Crawfish, Red Swamp

Procambarus clarkii

Method of production — Farmed
Production country — China
Production method — Extensive pond and rice paddy
Picture of Crawfish, Red Swamp

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

The Red Swamp Crayfish are farmed in large volumes in China where they are produced in either agricultural ponds or in rotation with rice crops. Crayfish farming does not require feed or chemical inputs. Escapees from ponds are common and this is a concern in Chinese production as it is a non-native species. Escaped crayfish have caused ecosystem damage by reducing the abundance of native fish and plant life.

Feed Resources

Criterion Score: 6

Crawfish area non fed species that rely upon a natural occurring diet.


Environmental Impacts

Criterion Score: 0

In many aspects crawfish performs well environmentally as they require no feed or chemical inputs, don’t deplete freshwater supplies and rely on naturally settling juveniles. However diseases are noted in the species but there is little data associated. Escapes can and do occur and as the species is not native to China damage has occurred causing habitat modification and changes to the food web leading to grave conservation concerns.


Fish Health and Welfare

Criterion Score: 1

Welfare and slaughter criteria do not apply to crawfish.



Criterion Score: -5

Management is poor for crawfish production in China. They is not enough information to determine the regulatory framework or its effectiveness and there is no overarching strategic environmental planning in place. Crawfish are not produced to any independent production standards.


Production method

Extensive pond and rice paddy

The red swamp crayfish are farmed in agricultural ponds or in rotation with a crop, usually rice. After harvesting the crop the land is flooded to create a pond in which the crayfish grow.


A member of the Cambaridae family, the Red Swamp Crawfish is commonly found in warm, fresh water. This is considered to be an “ecologically plastic” species as it can grow quickly even in areas with dry periods lasting up to four months. The average lifespan is five years and in this time weights of over 50g and lengths of 5 to 12cm can be reached. This is an omnivorous species feeding on insects, larvae and detritus. Sexually mature from 6cm the females dig burrows to lay their eggs in and will protect the young for eight weeks. Recent research suggests that the females may be able to reproduce through parthenogenesis.


FAO 2007-2018. Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme. Procambarus clarkii. Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme. Text by McClain, W.R.; Romaire R.P. In: FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department [online]. Rome. Updated 13 January 2007. Accessed 05/09/2018

New England Aquarium. Ocean Friendly Seafood. Crayfish. Available online at:: Accesed 05/03/2015

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Seafood Watch: Farmed Crayfish report.Available online at Accessed 05/09/2018