crayfish

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crayfish

crayfish or crawfish, freshwater crustacean smaller than but structurally very similar to its marine relative the lobster, and found in ponds and streams in most parts of the world except Africa. Crayfish grow some 3 to 4 in. (7.6–10.2 cm) in length and are usually brownish green; some cave-dwelling forms are colorless and eyeless. They are scavengers, feeding on decayed organic matter and also on small fish. The red swamp crayfish digs a burrow up to 3 ft (91 cm) deep with a water-filled cavity at the bottom in case of drought. The eggs develop while attached to the swimming legs of the female and look like miniature adults when hatched. Although crayfish are not eaten in most parts of the United States, they are consumed in areas in the Mississippi River basin. They are agricultural pests in the Mississippi Delta area, where they feed on sprouting wheat and corn, and nonnative species can become invasive when introduced outside their range. A red-clawed species is considered a delicacy in Europe. Crayfish are classified in the phylum Arthropoda, subphylum Crustacea, order Decapoda.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Crayfish

 

an invertebrate of the order Decapoda. The body length is usually 6–30 cm, but some species, such as the Madagascar crayfish, reach a length of 80 cm. Most crayfishes inhabit freshwaters. They are nocturnal animals and hide in their burrows during the day. Crayfishes feed primarily on aquatic vegetation growing near the shore, but occasionally they feed on animal substances. The males are longer than the females and have more powerful claws. Crayfishes reproduce in the fall, after the females molt. The females carry from 50 to 100 eggs on their abdomen.

There are three families of crayfishes, distributed in temperate zones throughout the world, excluding Africa. Eight species of the family Astacidae are found in the USSR, with Astacus leptodactylus and A. astacus having the greatest commercial value. Approximately 90 percent of the entire catch of crayfishes in the USSR is from the basin of the Sea of Azov and the Baltic Sea.

REFERENCES

Budnikov, K. N., and F. F. Tret’iakov. Rechnye raki i ikh promysel. Moscow, 1952.
Ivanov, A. V. Promyslovye vodnye bezpovonochnye. Moscow, 1955.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

crayfish

[′krā‚fish]
(invertebrate zoology)
The common name for a number of lobsterlike fresh-water decapod crustaceans in the section Astacura.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

crayfish

(esp US), crawfish
1. any freshwater decapod crustacean of the genera Astacus and Cambarus, resembling a small lobster
2. any of various similar crustaceans, esp the spiny lobster
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005