Are Crayfish Freshwater or Saltwater: Knowing the Suitable Water for Your Crayfish

Crayfish are mostly freshwater crustaceans that can be found in rivers and lakes. However, some crayfish species can live in brackish water or saltwater due to a special gland that helps them process salt, so they can survive in salty water as long as the water is not too salty.

Water for Crayfish


As mentioned, some freshwater crayfish can live in areas with slightly salty water – like estuaries and tidal pools – though some can live inland too. In addition, when kept in aquariums, they can survive in saltwater if they have access to fresh water at all times (ideally kept in an aquarium with brackish or marine water sections). 

Changing From Saltwater to Freshwater

Crayfish can live in salt and freshwater habitats but typically spend their entire lives in one location. Crayfish can change from salt water to fresh water but do so only rarely and for a short period. 

Tap Water

As freshwater creatures, crayfish were designed to live in freshwater. However, as you can also use tap water to help keep crayfish healthy and alive in your aquarium, it’s a viable option for some. 

If you don’t have access to a proper aquarium, adding tap water to your water dish before adding the crayfish will do the trick. Although crayfish are freshwater animals, they can also live in tap water if it’s treated with the right amount of salt but make sure to keep the salt levels in check – too much salt can be harmful to your crayfish.

If your water contains chlorine, treat it with a de-chlorinator before using it to feed your crayfish; otherwise, the water can be harmful to your crayfish, as they are freshwater creatures. 

Polluted or Dirty Water

Most crayfish are sensitive to polluted or dirty water. As mentioned, they require sufficiently clean water and low salt levels. Otherwise, they could develop health issues over time.

Cold or Warm Water

Crayfish are crustaceans, and as such, most of them prefer cool water. However, there are even crayfish species that can tolerate cold water temperatures. However, there are also species of crayfish that can live in warm freshwater environments.

So, if you’re looking to keep crayfish as pets, be sure to check whether they can prefer cold or warm water. This will help you in providing them with the care they need.

Some Types of Aquarium Crayfish and Their Water Preference

Dwarf Crayfish

A dwarf crayfish are an excellent option for anyone looking for a small, low-maintenance fish. They thrive in fresh and saltwater tanks and can be easily housed in either situation. 

Although they are best suited for freshwater setups, they can also live happily in mixed water habitats if given the right conditions. For example, if you have both freshwater and saltwater tanks available, mix them up – this will provide your dwarf crayfish with a diverse environment to explore. 

American Crayfish

American crayfish are freshwater creatures that prefer to live in large groups. They are the North American cousins of the European crayfish, a saltwater creature. You can keep these two types of crayfish in either freshwater or saltwater aquariums, and both can be eaten as food!

Aquarium Crayfish Care

If you want to keep a crayfish as a pet, you will need to find one native to your area. Once you’ve located the perfect specimen, it’s essential to get them used to their new surroundings by slow introduction into their new home. 

Ensure they have access to fresh water and food during this process, so they don’t feel stressed out. 

Aquarium Size

Crayfish are commonly kept in tanks of 20 gallons or larger. It is essential to provide them with plenty of space as they can get agitated if confined in a small tank. They also need lots of activity, so make sure there is enough area for them to move.

Water Quality

Crayfish are sensitive to water quality and should generally be kept in freshwater tanks. Ensure the water you use for them is good quality – it should be free of chlorine or other chemicals. 

In addition to fresh water, crayfish need a fair amount of calcium and alkaline phosphates to survive properly. In addition, you can check the water parameters regularly to ensure they meet their needs.

For optimal health, it is recommended to use a filter and water conditioner formulated explicitly for aquariums. Make sure the water remains clean and fresh by regular water changes. 

Feeding Aquarium Crayfish

Generally, freshwater crayfish will need live food such as earthworms, small fish, or shrimp. There are various types of crayfish, so it’s important to know what kind you have before feeding them. 

When Crayfish Molt

Although the molting process can be exciting for crayfish fans, it’s important to remember that there might be some casualties during the transformation! Make sure your tank has enough salt – either by adding table salt or using a marine mix – otherwise, your crayfish could die. Don’t add too much, though, as overdosing on salty water can kill them!

Tank Mates

Aquarium crayfish do need a few friends to thrive. Some of the best tank mates for aquarium crayfish include shrimp, snails, and frogs. 

Make sure to choose a size and shape that will fit comfortably in the tank, and add fresh vegetables and fruit to their diet as part of their routine. To be sure your crayfish is compatible with the fish in your tank, do your research first!