Although crayfish are still a very niche species to keep within the fish keeping community, they are slowing becoming more popular with more and more people adding a crayfish to their tank. Ideally, you will be keeping your crayfish in its own separate tank away from your main fish as crayfish can catch and eat fish surprisingly easily. Still, crayfish can be an interesting pet to keep but we have noticed a spike in people asking about if crayfish can get ich or not recently so wanted to publish this article.
Crayfish can not get infected by the ich parasite due to ich requiring a skin and scale combination where as crayfish have an outer shell preventing ich from taking hold. The white stuff that commonly grows on crayfish is actually a fungal infection known as crayfish plague that can be lethal to crayfish and is usually very difficult to treat.
Ich is an actual parasitic animal, not a fungus, and although ich and crayfish plague can look similar depending on the stage of the infection, they are very different and require different treatments. There is no point in trying to treat crayfish plague with ich treatments as it will be ineffective and essentially a waste of money and unfortunately, crayfish plague is notoriously difficult to treat with there being very few chemical treatments on the market that are effective.
Why Is There White Stuff On My Crayfish?
The most common cause of white stuff on crayfish is crayfish plague that is a type of oomycete fungus known as aphanomyces astaci. Thankfully, crayfish plague is very rare in crayfish kept in captivity so it is usually more common that the white stuff is a different type of fungus growing on your crayfish that is often easier to treat.
The problem with crayfish plague is that once it takes hold, it is extremely difficult to get off your crayfish or out of the water and decorations in its tank with the “plague” in its name being well deserved due to it ravaging waterways in both North America and Europe. It tends to be very expensive to treat in large bodies of water too so for the most part, it is generally just left to grow until the local crayfish population perishes.
Although it is useless against actual crayfish plague, you can try a treatment such as Pimafix that can be very effective against other white fungal infections and often treat it within two weeks. If you do have a pet crayfish then it is more likely that it has and infection with one of these other types of fungus rather than actual crayfish plague increasing its chances of survival drastically.
Can Crayfish Get Ich?
Crayfish can’t actually get ich in anyway due to the ich parasite needing skin to bond to during the early stages of its infection. The hard, smooth shell on a crayfish prevents this from happening in the early stages of the ich parasites life causing it to fall off the crayfish and perish.
We have seen countless posts on social media and various fish keeping forums from people who are sure that their crayfish has ich but when they share photographs of the breakout, it is always some sort of fungus rather than actual ich. The easiest way to tell the difference between ich and fungus is that ich tends to be smoother and less feathery where as fungal infections on your crayfish will often look like a fine fuzz.
In the vast majority of cases where the fungus has been able to develop looking for the fuzz effect will easily be able to help you identify the infection as fungus. If the outbreak is less than a week old then the majority of types of fungus will look more like ich until it develops but due to growing on a crayfish, you can rule out ich due to the ich parasite not being able to bond to a crayfish shell.
How Can You Treat Crayfish Plague?
Crayfish plague is very difficult to treat in the vast majority of cases and often too expensive for hobbyist fishkeepers to treat due to the costs of the chemicals. We have seen some people report that increasing their aquarium water temperature to the high 70s and low 80s has been able to treat crayfish plague but this is often dangerous temperatures for the majority of crayfish species anyway and can cause serious problems so we wouldn’t recommend this treatment.
There is also some misinformation shared on social media about sodium hypochlorite and iodophores being able to treat crayfish plague too and although this is partially correct, it is not intended in the way that people recommend it. The use of sodium hypochlorite and iodophores is intended for use on tools that people use in areas that are known to have crayfish plague in the wild rather than to actually treat the fungal infection in the water and will harm your crayfish if you attempt to treat it in this way.
For example, if you enjoy fishing, then most areas with crayfish plague will recommend that you clean your fishing line and nets with sodium hypochlorite and iodophores to kill the crayfish plague fungus spores on them. The goal of this method is to prevent the crayfish plague from spreading between bodies of water, not to actually treat the fungus in the water.
That brings our article going over if your crayfish can get ich or not to an end and we hope that you have found our article helpful. The majority of people will often have to just leave their crayfish with crayfish plague as there are no real treatments available at the time of writing this article. Due to crayfish plague becoming an increasingly common problem, we do hope that more budget friendly treatments will become available soon though so by the time you read this, there may be a treatment that works well and is safe.