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Encyclopedia > Yabbie

The word crayfish or crawfish can mean:-

  • Sea crayfish, also called spiny lobster. These are marine species which are not closely related to crayfish. In some countries, such as New Zealand, the term crayfish is used only for salt-water rock lobsters.
  • Freshwater crayfish, described on this page.

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Decapoda
Suborder: Pleocyemata
Infraorder: Astacidea
Superfamily: Astacoidea


Crayfish, sometimes called crawfish, crawdads, mudbugs, yabbies, or spoondogs, are freshwater crustaceans (decapoda) resembling small lobsters, to which they are closely related. They are found in bodies of fresh water that do not freeze to the bottom, which are not polluted, and which have shelter against predators. Some crayfish have been found living as much as 3 m (10 feet) underground.


Geographical distribution

A Swedish lake crayfish

There are three families of crayfish, two in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere. The Southern-hemisphere (Gondwana-distributed) family Parastacidae lives in South America, southern Africa, Madagascar and Australasia. Many Australian crayfish are of the genus Cherax; and include the Marron (Cherax tenuimanus), Red Claw Crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus), Yabby (Cherax destructor) and Western Yabby (Cherax preissii). The world's largest crayfish, Astacopsis gouldi, is found in the rivers of northern Tasmania. It can reach a weight of 4 kg.

The family Astacidae contains the native European crayfish, as well as those in western North America, such as Pacifastacus. The third family, Cambaridae, contains crayfish in east Asia and eastern North America, such as Cambarus, and Zarigani, crayfish indigenous to Japanese rivers and ponds.


Crayfish as a dish

Crayfish are eaten in Europe, but they are perhaps most popular in Louisiana, where the standard culinary term is crawfish. They are also served in various Cajun dishes in restaurants around the United States. They are usually prepared like lobster, except many more are put into each pot to boil. For use as a main dish, they are often supplemented by items such as potatoes, sausage, corn, onions and garlic bulbs cooked in the same boil, which is heavily spiced with cayenne pepper and other spices. The crawfish may also be fried or blackened. There are also specific preparations for crawfish in Cajun and Creole food, the best-known of which are crawfish étouffée, crawfish pie, and crawfish beignets.

Boiled Crayfish

Crayfish is a popular dish in Sweden and Finland, and is by tradition primarily consumed during the fishing season in August. The boil is typically flavored with salt, sugar and dill. The catch of domestic fresh water crayfish, and even of an implanted American species is very limited and to satisfy demand the majority of what is consumed has to be imported. Sales depended on imports from Turkey for several decades, but after a decline in supply China and the United States are today the biggest sources of import. On the Western Coast of Sweden, many tend to prefer the larger salt water crayfish, which is caught in the North Sea.

See also: Swedish cuisine,

External Links

  • Blue Crayfish Forums (http://www.bluecrayfish.com/phpBB2/index.php)
  • Astacopsis gouldi the world's largest crayfish. (http://www.ausemade.com.au/group/f/fauna/lobster/giantlobster.htm)


  • Gilbertson, Lance; Zoology Lab Manuel; McGraw Hill Companies, New York; ISBN 0-07-237716-X (fourth edition, 1999)
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Comparative morphology of the common crayfish

  Results from FactBites:
Yabby (349 words)
Yabbies are active burrowers and are very hardy, able to withstand poor water quality and long periods of drought.
Restrictions on methods of gathering yabbies, especially the prohibition of "opera house" nets and other enclosed nets for the capture of yabbies and other freshwater crayfish in rivers and streams relate more to the protection of other wildlife, such as platypus and water rats, than to any attempt to restrict the take of yabbies.
Yabbies themselves, in the smaller sizes, make excellent bait for the larger native fish, being an important part of the diet of many species.
Yabby - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (159 words)
Yabby is a name given in Australia to two different kinds of crustacean.
Freshwater yabbies are crayfish of the genus Cherax (infraorder Astacidea, family Parastacidae).
Marine yabbies are ghost shrimps (infraorder Thalassinidea), which live in deep burrows in the intertidal zone.
  More results at FactBites »



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