity pump to provide air to my poor doomed crustaceans....

    She never brought the thing down. Three days later of being up until 3AM to keep my water aerated/oxygenated manually with gravity pumps i woke to see the last two died...

    I am sorry for this story.

    To make matters worse, late that night a person came upstairs with a mouse on a glue trap begging me to do something about it. I did not know what to do, the poor thing. I drowned it too, but not before trying to get the poor thing off of the glue trap.

    Moral of the story, dont take home pets without proper equipment, it requires two weeks to cycle a tank regardless of stolen water from a creek, and glue traps are INHUMANE!

    I am sorry for my story...
  2. The Seraph

    The Seraph Arachnobaron Active Member

    I am so sorry about that. I would assume the crawfish would be very easy to care for (in aquatics term) since they are invasive. I hope that you are prepared in case you want to catch more crawfish. Also are you living in France? I'm just curious because there are those invasive hammerhead worms in France, and if you are you should report the river to whatever Frances environmental protection place is.
  3. Naw, I'm up in Canada. I would agree, they are fairly easy to care for provided you have simple things like air pumps, filters, thermometers and foreknowledge. I have not given up on keeping crayfish.

    So far I have constructed a filter, and have an adequate air pump now. I am limiting the animal count to a single individual capture. I have replaced the rocks with smooth river rocks I found in a donations bin from someones smashed aquarium. I have a single hide made of plastic that is shaped like a castle. All have been cleaned and have been aerating as I dont want to disturb my tarantula (Lasiodora Parahyana) which molted during the events that "transpidered" above.

    I will likely be setting up the tank later today. (I will not be using outside water source in the future.) I intend to fill it with guppies until 2 weeks have passed to help establish the nitrogen cycle (poor fellas) and provide food for the crayfish when it is introduced from quarantine.

    In my region Rusty's die very soon despite potential 7 year lifespans in captivity.
  4. The Seraph

    The Seraph Arachnobaron Active Member

    You don't have to use the guppies to start the nitrogen cycle. That's a very old fashioned way to do things. You could use pure ammonia, and then introduce the bacteria from a pet store. If they don't have the bacteria by the bottle you could just use a little water from their tanks. There is this website called Aquariadise that has some very good advice. They even have caresheets for crawfish. Otherwise, that seems like a good set up. I would just use PVC pipes for the hides, but as long as that fish castle is big enough then it's good. Also, the worms are probably planeria then.
  5. lol, yeah but the guppies get me free aquarium water.

    Honestly, my LFS are pretty bad. 2 out of three don't have any idea how a salt water aquarium works. The third is reputable and expensive because of it (14$ an LB for liverock when i would need 10% gallons in lb or live rock gets expensive fast).

    they also have Avicularia slings for 45$ 1/2"

    Right now my builds for equipment are coming from DIY aquarium guy on youtube, along with advice on water quality.

    I have a difficult time with care sheets on account of there is no way to know for certain that the species I get from the wild is what it should be, I have found usually that they are good 'guidelines' but often inaccurate (Avic's for example).

    However i have read them over a few times, something that is never mentioned is that there needs to be a non invasive circulation of air to the bottom of the tank (take water from the bottom). Since there is less air at the bottom of the tank due to stratification. This coupled with being exceedingly messy eaters leads to water quality issues in a way I had not been prepared to deal with previously.

    That is usually dealt with using multiple water changes. (from the bottom, not the top where all the air is...)
    my setup currently (should) take water from the botton filter it mechanically with polyester and a panty hose, enter into 2nd filtration of lavarocks and finally return to the tank from the top. I have two of them as well as a vaccume to get scraps out from the bottom now.

    Sadly crayfish are one of those silly animals that lets scientists know the quality of rivers and lake swhich is nice because they exterminated with extreme predjudice the wildlife from the area I have been visiting to observe the crayfish for a highway.

    24 species of fish -gone.

    The return of healthy crayfish may be a turnaround for the creek and a sign that the water is recovering.
    Also Planeria, from what I was reading are another one of the animals that is used as a way for us to do the same which is a smart sign that change is occurring.
  6. some other things to note...

    the planeria died along side the crayfish.
    However the hair algae that was (maybe) killing the fish is alive in a jar as i had removed it and kept it long before critical mass.

    would you think it would be exceedingly stupid to use the water that is in its container to start the cycle?
  7. The Seraph

    The Seraph Arachnobaron Active Member

    Well then, it sounds like you're all set up! It seems like you got a good filter, though I would add charcoal if you can fit it in. Also, glad the area is somewhat coming back. It is nice to hear about seldom reported stories of success (however minor) in the modern world. Finally, how do those stores stay open?! I get it isn't exactly Florida, but salinity, pH, and a microecosystem isn't the hardest thing to understand, just difficult to care for. And truly finally, that hair algae would be interesting to care for, if you didn't kill it for the sin of existing.

    Edit: I meant just keeping the hair algae in the jar, and changing the water every now and then.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
  8. Ajohnson5263

    Ajohnson5263 Arachnosquire

    Don't add hair algae to the tank r its water to the tank. here's my advice for water quality. go ahead and buy the guppies, if they have room to move you'll have a constant food source one the start breeding. you said you had a pump in the thread, turn that into a filter via the guide on youtube by the king of DIY (I'm pretty sure you said you've seen his videos). buy a pothos vine plant and allow its roots to grow in the water and leaves grow out back. it will remove nitrates (like algae would) however it will not remove oxygen as the gas exchange in the air. lastly, buy seachem prime to decholirante tap water. check to make sure that you have enough calcium in your tap water (varies by region) if you dont have enough, look into something to add calcium such as essential elelmnts or low amounts of cichlid salt. i'd also recommend play sand for substrate and anarcharis for live plants
  9. (I was only kidding about returning the hair algae or anything associated with that murderous plant into my biosphere. I learned my lesson).

    I will invest in the vine and am on my way out to get some play sand (as long as that is the brand name? Because I do have access to that).

    Yes, I already turned it into a filter. I especially like the idea about the vines as the animal requires a way to breach the surface of the waters at all times.
  10. forgot to mention that an adult crayfish will strip a fully planted aquarium in a matter of days according to reports (6"+).
  11. Salmonsaladsandwich

    Salmonsaladsandwich Arachnobaron Active Member

    IMO the crayfish probably died of shock from being placed in different water conditions rather than ammonia/nitrate buildup. While I can't speak for O. rusticus specifically, the related crayfish species Orconectes virilis is very tough. In the wild they survive droughts by burying themselves in mud under rocks and can live in the tiny puddles of filthy water left behind when streams dry up. As a kid i kept several of them in small containers of unfiltered, seldom- changed water and they survived just fine.