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My son wanted to know if crayfish can live in our pond. I think they can, right? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: My son wanted to know if crayfish can live in our pond. I think they can, right?

Q: My son wanted to know if crayfish can live in our pond. I think they can, right?

Mike – Little Rock, AR

A: Yes, those little freshwater crustaceans can indeed live in your pond – as long as you provide the living conditions they need to thrive. Here’s what you need to know about growing a healthy crayfish population.

Home Sweet Home

Also known as crawdads and crawfish, North American crayfish belong to the family Cambaridae. More than 300 species live in rivers, brooks, ponds and even special “crayfish farms” across the country. Most types prefer fresh flowing water that doesn’t freeze in the winter, but some thrive in swamps and ditches.

During the day, crayfish hunker down underneath rocks to hide from predators like fish, birds and alligators. But at night, they slowly cruise the river bottom in search of food. Their preferred meals are anything decaying, including dead insects, worms, algae and fish, but they’ll also snap up small, live fish that are swimming by if they’re feeling too lazy to forage. They’ll also get their greens by gobbling through algae and aquatic plants.

These decapod crustaceans can grow up to 6 inches in length. They’re related to lobsters, crabs and shrimps, and they’re prized cuisine among foodies (etouffees anyone?) and larger fish, like bass and bluegill. Crayfish and dwarf crayfish are also kept as colorful pets in aquariums.

Welcome Residents

Crayfish can make a fun addition to your pond. They nibble on aquatic plants, so they help control weed growth. They eat decaying material, so they – along with Pond Logic® MuckAway™ – will help keep pond muck to a minimum. They’ll entertain your son (and his friends) for hours as they turn over rocks and hunt for crayfish. And they make for some delicious eating for you and your resident fish!

These guys will dig to create burrows in the bottom of your pond – but don’t worry. They won’t likely cause any leaks. It’s important, though, to control their population. Crayfish reproduction is tied to fluctuating water levels, so manage their population growth by stabilizing the water level in your pond, and use basket traps or lift nets baited with meat to remove large numbers.

Create a comfortable environment for crayfish by providing clean, aerated water and some rocks for burrowing. They’ll find their own food – or become food if they venture too close to your Fish Attractor Spheres!

Pond Talk: Have you ever hunted for crayfish?

Increase Fish Survival Rates  -Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres

8 Responses

  1. Until the darn things burrow all the way through your dam and create multiple leaks.

  2. Need to be careful on the algicides used as some Will kill these creatures; natural is best when at all possible.

    • That’s correct Debbie, many algaecides are not safe for crustaceans or invertebrates. Anytime you use chemicals in your pond, be sure to read the label for restrictions and precautions.

  3. I was just wondering if I could have crawfish in an outdoor pond in Sterling Heights Michigan ???

  4. I think population control needs to be emphasized. Given good conditions they can vastly overbreed. If you are not planning on harvesting them (for food or fun?), I would advise against them. Also, do not allow them to escape into natural waters. They are a pest in nonnative areas, like California.

    • Great point Ranger Bill! Fish, weeds, crayfish can all be good in moderation. Its when things start to tip that problems occur.

    • Rit in VT – I put 20-30 crayfish in my 1/4 acre, 9 ft. deep pond 3 years ago, primarily to control algae. I was told that the population would be stable since I have about 8 rainbow trout to keep them in check. Last summer, using a minnow trap with cat food as bait, I pulled out close to 400 of them!

      So I doubt the trout, or anything else is eating them. They reproduce like crazy, and burrow into the banks of the pond, leaving numerous holes throughout. I even drained and dredged the pond 2 years ago, but it didn’t affect the population. I’ve seen bass eat them, but not trout, so I expect I’ll have to continue trapping them to keep them under control.

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