30 Jul 2005

Why Do Crayfish Dance?

Dear Blue Lobster:

I was wondering if you could explain why freshwater crayfish dance.

I've held about twelve different species of freshwater crayfish and all have exhibited a phenomenum I cannot explain. Many times, while standing idle, the crayfish begin to move one or more of their appendages in some repetitive motion, often times climaxing in most of their appendages moving in several different groups. This motion is distinctly different from any bodily cleaning, and I can't explicitly connect it to molting. Assuming the water and temperature were correct for each species, why does this happen?

Also, the crayfish only recieved live food and usually lived anywhere from six months to two years.

Thank you.

Dear Gentle Sir:

Why do fish swim? Why do bees buzz? Why do woodpeckers repeatedly bash their heads into solid wood? Quite simply, it's what these animals were born to do. And in the crayfish's case, it was born to dance.

Since the cray's evolution over 500 million years ago its overall structure has remained the same, and similarly so has its culture. Dancing began as a form of ten-legged ritualistic expression but slowly evolved into a dynamic leisure activity over the eons. Today crays gather in dance clubs and bars to dance their souls free in a strange and wondrous display of their many appendages.

Crays dance to many different kinds of music. One would almost be accurate in describing the number of crayfish dances to be as numerous as the number of crayfish species. Some crays, like the Yabbies of New Zealand and Australia, like to dance to traditional folk music while crayfish living in the Deep South of the United States enjoy crunk.

Since the early Nineties, however, a new force in dance music has emerged that has reshaped crayfish dancing activities forever: Techno.

Trance, goa, house, down-tempo, drum-n-bass, speedcore, and gabber are but a few of the hundreds of sub-genres crays listen to. Some attend raves and dance to the ultra-agressive music made by the DJs there. Others like happy-core, a simple upbeat form of fast techno played in homosexual dance clubs. Daring crays like extratone, which is a hyper-fast form of techno in excess of 1,000 beats per minute.

As you can see, crays have pushed music forward in an everlasting search for new ways to express themselves kinetically. It's part of who and what they are. They can choose to dance no more than you can choose to beat your heart. Because of this inherent need to dance, amateur crustaceanists should take special care to keep their crays happy and well-exerted.

Placing a sub-woofer directly beneath your aquarium is an excellent idea, especially when playing bass-heavy songs like drum-and-bass or terrorcore. The crays enjoy the vibrations through the water and will certainly move around once you hit the play button! Remember to make a special Crayfish Dance Mix playlist in iTunes to play when you leave for more than a few hours to help keep your cray occupied in your absence.

23 May 2005

Blue Crayfish Tropical Vacation

Dear Blue Lobster:

Im thinking of letting all of my crayfish go im my tropical tank. I just afraid that my slower fish like my knight gobies, plecos, and my eels wont be able to get away.

Do they eat plecos, or do they leave them alone like other fish do to plecos??? They supposidly smell bad to fish like agreesive cichlids.

Dear Gentle Sir:

Taking your crays for a vacation is both stimulating and healthy, and would make for an excellent adventure for your small ten-legged friends. A tropical tank would be especially interesting for them, with its strange fish and plants alien to temperate crays.

There are some things to keep in mind, however.

If any of your crayfish are from the Arctic regions, they may not be able to handle tropical temps. Arctic crays prefer water in the 10-15°C while tropical tanks can reach 24°C and could induce heart attacks and metabolism problems in the cold-clime crays.

Sunscreen is important, especially in tanks that use incandescent lighting, for Northern crawdads who don't see much sun and spend most of their time under rocks or burrows. Squirting a few dollops of SPF 45 or greater will help ensure your crays can play in the gentle surf without worry.

Maintaining a healthy diet is essential, and though the thought that the tropics are just one mixed drink out of hollow fruit after another can be true, if you and your crays mind what's eaten dining can be an exciting experience. For example, there are several species of flatworm and leeches in tropical climates not available in temperate regions, and shrimp and prawn abound.

As for cohabiting your crays with tropical species, look at it as a cultural studies field trip. Let them benefit from meeting new species and seeing other ways of life unfamiliar to them. Breaking down cultural barriers goes a long way toward eliminating xenophobia and racism while familiarity just breeds hatred — for the other fish.

Prepare to watch an amazing display of culture and society from both sides as your gang of crayfish enter the tropical tank as each group of species learns from one another and shares their unique perspective of the world. Perhaps your crays will make friends that will last the years to come!