Crawfish as a pond dweller?

cfoodfest(z6 CT)June 8, 2006


I have a pond that's about 4500 gallons. I've got a good amount of plants in there and the water quality has really stabilized over the past year or two. It requires very little attention.

I also have many fish in my pond. I would guess I have about 30-40 madtom catfish (only grow to about 6-8") which were in the pond when we moved into our house. And most recently, goldfish have appeared in the pond (I suspect they came in as eggs on some pond plants we bought). It started out with only 4 goldfish, but in a year they have already spawned and I can see about 25 or so fry swimming around. I don't feed the catfish or the goldfish (very low maintenance pond), but I suspect even so, the goldfish will quickly overwhelm the pond and we don't appear to have any natural predators that have taken an interest in the pond yet.

So, we order live crawfish occasionally (to eat), and I started thinking about the pros and cons of possibly adding crawfish to the pond as a new inhabitant and to help with population control of the goldfish.

Does anyone have crawfish in their pond with other fish and if so, can you share any pros/cons of having crawfish in your pond?


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
biology_brad(z4 MN)

I have tried keeping them with goldfish, but the eventually disappear. I suspect they either migrate or are eaten when they molt.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 10:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, crayfish are vulnerable targets when they molt, I think they even exploit that vulnerability in each other when they can, which is why they are mostly solitary creatures. I'm afraid your goldfish would do a better job of controling your crayfish population than the other way round.
That being said there are those who manage to keep them in their pond, just make sure you got lots of places for them to hide.
Oh and don't expect to see them very much even if they do survive.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 12:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

your crawdads will probably move out because of all the growing competition for food. They reproduce better when they are in an environment like a rice paddie. Lots of shallow water and lots of plants. That way they can build their chimneys and have plenty to eat and protection from predators.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 1:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cfoodfest(z6 CT)

Thanks for the info. Very interesting. I didn't really expect to be able to see them very often. I figured they would hang out in the mud/muck at the bottom of the pond. I was thinking more about the crawfish catching some of the small goldfish fry for food and maybe having a balance develop between the two populations. Sounds like this might not work.

Two more questions if you don't mind....

1) I'm going to continue not feeding the fish in my pond (because I've never fed them in the past). Do you think the goldfish population will eventually balance itself out with the food supply or do you think they are going to cause havoc on my pond before that balance occurs. I'm mostly concerned about the goldfish crowding out the madtoms even though the madtoms seem pretty hardy and have survived for a long time in the pond without any help from me.

2) What are the chimneys you referred to with the crawfish? Sounds interesting.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 2:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The goldfish population will balance itself out, the only problem is you'll end up with a whole lot of small goldfish because the dwindling food supply will limit their growth in body size.

On the plus side, if the madtoms are like other catfish (I'm not familiar with that species), they will eat just about anything they can fit into their mouth, including goldfish eggs and fry, so they may also help limit the goldfish population size.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 3:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

madtoms are cawdads not catfish.
Goldfish eat smaller goldfish and crawdads. Crawdads are basically filter feeders and eat DEAD stuff, decomposing stuff and plant matter.
Th claws are used to scare things away and to fight with other crawdads not to capture fish with. That's another old wives tale brought about by watching too many onster movies and reading too many pond forum posts. When they shed their exoskeleton they are very soft and the fish will tear them to pieces.


And in this one you can see why I referred to them as castles.

Here is a link that might be useful: Everything you ever wanted to know about crawdads

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 4:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cfoodfest(z6 CT)

Harmonidon - the madtoms are like other catfish in the sense that they swim around with their mouth gaping eating anything they come across, but never the goldfish. I've seen them chase the goldfish around, but they never seem to catch them. The goldfish are too fast for them. I have caught one of the my bigger madtoms (about 7") catch and eat a small frog off the side of the pond. I've never seen my catfish move so fast. It was pretty wild.

Webfeet - Thanks for the pictures. Looks pretty cool. I guess the crawdads aren't a good addition to my pond after all. Guess I'll just boil 'em up with the rest of the crawdads! Yum.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 10:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have had crawdads in my pond for 3-4 years now and maybe once a year, I visit the Susquehanna river to replenish my stock. I'd say I have about 10. They hide in the rocks below the waterfall. Occassionally I find a dead one. I have just witnessed a frog trying to have one for lunch. When I bring them home I put them in the middle (fishless vegetative filter pond)but some of them migrate to the bottom eventually. I keep them because they are scavengers and will eat dead/decaying matter as webfeeet has mentioned.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 11:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sprooo(z5 MI)

Madtom is a common name for catfish belonging to the genus Noturus. Small catfish found primarily in the midwest and east. Be careful when handling them, as some people react unfavorably to pokes from the dorsal and pectoral fin spines.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 12:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Regarding goldfish population control, you might introduce gambusia - mosquito fish. After they get established you will have pretty much zero baby goldfish. Plus they do a great job on mosquito control.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 2:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
poppa(z5 MA)

Webfeet, glad to see you're as opinionated as ever, and still like to make your answers sound like they are the only answer, which makes you dead wrong regarding your "DEAD" comment. You are correct that people tend to post "old wives tales" and i wish you'd stop starting them. (ooooh, i am in a mood eh?)

If you read the site you linked to you will note that "Some crayfish burrow" (meaning not all) and that "small fish" are included in their diet and this by no means exludes live fish.

Crayfish can, will and do catch live fish. They tend to hunt at dusk/night when fish tend to be less active but that does not mean to imply that are unable to catch healthy, moving, awake fish. They like to jump out at fish swimming by and are quite quick enough to occasionally latch onto one. If you don't believe me, you are welcome to put one into your prized fish tank and see what happens.

They are quite adapt at catching moving prey with those claws and i often "Play catch" with mine, who will rear up on their rear legs and tail to catch pellets as i drop them to them. They also feed on many types of live food and have no problems with eating what i give them.

Not all crays will build chimneys and i have never seen them here in the northeast, but i haven't looked for them either.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2006 at 4:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I had crayfish in my ponds. The neatest thing that I experienced about them was that I ran water down a creek from my easternmost pool into my westernmost pool and one day I spotted these things swimming against the current into my easternmost pool. Looking closer they were tiny crayfish!! Very cool!

Two problems with crayfish:
1. They ate all the plants in my pool! including the live ones.
2. They would crawl out and wander around the yard and even into the neighbors yard and I found one that had made it to the street! Have no idea how it navigated the wooden fence!

I would not recommend a crayfish for a backyard pond!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2006 at 2:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pondmaninfl(z9 FL)

I'm not going to say who's right and who's wrong but I've studied crayfish and do know a lot about them. The swamp crayfish builds chimneys. The only live fish they eat are those that are to slow to get away (survival of the fittest). I have kept them in a pond without them disturbing any plant or fish. If you have a snail problem, they will help get rid of the snails. On the other hand, catfish eat crayfish. So, if you don't want to share your crayfish with the catfish, don't put them in the pond. If you are worried about the goldfish over populating, get a few bream (Sunfish).

Now, you experts can stop fighting about who is right. :o)

Happy ponding,

    Bookmark   June 10, 2006 at 11:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well Scott swamp crayfish Click for more...The swamp crayfish, Tenuibranchiurus glypticus, is a tiny freshwater crayfish that occurs in freshwater waterways in Queensland, and is the smallest known species of crayfish. The species is the only member of the genus Tenuibranchiurus, and the characteristics that distinguish it are its small size (adults are on average 25 mm long which 9/10 of an inch) and its claws which open vertically rather than horizontally or obliquely
And where I lived there were no swamps, I didn't live in Australia and the crawdads were at least 6 inches long.
So whatever crawdads live in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri from my recollection build chimenys and accoring to the net wherever there are crawdads and the right kind of terrain there are chimneys.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2006 at 12:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

very interesting, as i have never seen a crawdad "chimney" but i do know they will burrow. then again, there is a lot of growth along the creek!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2006 at 5:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have been searching to see about adding crawdads to my pond...Came across this frightening news release...Yes , they not only eat fish , they whipe them out completley..

Mesquite Wash has gotten off relatively easily. In other Arizona streams, researchers have documented declines in turtles, frogs and fish after non-native crayfish show up. "TheyƂre devastating aquatic ecosystems throughout the state," says Demlong.

This spring, Demlong is preparing a proposal to ban selling or transporting live crayfish in the state. Around the West, fish and game departments are waking up to the dangers of spreading these non-natives, though for many streams it could be to late.

link with all info :

Here is a link that might be useful: Crawdads in Nevada

    Bookmark   October 29, 2006 at 11:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In New Jersey, our crayfish spp. only get to about 6".

Will they consume lilly pad tubers?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 4:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Y'all are making me really hungry !! :-)

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 6:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My experience with crawdads. I put a dozen in my pond two years ago and now have hundreds. I have goldfish which I bought as feeder fish and also have two red eared slider turtles. All seem to have found their place and all are thriving. I have seen a crawdad eat a live goldfish but that fish had its gills caught in my heron net and could not move. The goldfish will also eat their own, the crawdads will eat their own and so it goes..........
I was warned not to put the turtles in and I was warned not to put the crawdads in but guess what, those warnings didn't come true. Now I don't know that I would try this combination with expensive Koi but then I don't include them in my pond so no worry. I will add that my crawdads have been found in neighbors yards and one of the turtles tends to go swimming next door when the neighbor lets his pool go green.
A caveat: I was also warned not to feed my fish cheap trout food but I do and they are fine. I guess what I am saying is I now take what I hear from the "experts" on this forum with a HUGE grain of salt.

Here is a link that might be useful: My pond the way it was before the freeze.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 6:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am almost afraid to post here but here it goes. Crawfish can make a great addition to any pond given the right circumstances. With the right amount of food they will live, thrive and multiply for years. They do eat anything they want live or dead. If easy grab dead food is unavailable they'll surely hunt. Any fish will eat them as well if they are small enough or in molt. They love to hide but do come onto land when it is damp enough. They are easily viewed at night with a light. I have never seen a crawfish chimney in Pa but I have seen them in Mo so I don't know if it is species or regional but some do some don't. If it is too controversial for you than please feel free to forget them since goldies tend to limit their own population. A big hungry goldfish will eat its fill of eggs and young. If nothing else crawdads are free in your local creek and what do you have to lose but the opportunity to see for yourself if they make it or not. I for one feel no pond is complete without a few scavengers on the bottom. If they come out and you hit them with the mower then guess what ... you will get a hungry bird. Oh no.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 9:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
poppa(z5 MA)

The one downside of crayfish in a pond is that they will dig in your planters and push the soil out. If your using the commercial mix with silt this keeps your pond dark and murky. Next year i will be replacing the soil mixes with pea gravel or i will get rid of the crays...


    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 11:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I only plant in rock or gravel now. I found the big goldies dig in the soil as well as the crawdads.
Here is a photo of the type of mound I find in my garden, front lawn and sometimes my neighbors :(. The neighbors do think it is novel to have crawdads in their lawn. The neighborhood kids like to bring them back to the pond.

Here is a link that might be useful: My pond the way it was before the freeze.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 7:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Brought forward for njbiology.

Here is a link that might be useful: My pond the way it was before the freeze.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 11:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I also have played some rousing games of catch with my crawdads. I have an exceptionally talented crayfish, named Neil, who can catch Cheerios AND play the banjo!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2009 at 12:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Will crayfish puncture a 45 mil EPDM pond liner?

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 10:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Catching wild crawfish might tell you something about them.

In various parts of Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado and Florida, I've caught many crawfish using a cloth bag and a piece of dead fish, or even raw chicken. They will cling to the cloth bag trying to eat the food inside so singlemindedly, that you could just tie a string to it, throw it in, wait 10 minutes then slowly pull it out. Depending on the season, it may be completely covered and you could get an instant meal.

I've kept a pond with my dad in Tucson Arizona for many years with gold fish, 1 coy and some very small black fish I don't know the name of. I attempted to introduce crawfish several times and once they get to a certain size they try to run away and in arizona, that never ends well for them.

I've found that if you have a shallow pond with liner, don't bother trying to keep crayfish unless you want to feed the birds.
If you can keep a pond by digging into solid dirt or clay and just fill it with a hose with no liner, crawfish do well. The ponds in my families land in kentucky has a huge number of crawfish, and they are totally untended, but about 15 feet deep in the center and about 50 feet in diameter.
They like to burrow into hard clay and if they don't find that they generally don't flourish.
If you are able to get them to flourish, they will always run away when their population reaches a certain amount of fully grown members.

If you want something to keep the fish population down, buy a small snapping turtle, but expect all you fish to have injuries.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2014 at 8:17PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Lotus seeds
Question about Lotus seeds. Has anyone had good luck...
Strange plant in my pond
Hello everyone.. i live in central florida, have a...
Fountain pump clogging 170 gallon small pond- Help!
I have a very small 170 gallon pond system I bought...
Dressing and coping a formal pond
Is there any general advice for how to dress the interior...
ysrgrathe PA 6b
Snake is eating my frog--Help!!
I looked out my second floor window and saw some movement...
Sponsored Products
Alpine 10 in. Pink/Yellow Mosaic Gazing Globe - GRS110PK
$50.98 | Hayneedle
Walters modern leather sectional sofa
Interior Define
Woman and Child Indoor Table Fountain with LED Light
$19.98 | Lamps Plus
Campania International Disappearing Leaf Sculpture Outdoor Fountain - FT-241-AL
$889.99 | Hayneedle
Small Flower Market Canister
$74.00 | Horchow
Cascading Rustic Jars Indoor or Outdoor Fountain
Lamps Plus
Crawfish Cakes with Crawfish Belle River Sauce - LIGHT BROWN
$85.00 | Horchow
Modern Abstract White Table Fountain
$39.99 | Lamps Plus
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™