The number of people choosing to add a crayfish to their aquarium tank is higher than ever and crayfish are actually one of the fastest growing species when it comes to their popularity within the aquarium keeping hobby.
Due to crayfish having some quirky features that are nothing like most fish keepers are used to, we usually see a wide range of different questions being asked by the community each month about the behavior of their crayfish.
After we published our article going over signs your crayfish is dying as well as our article on why your crayfish is not moving, we noticed a number of people reaching out and asking questions about why their crayfish is laying on its side.
With so many people reaching out about this and some of the potential reasons that your pet crayfish is laying on its side being serious, we decided that we wanted to publish this article going over the topic to try and help as many of our readers as possible.
Now, before we go any further, we want to quickly try and put as many of our reader’s minds at ease as possible.
The most common reason that your pet crayfish will lay on its side is due to the molting process and this is totally normal and to be expected.
There is a very high chance that this is why your crayfish is laying on its side so in most cases, there is nothing to worry about. Unfortunately though, there are some less common causes of a crayfish laying on its side that can also cause it to lay on its side that can be serious issues.
Why Your Crayfish Is Laying On Its Side!
Here is our short list going over the most common reasons that your pet crayfish is laying on its side:-
- Low Oxygen In The Tank!
- A Poor Diet!
- Unsuitable Water Parameters!
- Gas Inside The Shell!
- An Injury To The Shell!
- Sleeping In A High Water Flow Tank!
In very rare situations, your crayfish may actually have more than one of these problems at the same time but as we mentioned above, most people will find that their crayfish is just molting.
As we briefly touched on above, molting is often one of the first things that comes to mind for most people when they see their crayfish laying on its side as this behavior is totally normal during the molting process.
Crayfish will molt around once every 4-8 weeks depending on the species and the size of the crayfish and the process usually takes anywhere from a few hours to a day or two.
As your crayfish is molting, it will shed its entire exoskeleton which is also known as the shell.
If you are new to keeping crayfish then its first molt can be worrying but it is a natural process.
As crayfish get older, or if a crayfish has shell rot, the molting process can become more difficult meaning that a crayfish that does not usually lay on its side when molting will lay on its side so keep that in mind.
Low Oxygen In The Tank!
The second most common reason that your crayfish will lay on its side is due to issues with the oxygen levels in the tank.
This is a serious issue and unfortunately, the crayfish laying on its side is usually one of the later symptoms of the issue and it may already be too late to save your crayfish even if you act right away.
This is why you should monitor the oxygen levels in your aquarium or take steps to maintain steady oxygen levels in the water if possible.
Even adding some live plants to your aquarium will usually be enough to maintain the oxygen levels in a tank that is not overstocked and this is a cheap and easy solution to the problem.
A Poor Diet!
A poor diet is another reason that your crayfish may be laying on its side but this is due to a poor diet causing excess gas to be produced as your crayfish digests its food.
Unfortunately, this one can be difficult to prevent as crayfish will usually eat anything that they can find so it makes it difficult to prevent issues with excess gas being produced due to what the crayfish eats and then causing issues with it staying upright.
Thankfully, this is usually not a serious issue and it should pass after a couple of hours.
Unsuitable Water Parameters!
If the water parameters in your tank are unsuitable for your crayfish then this can also cause a crayfish to lay on its side.
This is usually due to high levels of ammonia or nitrites in the water which can be toxic to your crayfish and cause a number of issues including laying on its side.
You can test the water in your tank to see if the ammonia or nitrite levels are too high and if they are, you will need to take steps to correct the issue as soon as possible.
Gas Inside The Shell!
If there is gas inside the shell of your crayfish then this can also cause it to lay on its side.
This is usually due to a bacterial infection or issues with the molting process and it can be quite dangerous for your crayfish.
If you think that this may be the issue, then you really do need to take action right away.
Most local fish stores will have a range of suitable anti-bacterial products in stock that you are able to use to deal with a bacterial infection that can cause excess gas.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to work out that a problem with a bacterial infection in your crayfish is actually the issue until it is too late due to the nature of their shell hiding most internal problems.
An Injury To The Shell!
Depending on your aquarium setup, your crayfish may end up having an injury to its shell. In many cases, this is not as serious as most people think and the issue will be fixed after the next shell molt.
Unfortunately though, some bad injuries to the shell of your crayfish can allow water to get into the shell and put pressure on the internal organs of your crayfish.
Over time, this can take its toll and cause your crayfish to lay on its side.
These more serious injuries are usually obvious and you should be able to see the damage with a quick visual inspection but in many cases, there is little to nothing that you are able to do in this situation.
Sleeping In A High Water Flow Tank!
If you have a high water flow tank then your crayfish may end up being pushed over while it is sleeping but this is rare.
The majority of crayfish will usually try to hide somewhere in the tank when they sleep so if this is happening, it is usually a sign of a lack of suitable hiding spots for your crayfish so adding some cover may be a good idea.