Can You Keep Crayfish in a Pond?

Yes, crayfish are a great addition to any pond. They are scavengers and will eat dead fish, plants, algae, and debris.

Crayfish are a popular choice for pond keepers because they eat algae and help to balance the ecosystem. They also provide a fun form of entertainment for children who enjoy watching them scavenge food from plants, stones, and other objects in your garden.

Crayfish are also a good way to control your pond’s population. In a healthy ecosystem, crayfish will eat other aquatic animals such as snails, mosquito larvae, and algae found in the water.

Where did crayfish come from in my pond?

Crayfish are freshwater crustaceans. They have adapted to live in many types of water sources, including ponds and streams. Crayfish can be found all over the world with as many as 200 species available.

If your pond is connected to a stream, then it’s possible that you already have crayfish living there. It is also possible that the crayfish have been introduced to your pond through another source.

Pufferfish swimming
Pufferfish swimming

Crayfish can be bought in pet stores or on the Internet. It’s also possible that they were accidentally introduced to your pond through someone dumping their aquarium into the water.

How can you get rid of crayfish in your pond?

Crayfish are very easy to get rid of. They have a simple life cycle, and there is only one generation per year. There must be fresh water in the pond for them to reproduce properly. We have found that even if they are able to reproduce they won’t survive long enough in your pond due to predators and weather conditions.

In order to get rid of crayfish try the following tips first:  

  • Tidy up the pond – remove all sticks, weeds, and other debris from the water. A crayfish will eat anything that it can find to supplement its diet. 
  • If there is a weir, take it down and allow the water level to drop so that crayfish can’t hide underneath.
  • If you do have fish in your pond, make sure they are eating healthy amounts of food. This will help keep the small infestation under control until it dies out on its own.
  • Try using a natural pest control solution, and sprinkle it on the water’s surface.
  • You can also try introducing a natural predator into your pond, such as large fish like catfish or koi. They will eat the crayfish and live in your pond permanently, keeping it pest-free.
  • If you think that your fish are leaving behind food that is attracting crayfish, try feeding them smaller portions more often – this will keep the food from sitting on top of the water for too long and becoming crayfish bait.
  • If your fish are getting sick, keep in mind that crayfish will eat them when they can’t find other food sources.
  • Try increasing the amount of plant life in the water – this will help oxygenate and clean your pond while also reducing the amount of food available for the crayfish.
  • Try changing up your pond design as well – crayfish like shallow water, so a deeper pond might be harder for them to inhabit. Also, make sure that there are no low spots or areas that are easily accessible by crayfish but inaccessible by fish (like small holes or tunnels).
  • Finally, make sure that you are doing adequate maintenance on your pond and cleaning out any debris or crayfish as soon as you see them.

What do crayfish eat in a pond?

The two most important things in a crayfish’s life are food and shelter. Crayfish eat all the time and being prepared for a long, lean winter is what determines if they make it or not. In their native waters where they live at the bottom of rivers, ponds, and lakes, crustaceans are always on the prowl for food.

There is always some floating debris that they can catch and utilize as a meal or they are constantly hoping to find another creature with something tasty in its shell or belly. This makes them excellent scavengers and voracious eaters since they are so active all the time.

Crayfish are omnivores and so they will eat vegetation, fruits, fish eggs, algae, and even young birds.

Some species of crayfish will also eat snails, worms, dead fish, and even other crustaceans. Most of their diet is scavenged from the bottom of the water body or shoreline where they live but it is important for them to be active and flexible in finding meals because there are so many creatures that prey on them in their native waters.

Are crayfish good or bad for ponds?

Before we get into whether crayfish are good or bad for ponds, let’s take a little detour and consider what type of pond you have first. While most people think in terms of fish when they go to the pet store, there is nothing stopping you from putting frogs, turtles, or even crayfish into your backyard pond. The question then becomes: are crayfish good for ponds?

The answer to this question depends on the state of your pond. A brand new, crystal clear, moss-free pond very probably shouldn’t have any crayfish in it. However, if you’ve been looking after the water quality and fauna in the pond over a long period of time and have achieved a healthy, balanced ecosystem, then crayfish may well be a welcome addition.

Crayfish can do more harm than good if they are introduced to a pond without the necessary preparation and care. They are prolific breeders which can cause havoc in your pond if you’re not careful. Before deciding whether or not crayfish are good for your pond, try asking yourself a few questions:

What kind of plants do you have in the pond? If you have no aquatic vegetation or submerged plant roots then crayfish probably won’t cause any damage. But if you’ve been nurturing plants and encouraging them to grow over time, then there’s going to be some sort of impact when crayfish are introduced, whether it’s from the plants dying off or dropping leaves.

How many plants do you have in the pond? If you only have a few stems of aquatic vegetation then perhaps adding any invertebrate, like a crayfish, will not cause much damage at all. However, if you have quite a dense bed of plants, then there’s going to be a considerable amount of damage when the crayfish go in.

Why do you want them? If you are just looking for something nice and different to gaze at as it wanders around your pond, then that is a perfectly valid reason. Just bear in mind all the maintenance and cleaning required, and think about the impact they will have on your other pond inhabitants.

How many do you have? If you want to add just one or two for a bit of interest, that’s perfectly fine if they don’t cause havoc in the process. But if you’re planning on adding lots at once, then you need to consider what effect this will have on your pond ecosystem.

Are you planning on adding other fish? If so, can they peacefully coexist with the crayfish? And if not, are you prepared to remove and relocate the fish rather than leave them with a huge introduction of new food that will most likely lead to their deaths?

What species are they? Different varieties of crayfish have different requirements. It is important to get one that is suitable for your particular ecosystem.

Are you prepared to regularly feed them? Crayfish are scavengers, but if you want them in the pond all year round and to grow nice and big, then they will need some food as well.

Is your pond clean and healthy? If not, then adding crayfish may do more harm than good. And if you’re not prepared to put the work in to keep it that way, then perhaps it’s best not to put any at all.

If you’ve answered all of these questions honestly and found that crayfish are indeed a welcome addition to your pond, then you’ve achieved a healthy balanced ecosystem that can support them. Just be careful not to add too many and take heed of the water quality and other wildlife in the pond as it will most likely affect them in some way if crayfish are introduced at full capacity.

And remember, before adding any new aquatic creature to your pond, be sure to do your research first.

Summary

If you’ve been wondering whether or not it would be possible to keep crayfish in a pond, the answer is yes. However, there are some considerations that need to be made before bringing these animals into your ecosystem.

For example, if you have plants and fish living in your pond already, make sure they will cohabitate peacefully with new additions like this one.

You also want to consider how much space the crayfish can take up as well as what kind of food sources it likes best so that you can ensure its needs are being met while it lives here.

With these tips in mind and our team on standby for any questions about other aspects of keeping crayfish alive and happy at home, we hope to see you enjoying these creatures soon.

References:

Crayfishes https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/crayfishes