How to Keep Your New Yucatan Crayfish

Aqualand insight on Procambarus llamassi 

 
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Yucatan Crayfish Factoids

Origin

Yucatan Peninsula

Maximum Size

Two inches plus claws -- really long claws

Longevity

Probably 1.5 to 2 years

Housing

Prefers about half a square foot

Security

Not a hider like most crayfish

Temperature

Room temp fine.  Breeds faster when warmer.

Attitude

Does not eat fish -- theoretically

Foods

Devours plants.  Flake and pellet foods fine.

Water

Needs clean water

Threats Herons, bullfrogs, turtles, big fish

LA Pic
Yucatan crayfish.  Sort of bluish.  Nice racing stripe on side.  Strange claws.

Origins.  As Sherlock says, “Betcha these dudes come from the Yucatan Peninsula, Watson.”  Especially since two of our customers told us that’s where they brought them back from.  It took us a while to figure out their scientific name, and ... we never did find out any concrete info on the little guys.  So as usual, we’re pretty much making this up on the fly as we go (just like real life).  Actually, we’ve kept these fascinating decapods a couple years now, so we’re comfortable passing on what we know about Yucatan crayfish.  Sherlock said it’s okay to use inductive and deductive logic.

LA
Not all are bluish.  Some are brownish.  And not all are racing striped or have the weird claws.

Size.  Body-size, the ones (actually scores) we’ve seen top out at around two inches plus claws.  We say PLUS claws, because the adult Yucatan crayfish sport some abnormally long, skinny claws -- much longer than claws on the crayfish in our neighborhood.

LA
Check out that claw.  Is that weird or what?  Yucatan crayfish have very weird claws.

Weird Claws.  Is that maybe the oddest claw you’ve ever seen on a crawdad?  They look like fungus is growing all over them – like a dead chunk of meat.  These fuzzy claws help your Yucatan crayfish strain food out of the water.  Then you can watch their littler “mini-claws” with hooks come out of their mouths and scrape “stuff” off their furry looking food-straining claws.

LA
Two hook-like apparati come out and pull food off his claws and into his mouth.

 

LA
Furry "pincers."  His little mouth hooks are pulling in a sliver of green bean.

Not a Fish Threat.  Because of their strange food-straining claws, Yucatan crayfish supposedly pose no threat to your fish.  It sounds strange, but they ignore fish.  They even ignore dead fish.  (01.26.04 update.  We put 20 black moors in a 20H with a dozen 2/3-grown Yucatan crayfish.  They snagged three moors almost instantly.  So, we moved the moors in with some baby oscars.)

LA
The little Yucatan crayfish shinnied up these bunches of Rotala and wrecked them.

LA
The dozen or so breeder-sized Yucatan crayfish pretty much ignored this ulvaceous.

Plant Killers.  When we put a dozen 1.5-inchYucatan crayfish into a planted aquaria, they quickly (within one day) disassembled all the bunches of plants that had grown very well in that tank for months.  Of course, they just may be partial to Rotala indica.  Sturdier plants may hold up better.

LA
Here's four adults in a "hand-crafted" three-gallon tank.  Of course, they're crowded.

LA
We added some wood, plants, and rosy reds.

LA
Yucatan crayfish like a variety of surfaces for their thigmotactic feet.

Housing.  Most crayfish like to fight.  Yucatan crayfish prefer to argue (fewer deaths) when crowded.  They don’t grow those massive claws that make third-graders yelp when they try to pick them up.  Anyway, you can crowd them more than most mud bugs.  You don’t need piles of rocks or small PVC tubes to keep them from killing each other.

LA
Adult Yucatan crayfish choosing a green bean rather than a deceased fish.
 

LA
Green beans, Si!  Rosy reds, No!

Yucatan Crayfish Foods.  Like most crayfish, Yucatan crayfish readily accept fish food.  These little Mexican mud bugs are not picky eaters.  They make good members of your clean up crew (unless you put them in planted aquaria).

LA
Yucatan crayfish can re-grow missing limbs.  This guy has a "Popeye arm."

Limb Regeneration.  Unlike humans and other dabblers in stem cell research, most decapods (10-leggers) can regenerate the arms and/or other limbs they carelessly left at the bodega.  It will start small and grow with each molt.



LA
Yucatan crayfish molted shell.

LA
In his soft shell phase he cannot pinch or even walk.  He was hiding in the plants.

LA
Just shed, this guy's so soft he just flops.

LA
Nice hard shell on same guy two days later.  Rowdy and ready to rock and roll (minus one claw).

Exoskeleton.   Like other arthropods, Yucatan crayfish have no bones.  Their muscles attach to their exoskeleton or hard outer shell.  As they grow, they shed their shells and go into a soft shell phase.  Other critters love to eat them at this tasty and helpless phase.  Most crayfish usually eat their own shells.  

LA
His claws are just starting to grow their "fuzz."

Not Hiders.  Unlike most crayfish which live in burrows, Yucatan crayfish have fewer tendencies to hide.  They enjoy parading across your aquarium floor.  

LA
Breeding pair in the shrubbery 12.08.04.

LA
Another pair same day, 12.08.04.

LA
Another pair 12.11.04.

LA
12.23.04.  Note how the male holds her pincers.

LA

Breeding.  Yucatan crayfish practice rather traditional breeding techniques.  You can see more examples of this in the Crayfish section of our web site.  

LA Pic
Yucatan crayfish in berry July, 2004.  Not very many eggs in this clutch.

LA
Yucatan crayfish in berry December, 2004.  Very near hatching.  Another small clutch.

LA
This helps you see what size they breed at.

LA
Next time we checked, she only had a couple of babies (nauplii?).

Berry Phase. Females carry their eggs under their tail for a couple of weeks and carry the babies for another three weeks.  You’ll also see a few more paragraphs of info about the Yucatans when you go to Crayfish.

LA
Yucatan crayfish can pinch, but they're less likely to.

Disadvantages.  Yucatan crayfish eat plants as mentioned earlier.  That’s one bad point.  And since you can’t seine them out of the creek just down the hill, they cost more than regular crayfish – 12 to 30 times as much.  But you CAN keep them in your community tank without losing fish every night.  LA

© 2004, © 2005  LA Productions

Later Add-ons.  We lost our Yucatan crayfish colonyso we decided not to do a second page on them.  Here' the several photos we had planned to use.

LA
Yucatan crayfish.  Sort of bluish.  Nice racing stripe on side.  Strange claws.

LA
Female "in berry."

LA

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