Blue crayfish
Blue crayfish, Image by Dirk Rohlfs from From Wikimedia Commons

Electric Blue Crayfish : FULL Care Guide, Diet, Common Diseases

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Electric blue crayfish, also known as the Everglades crayfish or the sapphire crayfish, is a striking cobalt blue color that stands out among other aquatic creatures. But besides their beauty, electric blue crayfish are also fascinating animals that can provide hours of entertainment and enrichment for you and your fish.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about electric blue crayfish care, including their tank requirements, diet, behavior, compatibility and breeding. We’ll also give you some tips on how to find and buy healthy specimens for your aquarium. By the end of this guide, you’ll be ready to welcome these stunning invertebrates into your aquatic community.

Blue crayfish
electric blue crayfish, Image by Dirk Rohlfs from From Wikimedia Commons

What are Electric Blue Crayfish?

Electric blue crayfish are a freshwater species of crayfish that belong to the family Cambaridae. They are native to Florida in the United States, where they inhabit shallow ponds, streams, marshes and swamps. They are also found on some of the Florida Keys. Their scientific name is Procambarus alleni, and they are sometimes referred to as Procambarus (Leconticambarus) alleni.

Electric blue crayfish are not naturally blue in the wild. They usually have a brown-tan color that helps them blend in with their surroundings. However, some individuals have a genetic mutation that causes them to produce more blue pigment than normal. This results in a bright blue coloration that is very rare and attractive. These blue crayfish have been selectively bred in captivity to produce more offspring with the same trait, creating a strain of electric blue crayfish that is popular among aquarists.

Electric blue crayfish are not the only blue crayfish species in the world. There is another species called Cambarus monongalensis, which is also known as the blue crayfish or the burrowing crayfish. This species is native to Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, where it lives in underground burrows near streams and rivers. It has a dark blue color that is different from the electric blue crayfish. These two species should not be confused with each other, as they have different requirements and behaviors.

 

How Big do Electric Blue Crayfish Get?

Electric blue crayfish can grow up to 6 inches (15 cm) in length from head to tail. Males tend to be slightly larger than females, and they also have larger claws. Electric blue crayfish can live up to 5 years in captivity if given proper care and conditions.

 

How Many Electric Blue Crayfish can You Keep Together?

Electric blue crayfish are territorial and aggressive animals that will fight with each other and other tank mates for food and space. They will also eat smaller or weaker fish and invertebrates that they can catch. Therefore, it is not recommended to keep more than one electric blue crayfish in the same tank, unless you have a very large tank (at least 55 gallons) with plenty of hiding places and decorations to create separate territories.

If you want to keep more than one electric blue crayfish together, you should provide at least 10 gallons of water per crayfish, and make sure they are of similar size and sex. Males are more aggressive than females, and they will fight with each other for dominance and mating rights. Females are more tolerant of each other, but they will still compete for food and shelter. You should also monitor your crayfish closely for signs of stress or injury, and separate them if necessary.

Electric Blue Crayfish in Aquarium
Electric Blue Crayfish in Aquarium, Image by Nathan Daly From Wikimedia Commons

Electric Blue Crayfish Care & Tank Set-up

Electric blue crayfish are not very difficult to care for, as long as you provide them with a suitable tank environment and a balanced diet. Here are some of the main factors to consider when setting up a tank for electric blue crayfish:

Tank Size

Electric blue crayfish need a spacious tank to accommodate their large size and active behavior. The minimum tank size for one electric blue crayfish is 30 gallons (114 liters). If you want to keep more than one electric blue crayfish, you will need a much larger tank with at least 20 gallons (76 liters) of water per crayfish.

Substrate

Electric blue crayfish prefer a sandy substrate that they can dig into and burrow under. You can use fine-grained sand or gravel that is smooth and does not have sharp edges that can injure their delicate exoskeletons.

Water Parameters

Electric blue crayfish thrive in soft water with a neutral pH. The ideal water parameters for electric blue crayfish are:

  • Temperature: 65-75°F (18-24°C)
  • pH: 6.5-7.5
  • Hardness: 3-10 dGH

You should also keep the water quality high by performing regular water changes and using a good filtration system. Electric blue crayfish produce a lot of waste that can pollute the water and cause ammonia spikes or nitrate accumulation.

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Tank Landscape

Electric blue crayfish need plenty of hiding places in their tank to feel secure and comfortable. You can use rocks, driftwood, caves, pipes, or pots to create a natural-looking and complex tank landscape. You should also leave some open space for them to roam around and forage.

Plants

Electric blue crayfish are not very plant-friendly, as they will often uproot, nibble, or destroy any live plants in their tank. If you want to add some greenery to your tank, you should use hardy and fast-growing plants that can withstand some damage, such as java fern, anubias, or hornwort. You can also use artificial plants that are made of silk or plastic.

Lighting

Electric blue crayfish do not need any special lighting in their tank, as they are nocturnal and prefer dim or dark conditions. You can use a standard aquarium light that mimics the natural day and night cycle, or a blue LED light that enhances their color and allows you to observe them at night.

 

What do Electric Blue Crayfish Eat?

Electric blue crayfish are omnivorous animals that will eat almost anything they can find or catch. In the wild, they feed on a variety of plant and animal matter, such as algae, aquatic plants, worms, insects, snails, fish eggs and carrion. In captivity, they can be fed a balanced diet that consists of commercial foods and natural foods.

Commercial foods are convenient and easy to feed your crayfish, as they contain all the nutrients they need for their growth and health. You can choose from various types of commercial foods, such as pellets, flakes, wafers or tablets. You should look for foods that are specially formulated for crayfish or other invertebrates, as they contain more calcium and other minerals that are essential for their exoskeletons. You should also look for foods that are high in protein and fiber, as they support their digestion and metabolism.

Natural foods are beneficial and enjoyable for your crayfish, as they provide them with more variety and stimulation. You can offer them various types of natural foods, such as vegetables, fruits, meat or seafood. Some good options are lettuce, spinach, cucumber, zucchini, carrot, apple, banana, melon, shrimp, mussel, clam or fish. You should make sure the natural foods are fresh and clean before feeding them to your crayfish. You should also cut them into small pieces that are easy for your crayfish to handle.

You should feed your electric blue crayfish once or twice a day, depending on their size and appetite. You should only give them as much food as they can eat within a few hours, and remove any uneaten food from the tank afterwards. Overfeeding your crayfish can cause water pollution and health problems for your crayfish.

You should also supplement your crayfish’s diet with calcium-rich foods or supplements every once in a while. Calcium is vital for your crayfish’s exoskeleton development and maintenance. Without enough calcium in their diet, your crayfish may have difficulty molting or suffer from shell deformities or diseases. Therefore, you should provide them with calcium sources such as cuttlebone, eggshell or calcium tablets every few weeks.

Electric Blue Crayfish Behavior
Procambarus alleni, Image by Bastet78 From Wikimedia Commons

Electric Blue Crayfish Behavior and Temperament

Electric blue crayfish are nocturnal animals that venture out at night to feed and scavenge. They are very active and curious, and will explore every inch of their tank. They are also very intelligent and can learn to recognize their owners and respond to stimuli.

Electric blue crayfish are borrowers, and they also like to hide away in caves and under rocky overhangs. They will dig up the substrate and rearrange the decorations in their tank to suit their preferences. They may also climb on plants, driftwood, or even the filter intake tube.

Electric blue crayfish are not very sociable or peaceful creatures. They are territorial and aggressive, especially during mating season or when molting. They will defend their territory from intruders with their large claws, which can inflict serious damage or even kill other tank inhabitants. They may also cannibalize smaller or weaker crayfish.

Electric blue crayfish should not be kept with other crayfish, invertebrates, or slow-moving bottom dwellers like plecos and corys. They may also attack and eat smaller or more timid fish, such as tetras, guppies, or shrimp. The best tank mates for electric blue crayfish are fast-swimming and mid-to-top dwelling fish that can avoid their claws, such as danios, barbs, rasboras, or rainbowfish.

How to Breed Electric Blue Crayfish
Blue Crayfish, Image by Bleckdraco from From Wikimedia Commons

How to Breed Electric Blue Crayfish?

Breeding electric blue crayfish is not very difficult, as they will mate readily in captivity if given the right conditions and care. However, you will need to provide them with a separate breeding tank, as they will not breed in a community tank with other fish or invertebrates. You will also need to monitor the breeding process and care for the offspring properly.

Sexing

Identifying the sex of your electric blue crayfish is essential before breeding can take place. You can tell the difference between males and females by looking at their abdomens and claws. Males have larger and thicker claws than females, and they also have two small appendages called gonopods near the base of their last pair of legs. These gonopods are used to transfer sperm to the female during mating. Females have smaller and thinner claws than males, and they also have a small opening called the annulus ventralis on their abdomen, between the second and third pair of legs. This opening is used to receive sperm from the male during mating.

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Creating A Breeding Environment

In order to make sure your crayfish breeding pair can successfully reproduce; it is important to provide a comfortable habitat for them. You will need a separate tank that is at least 20 gallons in size, with a tight-fitting lid or cover to prevent escapes. The tank should have the same water parameters and temperature as the main tank, but with a lower water level (about 6 inches) to facilitate mating and egg-laying.

The tank should also have plenty of hiding places and decorations that can provide shelter and security for the crayfish. You can use rocks, driftwood, caves, pipes, pots or artificial ornaments to create various spots for them to retreat to. You should also provide them with a substrate that is soft, fine and deep enough for them to dig into. Some good options are sand, gravel, peat or soil.

The tank should also have a filter that can keep the water clean and well-oxygenated, but with a low water flow that does not disturb the crayfish or their eggs. You can use a sponge filter or an air-powered filter that does not create too much current in the water.

The tank should also have a heater that can maintain a stable and suitable temperature for your crayfish. The ideal temperature range for breeding electric blue crayfish is between 72°F and 78°F (22°C and 26°C). You should monitor the temperature regularly with a thermometer and adjust the heater accordingly.

The tank should also have some plants that can provide some extra cover and oxygen for your crayfish. You can use live or artificial plants, but make sure they are sturdy and secure enough to withstand your crayfish’s digging and rearranging behavior. Some good options are java fern, java moss, anubias or hornwort.

Mating

Once you have set up the breeding tank and transferred your crayfish breeding pair into it, you can start feeding them more frequently and generously to stimulate their reproductive hormones. You can offer them a variety of foods, such as pellets, flakes, wafers, tablets, vegetables, fruits, meat or seafood.

The male will initiate the mating process by mounting the female from behind and holding her with his claws. He will then use his gonopods to insert sperm into her annulus ventralis. The female will resist at first but will eventually submit to the male’s advances. The mating process can last from a few minutes to several hours, depending on the size and mood of the crayfish.

After mating, the male will release the female and retreat to his own hiding place. The female will then carry the sperm in her annulus ventralis until she is ready to lay her eggs.

Egg-Laying

The female will lay her eggs about two weeks after mating, depending on the water temperature and her condition. She will attach her eggs to her swimmerets (the small legs under her abdomen) with a sticky substance. She will then use her claws to clean and aerate her eggs regularly.

The number of eggs that a female can lay depends on her size and age, but it usually ranges from 50 to 300 eggs per clutch. The eggs are initially greenish in color, but they will gradually turn brown as they develop.

The female will carry her eggs under her abdomen for about four weeks until they hatch. During this time, she will become very protective of her eggs and will not eat much. She will also hide most of the time in her shelter or burrow.

Caring For Offspring

The baby crayfish (called fry) will emerge from their eggs fully formed and independent. They will look like miniature versions of their parents, but with a transparent or whitish color. They will also have a yolk sac attached to their abdomen, which will provide them with nutrition for the first few days of their life.

The fry will stay close to their mother for the first week or two, until they molt their exoskeletons for the first time. During this time, the mother will protect them from predators and provide them with some food by regurgitating her stomach contents. However, she will also eat some of her fry if she is hungry or stressed, so you should monitor her behavior and separate her from her offspring if necessary.

The fry will start to disperse and explore their environment after their first molt. They will also start to develop their blue coloration as they grow. They will need plenty of hiding places and food to survive and thrive in the tank. You can feed them the same foods as their parents, but in smaller pieces that are easy for them to handle. You can also supplement their diet with baby brine shrimp, micro worms, daphnia or infusoria.

The fry will grow and molt their exoskeletons several times before reaching maturity. They will reach sexual maturity at about 6 months of age, and they will be ready to breed at about 9 months of age. You should separate them by sex or by size as they grow, to prevent inbreeding or cannibalism among them.

Electric Blue Crayfish Common Diseases
Electric Blue Crayfish, Image by Bleckdraco From Wikimedia Commons

Electric Blue Crayfish Common Diseases and their Treatment

Electric blue crayfish are generally hardy and resilient creatures that can resist most common diseases. However, they may still suffer from some health issues that are caused by poor water quality, stress, injury, or infection. Some of the common diseases that affect electric blue crayfish are:

  • Stress & Infection: Electric blue crayfish may become stressed due to sudden changes in water parameters, overcrowding, aggression, or inadequate hiding places. Stress can weaken their immune system and make them more susceptible to bacterial or fungal infections. Signs of stress and infection include lethargy, loss of appetite, cloudy eyes, discolored patches on the body, or white cottony growths on the body or gills.
  • Crayfish Plague: Crayfish plague is a deadly disease that is caused by a parasitic fungus called Aphanomyces astaci. It can spread quickly among crayfish populations and wipe them out in a matter of weeks. Signs of crayfish plague include erratic behavior, loss of coordination, difficulty molting, soft exoskeletons, or black spots on the body.
  • Shell Rot: Shell rot is a condition that is caused by bacteria or fungi that eat away at the exoskeleton of the crayfish. It can result from injury, poor water quality, or improper molting. Signs of shell rot include holes, cracks, pits, or erosion on the shell.
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The best way to prevent and treat these diseases is to maintain good water quality and hygiene in the tank. You should also quarantine any new or sick crayfish and avoid mixing different species or sources of crayfish. You can also use medications or natural remedies, such as salt, garlic, or melafix, to treat mild infections or wounds. However, if the disease is severe or widespread, you may need to euthanize the affected crayfish to prevent further suffering and contamination.

Facts about Electric Blue Crayfish

Electric blue crayfish are fascinating and beautiful creatures that can add a lot of interest and color to your aquarium. Here are some fun facts about them that you may not know:

  • Electric blue crayfish can regenerate lost limbs or claws. They will drop off their appendages when threatened or injured, and grow new ones after a few molts.
  • Electric blue crayfish can communicate with each other using sounds. They can produce clicking, popping, or drumming noises by rubbing their claws, legs, or antennae together. They use these sounds to warn, attract, or challenge other crayfish.
  • Electric blue crayfish can change their color depending on their mood, environment, or health. They can become darker or lighter, or even display different patterns or shades of blue.
  • Electric blue crayfish can breathe both in and out of water. They have gills that allow them to extract oxygen from the water, and lungs that allow them to breathe air. They can survive for several hours out of water, as long as their gills are moist.

Are Electric Blue Crayfish Right for You?

Electric blue crayfish are amazing and rewarding pets that can bring a lot of joy and entertainment to your aquarium. However, they are not suitable for everyone, as they have some special needs and challenges that you should be aware of before getting them. Here are some of the pros and cons of keeping electric blue crayfish:

Pros

  • Electric blue crayfish are stunning and eye-catching creatures that will brighten up any tank with their vibrant blue color.
  • Electric blue crayfish are active and intelligent creatures that will keep you amused with their antics and personality.
  • Electric blue crayfish are easy to breed and care for, as long as you provide them with a spacious tank, a balanced diet, and good water quality.

Cons

  • Electric blue crayfish are aggressive and territorial creatures that will fight with other crayfish and prey on other tank inhabitants.
  • Electric blue crayfish are destructive and messy creatures that will dig up the substrate and rearrange the decorations in their tank.
  • Electric blue crayfish are not very compatible with live plants, as they will often uproot, nibble, or destroy them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about electric blue crayfish:

How big do electric blue crayfish get?

Electric blue crayfish can grow up to 6 inches (15 cm) in length.

How long do electric blue crayfish live?

Electric blue crayfish can live for 5 to 6 years on average.

How many electric blue crayfish can I keep in a 30-gallon tank?

You can keep one electric blue crayfish in a 30-gallon tank. If you want to keep more than one electric blue crayfish, you will need a much larger tank with at least 20 gallons (76 liters) of water per crayfish.

What do electric blue crayfish eat?

Electric blue crayfish are omnivorous scavengers that will eat almost anything they can find in their tank. You can feed them sinking pellets, algae wafers, shrimp pellets, or other commercial foods that are formulated for crayfish. You can also supplement their diet with fresh or frozen foods, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, earthworms, fish flakes, vegetables, or fruits.

How often should I feed my electric blue crayfish?

You should feed your electric blue crayfish once or twice a day, and only give them as much food as they can eat in a few minutes. You should also remove any uneaten food from the tank to prevent water pollution and overfeeding.

Conclusion

Electric blue crayfish are stunning and fascinating creatures that can make great pets for experienced and dedicated aquarium hobbyists. They have a brilliant cobalt blue color that makes them stand out in any tank. They are also very active and curious, and will explore every inch of their tank. They are also very intelligent and can learn to recognize their owners and respond to stimuli.

However, electric blue crayfish are not very sociable or peaceful creatures. They are territorial and aggressive, especially towards other crayfish and bottom-dwelling fish. They need a spacious tank with plenty of hiding places, a sandy substrate, and soft water with a neutral pH. They are also omnivorous scavengers that need a balanced diet that consists of both plant and animal matter.

If you are looking for a unique and beautiful addition to your aquarium, electric blue crayfish may be the right choice for you. However, you should be prepared to provide them with the best care and environment possible, and to deal with their challenges and drawbacks. Electric blue crayfish are not suitable for everyone, but they can be rewarding and entertaining pets for those who can appreciate and respect them.