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11 Types of Crayfish (Freshwater Crustaceans)

Crayfish are freshwater crustaceans found in rivers, lakes, and streams. These animals are related to lobsters, and many different types of crayfish are found worldwide. They have a hard exoskeleton to protect them from predators, as well as claws to help them grab and catch food.

Crayfish are available in a variety of colors and sizes. Some have bright red or orange claws, and others have black or brown bodies. They can be as small as an inch long or as big as 31 inches long.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the crayfish found in different parts of the world.

11 Types of crayfish

1. Blue crayfish

Blue crayfish in aquarium
Blue crayfish in aquarium

Scientific Name: Procambarus alleni

The Blue Crayfish is a freshwater crustacean found in Florida’s rivers and lakes, as well as in California, France, and Germany. In the wild, they range from brown-tan to blue, but those bred in captivity have a brilliant blue color.

The cylindrical body of this colorful crayfish has a flattened underside and a triangular head. They’re commonly kept as aquarium pets and can grow to be 5 inches long.

Blue crayfish are nocturnal creatures that live in caves and under rocks. They prefer to have their own space and can be very territorial.

2. Common yabby

Common yabby
Common yabby

Scientific Name: Cherax destructor

The Common Yabby is a freshwater crayfish that can be found in Southern Australia. It’s one of the most common crayfish species in Australia and can be found in a variety of habitats, including both still and flowing fresh water, such as lakes, rivers, swamps, streams, and ponds.

They’re omnivores that eat aquatic vegetation, algae, fish, animal remains, and other invertebrates. Yabbies can also survive outside of the water, typically in areas where the water has dried up, by burrowing in the mud and remaining dormant.

3. Marmorkrebs

Marbled crayfish inside aquarium
Marbled crayfish inside aquarium | image by Zfaulkes via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Name: Procambarus virginalis

Marmorkrebs are freshwater crustaceans found in Germany, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Madagascar. These crayfish are tan to dark olive-brown in color, but depending on their diet, they can also be reddish brown, blue, or green.

They didn’t come from the wild and were discovered in the pet trade. Marmorkrebs, like all crayfish, are active at night and hide under rocks or other debris during the day. These hard-shelled species live in low-oxygen lakes and streams, which is why they’re frequently found in caves or crevices in streams.

4. Dwarf orange crayfish

Dwarf orange crayfish
Dwarf orange crayfish | image by Veitw via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientific Name: Cambarellus patzcuarensis 

The Dwarf Orange Crayfish is a small crayfish species that can be found in the Southern United States and Mexico. These crayfish are very small, reaching a maximum size of only 1.5 inches. They prefer to live in rivers and streams with slow-moving water and prefer clay or sand bottoms.

They eat almost anything they can find, including plants, larvae, insects, and other animal remains. In fact, dwarf oranges are kept as aquarium pets and are known as tank janitors.

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5. Signal crayfish

Signal crayfish
Signal crayfish | image by generalising via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Pacifastacus leniusculus

One of the most common crayfish species in the United States is the signal crayfish. They’re found in rivers, lakes, and streams across North America, including parts of Canada.

These crayfish are omnivores that are popular as baits and for controlling vegetation in aquaculture ponds. Young crayfish generally feed on aquatic insects and switch to plants as they grow as adults. Humans consume these signal crayfish as food as well.

6. Red swamp crayfish

Red swamp crayfish
Red swamp crayfish | image by gailhampshire via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Procambarus clarkii

The Red Swamp Crayfish is native to the United States and Mexico, but it can now find it in freshwater habitats all over the world, with the exception of Antarctica and Australia. Because of its burrowing behavior in the mud, which leaves a large hole in the center, this crayfish is also known as the Louisiana Crawfish or mudbug.

It has a red color with bright red spots on its shells and claws. The Red Swamp Crayfish can reach a length of 5 inches and a weight of 50 g. It feeds on plants and small animals, such as worms and insects.

7. Least dwarf crayfish

Least dwarf crayfish
Least dwarf crayfish | image by Hermann Junghans via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientific Name: Cambarellus diminutus

The Least Dwarf Crayfish is a small crayfish species found only in the United States. It can only grow to be 2 cm long and lives in freshwater streams and lakes in Mississippi and Alabama.

They’re opportunistic predators that eat anything smaller than themselves, including blackworms, brine shrimp, earthworms, and crushed snails. Least Dwarfs are distinguished by their grayish, bluish, or reddish coloring, as well as dark spots on their abdomen.

8. Rusty crayfish

Rusty crayfish
Rusty crayfish | image by USFWS – Pacific Region via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Faxonius rusticus

Rusty crayfish are found in lakes and rivers throughout the United States. They‘re widely distributed in the Ohio River basin, Indiana, Kentucky, and Northern Tennessee. Because this species doesn’t burrow under the ground like other crayfish, it must remain in permanent water to survive.

Rusty crayfish have rusty-red spots on their carapace and brownish-green shells. They can grow to be 10 cm long, with males being larger than females.

9. Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish

Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish
Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish | image by Stemonitis via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientific Name: Astacopsis gouldi

The Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish is the world’s largest crayfish, growing up to 31 inches long and weighing up to 6 kilograms. Their diet varies with age, but they primarily consume decaying plants, bacteria, dead animals, and insects. This species can live for a very long time, even up to 60 years old.

The color of these crayfish is usually brownish-black, green, or blue. To avoid predators, juveniles migrate to water habitats with faster-flowing waters. As they grow older and encounter fewer predators, they relocate to slow-moving waters.

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10. Australian red claw crayfish

Australian red claw crayfish
Australian red claw crayfish | image by Nature.Catcher via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Cherax quadricarinatus

The Australian Red Claw Crayfish can be found in rivers and streams throughout Queensland and Papua New Guinea. They’re detrivores, meaning they eat dead animals, bacteria, fungi, and small insects.

This crayfish is a small crustacean that can grow to be 25 cm long and weigh up to 600 g. Only the adult male of this species has a distinctive red patch on his claws, while both adults and juveniles have a deep blue to greenish body color.

11. Dwarf Texan crayfish

Scientific Name: Cambarellus texanus

A Dwarf Texan Crayfish is a freshwater species native to Texas. They have olive to brown color bodies with stripes that are dark.

This species is also quite small, reaching a maximum size of 1.5 inches. When it comes to their territory, dwarf Texans are very aggressive and will fight off other members of the same species who come too close.

This omnivorous freshwater crayfish consumes both plants and animals. It eats dead animals, fish waste, decaying plant matter, and even algae.