Dwarf Crayfish

September 22nd, 2008

This weekend, I spent some time over at another GWAPA member’s house, Dave (ingg), and I wanted to share a couple pictures of his Dwarf Crayfish. I have kept this kind of crayfish before, and even had them breed for me, but I don’t have them any longer. They’re really neat invertebrates, and since they don’t get as large as normal crayfish, they can’t eat your fish.

Dwarf Crayfish

Dave’s got a fair number of crays in a 37G aquarium. I think they’ve started to breed for him, but I’m unsure as to whether or not any of the babies have survived to adulthood. As you can see below, they’re pretty much just smaller replicas of larger crayfish.

Dwarf Crayfish

I wonder if these guys would survive in my sunfish tank? They’ve all but annihilated any of the shrimp that I’ve put in that tank, but since the crayfish are generally a little bit more feisty, maybe they could defend themselves? If anyone has any experience keeping dwarf crays with shrimp-eating-fish, I’d love to hear your advice.

20 Responses to “Dwarf Crayfish”

  1. m@ Says:

    I keep these guys in a 20 gallon with some Muppies (Molly/Guppy crosses). It’s plenty tall so the two never meet, but should they cross paths, the crayfish would definitely not give a second thought to grabbing some fin. Feisty indeed. These fellows can survive, given the right cover. I gave my friend some of these little guys and some smooth stones piled together. There’s no way the fish can get in there.

  2. Mallory Says:

    I currently keep Cambarellus Patzcuarensis sp. Orange, and I have found that even though they have some capacity of defending themselves, they prefer to hide when with fish (and even sometimes with large apple snails!). Also in my experience, some nippier fish will simply badger the poor things by picking off legs and claws. So really, I was never able to see them because they were hiding almost all of the time until I moved them.

    But I have read above others that have had success with dwarf crays and fish, but possibly not shrimp-eaters.

  3. guitarfish Says:

    Huh… I guess I would just need to try and see, huh?

  4. Mallory Says:

    Wow M@, goes to show no two experiences are the same. Maybe CPOs are shier than Cajuns.

  5. Kim Says:

    how cute! Now I want some! It’s so nice to see them alive, went to the grocery store today and saw about 50 dead and cooked crayfish in with the seafood:(

  6. Rob Says:


    The only issue that I have seen that could lead to the demise of the crayfish is that when they molt they are completely exposed to fish bites as they are between exoskeleton’s and quite vulnerable. The above comment about hardscape is correct in that if you give them places that the fish cant get to they are smart enough to hide. You would just have to determine if you wanted these guys again although you wouldnt see them as much as you would in a tank without the sunfish.

  7. Patrick Says:

    I wouldn’t do it, crayfish are like candy for sunfish. They’d be exposed when they molt. My swamp darters (tiny) ate one of mine when it was molting.

  8. guitarfish Says:

    Yeah, I’m just speculating. I probably won’t do it for the reasons Patrick and Rob stated. They’re definitely cool critters though!

  9. Sonny Disposition Says:

    I don’t know the dimensions of the dwarf crays. I’d proceed slowly with putting them in the bluespotted sunfish tank. I made the mistake of putting some grass shrimp in with mature bluespotteds some years ago, and the bluespotteds managed to pick them all off. I was surprised, in fact, because the grass shrimp looked to large for the bluespotteds to swallow, but they managed to choke them down, just the same.

  10. guitarfish Says:

    Yeah, the bluespots devoured all of the grass shrimp (and Amano shrimp) I put in the tank. At least the fish look fat and happy! 😉

  11. tiffany Says:

    I have one of these and it is eating the talls off of my fancy goldfish wondering what fish they best to put them with.

  12. guitarfish Says:

    Tiffany, I’m surprised to hear this. Are you sure you have a dwarf crayfish, and not a regular one. The dwarf variety only gets about 1-2″ long as an adult. If some, try keeping some smaller, faster fish with them, that don’t have the alluring long/fancy tails.

  13. tiffany Says:

    Okay I will try putting it with my guppy maybe he won’t be able to catch them. He is really little. it could be a baby the guy at the fish store. told what he was because my son wanted him we just started are fish collection my husband, son and I are really into the different types of fish but not sure what to mix with what and the people at the pet stores aren’t helpful at all. We are finding out.

  14. Stephanie Says:

    Please help! I have bought a small group of dwarf crays (7 of them). But after just a few weeks I have ended up with only one survivor, who is doing absolutely great. I know the fish I have do not eat crays (small African shellies/rock dwellers), so I can only deduce they attack and kill each other during molting! Can anybody tell me if they have had this experience and what to do about it? I keep seeing images and videos of tankfuls of dwarf crays doing great together, so why did mine kill each other? This is a very well kept African cichlid tank w good water parameters (these cichlids are very demanding…) and the last survivor cray is doing amazing, eating and scurrying around…can anybody help??? (PS now that I think of it, quite a few years ago, I remember keeping a few normal-sized crayfish and they also disappeared until only one happy fat one remained!) Help!

  15. guitarfish Says:

    Stephanie, I definitely experienced dwarf crayfish taking each other out. It seems that most tanks has a certain number of crayfish they’ll support, and after that they’ll predate their babies and each other. The best thing you can do is provide plenty of hiding spaces – wood, rocks, clumps of moss, plants, etc. Unfortunately, most plants might be out of the picture in an African tank. Speaking of which, are you sure the cichlids aren’t picking off the crays? Most African cichlids find pretty much any invert delectable. Good luck, I know it’s frustrating to lose these guys!

  16. Stephanie Says:

    Thank you for your response!! 🙂 I don’t think the Africans are picking on them… I have a couple of ghost shrimps and nobody bothers those! There is quite a few rocks in the tanks for hiding, but maybe as you mentioned the tank can only support one cray? (I forgot to mention it’s a 50 gallon). I thought maybe it was the water parameters (very high PH, since they are lake Tanganyika cichlids). But the one surviving cray looks oh so healthy! Which leads me to suspect inter-species predation. Maybe the food I feed my cichlids doesn’t contain the right nutrients for crays, and they turn to attacking each other?? Mysteries… Maybe I should just give up on my cray dreams…? 🙁

  17. mark Says:

    hey this mark i bought my algeshrimp/amanoshrimp i cant tell if if female or male if female how long does it lay and eggs?….

  18. mark Says:

    hey this mark i bought my algeshrimp/amanoshrimp at mr pets store i cant tell if if female or male if female how long does it lay and eggs?….

  19. Cole Says:

    Hey do u no what the dwarf crayfish like as (food, toys ex.) and can they be in any tanks and can they be with all kinds of fish or can they not be with some kinds.

  20. guitarfish Says:

    Cole, you can feed crayfish the same things as you would shrimp. Algae wafers, shrimp pellets, etc. They are okay with most fish. They may kill other invertebrates, though, particularly shrimp babies.