7 Most Popular Aquarium Crayfish Species

7 Most Popular Aquarium Crayfish Species

Crayfish are interesting animals in that they can be kept as pets. This is a rewarding experience, for both young and old. Because caring for most crayfish is very simple, their popularity as pets has been increasing all the time.

Crayfishes are quite diverse and hence have a large variety of species. Therefore, when it comes to choosing crayfish, it is important to properly research the species beforehand.

So, if you are not sure which aquarium crayfish species is best for you then you are in the right place. In this article, I will list the most popular pet crayfish species you can get and outline what you can expect of them.

If you need more information on how to care for crayfish, I have created in-depth care guides for all of them!

Top 7 Aquarium Crayfish

Here’s a rundown list of the most popular species of the freshwater aquarium crayfish:

  1. Red Swamp Crayfish (Procambarus clarkii)
  2. Dwarf Orange Crayfish (Cambarellus patzcuarensis)
  3. Blue Crayfish (Procambarus alleni)
  4. Marmorkrebs (Procambarus fallax)
  5. Common Yabby (Cherax destructor)
  6. Australian red claw crayfish (Cherax quadricantus)
  7. Brazos Dwarf Crayfish (Cambarellus texanus)

Note: On my blog, you can also find guides for less common crayfish species such as Cambarellus diminutus, Cambarellus shufeldtii, Cambarellus pure, Cherax pulcher, Cuban crayfish, Procambarus milleri, Rusty crayfish, Signal Crayfish, etc.

Red Swamp Crayfish

Procarambus Clarkii color variationsProcambarus clarkii, aka Louisiana crawfish and Mudbug. They are native to slow-flowing freshwaters of Northern Mexico and the Southeastern United States but nowadays this species has been established in all continents except Antarctica and Oceania.

Red swamp crayfish quickly became very popular in the aquarium trade because they are extremely hardy and adaptable creatures. In the wild, this crayfish can survive in extreme seasons. For example, it can also tolerate dry spells of water for up to 4 months.

Due to selective breeding, Procambarus clarkii is also available in different color morphs such as orange, yellow, white, black, and some others.

These crayfish do particularly well in captivity, and most will grow up to 4 – 5 inches (10 – 12 cm) in length. So, they need at least 20 gallons (about 80 liters) per adult crayfish.

The average life span is around 3 years, though they can easily exceed this age in a well-maintained aquarium.

Keep in mind that Procambarus clarkii tend to burrow heavily into the ground. In addition, this is a very aggressive and territorial species. Therefore, keeping them with other tankmates is not easy.

Red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii)

Pros Cons
Very hardy crayfish Aggressive
Medium size Territorial
Nice looking with many color morphs Do not eat algae
Can breed in captivity Eat and cut plants
Eat pest snails Eat good and useful snails
Can burrow and aerate the substrate (prevent gas pockets, provide oxygen to plant roots) Can eat or harm fish
  Can get out of tanks

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Dwarf Orange Crayfish

Dwarf Mexican CrayfishDwarf orange crayfish are another common pets and very interesting addition to our list of the most popular pet crayfish. Its binomial name is Cambarellus patzcuarensis.

This Crayfish is also called the Dwarf Mexican crayfish, and this is because it is found in Mexico and southern areas of the United States of America.

This crayfish has a striking orange color but some individuals can also be brown, rust, or marbled.

As the name implies, they are small in size – roughly about 1.5 – 2 inches (4 – 5 cm) in length. They are also relatively peaceful creatures, hence easy to keep in tanks. In addition, Dwarf Mexican crayfish don’t have stringent requirements for their tanks.

Due to their small size, Dwarf Mexican crayfish can be housed comfortably in a relatively small tank (10 gallons or 40 liters) making them a great decorative pet.

Like most crayfish species, Dwarf orange crayfish are omnivores meaning they can eat anything they can find on the bottom of your tank. They will gladly feed on vegetables, dead tank mates, and even leftovers. Their diet may be supplemented with fish food, and fish or shrimp pellets.

Generally, Dwarf Mexican crayfish can be kept in community tanks (with some rules and requirements) but they can be especially aggressive towards their own kind. In spite of their small size, they also like to dig, burrow and move small objects around.

Dwarf Mexican crayfish (Cambarellus patzcuarensis)

Pros Cons
Relatively peaceful Escape artists
Small size Can nip off the antennae of large snails
Nice looking with many color morphs Can harm slow-moving fish with long fins
Can breed in captivity  
Can be kept in a community tank  
Can burrow and aerate the substrate (prevent gas pockets, provide oxygen to plant roots)  
Compatible with plants  

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Blue Crayfish

Procambarus alleni (Blue crayfish)The Blue Crayfish, Procambarus alleni, is also known as Electric blue Crayfish, Florida crayfish, and Sapphire crayfish. It is one of the most popular crayfish species for the freshwater aquarium as well.

This species of freshwater crayfish is relatively abundant in Florida, United States, hence the name Florida Crayfish.

Its coloration ranges from brown/tan to blue in the wild, however, an aquarium strain has been selectively bred to achieve a beautiful metallic or cobalt blue color. The shiny blue cobalt color lights up the aquarium and gives it a unique appearance.

The Blue Crayfish can adapt to a wide range of water parameters; this makes it a good option even for beginner aquarists.

There are reports that in the wild some individuals can measure up to 7 inches (18 cm). In the aquariums, they usually grow only up to 4 – 5 inches (10 – 12 cm) in length. A 20-gallon tank (80 liters) can house 1 adult crayfish.

In captivity, Blue Crayfish can live up to 5 years if appropriately cared for.

Blue Crayfish (Procambarus alleni)

Pros Cons
Very beautiful Aggressive
Hardy crayfish Territorial
Medium size Do not eat algae
Can breed in captivity Not compatible with plants
Eat pest snails Eat good and useful snails
Can burrow and aerate the substrate (prevent gas pockets, provide oxygen to plant roots) Can eat or harm fish
  Escape artists

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Marmorkrebs

Marbled crayfish guideMarmokrebs, Procambarus fallax virginalis, is also known as the Marbled crayfish and Self-cloning crayfish.

Yes, a self-cloning crayfish! Populations of the Marbled crayfish are exclusively composed of females. They are all genetically identical.

This species is also very tolerant and can survive under extreme conditions.

I believe that it is pretty obvious why these crayfish are one of the most popular in the hobby.

 Important: Check your state laws before purchasing. This is a restricted (banned) species in some US states and European countries due to its invasion potential.

Their color can range from dark brown to slightly reddish to olive.

These are medium-sized crayfish (up to 5 inches or 12 cm) in length. A 20 gallon (~80 liters) is the minimum recommended tank size for this species. Like all crayfish, they love hiding, so you should consider having driftwood, log, and bricks in your tanks.

The invert isn’t quite aggressive, but keeping only their species in the aquarium is better. Keep in mind that Marbled crayfish are opportunistic feeders meaning that if they can catch prey (snail or small fish), it will be eaten.

Breeding them is also very easy since they don’t need males to produce offspring. If you’re looking to breed a new crayfish, this species is your best bet.

Marmokrebs (Procambarus fallax virginalis)

Pros Cons
Unique Semi-aggressive
Very hardy crayfish Territorial
Medium size Do not eat algae
Can breed in captivity Not compatible with plants
Eat pest snails Eat good and useful snails
Can burrow and aerate the substrate (prevent gas pockets, provide oxygen to plant roots) Can eat or harm fish
  Escape artists

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Common Yabby

Cherax Destructor Crayfish – Detailed Guide CareCherax destructor is an Australian freshwater crustacean where it is also called Blue Yabby, Blue Pearl, or Cyan Yabby.

Their color may differ based on habitat, water clarity, quality, and genes. For example, they can be black, blue-black, or dark brown in clear waters, and light-brown to green-brown in darker or muddy waters. However, most Yabbies kept in tanks now are specially bred to have a glistering blue color.

Cherax destructor is a relatively large species with a fast growth rate. Fully grown individuals can easily reach 8 inches (20 cm) long and weigh up to 12 oz (350g).

Cherax destructor has become a very popular aquarium species due to its extreme hardiness and adaptability to poor water parameters. For example, they can survive in a wide range of water temperatures ranging from 33 – 95 F (1 – 35 C). Tolerate salinity and even long periods of drought. 

Nonetheless, there is another side of the coin.

If you decide to keep Cherax destructor you need to know that these crayfish are very aggressive, territorial, and messy. They got the name “Destructor” – because of the damage, they can cause to dam walls and levee banks after burrowing.

Yabby (Cherax destructor)

Pros Cons
Very hardy crayfish Grows too big
Can breed in captivity Very aggressive
Eat pest snails Territorial
Can burrow and aerate the substrate (prevent gas pockets, provide oxygen to plant roots) Do not eat algae
  Not compatible with plants
  Eat good and useful snails
  Can eat or harm fish
  Escape artists

Related article:

Australian Red Claw Crayfish

Red Claw Crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) – Detailed Guide Care, Diet, and BreedingAustralian red claw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) is known by common names such as Blue yabby, Giant crayfish, Red clawed crayfish, etc.

The color ranges from dark-brown to blue-green. The adult male has a unique red patch on the outer margin of their claws.

This is a large-sized crayfish. Males can grow up to 13 inches (up to 35 cm) in length and reach a maximum weight of 500 g (1.1 lb). This alone makes these crayfish quite the display animals to have as pets.

Because of their growth potential, it is recommended to have at least a 30 gallon (~120 liters) tank. 

In the aquarium, you can expect them to live for 5 – 6 years in optimal conditions.

Surprisingly, Australian red claw crayfish can just tolerate high stocking densities better than other large crayfish species. They also do not burrow much.

Australian red claw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus)

Pros Cons
Very hardy crayfish Grows very big
Colorful species  Do not eat algae
Eat pest snails Not compatible with plants
Can breed in captivity Eat good and useful snails
Compatible with shrimp Can eat or harm fish
  Escape artists

Related article:

Dwarf Texan Crayfish

Brazos Dwarf Crayfish (Cambarellus texanus)Last but certainly not least is Cambarellus texanus (also known as Brazos Dwarf Crayfish or Dwarf Texan Crayfish).

Cambarellus texanus is a wonderful-looking species that is also popular among crayfish keepers. These crustaceans are great display animals and can brighten up any aquarium or paludarium.

Brazos Dwarf Crayfish will definitely add color, beauty, and an extraordinary appearance to your tank.

Brazos Dwarf Crayfish is one the smallest known crayfish species in the world. These little crayfish grow to be only about 1.5 inches (3 cm) long but their olive ground color and beautiful middorsal stripe make up for their small stature.

Their lifespan is only about 2 years but they have been known to live even a little bit longer under optimal conditions. 

This is one of the most peaceful crayfish species creatures you can have in your tank. They do not eat plants. Also, they are hardy and easy to care for.

Brazos Dwarf Crayfish (Cambarellus texanus)

Pros Cons
Relatively peaceful Escape artists
Small size Do not eat algae
Nice looking Can nip off the antennae of large snails
Can breed in captivity Can harm slow-moving fish with long fins
Can be kept in a community tank  
Can burrow and aerate the substrate (prevent gas pockets, provide oxygen to plant roots)  
Compatible with plants  

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In Conclusion

These are the most popular aquarium crayfish species on the market. They are all low-maintenance pets and can be easily recommended for beginners.

Please keep in mind that all crayfish have unique behavior, temper, and feeding preferences. Some of them can be kept in a community tank whereas others should be kept in species-only tanks, otherwise, they will cause chaos and destruction.

I hope that my article was helpful on your way to finding a great pet crayfish. If there are other species you think I have left out, or if you have any questions regarding crayfish care, then please send me a message. I’ll do my best to help you out.

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