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How to Raise an Aquatic Crawfish as a Pet

By Madeline Masters

Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Crawfish are small, freshwater crustaceans that have found their way into specialty pet stores. Because of their unusual appearance, distinct personalities and hardiness, crawfish have become a top pet choice for many people. With a simple aquarium set-up, you can establish a successful home for one of these mini-lobsters.

Setting Up a Crawfish Aquarium

Step 1

Set up a 10-gallon aquarium somewhere it will receive natural light and the water will remain at room temperature. The ideal water temperature for your crawfish depends on what species you have -- probably between 60 and 80 degrees F.

Step 2

Fill the bottom of the aquarium with about 3 inches of aquarium gravel. Arrange the gravel so it has hills and valleys.

Step 3

Add aquarium-safe stones and logs to the tank. Add items big enough that your crawfish can use them to hide. PVC pipe also works well as a hiding tunnel, as long as its diameter is big enough that the crawfish can easily walk through it. Make sure decorations aren't so close to the top of the tank that the crawfish could use them to escape.

Step 4

Add a clear lid or mesh screen top to your aquarium to keep your crawfish from getting out. A regular tank hood with light isn't recommended because crawfish don't need or want too much light in their environment.

Step 5

Add water to your aquarium until the water is at least 6 inches deep. Arrange the tank so that some of the elements protrude out of the water in case your crawfish wants to hang out on land for a bit.

Step 6

Set up your filter. A hanging filter that pours a stream of water into the tank with the uptake submerged will produce a gentle water flow that benefits your crawfish.

Step 7

Allow the filter to run for 24 hours before proceeding.

Caring for Your Crawfish

Step 1

Float the bag or container containing your crawfish in the aquarium for 1 hour, allowing the water levels to acclimate. Then, release your crawfish into the aquarium.

Step 2

Feed your crawfish once every other day. Wild crawfish are scavengers that eat plant material and dead animals. Your pet crawfish will happily eat lettuce, pieces of vegetable, algae-based foods and sinking shrimp or fish pellets. You can give your crawfish live feeder fish to eat. Some species will more readily hunt live prey than others. Make sure your crawfish gets plenty of calcium and iodine in his diet, which he needs to form a new shell after a molt. Specially formulated crustacean foods are designed to provide the nutrients needed for healthy molts.

Step 3

Clean your crawfish's habitat regularly and perform partial water changes at least once a week. Take out about 25 percent of the water from the tank and replace it with dechlorinated water. Remove waste and leftover food from the tank by sucking it up with a turkey baster.

Step 4

Check the water quality in your aquarium once every week to two weeks. A pH level of 7.0 is ideal for crawfish.

Items you will need

  • 10-gallon aquarium (minimum)
  • Gravel
  • Decorations -- rocks, logs, and/or PVC pipes
  • Aquarium lid
  • Dechlorinated water
  • Filter
  • Food
  • Turkey baster
  • pH testing kit


  • 💡 Leaving tap water to sit in an open container for 24 hours allows the chlorine within it to dissipate.
  • 💡 If your crawfish molts, leave the shell in the aquarium. Your crawfish will most likely eat this carapace to help him build up his new exoskeleton.
  • 💡 Only feed your crawfish as much as he needs. Decomposing food can lower the water quality.
  • 💡 Eggshells are an affordable, easy calcium supplement for your crawfish.


  • Some species of crawfish, such as Cambarus zophonastes and Cambarus tartarus, are endangered and shouldn't be kept as pets.
  • If you add fish or live plants to your crayfish aquarium, there's a chance your crawfish will eat them.
  • Never release a pet crawfish into the wild because disease can wipe out the native crawfish population.
  • Some crawfish don't get along with members of their own species and are cannibalistic, so use this information to decide whether you should limit your aquarium to one crawfish.
  • Crawfish from just about any species will attack one another if one of them has recently molted.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images


Madeline Masters works as a dog walker and professional writer. In the past she has worked as a fitness columnist, fundraising copywriter and news reporter. Masters won two Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Awards in 2009. She graduated from Elizabethtown College with a Bachelor of Arts in English.