Red Claw Crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus)

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Red Claw Crayfish
Cherax quadricarinatus
Red Claw Crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus)
Name Red Claw Crayfish
Name Lat. Cherax quadricarinatus
Family Southern Hemisphere Crayfishes
Family lat. Parastacidae
Order Decapods
Order lat. Decapoda
Origin Australia
Habitat Streams, lakes, swamps
Diet Crayfish food, leaves, carrion
pH 7.0-8.0
Behavior Aggressive
Keeping Individual, pair, group
Care Level Moderate
Reproduction Oviparous
Breeding Moderately difficult
Life Span 4-6 years
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 20-30 cm
Temperature 15-25 °C
Hardness 15-20 °dH
Aquarium ~ 200 l
US Units
Size 8"-12"
Temperature 59-77 °F
Hardness 267-356 ppm
Aquarium ~ 50 gal

Distribution and habitat

The distribution area of the red scissor crab is northern Australia, where they live hidden between stones and roots in standing and flowing waters.


They require a well-structured aquarium with roots, stones and robust plants, with hiding places (caves, crab tubes) and a moderate current. The burrowable substrate of sand or fine gravel should be partially covered with foliage (e.g. sea almond leaves, oak leaves), which also serves as food.

No ammonia, ammonium and nitrite should be detectable in the aquarium water, the nitrate value should not exceed 100 mg/l. To ensure water quality and oxygen content, a filter and heater adapted to the size of the aquarium is required, as well as lighting for the proper day-night rhythm of the animals.


They are omnivores that feed on animal organisms, carrion and dead plant material. For a balanced diet, feed once daily with a high-quality crayfish food (pellets, sticks) supplemented with insect larvae (live or frozen), fish, crayfish or shrimp meat, and foliage (e.g., sea almond, oak, beech). Occasionally, plant food in the form of spirulina, kelp or scalded leafy vegetables should be offered.

Unaccepted food must be removed after 2-3 hours. Regular and varied feeding promotes health and prevents deficiency symptoms.

Behaviour and compatibility

They behave aggressively within the species, but also towards other crayfish, therefore keeping several pairs or groups is only recommended in a much larger and richly structured tank. They can only be socialized with large shrimps, snails and large fish, such as perches, but it is better to keep them in a species tank.

Basically, only mutually compatible animals with similar demands on water conditions and water temperature should be socialized.

Reproduction and breeding

The sexes can only be clearly identified by the sexual openings (gonopores) on the underside of the body, which in the male are located at the base of the fourth (last) walking leg. The female carries the eggs (300-400) under her pleopods (webbed feet) until the young hatch and supplies them with oxygen by movement (fanning). The young hatch after about 4 weeks. The juvenile crayfish are cannibalistic and greatly reduce each other.


Red scissor crabs climb, accordingly, the aquarium must be well covered. They are not particularly demanding on water quality

Each crayfish must have at least one cave (e.g. crayfish tube) where it can hide and also to be able to molt undisturbed

It can happen that a crayfish is missing a claw. Mostly these are females that have lost a claw during mating. The missing claw slowly grows back during the following molts. The strong claws are also used for digging. The red clawed crayfish is now farmed worldwide as an edible crayfish.

The well-being of the animals should be checked regularly. The temperature should be checked daily, the pH, hardness and nitrate value at least every 14 days. Regular partial water changes are recommended, even if the contaminant level has not yet reached the upper limit. Sudden changes in water quality should be avoided. Newly introduced animals must be accustomed slowly to the water in the aquarium.

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: Barbara Pachner; Image: petdata

Source: LUKHAUP & PEKNY (2008): Süßwasserkrebse aus aller Welt, Dähne Verlag; ENGELMANN & LANGE (2011): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Wirbellose, Verlag Harri Deutsch