Like all crustaceans and some other animals, crayfish have external exoskeletons that act as an embargo to their growth. Therefore, to grow more in size, they have to shed off their old shells. This is called molting. This may sound like a simple process but it’s not! . I have seen many complains from people, especially on forums saying ‘their crayfish died while molting. If you are reading this article, it means you want to know if crayfish could die while molting and why, well, this article is for you.
Can crayfish die while molting? Yes, molting is a very stressful and important times in a crayfish’s life. This is the time when they are the most vulnerable and are prone to die.
In other words, yes crayfish could die while molting if anything goes wrong, and even after molting successfully because it’s now prone to diseases and attacks from anything, including it’s fellow crayfish.
There are many reasons why molting could go wrong for crayfish and might lead to their death.
Some common reasons why crayfish could die while or after molting are:
– Age: Age is one of the factors that could lead to bad molting or death for crayfish.
All living things on this planet has their lifespan, and when they reach it, they will die, and crayfish is not an exception.
Different type of crayfish has their different lifespan, for instance, a dwarf crayfish might last up to 1 – 2 years, etc.
As I have learned, when a crayfish reach it’s lifespan limit, molting process could go wrong, which might eventually lead to it’s death.
As we all know, molting process is not easy, infact it’s very stressful for them, and it do require alot of energy.
When crayfish gets old, they do lack enough energy or strength required to molt and in the process they get exhausted and might die or will only complete molting some of parts, leaving some parts of their body with the old shell.
– The water pH is not right for them: Apart from aging, another cause of dead during molt is the water pH is not what they want.
A normal pH all crayfish require is pH 7.0, so if your crayfish could not molt successfully or die on the process, you might have to run a check on your pH level and if it is above 7.5 or lower, then that might be the cause of the death.
When you run your test and find out the water is not in the right pH for crayfish, you will have to change it and bring in the right water.
– Lack of proper nutrients could cause this: Yes, this is one of the most common causes of their death during molt.
Just like food is very important for every living things, so is it for crayfish, especially during molting period.
During this period, before they molt, you will notice that your cray will start eating greedily.
What do you think it is doing by eating greedily?, simple, it’s trying to store enough nutrients, especially calcium, which it will need to energize itself in order to molt and start building the new shell.
Now you know why foods are important to them, especially this period.
So lack of proper Foods means lack of some vital nutrients, which if they don’t have might lead to failed molt and probably death.
I will simply advise you to always give them enough foods and balanced diet, so there won’t be accidents during and after molting.
– After molting, they become very vulnerable to anything you could think of, including to their fellow crayfish. At this point, they might easily get killed by anything.
At this point, the new exoskeleton is very weak and soft, they could easily contact any disease, and will die from the slightest attack from anything, including small animals.
This is why tank mates are sometimes bad for crayfish.
To help them at this period and to prevent unnecessary deaths, they will need hiding places to stay away from other tank mates, so caves, stones, pipes will do.
Also provide them with lots of foods with calcium, vitamin, iodine, which will help harden the new shell.
– The water parameters could also be the cause: Crayfish are very slow to adapt to new conditions, for instance, when their water is changed, it will take a little while before they will get used to the new water, so therefore, changing or disturbing the water when they are about to molt could have effects on them which might hinder their molting process and could lead to deaths.
Therefore avoid disturbing the water when the crayfish are ready to molt.
Also the Nitrates in the water could also be the cause.
Normally, crayfish do need Nitrates less than 10ppm, and anything above that could be fatal to then, especially when they are about to molt, or after molting.
– The Crayfish is stressed: they hate stress, this could be the cause.
The fact is, molting process is not easy for them, and they do need all the strength in their body to complete it successfully, but when they get stressed, they loose alot of strength which would have been channelled to molting, so in the process, they get weaker, and at this juncture, molting might go wrong.
I will advise you to avoid stressing your crayfish at any cost.
Because they hate it!, even tank mates are bad at this moment because they could stress them too.
Does Molting Hurt Crayfish
You might be curious to know if Molting do hurt, maybe that’s why they sometimes dies from it.
Does molting hurt? Yes it hurts. The new shell is soft and painful immediately after Molting, that’s why crayfish hide immediately after molting.
The thing is, shading off an old shell is stressful and painful for crayfish, so they do need alot of strength and full stamina to do this. After it is successful, the new shell will be weaker, and makes them vulnerable to any kind of attack and diseases, including easy death.
Should I Help my Crayfish Molt?
Maybe you have seen your crayfish stuck with the Molting process and you wonder if you could help them.
Should I Help my Crayfish Molt? Unfortunately you can’t!. They can’t be disturbed while molting, as it could lead to their death.
The only help a crayfish will need from you to Molt is enough nutritional foods, a peaceful and conducive environment.
So don’t try to bother them during this period for any reason, or there might be serious consequences.
Why is my Crayfish not Moving after Molting?
Immediately after Molting, your crayfish might begin to act strange, like staying one place, or not moving nor showing signs of total weakness and might even be missing.
all these are normal because at that stage, it is very weak and exhausted.
It will take a while to recover from it and regain it’s energy back inorder to begin to act normal again.
A crayfish might not move even if you place it’s best meal closer to it because it needs time to regain strength and also the new shell is very weak.
You might help it by adding a drop of calcium in the water.
How long does Crayfish takes to Molt?
Also you might be wondering ‘how long it take them to molt.
It takes a small crayfish up to 24hours to complete it’s Molt, and 3 -5 days for a big adult crayfish to complete it’s Molt.
Like I stated above, the time it take for a crayfish to molt solely depends on it’s size.
The smaller the crayfish, the quicker the Molting process is, and the bigger the crayfish, the slower and harder it takes.
This is due to the fact that bigger ones find it hard to break out of their old shell while smaller ones find it alot easier to do.
Why do Crayfish Hide after Molting?
One of the characters of crayfish is, they normally go to any hiding place available to them to hide. You might be wondering why.
Crayfish do go into hiding after molting because they lack strength, and are vulnerable to attacks and diseases, because the new shell is soft and can’t protect them.
It is very normal for a cray to hide immediately after Molting, in order to escape any trouble from it’s tanks mates and also to allow the new shell to build up and also to regain some strengths it must have lost during the process.