Dwarf crayfish – scientifically known as part of the Cambarellus genus – are among the smallest of the crayfish family. With an appearance similar to that of standard shrimps, dwarf crayfish are the freshwater animal that thrives in slow-moving, shallow water bodies.
While dwarf fish are excellent additions to small and medium-sized aquariums, they are not exactly the friendliest to live with. Hence, choosing dwarf crayfish tank mates is no easy task. If you are looking for some recommendations, below are what the experts say!
5 Popular Dwarf Crayfish Tank Mates
Dwarf crayfish are not inherently aggressive, nor do they feed on other animals indiscriminatingly. That said, they are still a little picky about sharing the same tank with other species, mostly due to their size and look.
Should you let dwarf crayfish live with intimidatingly bigger fish, chances are there will be a collision. As a result, dwarf crayfish tend to be eaten alive.
Due to such reasons, most aquarists prefer letting dwarf crayfish share the same tank with small, peaceful fish. It would be of great help if these tank mates occupy the top of the tank.
Since dwarf crayfish roam the bottom only, having separate habitats will prevent them from having any potential conflict with others.
But bigger fish are not the only ones to be avoided. Dwarf crayfish can still be a predator when needed, which means smaller invertebrates will be threatened. Anything from snails to smaller shrimps can end up being a meal for these lobster-looking creatures.
Now, if you need specific names, here are some of the most suitable dwarf crayfish tank mates.
- White cloud mountain minnows: These animals are quick and hardy, making it easier for them to escape dwarf crayfish. They are also cheap for most aquarists, so you would not need to worry about replacing them.
- Silver dollars: These fish are extremely speedy. Once reaching adulthood, they can be relatively big, essentially eliminating themselves as bait to crayfish.
- Hatchetfish: This species is known to dwell on the top of the water column only. As there will be no direct encounter with crayfish, hatchetfish are sure to survive.
- Zebra danios: Similar to hatchetfish, zebra danios live near the surface water only. They are also flighty and can move around quickly, which means they will not fall prey to crayfish.
- Neon tetras: Given how cheap and common neon tetras are, it should be no wonder why they make for excellent candidates in a community tank with crayfish.
They travel in school and are quick, so you might have no problem separating them from the predators at the bottom of the tank.
Dwarf Crayfish Lifespan, Appearance And Size
Unlike some of their bigger counterparts, dwarf crayfish do not live long. They enjoy a limited lifespan of no more than 3 years, with some exceptions here and then.
Since crayfish rely heavily on the surrounding environment, any sudden change will gravely affect their longevity. In case you want your crayfish to reach their full potential and stay healthy for more than 2 years, make sure to keep the water quality and living conditions under control.
At first glance, dwarf crayfish looks exactly like a smaller version of lobsters. With a noticeable tail used for swimming and a hard shell that marks their appearance, dwarf crayfish stand out in any community tank.
You will see the pair of black eyes and the set of antennae protruding from the head, accompanied by five pairs of legs for moving and keeping food.
A standard dwarf crayfish is between 1.6 and 2 inches long in adulthood. As the name already indicates, you cannot expect a dwarf crayfish to be any bigger.
Dwarf Crayfish Care Guide
While dwarf crayfish do not take up much space, you still want a tank of at least 20 gallons of water should you wish the fish to stay active and healthy. Having a medium-sized tank also allows you to find several tank mates and keep the dwarf crayfish accompanied.
As far as decor is concerned, fine sand and live plants are a must-have for dwarf crayfish tanks. You should also put in rock piles and large rocks for protection since crayfish will need somewhere to hide during their molting time.
Since dwarf crayfish come from tropical, slow-moving water bodies, you should mimic the water parameters there for the best effect. The water temperature should be anywhere between 16 degrees Celcius to 24 degrees Celcius, which is equivalent to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
The water hardness should be between 6 to 12 dKH, and a 25% water change is recommended weekly. Furthermore, a nitrate and ammonia filter is necessary to ensure the freshness and quality of the water.
Dwarf crayfish are not picky eaters. They will eat anything from smaller animals to leftovers. If you want to sustain their livelihoods, have several algae wafers, sinking pellets, and protein-rich frozen foods available. Earthworms and brine shrimps are also suitable for crayfish’s diet.
Behavior & temperament
Generally speaking, crayfish are not aggressive. If the tank mates are peaceful, they might even get along well! Most of the time, crayfish roam around the bottom of the tank, trying to find food and explore the habitat.
When they have to shed off the shell and build up a new one, crayfish will temporarily claw inside driftwoods or other hiding places. But once the period is over, you will find dwarf crayfish being as active as ever.
Finding the right dwarf crayfish tank mates is a piece of cake once you have pinpointed their habits. As long as you merge peaceful fish and prevent them from colliding through various means, letting dwarf crayfish in a community tank is not far-fetched!
Alex is a pet freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. He attended Colorado State University, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, which was where he first got some experience in animal nutrition. After graduating from University, Alex began sharing his knowledge as a freelance writer specializing in pets.