Crayfish have been slowly becoming more and more popular within the aquarium keeping hobby and with a number of people who keep crayfish sharing videos and photographs of their pets on social media, we only expect their popularity to continue to grow at a rapid pace. Thankfully, crayfish are relatively hardy and easy to care for but one common problem that we are seeing people have is that their crayfish is not eating so we wanted to publish this article as there is some confusion around what can cause this.
The most common reason that a crayfish will not be eating is due to the crayfish being stressed or anxious. This is usually due to its water parameters being out of the required range with water hardness, nitrate levels, and ammonia levels being common issues. If your crayfish is due a molt then it is totally natural to stop eating around four days prior to molting.
Some crayfish just have a strange requirement with their food where they have to have it sit in their tank for a day or two prior to even trying to eat it. This can be a pain if you have fish in the tank that will eat the food you add for your pet crayfish but this is surprisingly common amongst crayfish and just one of the quirks of keeping them as a pet.
Do Crayfish Eat Every Day?
Crayfish have evolved to be opportunistic omnivores that can go for a couple of days without eating without major problems. Most pet crayfish will eat every day or two if you provide them with food but some crayfish will not eat as frequently as that and may prefer to have one large meal every three to four days but this is usually only the North American crayfish species.
The temperature of the water that your crayfish is kept in will also play a huge role in the amount of food that the crayfish will eat too. When kept at room temperature, most crayfish will need to eat every two to three days at most so try to plan ahead if you have a crayfish that only likes to eat food that has been in its tank for a day or two already.
As we touched on earlier in the article, it is totally natural for a crayfish who is about to molt to stop eating around four days prior to the molt. Once the molt is complete it is usually a good idea to give your crayfish more food than usual to help it gain calories that would have been lost while fasting prior to molting.
Why Is My Crayfish Not Eating?
The most common reason that your crayfish will not eat is due to it being stressed or anxious due to problems in its water parameters. It is also natural for a crayfish to eat less or not at all prior to a molt with some crayfish just preferring to eat every two to three days rather than every day.
If you are new to keeping pet crayfish then this can worry some people but a surprisingly high number of crayfish choose not to eat every day even if they have plenty of food available. Although crayfish are omnivores and can technically survive on a plant based diet, many will prefer a meat based diet and may not eat plant based foods if they have been raised on a meat diet or a suitable pellet food for crayfish.
Most species of crayfish are surprisingly good hunters if you keep them in a tank with fish and you may be stuck wondering why your crayfish is not eating only to later realize that it has been eating the fish in its tank. Some species of crayfish will also eat any snails or even shrimp in their tank that they are able to find with some ripping their aquatic plants out of the substrate to eat the roots too.
How Do I Get My Crayfish To Eat?
Double and then triple checking your aquarium’s water parameters to make sure that all parameters are in line with what your crayfish requires is the best way to get a crayfish to eat as they can get stressed in poor water conditions. The most common offenders are water hardness, nitrate levels, and ammonia levels but they can be sensitive to other things too.
A very common thing that we see time and time again with people who keep a range of different creatures in their aquariums is that they will not use a suitable water testing kit. You should always spend a couple of dollars more than what you can get the cheaper test kits for to get yourself a decent water test kit as they test for more potential problems while also being far more accurate than the cheaper test kits.
As we mentioned above, some crayfish just have a personality where they prefer to eat larger meals less frequently than other crayfish or they will only eat food that has been left in their aquarium for a while. This is just a quirk of your crayfish and does not mean that there is anything wrong with it but it does often worry people new to keeping pet crayfish as they think they have to be fed daily.
How Long Can Crayfish Live Without Food?
Most species of crayfish are able to live for around a week without eating any food and without developing any serious, long term health problems. Some species of crayfish can go even longer without food but after the seven day mark, the chances of long term health problems can quickly set in if your crayfish continues not to eat.
This is why we always recommend that you make sure that your pet crayfish has access to more food than usual after a molt. Many crayfish will not eat all of the extra food but it is good to make sure that they have access to it due to most crayfish fasting for four to five days prior to a molt leaving them weak afterward.
That brings our article going over why your pet crayfish is not eating to an end. We hope that we have been able to help you better understand that in some situations, it can be normal for your pet crayfish not to eat but in others, it can be an indication of a problem in their tank. Thankfully, the problem is almost always due to issues with their water parameters and this is usually easy to fix and once stress levels are reduced, you can usually get your crayfish eating again within a day or two.