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8 Great Tank Mates for Crayfish (With Pictures)

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

orange crayfish in aquarium_SritanaN

Nobody likes a dull and empty tank. If you have a Crayfish, you need to find the right tank mates. Unfortunately, your options are limited for Crayfish mates since Crayfish will likely eat other fish in the aquarium. Whenever picking out tank mates for your Crayfish, you have to select fish that are peaceful and small or large enough that the Crayfish won’t eat them.

In this article, we will look at the eight best tank mates for Crayfish. At the end, we also discuss what makes a good tank mate for Crayfish, water parameters, and more.

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The 8 Great Tank Mates for Crayfish

1. White Cloud Minnow

white cloud mountain minnows
Image Credit: Grigorev Mikhail, Shutterstock
Size 1.5 inches
Diet Omnivore
Minimum tank size 10 gallons
Care Level Beginner
Temperament Peaceful

The White Cloud Minnow is a perfect tank mate for Crayfish because they are small, gentle, and survive well in the same water parameters. White Cloud Minnows stay near the middle or top of the tank, which keeps them out of reach of the Crayfish. Plus, White Cloud Minnows eat the same type of food as Crayfish, making feeding very easy.

2. Hatchetfish

marbled hatchetfish
Image Credit: Photofenik, Shutterstock
Size 1.25 inches
Diet Carnivore
Minimum tank size 15 gallons
Care Level Expert
Temperament Peaceful

Hatchetfish are ideal Blue Crayfish tank mates because they are top dwellers. They have specifically evolved so that they can pluck insects that are floating on the water’s surface.

Even though other types of fish, such as Guppies and Killfish, have similar characteristics to Hatchetfish, Hatchetfish are still the best option because they never go to the bottom of the tank. Hatchetfish also can survive in many water types, including the conditions suitable for the Crayfish.

3. Golden Wonder Killifish

Golden wonder killfish in aquarium
Image Credit: Arunee Rodloy, Shutterstock
Size 3–4 inches
Diet Omnivore
Minimum tank size 20 gallons
Care Level Beginner
Temperament Mostly peaceful

The only Killifish you should pair with a Crayfish is the Golden Wonder Killifish. Golden Wonder Killifish are decently sized and stick to the surface. They are often too fast and remain near the surface to avoid becoming Crayfish food.

If you want a Golden Wonder Killifish, you must be careful about the other fish you add to the tank. Golden Wonder Killis will snack on smaller fish hanging out near the top of the surface.

4. Danio

Image Credit: Grigorev Mikhail, Shutterstock
Size 1–5 inches, depending on Danio type
Diet Omnivore
Minimum tank size 30 gallons
Care Level Beginner
Temperament Peaceful

For people who want a Crayfish tank mate that is also colorful, the Danio may be the best option. The best Danio to select as a tank mate is the Giant Danio because of their large size.

In many ways, Danios are comparable to Tetras, but they spend more of their time at the top of the aquarium, meaning they are beyond the reach of the Crayfish. They also can withstand cool water parameters.

5. African Butterfly Fish

African butterfly fish isolated
Image Credit: Arunee Rodloy, Shutterstock
Size 5 inches
Diet Omnivore
Minimum tank size 40 gallons
Care Level Intermediate
Temperament Can be aggressive, but generally peaceful

One of the more unique tank mates to pair with your Crayfish is the African Butterfly Fish. These fish are predators, yet they are shy and lurk at the surface. Since African Butterfly Fish sit at the surface, it is very unlikely that they will ever interact with the Crayfish. Not to mention, they are too large to be eaten.

If you select the African Butterfly Fish, you must add dried leaves and plants to the aquarium’s surface. This replicates the African Butterfly Fish’s natural environment.

6. Red Tail Shark

Image Credit: LeonP, Shutterstock
Size 4–6 inches
Diet Omnivore
Minimum tank size 55 gallons
Care Level Intermediate
Temperament Aggressive in certain situations

If you want another bottom dweller with your Crayfish, the Red Tail Shark is one of your only options. The Red Tail Shark can grow to be larger than Crayfish. It’s important to note that you should only pair these sharks with Crayfish if the shark is bigger.

As you probably would suspect, Red Tail Sharks can be a bit territorial, but they will get along fine with Crayfish if given a cave to call home. At the same time, they stand up to bullying pretty well.

7. Bala Shark

Image Credit: Marcelo Saavedra, Shutterstock
Size 13 inches
Diet Omnivore
Minimum tank size 120 gallons
Care Level Intermediate
Temperament Peaceful but may eat smaller fish

Another shark to consider is the Bala Shark. They get pretty large and are very skittish. They rarely swim towards the bottom of the tank, which means they will be protected against the Crayfish.

If you are choosing between the Red Tail Shark and the Bala Shark as a tank mate, we would generally recommend the Red Tail Shark. Bala Sharks get big, which can be challenging to sustain ethically within a home aquarium.

8. Tinfoil Barb

tinfoil barb fish
Image Credit: Zeyd Ladha, Pixabay
Size 12 inches
Diet Omnivore
Minimum tank size 176+ gallons
Care Level Beginner
Temperament Peaceful but may eat smaller fish

Most Barbs make poor Blue Crayfish tank mates, but the Tinfoil Barb is a good choice. They are large and active, and they won’t make easy food for your Crayfish.

In comparison to the other fish we have listed as tank mates, the Tinfoil Barb is lower on our list for a reason. They are more difficult to find at pet stores, and they are not as easy to feed and care for within the same waters as the Crayfish. Plus, they need a lot of water.

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What Makes a Good Tank Mate for Crayfish?

When selecting tank mates for your Crayfish, you first and foremost want to choose a fish that is unlikely to go toward the bottom of the tank. Top dwellers are the best choice because they will likely never come in contact with the Crayfish. If you select another bottom dweller, make sure it can hold its own against the Crayfish.

Another factor to consider is the personality type. It is unwise to pair a super-aggressive fish with the Crayfish. Instead, select a peaceful schooling fish that won’t bother the Crayfish.

Lastly, consider the size of the tank mates. You either want them to be so small that it is difficult for the Crayfish to get their claws around the fish, or you want the fish to be so large that it is unlikely to become prey. Avoid fish that are somewhere in the middle, such as goldfish.

crayfish on top of aquatic plants
Image Credit: Piqsels

Where Do Crayfish Prefer to Live in the Aquarium?

Crayfish are classic bottom dwellers. They never leave the ground and lurk around the gravel and sand below. Therefore, the best Crayfish tank mates are middle to top dwellers. If the tank mates stay at the top, they will never interact with the Crayfish.

Water Parameters

Most Crayfish are found around southeastern North America. The Blue Crayfish is prevalent in Florida, especially in the Florida Keys. Their water parameters are pretty exact and are considered cooler than other freshwater varieties.

The ideal tank for a Crayfish is between 20 and 30 gallons. You want the pH level to be between 6.5 and 8, whereas the temperature should be between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.


The size of the Crayfish will largely depend on the species you select. The most popular pet Crayfish is the Electric Blue Crayfish. Blue Crayfish grow 4 to 6 inches long. In contrast, freshwater Crayfish or Crawfish only grow about 3 inches long.

Aggressive Behaviors

As you would expect from their little pinchers, Crayfish are considered aggressive fish. If their territory is too small, Crayfish will fight with each other. Additionally, their pinchers will quickly turn unsuspecting fish into a snack.

Even if the Crayfish does not try to turn the tank mates into a snack, they can and will often bully other fish. As a whole, Crayfish are pretty aggressive to their tank mates.

freshwater crayfish
Image Credit: BARBARA808, Pixabay

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The 3 Benefits of Having Tank Mates for Crayfish in Your Aquarium

If you aren’t quite sold on having tank mates for your Crayfish, here are three benefits of adding other fish to your aquarium:

1. Makes for a Prettier Tank

The biggest benefit of adding Blue Crayfish tank mates to your aquarium is that it makes the tank much prettier and more lively. Because Crayfish exclusively stay at the bottom, an aquarium with a sole Crayfish can be a bit boring to look at.

By adding tank mates that occupy the middle and top of the waters, your tank becomes much livelier and more beautiful.

2. Creates a Healthier Ecosystem

Something else you might want to consider is that having multiple fish creates a healthier ecosystem. After all, the oceans, rivers, and lakes are naturally full of life. The more fish in the aquarium, the healthier the ecosystem will be.

However, packing too many fish in one aquarium is the opposite of healthy. Instead, you want to select the right amount of fish based on the size of your aquarium for the best results.

3. Replicates the Crayfish’s Natural Habitat

Finally, the last benefit of adding tank mates to your Crayfish tank is that it creates a more natural ecosystem. As we mentioned above, natural waters are packed with lifeforms. By adding more tank mates, you can maintain a much more realistic environment, which creates a more ethical tank.

red crayfish in freshwater
Image Credit: Piqsels

Can Crayfish Be Tank Mates with Other Crayfish?

Technically, yes, you can add more than one Crayfish inside a tank. However, the Crayfish need to be the same species. For example, only pair Blue Crayfish with other Blue Crayfish.

Something else you have to remember is that Crayfish can grow really big. If you have more than one Crayfish per tank, your aquarium must be large enough to handle however many adult Crayfish you have.

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If you are not careful, adding the wrong tank mates to your Crayfish tank is a disaster waiting to happen. Because Crayfish are aggressive bottom dwellers, you must select fish that can either hold their own or stay at the top of the tank.

The best way to select tank mates for your Crayfish is to select unaggressive fish that are middle or top dwellers. If you pair these tank mates with your Crayfish, you will likely have next to no issues with the Crayfish turning their roommates into a snack.

Featured Image Credit: SritanaN, Shutterstock

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