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Anybody know about raising crawfish?





ocalhoun
So, I got involved in a conversation about fish tanks today.
And gave my -- often stated -- opinion that I would prefer a tank full of fish that were good to eat.
But, as usually follows, it would take a huge tank to support eating-size fish.

But then I thought of an edible (and delicious) freshwater critter that isn't too big: crawfish.
(AKA crayfish, crawdads, mud-bugs, et cetera.)
Back in the South, they're a delicacy, but I've never heard of anybody keeping them in a tank, because they can be found in nearly any body of water. (I've caught wild ones and cooked them before.)

So, has anybody here had any sort of experience (even secondhand) about raising and taking care of them?
What's the best type of thing to feed them? I think they'll eat just about anything, but is there some ideal food?
What's the best way to set up a tank?
How big of a tank do I need (how much water per mud-bug)?
I know they can handle a pretty wide temperature range... but I'll probably need to heat the tank anyway, so what's the ideal temperature? Warm as possible? Mid-range?
Any tips on how to successfully breed them? How to keep them from eating each other's babies (if they're prone to that)?


My idea is to keep them both to look at (aquarium) and, when they breed too much and overpopulate the tank, reduce the population by eating the bigger ones.
They're at least as fun to watch and look at as fish are... and when there's too many in the tank, they're good served Cajun-style (pictured - can be spicy), in pasta or gumbo, or -- my favorite -- baked with garlic butter dipping sauce.
My best idea on how to get some (NOT the fancy aquarium variety though) is to put ads in the Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, et cetera craigslist pages... Offering $.50 per crawfish, plus $1.00 per one that arrives alive (maximum 30 or 40).


I guess if anybody has experience with shrimp or lobster, that might help too, since they're pretty similar.

Gratuitous mud-bug pictures, for the curious and uninformed:

Respectively:
Eating type, live. Eating type, cooked. Decorative aquarium type (not the kind I want).
Ankhanu
They're exceptionally easy to keep. You will need a fair sized tank if you want to keep enough to grow a feed of them, as they're territorial and will attack one another, causing a lot of damage. They'll need lots of hiding places to stake out their territories and to get shelter when they molt.

They're omnivorous and eat a wide range of foods. I just fed mine standard fish food and shrimp pellets.
With that in mind, they will pull up and possibly eat pretty much any plants you put in with them.

Temperature, it would depend on what type they are and where they came from. Unless the room you have the tank in is really cold, you should be ok without heating. The tank will be at the same temperature as the room without heating, so if you're comfortable, chances are they'll be comfy too. I've kept them in heated and unheated tanks to no ill effect.

Breeding, I'm not really certain. Part of the problem is that crustaceans have a planktonic larval stage and will get sucked up into your water filter. I'm sure there are methods, but I haven't looked into it. Once they settle and take on adult form it's kinda up to them to protect themselves from the others. This is where having lots of hiding places of different sizes is handy.

Oh, you'll also have to be careful about having climbable fixtures, ie. plants, heaters, filters, rocks, logs, etc. near the edges of the aquarium. They're great climbers and will get out of the tank.

As for putting in interstate adverts, you might want to check the laws on import/export of wildlife. Something tells me that it will be frowned upon by either the fish&wildlife, agriculture or EPA departments.
ocalhoun
Ankhanu wrote:

Temperature, it would depend on what type they are and where they came from. Unless the room you have the tank in is really cold, you should be ok without heating. The tank will be at the same temperature as the room without heating, so if you're comfortable, chances are they'll be comfy too. I've kept them in heated and unheated tanks to no ill effect.

I keep my thermostat set around 60-65 F, though... I'm used to it, but I don't think they'll like it.
Quote:

Breeding, I'm not really certain. Part of the problem is that crustaceans have a planktonic larval stage and will get sucked up into your water filter.

I've been doing some research, and it looks like they stay latched on to the female's body until their second molting... hopefully by then they wouldn't be threatened by the filter.
But if they're not, that could be difficult. How to build a filter that removes tiny bits of filth, but not tiny crustaceans?
menino
Wow, crawfish sounds yummy, but it seems to take a bit of work to get that delicious meal on the plate. Smile
LittleBlackKitten
Count on at LEAST 1 gallon per inch of crawdad. Depending on how many you want to raise to actually consume, you will need a pretty hefty tank, unless you want to have stressed crawfish that taste like their own excrement (which happens if it's too crowded, which is why cheap seafood tastes like ass).

It's also extremely important to note that you MUST get your crayfish from a breeder, or live supplier.

-DO NOT buy it from your local fish store, it is illegal to consume pet-market animals, even if they are edible!

-DO NOT take them from local ponds/rivers/oceans ect. It is ILLEGAL and you can be charged and do court time for this depending on the North American municipality.

-DO NOT feed them fish food, THIS CAN AND WILL MAKE YOU SICK. You must feed NATURAL foods that is okay for HUMAN consumtion as well.

-DO NOT use conventional filtration; there are additives that are not safe for humans either. You must buy expensive Ultra Violet and micron filtration without the use of carbon. This costs about 300 dollars.

-DO NOT use a substrate or ornaments to make it look better, use water ONLY, and perform water quality tests and water changes DAILY.

-It will run you, start up, about 3 grand.

-Otherwise, good luck, and have fun....


Sources: Fish keeper for 10 years, experience with food-raising fish personally, experience in a fish-plant as a volunteer for 4 years.


I should also note my reasons. Anything in the water becomes a part of the body of the crawfish. If you consume any random pet crawfish, you WILL get sick - I've done it, been to the er, had the IV...Don't try it. Carbon can also cause issues in the body, and the regular filtration harbors bacteria that can destroy ammonia and nitrogen - BAAAAAAAD idea in the human body and even worse in the crawfish you plan on eating.

Trust me; go the expensive route, or don't go at all.....
soljarag
i dont know anything about raising them, but I sure to enjoy eating them!

Now you got me hungy for crawfish
Ankhanu
LittleBlackKitten wrote:
-DO NOT use conventional filtration; there are additives that are not safe for humans either. You must buy expensive Ultra Violet and micron filtration without the use of carbon. This costs about 300 dollars.

...

...Carbon can also cause issues in the body...


Carbon itself isn't really an issue, it's relatively inert in the form it's in in filters. It's the other things that might be in the carbon that could be. Fact is, domestic and industrial water filtration for human consumption often uses carbon filters. It's an effective medium for filtration... but, this carbon is perhaps more pure than your standard aquarium filter packet.
LittleBlackKitten
Ankhanu; yes, I know, but I was keeping it relatively simple.
Ankhanu
*nod
Good enough Smile

It is pretty easy to acquire filter media, however. Carbon is fairly cheap and a simple system could be fashioned without much cost with a small pump, canister and media.
ocalhoun
Hm... perhaps a more natural filtration system using water-loving plants and soil to purify the water?
(Kept separate from the crawfish, so they don't eat all the plants.)
It would go something like this: crawfish tank -> inlet side of plant box (a pool of water in the plant box) -> cloth filter -> saturated porous soil, with moisture-loving plants (maybe edible too?) -> cloth filter -> sand (to remove small soil particles -> cloth filter -> outlet side of plant box (another pool of water) -> crawfish tank
Sounds complicated, but most of it would be in the same box.
If both the plant box and the tank were at the same level, only one pump would be needed - the water could be pumped out of the plant box, but pumped in by the siphon effect.
(Water pumped out of the plant box will cause the water in the tank to be higher than the water in the plant box, so water flows from the tank to the plant box through the siphon.)
Hm... actually it could be simpler... If a sturdy, tight metal screen is put before the first cloth filter, the plants and the crawfish could share separate sides of the same tank.

Also, why should a UV purifier cost so much?
Why not just wrap clear tubing around a powerful UV light, and (slowly) pump the water through it?

Also a nice tip about not using commercial fish food. And good point on giving plenty of water to protect the taste.
standready
Found one article for aquarium
http://www.squidoo.com/raise-crawfish-in-an-aquarium
I think you are going to need a HUGE tank!

Also a summary article with additional links:
http://www.anapsid.org/crayfish.html
They love veggies!

But LittleBlackKitten response - YIKES!

Good luck, ocalhoun. Let me know when dinner is about to be served.
ocalhoun
standready wrote:

Good luck, ocalhoun. Let me know when dinner is about to be served.


Well, on further consideration, I decided to wait a while.
I'll need to move (across the country) in about a year, which is barely enough time to raise one 'crop' of mudbugs.

I think I'll wait until after I move, to avoid the hassle (and expense) of trying to move the whole set-up.
standready
ocalhoun wrote:
I think I'll wait until after I move,

Well dang! I hungry now not a year from now. laugh
Hey, maybe where you move to will have a pond you can use.
recked
It's gross to think of eating something you've raised, especially raised in your home. How would you go on to filtrate the tank without the conventional ones they sell in pet stores?
watersoul
recked wrote:
It's gross to think of eating something you've raised [...]


Why is that gross? I used to keep chickens and although I cared for them as pets who I actually liked, when it was time for the kill I had no problem breaking their necks.
If someone buys their meat/fish from a store all they've done really is pay someone else to carry out the kill. The only people who can reasonably argue that 'the kill' is gross are the people who don't eat animals at all - vegetarians.
Just my opinion Wink
coolclay
I've kept blue lobsters/crayfish (Procambarus alleni). They are extremely easy but as LittleBlackKitten discussed it would be quite a waste to try and raise for food, unless of course you have lots of money!

In Pennsylvania we have an invasive crayfish called the Rusty crayfish. Luckily there are just a few rivers that they have invaded, but where they have invaded they are everywhere and HUGE! We walked up and down about 100 ft of river flipping rocks and catching crayfish, and almost filled an entire regular sized cooler!! They are delicious like mini-lobsters and we are doing good too, killing as many invasives as possible!
LittleBlackKitten
I didn't mean to be a heavy, just was concerned with mental images of one nomming on pet crayfish and getting violently ill and hospitalized like my family has done. I was only trying to save pain, effort, and vomit. I guess I did come off a little heavy there, but there are good reasons for it.

PS, a UV sterilizer for a fish tank is much different than one for tap water; they are specially designed to kill algae and paracites that are just as bad for people as they are humans. (Did you know people in rare circumstances can contract the paracite ich, among other things?)

http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=3578+4393+7999&pcatid=7999
This is a UV sterilyzer good for a small hobby tank of about 125 gallons. It costs 119 dollars for the small one. (Bigger gaskets cost extra and can go to 500 gallons) http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.com/fish-supplies/uv-sterilizer/ps/c/3578/4393
dude_xyx
I had few of them in my Aquarium. They developed this nasty habit of try to catch other fish. Also they fought with each other and used ate the one who got beaten and killed.
pampoon
Well ocalhoun, you could just do like we do in the south and dig you a nice crawfish pond to grow them Smile . But I assume you want to put them in a tank because of space limitations. In that case, the only advice I can give you is keep them warm. This past winter, we received a lot of freezing weather which caused the crawfish to be small this season and way more expensive. I don't think you can overheat them, though I wouldn't push it too far past 95 F.

Besides that, I recommend a hearty portion of Tony Chachere's for when you do get them grown. Goodluck.
ocalhoun
pampoon wrote:
Well ocalhoun, you could just do like we do in the south and dig you a nice crawfish pond to grow them Smile . But I assume you want to put them in a tank because of space limitations.

More for warmth, actually.
This is South Dakota, after all... Temperatures remain below zero for weeks sometimes. And anything shallower than, say, 4ft, could freeze solid in the winter.

That said... my horse's water tank is kept thawed by a drop-in heater that keeps the water above 40F... Perhaps I could do the same for a small crawfish pond. Though, if the electricity went out during the winter for any length of time, all my mudbugs might die...
foumy6
everytime i try it seems they die right away so I just quit a cat and a dog is good enough for me Smile
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