Mexican Dwarf Crayfish – 13 Ultimate Care & Breeding Guide

One of the most sought-after freshwater aquarium inhabitants is the Mexican Dwarf Crayfish which will add color and life to your aquarium. They look just like tiny lobsters, and they have bright colors to compliment them.

The term Mexican Dwarf Crayfish is used to refer to many varieties (Cambarellus) consisting of tiny, tranquil crayfish. It also encompasses the recent orange dwarf crayfish, which is fast growing into one of the most sought-after kinds of crayfish for keeping.

The dwarf crayfish can be found in the Southern United States and Mexico. They are primarily found in small rivers and streams, however, they can also be located in lakes and ponds. They are more prone to slower-moving waters and tend to be found in shallow areas.

They’re still quite smaller in the domestic aquarium. The most affluent species of dwarf crayfish can grow only to around 2 inches (5 cm) in length. On average, they can live for about 2 to 3 years when kept in captivity although there are instances of them living for longer.

Invertebrates in freshwater aquariums have become extremely popular recently These tiny fish make a great addition They help to clean your aquarium, appear stunning, and are active, but peaceful personalities.

We will dive into the details of having Cambarellus patzcuarensis or Mexican Dwarf Crayfish. We will cover appearance breed, requirements for tank behavior, and much more.

Mexican Dwarf Crayfish Quick Stats

Care Level:Moderate difficulty
Lifespan:2-3 years
Size:~2 inches (5 cm)
Minimum Tank Size:5 gallons (10 is better)
Tank Set-Up:Freshwater, pH 6-8
Compatibility:Beware of large fish as well as crayfish
Temperature:Kee60° – 75° F (16° – 24° C)

Mexican Dwarf Crayfish or Cambarellus patzcuarensis is, as its name suggests miniature models of crayfish that you are familiar with. The appearance of their resembles that of the appearance of a lobster, and their size is similar to that of a shrimp.

There are many kinds of Mexican Dwarf Crayfish, and they come with a range of nicknames. They are known as the Cambarellus Patzcuarensis Orange crayfish shortens to CPO crayfish If you’re seeing the moniker probably refers to the strikingly orange-colored crayfish that we’re discussing here.

Note: There’s an attractive blue-spotted crayfish The Blue Brazos Dwarf Crayfish (Cambarellus texanus) that is quite similar in its behavior and treatment.

You might also be able to hear these tiny orange creatures being referred to as Orange Dwarf Crayfish or Mini Mexican lobsters.

No matter what you call them, these small crayfish are a great choice for your aquarium since they are able to survive in a variety of circumstances, assist in cleaning up your aquarium, and become the lifeblood of your aquarium with their distinctive personality.

The history of Mexican Dwarf Crayfish is also identified in the name of the fish – they originate from Mexico and are located within the Southern U.S., usually in small streams and rivers, as well as lakes as well as ponds. They prefer calm, shallow waters with abundant plant life.

While this Mexican mini lobster is able to adapt to various water conditions There is a little bit of difficulty in adding these to the aquarium For the best results be sure that your tank is equipped with a high-quality filter, and you’ve been able to cycle it prior to adding the new small crayfish.

If you follow this advice and follow the steps in this article on suitable tankmates, you will be in a position to enjoy the pleasures of your Mexican Dwarf Crayfish for the typical 2-3 year life span of these fish in captive.

You may have read in one of our previous guidebooks that crayfish are not suitable for tanks that are community-based, particularly tanks with smaller fish. This is especially true for the larger crayfish however, these small crayfish pose very little danger to fellow tank members.

As with all species, including humans they can attack smaller animals, which means that snails, shrimp as well as tiny shrimp could be at risk, however, all in all, Mexican Dwarf Crayfish are relatively peaceful.

To keep their content be sure to surround Mexican Dwarf Crayfish with the habitat they’ve grown accustomed to in their natural habitats including rocks, plants, and even wood. These attributes allow them to stay hidden and play.

Typical Behavior

While Mexican Dwarf Crayfish love to get into caves and hide among plants and rocks They also love exploring their surroundings; you’ll delight in watching them explore. The hiding places are important for protecting them when they’re molting and vulnerable.

Females also require a place to rest while taking care of their eggs and so do the baby dwarf crayfish that are completely defenseless.

However, besides these instances when they’re vulnerable, you’ll find the Mexican Dwarf Crayfish are amiable people who could showcase their beautiful chelae (claws) in front of you and also enjoy having fun with each other and occasionally alongside other fish.


Young dwarf crayfish are molting frequently – 3 to 4 often per week! The process of molting permits the limbs to be rebuilt. As they age The Mexican Dwarf Crayfish molt once or twice in the course of the year. Whatever the case, once they have molted, the tiny crayfish bodies are extremely soft, which puts the risk of injuries and even death.

What can you tell your small crayfish has changed color? There will be tiny small exoskeletons scattered across the surface of your aquarium. Do not worry about getting them out of your tank They’ll eat the shells they’re good sources of calcium.


Mexican Dwarf Crayfish Care and Breeding
Mexican Dwarf Crayfish

The vibrant orange hue that is this Mexican Dwarf Crayfish really stands out in your local aquarium Sometimes, it even is red in shades. They also sport more intense orange stripes and spots on the surface of their bodies.

We’ve mentioned that these tiny guys resemble miniature lobsters, sporting an extremely hard shell-enclosed body and a tail that is longer, which makes them fantastic swimmers. They have 19 pairs of limbs spread across the length of a 2-inch body, it is easy to understand why they molt so often. It is said that the Mexican Dwarf Crayfish can be described as made up of legs!

Alongside 19 limbs, they have antennae to help them sniff the food and discover their surroundings. They also have eyes that are black which irritates them.

Average Size

It is believed that the Mexican Dwarf Crayfish doesn’t grow more than 2 inches (5.1 cm) and usually has the full-size range of 1.6 and 2 inches (4.06 to 5.1 cm).

In comparison, the non-dwarf crayfish has 6.9 inches (17.5 cm) approximately 3 times larger than the Mexican Dwarf Crayfish.


Mexican Dwarf Crayfish eggs are dark brown in appearance. The hatchlings, known as infant crayfish rather than larvae are just a little less than an inch long roughly 2 mm.

Differentiating Between Males and Females

The pleopods and the abdominal limbs vary in males as well as females. There are five pleopods and the first one is soft in females and stiffer in males.


Mexican Dwarf Crayfish are scavengers and don’t have a lot of choices regarding what they consume. They’re omnivores and will eat vegetables and plants and live food items like brine shrimp and worms.

Take note to wash and blanch all vegetables prior to feeding them fish like the Mexican Dwarf Crayfish.

They also consume algae wafers and food pellets. As we have mentioned earlier, they consume their exoskeletons when they are molting. As an informational warning, they’re cannibals and will consume their young.

Pro-Tip: While gestating you may want to consider moving your Mexican Dwarf Crayfish mother and her eggs to another tank to hatch them and are mature.

Similar to other bottom scavengers Mexican Dwarf Crayfish will dine on the waste of fish and fish leftovers as well as their dead tank mate, which means they’re cleaning up the biome as they are eating. Be cautious not to feed too much in your tank since it affects the quality of your water and can be harmful to the entire life of the aquarium community.

They’re not attracted to top-and mid-dwelling fish such as mosquito larvae and daphnia therefore, they prefer eating the creatures that live on the bottom. Keep in mind that the Mexican Dwarf Crayfish don’t move quickly, which is why they’re not likely to catch and eat the tankmates more quickly than snails.

Acceptable food choices

  • brine shrimp
  • black worms
  • veggies, such as cucumbers, peas, and zucchini
  • pellets
  • Earthworms
  • Algae wafers
  • Bloodworms

Tips for a successful aquarium: We’ve already said this in previous guides, but we cannot reiterate this enough. Check to make sure that everything you include in your aquarium community contains copper present. Copper is poisonous to invertebrates.

Tank Conditions and Habitat

It is important to ensure there is enough space for your Mexican Dwarf Crayfish have enough space to explore their aquarium community, particularly when you have multiple Dwarf Crayfish.

Just like you would for any species of freshwater it is important to ensure you have a good filter, and also cycle the tank prior to including your Mexican Dwarf Crayfish in your community.

They can adapt to various environments, but remember that they’re tiny and therefore you must make sure that they have the right conditions to thrive, like offering them a place to hide while keeping the aquarium clear of bigger creatures that could consider them an afternoon snack.

Aquarium Conditions

As previously mentioned it is recommended to invest in a high-quality filter for your newly clawed family members. The sponge filter or hang-on back (HOB) filter will help protect Mexican Dwarf Crayfish from ammonia and nitrates, both of which have negative effects on Dwarf Crayfish.

Keep in mind this: Mexican Dwarf Crayfish are accustomed to slower-moving currents. So check the filter regularly to ensure that it’s not generating streams that are too strong for Dwarf Crayfish. Make sure you have the filter in your intake protected to prevent the loss of all dwarf crayfish.

To remind yourself, make sure that your aquarium is filled with rocks, plants, caves, and other wood items to ensure that the Mexican Dwarf Crayfish can explore to their hearts’ content while being safe from danger and injury.

Pick either gravel or sand line that goes to at the base of your tank in order to create the best circumstances for your Mexican Dwarf Crayfish.

As you’ll notice below there are some variations in the conditions of the water necessary to ensure the health of Mexican Dwarf Crayfish.

Water Specifications

Mexican Dwarf Crayfish need a pH interval from 6.0 to 8.0. If you are familiar with their native habitat, which is southern rivers and lakes You won’t be surprised that they favor temperatures ranging from 60° to 75° F (16° to 24° C)

For water hardness, Carbon Hardness, commonly known as KH should be in the range of 6 and 12. Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) should be measured between 100 and 500.

Tank Size

The minimum size tank to house Mexican Dwarf Crayfish is 5 gallons However, the size of a 10-gallon tank is required in the event that you’re keeping multiples and have additional members of the aquarium community.

Tank Mates

Aquarium enthusiasts prefer having an aquarium community that includes topwater fish. Since Dwarf Crayfish mostly hang out in lower levels of tanks, there’s less chance they’ll meet up and have a fight.

Large, aggressive fish and other fish aren’t suitable for Mexican Dwarf Crayfish. A large Crayfish is likely to eat Cichlids, especially the Orange Dwarf, and Cichlids are more likely to eat them.

Encounters With Smaller Creatures

Mexican Dwarf Crayfish are usually relatively peaceful, but they possess their own distinct personality, and it’s likely that you’ll come across one that’s territorial or aggressive. They can also be bolder when in groups.

If you’ve got tiny snails or dwarf shrimp could be targeted for Mexican Dwarf crayfish.

Mexican Dwarf Crayfish tend to do OK with smaller fish that move fast such as rainbow fish, neon tetras, and danios However, they also hunt for food, and it’s not impossible to rule out the possible scenario that they’ll try to snag a fish’s fin by using the tiny claws. However, they do not eat fish.

Better tankmates for dwarf crayfish:

  • Rummy Nose Tetra
  • Sparkling Gourami
  • Guppies
  • Neon Tetra
  • Platies
  • Chili Rasbora
  • Swordtails
  • Congo Tetra
  • Ember Tetra
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Celestial Pearl Danio
  • Hatchetfish


mexican dwarf crayfish for sale 1
Mexican Dwarf Crayfish For Sale

The life expectancy of Mexican Dwarf Crayfish is 2-3 years. To increase their chances of living having the longest possible life make sure you provide them with the best environment, as mentioned in the previous section. Check that the aquarium water is up to requirements and also that they are equipped with an abundance of habitat enhancements.

Check your tank regularly and perform maintenance, and feed them with a diverse diet of fresh vegetables, fruits, and protein.


Mexican Dwarf Crayfish are thankfully not affected by ich which is a parasite that can be identified in its white spots on the fish that it inhabits. But, most remedies to treat ich include copper which can be fatal for Mexican Dwarf Crayfish. If you’re treating your fish for this disease, ensure you read the label prior to introducing it to your tank containing crayfish.

The condition known as ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis) disease is also known by the names of white spot disease, ich, ick, and.

Crayfish Plague On the contrary is dangerous to crayfish and all invertebrates within your aquarium. Crayfish Plague originates from water mold, however, it’s not a disease that can spread to an aquarium community. If you add an already infected crayfish to the tank, will you be in problems?

Crayfish Plague can be extremely infectious Therefore, you should stay clear of adding the wild crayfish to your established aquarium community.

Stress and Well-Being

In times of molting breeding, and threats in circumstances that aren’t ideal, Mexican Dwarf Crayfish can suffer from stress levels that are higher, which affect their ability to flourish and live their fullest lives. In the next article, we’ll discuss the most effective community member for you Mexican Dwarf Crayfish.


There are no special requirements to breed Mexican Dwarf Crayfish. If you’ve got two males and a female then you’re set.

Breeding is in the moment that the male uses his chelae in order to secure the female to her back for about 20 minutes, culminating in the transfer of sperm to the female. But fertilization doesn’t occur during this time. The eggs are carried for 1-4 weeks. After that, it is the female Mexican Dwarf Crayfish that lays 20-60 eggs that are dark brown in a protected, secure space.

When the eggs have been laid after the eggs are laid, she folds her tail beneath her body to fertilize the eggs, as well as creates a mucus sack over the eggs to protect them. Cleaning the eggs is done using her swimmerets which are the legs below the tail. In pushing water towards the eggs the crayfish mama gets rid of dirt and ensures that oxygen levels are adequate.

Around 3 to 4 weeks after being laid, the infant crayfish hatch from eggs. When they hatch, the babies remain with their mothers until they’re ready to go on their own at around 3-4 months of age.

Be aware that the baby Mexican Dwarf Crayfish, less than an inch in size is highly vulnerable, and therefore, if you’re not able to place the mother and the babies in separate tanks during the time of growth ensure that you have plenty of places for the growing dwarf crayfish to protect themselves. The ability to reduce the risk for these tiny creatures can greatly improve the chances of their survival.

If you feed the infant crayfish it is important to place food in multiple parts of the aquarium to ensure they are able to enjoy the food. They will take the same food choices as adult dwarf crayfish as well as consume leftovers and waste on the tank’s substrate, however, as hatchlings, they might not reach their full potential quickly enough.

Can Mexican Dwarf Crayfish Live With Shrimp?

A Mexican dwarf orange crayfish should not hurt your shrimp in all instances. If you’ve ever kept male betta fish, you’ll be aware that every male has their own personality and this is also true for the dwarf crayfish.

How Big Do Mexican Crayfish Get?

It is believed that the Mexican Dwarf Crayfish doesn’t grow over 2 inches (5.1 cm) and typically has an average size of 1.6 and 2 inches (4.06 to 5.1 cm). For comparison, a non-dwarf crayfish measures 6.9 inches (17.5 cm) which is about 3 times larger than the Mexican Dwarf Crayfish.

Do Mexican Dwarf Crayfish Eat Algae?

Dwarf crayfish consume algae. Dwarf crayfish thought about “tank janitors'” since they are the most efficient algae eaters. They also consume leftovers and fish food. They thrive on algae wafers, as well as a variety of other invertebrate meals.

How Many Dwarf Crayfish Can You Have In a 10-Gallon Tank?

Dwarf crayfish aren’t a problem for housing, and some of them could be kept comfortably in the size of a 10-gallon (45 liter) aquarium. However, if you intend to house more than three or two of them in your aquarium you must look at the 20 gallons (91 liters) long aquarium as the ideal size.

Do Mexican Dwarf Crayfish Eat Snails?

The smaller size and tranquil character of these crayfish make them better suited for tanks in the community as opposed to their larger counterparts. While they are able to get along with a wider number of tankmates than the larger crayfish, however, they can be a bit irritable to snails as well as small shrimps or fish.

Is Mexican Dwarf Crayfish Right for Your Aquarium?

The orange-colored hue that is this Mexican Dwarf Crayfish really makes your local aquarium shine. Additionally, they’re great to have in your tank since they usually exhibit bravado when they click their claws to show off.

These small crayfish generally are peaceful and sociable invertebrates. they can help keep your aquarium in good condition.

Due to their small size and small, they’re not a big danger to other members of your community However, you might prefer to wait until you are adding them to tanks with small snails or shrimp.

Because they’re tiny, larger animals could be able to prey on them. So, you’ll need to consider the benefits and potential risks of introducing the tiny crayfish into your current community.

If you’re considering creating your own aquarium, Mexican Dwarf Crayfish is a fantastic base to create an ecosystem around.

Are you convinced that Mexican Dwarf Crayfish is an intriguing option for the aquarium community? We’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!


Dibyajyoti Bordoloi is the creator and author of, a second-generation experienced fish keeper. He is also a member of the Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation And Conservation (Assam), the Marine Aquarium Societies of North East India, and the Kaziranga Nature Conservancy of Assam.

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