Dwarf Crayfish And Betta: Aquatic Enemies Or Allies?

dwarf crayfish and betta
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It can be tricky to find good tank mates for Betta fish, given how aggressive and territorial they can be. If your Betta shares the same environment with smaller invertebrates, there’s the likelihood that it’ll see them as food.

Now…

Add a creature with an aggressive temperament to the same aquarium, and you might have a bloodbath on your hands.

Additionally, you’ll need to consider your tank set up and know whether the two can tolerate the same water parameters. So, if you’re wondering how Dwarf Crayfish and Betta fish get along because you’re thinking of keeping the two together, continue reading to find out!

Will Dwarf Crayfish and Betta Fish Get Along?

Dwarf crayfish are ideal tankmates for Betta fish for two primary reasons: first, they don’t have an aggressive temperament, meaning they won’t pick fights unprovoked. Second, if it so happens that they get into an altercation with your Betta, they won’t take things lying down.

You might notice a Dwarf crayfish raising its claws when approached by your Betta fish. The action is a warning, and your Betta fish will take the hint nine times out of ten. Yet, at the same time, due to how small they are, Dwarf crayfish can’t cause significant damage, so they’re more likely to run for cover than throw down.

Therefore, the likelihood of these crayfish killing your Betta fish is slim to none. With that said, here are some things you can do to reduce skirmishes between your Betta and Dwarf crayfish:

  • Choose the Right Species: Cambarellus Dwarf crayfish (more below) are the most peaceful species of crayfish you can include in a Betta tank. However, if you introduce a more giant crayfish species, they’re more likely to attack your Betta.
  • Get a Deeper Tank: Tank height does a lot to keep Bettas away from Dwarf crayfish because Bettas will spend most of their time in the middle of the tank while the crayfish will scavenge for food in the substrate.
  • Provide Hiding Places: We’ll discuss this point in more detail below, but your Dwarf crayfish will need places to hide from your Betta when it’s most vulnerable.

All About Dwarf Crayfish

Now that we know how Dwarf crayfish will fare when sharing the same tank as a Betta, let’s learn a little more about these potential tank mates.

Popular Species

You’ll commonly find two Dwarf crayfish species in aquarium stores: Brazos Dwarf crayfish and Mexican Dwarf crayfish.

Brazos Dwarf Crayfish

brazos dwarf crayfish

The Brazos crayfish come in a blue variety and are especially popular to keep with Betta fish. They get their name from where they’re commonly found in the wild: the Brazos River in central Texas (you can also find them in the Lavaca River).

While Brazos Dwarf crayfish’s preferred conditions aren’t set in stone.

It’s generally agreed that they’re usually found in warm waters and prefer shallow conditions.

Brazos crayfish remain small throughout their lifetimes, reaching between 1.0 and 1.5 inches in adulthood. They’re detritivores, meaning they feed on detritus, though they might feed on smaller creatures like Ghost shrimp in an aquarium setting.

Mexican Dwarf Crayfish

mexican dwarf crayfish in fish tank

Sometimes referred to as orange Dwarf crayfish due to their orange variation, the Mexican Dwarf crayfish can be found in Lake Patzcuaro in the Mexican city of Michoacan (though they’ve been found in Chapultepec, Tzumutaro, and Opopeo, Mexico as well).

Unfortunately, this species of Dwarf crayfish is considered endangered due to pollution to their limited range (breeding-wise).

Usually, Dwarf Mexican crayfish have a tan or brown complexion, reaching 1.5 inches in length when fully grown. In terms of conditions they prefer, they’re assumed to be partial to colder temperatures since they’re usually found in springs and lakes at high altitudes.

Appearance

These crayfish look like tiny lobsters. They have the same hard shell and tail they use to swim. In addition, a set of antennae used to hunt for something to eat protrudes from the top of their heads. And no description of these creatures is complete without mentioning their iconic black beady eyes.

Dwarf crayfish propel themselves with the help of five pairs of legs, four of which are used for moving while the final two (the pincers) are used for combat. Luckily, these pincers won’t do much damage, and these creatures aren’t naturally combative anyway.

You’ll find a small set of fins underneath the tails of these crayfish called swimmerets, and they help these creatures to have control while swimming. Also, you might see brightly-colored stripes or spots all over their translucent bodies.

Dwarf crayfish share similarities with Betta fish in their environmental needs. For one thing, they’ll experience stress when kept in an empty tank. In addition, Dwarf crayfish live in natural habitats like lakes, streams, and gently flowing rivers.

Therefore, you should ideally set your aquarium filter’s current to a slow speed so it mimics the crayfish’s habitat while not negatively affecting your Betta.

At the same time, you want the filter current to be strong enough to oxygenate the tank; else, you risk suffocating the crayfish. Adding a bubbler to the tank will bridge the gap between your Betta’s environmental needs and the Dwarf crayfish’s needs. Space-wise, one Betta fish can share a 5-gallon tank with one Dwarf crayfish.

Also, like Betta fish, Dwarf crayfish require lots of hiding places, so you’ll do well to add live plants to your tank. It’d help to add some driftwood and caves, so if, for example, you’re cultivating a community tank, both aquatic creatures can take cover from other fish. Consider adding Java Moss, Anarchis, or Hornwort to provide hiding spots for both pets.

Finally, a substrate consisting of large rocks is a no-no for Bettas and Dwarf crayfish. Large rocks are likely to snag Bettas’ fins and injure crayfish. Also, the crayfish may get one of its legs caught between large pebbles in such substrate.

Temperament

Dwarf crayfish are territorial, so if you plan on keeping more than one in the same aquarium with your Betta fish, make sure it has enough space (e.g., five to ten-gallon tank). Otherwise, your crayfish are likely to fight among themselves in a small tank.

Luckily, and unlike Betta, fights between Dwarf crayfish aren’t fatal. But, oddly enough, they can be entertaining to watch as you’ll see both crayfish approach one another with pincers raised before jumping apart.

Water Conditions

Fortunately, Dwarf crayfish and Betta fish have similar needs regarding ideal water conditions. These crayfish can survive in water with a pH level between 6.5 and 8, whereas Betta fish are okay with pH levels that hover around 7.With that said, given a choice between a pH that’s alkaline (7+) or acidic (6.5 or lower), make the pH acidic for your Betta’s comfort.

Concerning water temperature, both creatures are known to inhabit warmer waters. Therefore, you can get away with keeping Dwarf crayfish in water that’s 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, Betta fish thrive in temperatures between 76 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

So, as a rule of thumb, if the temperature works for your Betta, it’ll do fine for Dwarf crayfish.

Water quality is also something you should constantly monitor when keeping these crayfish. As with Betta fish, high levels of nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia will prove fatal to Dwarf crayfish. Therefore, ensure you conduct regular water changes, adjusting the amount of water removed according to the size of your tank.

Diet

mexican dwarf crayfish with snail at the bottom of aquarium

Unlike Betta fish, Dwarf crayfish are omnivorous, so you’ll need to provide them with a diet consisting of plants and meat. Luckily, these crayfish are scavengers by nature, meaning they’ll hover down whatever food your Betta fails to consume that sinks to the bottom of the tank.With that said, it’s still essential that you provide them with the nutrients they need.

Live foods work particularly well when feeding Bettas and Dwarf crayfish, so put bloodworms, mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, and daphnia on the menu in addition to the usual Betta pellets. Additionally, you can feed your crayfish algae wafers to stay healthy.

Unlike snails, you don’t have to worry about them snacking on the plants in the aquarium.

Molting

dwarf crayfish molting image

Additionally, you’ll need to remember that Dwarf crayfish molt. As such, don’t mistake old shells for dead crayfish. Also, it’ll be crucial to have hiding places in the tank when a Dwarf crayfish molts because they’re at their most vulnerable state. They’re usually most likely to be eaten by your Betta when they’ve shed their old shell.

Molting is a natural process these creatures have to go through ever so often. If you notice that they aren’t molting, you’ll have to check the water in the tank.

Disease Potential

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about your Betta passing on diseases like Ich to your Dwarf crayfish. Unfortunately, however, these crayfish are at risk of a condition called Crayfish Plague, the leading cause of which is water mold. Worse still, Crayfish Plague is highly contagious, so if you have other invertebrates in the tank, they could be at risk of catching it.

Therefore, you’ll need to be careful when introducing a crayfish to a tank because the disease spreads from infected ones.

Propagation

It doesn’t take much work to breed Dwarf crayfish. Simply include both genders in the same tank, and they’ll spawn at some point.

Breeding between two Dwarf crayfish works as follows: the male mounts the female and deposits his sperm, which the female holds until she’s due to lay eggs. When the female Dwarf crayfish lays eggs (between 20 and 60), she fertilizes them using the male’s sperm collected during spawning.

Female Dwarf crayfish assume sole responsibility for caring for the eggs until they hatch. You might catch the female cleaning the eggs with its tail by moving water over them. The whole process may take between 3 weeks and a month.

When the eggs hatch, the likelihood of the babies being eaten by Bettas or other fish increases.

Therefore, consider moving them (mother and kids) to a separate tank. Additionally, there’s no need to worry about feeding the babies as they’ll scavenge the substrate for food until they grow old enough to dine with adults.

Lifespan

Like Bettas, Dwarf crayfish aren’t very long-lived. On average, these crayfish live up to 2 years, meaning it’s possible to buy a crayfish approaching terminal age.

Fun Fact: Bettas are indeed magnets for pairing with other popular aquatic species. Read about Amano Shrimp And Betta: Aquarium Friendlies Without A Doubt! to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Wouldn’t it be better to keep Dwarf crayfish with female Bettas than male Bettas?

That wouldn’t be a bad idea considering female Bettas aren’t as mercurial as their male counterparts. However, you’ll still need to provide good hiding spots in anticipation for when your crayfish molts, so it doesn’t end up in your Betta’s belly.

Do Dwarf crayfish eat smaller creatures?

Yes, these crayfish are omnivores known to eat small creatures like snails and smaller shrimp, so it’s something to be concerned about when keeping dwarf crayfish. However, shrimp such as Red Cherry shrimp and Amano shrimp should be fine.

Can Dwarf crayfish live in a community tank?

Yes, they can, provided you don’t include invertebrates they’re likely to eat or fish that are likely to eat them. Examples of fish other than Bettas likely to eat Dwarf crayfish include Cichlids. Meanwhile, these crayfish may get along with Guppies, Hatchetfish, and Neon Tetra, to name a few.

What should I look for when buying a Dwarf crayfish?

Only choose active-looking dwarf crayfish. Crayfish with missing limbs are fine as they’ll grow back eventually. Avoid buying from tanks with sick-looking fish, as you could potentially contaminate your tank.

Conclusion

A Dwarf crayfish can make an ideal tank mate for your Betta fish. Not only do these aquatic creatures have a good temperament, but they’re also not afraid to defend themselves from a Betta’s aggression when push comes to shove. Additionally, they require similar needs to Bettas regarding water settings and temperature, tank setup, feeding, and so on.

Also, their small size means Dwarf crayfish won’t take up too much space when added to a small tank, preventing issues between them and their larger, more aggressive tank mates.

Last Updated: July 13, 2022

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