One of the biggest problems for redclaw farms is the “habitat problem”. Never heard of it? Well, let me explain.
Rule number one of crayfish farming is that “everything eats crayfish”. That’s birds, fish, prawns, water rats, turtles, platypus and of course, sometimes they eat each other. So, as you can imagine they are a pretty nervous bunch and begin to feel stressed if they can be seen or feel unprotected. It’s been well demonstrated that the more habitat in your pond the higher the carrying capacity of the pond. Also remember unlike most other aquaculture species, redclaw are not schooling. They need their space and a place to hide to feel secure.
The problem is all the existing types of habitat are either heavy and unsatisfactory (car tyres), expensive, very labour intensive to make and break easily (drainage coil stacks), not UV stable and deteriorate (bread crates), high labour and maintenance (net bundles) or just ad hoc and messy (anything you can find around your farm to chuck into ponds).
In short: Everybody, including us and the North QLD Farmers Association has recognised for years that our industry needs an off the shelf solution!
Of course every farmer has their opinion on what the best habitat is, but we don’t think anyone really asked what the redclaw like. We don’t want to claim that we really know either (we need a tracking project to help answer that!) but what we have investigated has made us very confident we are on the right path.
As we have just expanded our farm, we needed a lot more habitat. Our family was sick and tired of giving up weekends to make drain coil stacks. All the existing methods are just too expensive and high maintenance. So, we decided we had to figure out a better way. Where to start? Well our spawning tanks are a good place. We began testing every type of habitat we could squeeze into them to see what the redclaw actually liked. We have started to take underwater video and time-lapse of how the redclaw use different types of habitat and will hopefully publish on our website as soon as we can get around to it.
Basically, redclaw will utilise anything to hide in, on or under. So, just about anything works. However, given the choice they strongly prefer holes to hide in. Which is pretty surprising because redclaw are considered non-burrowers. They do occasionally burrow in ponds, but they don’t have a strong preference to do so. We surmise that perhaps it’s a vestigial hang-up they still have; an evolutionary leftover from the deep past as most other related crayfish species burrow.
So, holes it is, and we started testing and came up with a quite basic final design. We had a lot of great input from the plastic engineers who would help keep the habitat easy to assemble and at a competitive price.
The key was to make a versatile, rigid habitat with varying hole sizes. There are only two habitat pieces needed to get a habitat with over 50 holes.
We originally started the journey of creating new habitat options to satisfy our own requirements for habitat. However, since farmers have expressed interest, we are happy to offer the habitat to anyone. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.