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The first topic that must be considered is the name. Crayfish is the term most often used in technical literature and the name used in this document. However, these same animals are also known as crawfish, crawdads, and mudbugs. Rest assured, regardless of the name, they all refer to the same broad category of animals. Specifically, they are freshwater decapod crustaceans, the freshwater equivalent of shrimp and lobsters. In most years, production of crayfish in the United States is the second largest aquacultural industry. This fact surprises most people in the North Central Region (NCR) because the availability of crayfish outside the traditional production area is minimal. Most of the crayfish are produced in the southern United States (Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Mississippi) and most of that production is consumed in the same area. Two species comprise the majority of production—the red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) and the white river crayfish (P. zonangulus). Crayfish culture in those areas is seasonal, available as a fresh product from November through June. Thus, the crayfish aquaculture industry is interesting because of it’s size and the fact that it violates conventional wisdom in several ways.


This is a manuscript of an article from NCRAC Technical Bulletin Series #112, 1997. Used with permission.

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Iowa State University