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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

9 Responses

  1. Can I have crayfish in my small pond and use algaefix. I’ve read it will kill all type of crabs.

    • Hi Ann – Unfortunately most algaecides are not recommended for use with invertebrates. You would either need to remove them during treatment or try to rely on natural water treatments such as Muck Defense or Barley Straw Extract to maintain the pond.

  2. Hi Mike,
    This past summer here in Monroe Mi. we bought two crawfish and put them in our Koi pond. lol Never saw them again. In the pond.. but a month after we bought them, my neighbor, who is like almost an acre away, found one in a wet spot on his property.. alive, had to be mine,, put him back in, and now still haven’t seen them. 🙂 So I really have no idea where they are. Good Luck, Bevi

  3. this mentions nothing about water temperature!?

    • Hi Kurt – Crayfish will stay in deep water for the winter but ideal temperatures are around 65-70 degrees.

  4. Probably 10 years ago my cousin’s friend’s son came up to us and showed us the shed casing of a crayfish. He was hunting in the brook for live ones and came across the shed casing and explained to us how, as they grew, crayfish get too big for their present shell and shed it.. Now, 10 years later, Seth is studying to become a marine biologist. So, in addition to fun for the kids hunting for crayfish, you might also spawn a lifelong career!

  5. Be careful!! They can overbreed and become a pest, or worse escape into wild areas where they are not native. We have a real problem with them here in California. Eat the darned things…

  6. I also hear that placing several bales of straw in your pond helps with reproduction…..is this correct?

    • Hi Ralph – I’m not sure there is information available to back up straw as a means of increasing reproduction directly. I would think it may help only in the fact that it offers hiding and food source which helps a create suitable environment. You could create habitat from rocks or sand as well without the mess of straw.

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