BY BRIANA MAGISTRO
SC Contributing Writer
Papershell crayfish are reddish-brown to black clawed creatures that can be found in shallow creeks. However, they also come in a bigger and blue variety.
A mutation occurring in papershell crayfish and their close relative, the Florida crayfish, have caused offspring between the two species to become blue in color.
The blue crayfish can have anywhere from a fully bright blue body to being a duller cadet blue with pink marking on the claws. The blue coloring results when an individual lacks a gene that mutes the blue color, which normally gives the wild type crayfish its brown color.
They can grow to over 6 inches long, and require quite a bit of aquarium space. They are sometimes called “lobsters” since they are from the same family, and can sometimes grow as big as one.
The blue crayfish, if kept as a pet, requires its water temperature to be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They can eat regular fish food, and will eat many kinds of aquatic plants, including elodea.
Being a crustacean, the blue crayfish has a hard exoskeleton surrounding its body. This provides protection from predators in the wild and other competing males during mating season.
However, this exoskeleton is molted every few weeks to every few months. The crayfish literally steps out of its skin and grows a new protective layer. This is how crustaceans grow.
Its claws are used to deter and beat off predators, as well as to attract a mate. The male crayfish with the biggest claws gets the girl.
Blue crayfish have recently been a more common sell in pet stores. Native to the Florida everglades, the blue crayfish is commonly grown on crayfish farms to be sold as pets.
Aquaculture techniques and selective breeding has allowed this mutant crustacean to grow logarithmically in numbers.
Keep your eye out for the blue crayfish next time you go to your specialty pet store. These colorful critters will swim (and scuttle) home with you!
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