Australian Redclaw Crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus)
The Red Claw crayfish is a new and very promising aquaculture species. The Red Claw is very similar to the native American species, except that it grows to a HUGE size, almost to that of a lobster! This is a species with considerable potential for commercial culture. The features that made it suitable for aquaculture and the aquarium are its ability to withstand low oxygen levels and warm water associated with the tropics.
Australian RedClaw, Cherax quadricarinatus, is a tropical freshwater crayfish native to Australia. They are often called “freshwater lobsters” for their physical resemblance and large size. They are valued as both a food source and as an ornamental species. The Redclaw crayfish is the more common species of yabby in the Northern Territory, found in most lakes and rivers in North Australia. It thrives in any tropical freshwater environment. In nature, Cherax quadricarinatus are often found under roots or rocks, where they hide from predators and other species members. With an appearance similar to that of a lobster, the redclaw crayfish is a tropical Australian animal. It is a delicacy with the texture and flavor of the flesh comparing very favorably with other commonly eaten marine crustaceans.
Average market sizes of 50 to 150 grams (1 pound = 454 grams) are achievable in 6-12 months, although they can reach up to 600 grams each.
Generally Australian Red Claw crayfish are blue to a blue/brown/green color. Because of their selective breeding in the hobby, they will not change to their original coloration, except in times of stress or when feed or housed incorrectly. The blue color seems to intensify when the water is clean, and be more green/brown when left in brackish water. The Blue Lobsters color intensifies as the crayfish matures.
Red claw lobsters are scavengers. They are a bottom dweller and will eat anything they come across, as they are opportunistic eaters. They will eat all of the left over food your fish miss, as well as detritus and other waste off the bottom of your aquarium. Although this lobster will eat dead or dying fish as well, it is normally too slow to catch healthy fish. You want to offer both vegetables and animal proteins.
The primary diet should include plant matter, worms, brine shrimp, bloodworms, or insect larvae, and can include vegetable matter waste from aquaponic systems such as lettuce, shredded carrots, zucchini, etc.. Adding a high protein fish or shrimp sinking pellet, flake food, and dried algae is also recommended.
Australian Red Claw crayfish is a delicacy in Australia with the texture and flavor of the flesh comparing very favorably with other commonly eaten marine crustaceans. Fresh red claw have a smooth lustrous shell, deep blue to green in color, with males exhibiting a bright red coloring on the margins of their large claws.
Cooked, they present as bright red, typical of premium crustaceans. The meat is arguably more healthy than traditional seafood products as it is low in fat, cholesterol and salt. The meat is moist and firm, sweet and delicate, the claws are the sweetest.
The Australian Red Claw is comparable to a fresh lobster. The meat is a great addition to pasta (ravioli) filling, an addition to salads, and seafood platters, or use the Red Claw as an entrée. Red Claw are also ideal for soups and bisques, they can also be barbecued, steamed, grilled and pan fried, in and out of the shell.
Preparation For Cooking
Before cutting the redclaw crayfish or removing the tails, put them on ice or in the fridge for an hour or two to put them to sleep. This will make preparation easier. To remove the digested food track from the crayfish tails snap off the centre tail fin and pull the food trail out.
Redclaw crayfish can be prepared by boiling in much the same way as other crustaceans. The cooked crayfish should be a red color all over with the flesh evenly white .Red claw are great cooked on the BBQ or under the grill. Cut Redclaw in halves, wash, season with seasoning of your choice and cook. Brush the meat with seasoned butter or oils and garlic, chives or dill. A few minutes cooking on each side is all it takes.
Redclaw As Pet
Red Claw crayfish are easy and fun to raise in your tropical aquarium as unique pets. The redclaw is a valued aquarium species with their exotic coloration. They are less aggressive than most crayfish, and reproduce rapidly and easily. One red claw lobster can inhabit a 25-gallon aquarium, and a 40-gallon aquarium with plenty of caves and space to move around can inhabit 2. The larger Australian red claw crayfish requires a tank that is at least 40 inches long and 20 inches deep.
The ideal tank environment consist of about 5 inches of aquarium sand or gravel on the bottom with pipes, tunnels, decorative rocks and caves. You can plant hardy plants in the aquarium, but small, weaker plants won’t survive. You will want to make sure the aquarium has a filter to keep the aquarium clean combined with periodic partial water changes. Use test strips to monitor the pH levels which should be between 6.5 to 8. When cleaning the tank, test pH before and after changing the water to ensure levels remain within proper range. Use an aquarium heater and thermometer to measure the water temperature and maintain the aquarium between 77 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures below 55 or above 95 will result in casualties. Test the hardness, as well; they need hard water to thrive. You can add limestone to make the water harder, if necessary.
Plenty of cover should be included in the aquarium, including both rocks and plants (Although the plants will not last long as the crayfish gets larger). After molting the crayfish is vulnerable to attack and consumption by others. If the exuvia (shed exoskeleton, molted shell) is removed from the tank after shedding, the crayfish will likely die as this shed will be consumed for vital calcium. However If your water has enough calcium in it this will not be an issue.
RedClaw crawfish are excellent escape artists. Red claw are excellent climbers and escape from tanks if the water level is near the tank top, if rocks and decor are large enough for them to reach the surface or if equipment such as air line tubing or heater cords extends over the sides of the tank. To reduce escapes, equipment should be suspended from overhead so that it does not touch the sides of the tank and keep a lid on the aquarium.