Raising crawfish, or crayfish, requires an aquarium with adequate cover and water filtration. Crayfish are hearty and can thrive in aquariums as small as 5 gallons. They can be kept with other fish in aquariums, however care must be taken to prevent either from eating the other.
- Prepare an enclosure for the crayfish
Crayfish living in an aquarium or outdoor pond need soft soil or sandy sediment in the bottom of the tank for the crayfish to burrow. Decorating the tank or pond with rocks and logs provides easy access to cover. Since crayfish are somewhat territorial, and can be aggressive towards other crayfish, it is not advised to put multiple crayfish in a small tank. Larger tanks can handle more, provided with adequate cover in the tank.
- Acquire crayfish for the enclosure
Freshwater crayfish can be purchased from aquarium shops, fishing bait outlets, or procured from streams. Identifying the type and sex of the crayfish can be important for breeding purposes, as particular breeds of crayfish may require special conditions for water or lighting conditions if breeding crayfish is desired. Keeping the crayfish in a separate quarantine tank for a few days is advised if the tank is already established and contains fish. If using more than one crayfish in a tank, inserting similar sized animals at once prevents the crayfish from picking or preying on others, as crayfish are naturally carnivorous.
- Install a hanging filter or a lid for the tank
While other forms of filtration work to keep the tank clean, sponge filters or other types that have air hoses can provide a potential point of escape for the crayfish, which are able climbers. Filters that hang off the back of the tank provide cleaning without the potential for incident. Crayfish are messy eaters, and are known to hide food around the tank, which cause water clarity and quality to decrease.
- Monitor crayfish during molting periods and with other tank inhabitants
Crayfish will shed their exoskeletal shells as the old shell becomes too tight, and the process of hardening a new shell can take days or even weeks. A soft shell leaves the crayfish vulnerable to attack from other crayfish, as well as larger fish. Smaller fish in turn, must be monitored, as juvenile crayfish can capture and eat slower fish.