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Crayfish In Aquaponics

Crayfish are so low on the food chain, it makes them very easy to look after and stock in your backyard aquaponics.  How many you can grow is limited but they make for fantastic waste disposal units in your floating rafts and sumps.  Crayfish can be easily grown in aquaponics at low densities.   If you are a backyard farmer, crayfish will make for an excellent, inexpensive and practical addition to your aquaponics system. [heading] Can You Grow Freshwater Crayfish in Aquaponics? [/heading] Some 15 years ago I started my aquaculture career with fresh water crayfish in Australia and I am now the Research Coordinator for The Australian Crayfish Project , an Aquatic Consultant to Australian Aquatic Biological mapping surveys for crayfish and other aquatics around Australia  and have consulted on crayfish farm construction around the world, I have gathered  a bank of knowledge on the culture of fresh water crayfish. With that in mind we stocked one of our school deep water culture or floating raft systems with a single berried female and an adult male towards the end of January 2011.  A berried female is one that has little berries under her tail as shown in the picture above which indicates she is pregnant with lots of little yabbies on the way.  As a general rule of thumb female crayfish carry around 1 berry per 1 gram of body weight.  This is handy to know for stocking your sumps of DWC raft systems. For redclaw crayfish, if the water temperatures are above 24oC it will take about 30 days to hatch and have hundreds of the little crayfish running about the bottom of your aquaponic system.  In this case we will have had around the 100 crayfish mark.  It is really important to provide complex hides for the crayfish and roughly three times the amount of crayfish you plan to have.  We used off cuts of pvc pipe from other jobs in the bottom of the floating raft beds. While the school has done a great job of getting 50 of the crayfish through to the next season and the original female is in berry again, there is not enough production to permit eating or sales for eating.  Most of the time crayfish grown in an environment like aquaponics with clean water they produce some wonderful colours and will fetch great ornamental prices at the local aquarium hobby shop. You may find the harvest to be quite small and you can plan for around 10 crayfish per square meter if you have plenty of hides there.  While they may not have great value as food harvests, they contribute well to breaking down the wasted feed and poop from the fish.  If they are sold to aquariums shops and other enthusiasts it helps cover some of the costs of running the system and it costs nothing to have the crayfish in your aquaponic system. We will have more detail on crayfish in aquaponics and even intensive crayfish culture in later posts.  If you are interested in learning more about crayfish Rob McCormack has two great books.  One for the commercial crayfish farmer and the other for those keeping yabbies as pets.  Tell him Paul sent ya. Crawfish, crawdad and crayfish or yabbies, melted butter and garlic on the BBQ, perfect. Paul…

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