How to Catch Yabbies and Keep Them as Pets + What to Feed Shrimp Crayfish Food

How to catch, feed and breed yabbies
How to Catch, Feed and Breed Yabbies
catch yabbies australia
Murray River Yabbie in a fish tank. There is a tank cleaning fish in the background.

Want to know how to Catch Yabbies and keep them? Living in Australia we have access to Yabbies in the Murray River which there is a huge supply.

The Australian Yabbie (Cherax Destructor) is very common in a lot of backwater streams and freshwater rivers/dams, and especially in the Murray River. They like to live under the river banks where they burrow into the river walls or they live under logs and branches.

You can easily catch yabbies with a crab/yabbie net using various food items. Yabbies can be fussy sometimes about what they eat, so If I’m out for a feed of yabbies for the cooking pot I will take a variety of bait.

People think that yabbies are meat eaters but there are some conflicting ideas out there. I have tried Fish, pork, lamb, sausage, and vegetables It all works at one time or another.

So if you have a few Yabbie nets try a variety of food in each and see what works in your area. Place the food in the net and place the net in the river or Dam for a few hours and then check. Place back into the water if nothing. But you most probably at least get some shrimp.

I sometimes take out my Sea-doo jet ski to drop off the pots and use an old milk bottle as a float.

 Yabbies Need a House:

We made a place for the Yabbie to hide by breaking a small ceramic pot plant tub in half and washed it well.

The Yabbie has been alive for a few years now, living on vegetables and they make a great pet. Just don’t put fish in the tanks unless they are fast swimmers. We also supplement its diet with crayfish food which it likes ok but not as much as vegetables.yabbie breeding

Cleaning the tank is simple with a hose draining into a bucket, only take out about a 1/3 of the water at a time so there isn’t a big change in water temp when refilling. Do this every few weeks to keep the water fresh. Also, scrub the tank glass with a non-abrasive sponge. Make sure there is no detergent on the sponge.  

Setting up a Shrimp Aquarium: 

For a complete beginner’s guide to setting up and maintaining freshwater shrimp aquariums and tanks. You should check out this free kindle resource book (at the time of writing) from Amazon. It will go into great detail on Lots of useful facts on how to build, and maintain the aquarium and it also contains facts on keeping, feeding and sourcing shrimp. Its free so go for it.

Many people think that maintaining a shrimp aquarium is very hard and daunting, it is not so. Because you can easily set up and maintain a standard freshwater shrimp aquarium within a small budget.

Yabbies as Pets:

I decided to do an experiment and put a yabby in the kid’s fish tank. Well, we knew the fish wouldn’t like it. There were only a few Neon Tetras and a tank sucker fish that cleans the tank and the crazy Yabbie ate them all over a few months.

Feeding :

We feed the Yabbie vegetables like peas and carrots which the Yabbie eats very fast. We tried different meats but the Yabbie wouldn’t each much of it. And would make the tank water smell bad.

The Yabbie would shed its shell every 6 months and it went from a Brown color to a Dark Blue color which was cool. Leave the shell in the tank the Yabbie will eat it over the next few days. (Helps it to rebuild its new shell)

There are many different types of Crayfish and shrimp food but one of the best is Shirakura Shrimp Food. Its made with natural seaweed, and because most yabbies and crayfish are vegetarians it will be perfect for them. Its rich in Vitamins and Minerals.

  • Most shrimp owner knows that yabbies and shrimp need the correct ratio of vegetable minerals and animal protein. Shirakura Ebi Dama is food for the perfect balance that shrimps need.
  • Being rich in animal protein, amino acids, natural vitamins, calcium, and seaweed enriched with wild cabbage and sea algae, it is all you need for healthy freshwater Crustaceans.
  • Shirakura Ebi Dama is perfect for baby shrimp. These young baby bitters will need extra care when it comes to their food. This feed not only nourishes them but is also good for the microorganisms in the tank. Shirakura Ebi Dama is specially designed to not crumble straight away.

It will slowly break apart in the water keeping the water quality clear. Only use a small amount of food for your shrimps. If they don’t eat it all reduce the proportions at next feeding. After this time, remove any left-over food from your tank to prevent from amazon

Breeding Yabbies:

Obviously, you will need a breeding pair, Male and Female. The female will hold her eggs under her tail for a while they develop. Even when they hatch, they will still stay under the tail until bigger to swim off by themselves. Once they get bigger than 1cm its good to take them out of the breeding tank, otherwise the other larger Yabbies will eat them. We just suck them out with a hose and drained them into a bucket. We then transfer the baby yabbies to another tank.

Make sure there are plenty of small hiding places for the smaller Yabbies to hide out. They will survive longer if there are rocks and tree branches to creep into. Clean your tank often and replace the water monthly usually about 1/3 at a time.

Yabbie farming can be a very lucrative hobby, as they breed fast and many pet shops or restaurants will love to purchase them from you. If you do find some strange parasites growing on your yabbie they are usually harmless to the adult but its best to give your yabbie with parasites a salt water bath.

You can change the color of your yabbies by changing the background that they are in. if you want them to turn a nice blue color use a blue background wallpaper or picture on one side of your tank.

Yabbies in the Murray River

Yabbies in South Australia can be caught all year round, you have a better chance of catching them away from a larger town like Mannum or Renmark. Check out the backwaters of the Murray where it’s shallow and brackish.

Try leaving the nets out for about 15 minutes.  If there are heaps of yabbies about, you will catch a few.

After 30 minutes if you haven’t caught any Yabbies, then it’s time to try another spot.  If we are camping overnight, we leave the pots in all night.

The best type of yabbie nets is the traditional opera house nets or the portable folding shrimp yabbie trap. They will make it harder for the shrimp or crab to escape after their feed.

Best time of year to catch yabbies

Summer and Autumn are the best times as they are more active in the warmer water. Falling river levels generally produce a greater catch rate as well but not sure why this is. In winter and Spring, the Yabbies seem to bury themselves in the mud to conserve energy or hibernate. Mating season for yabbies usually happens around this time.

Fishing Limits For Yabbies PIRSA

To check the latest Yabbie fishing rules check out Primary Industries and Regulations SA PIRSA

Minimum legal length: no size limit.
Personal daily bag limit: 200
Daily boat limit (applies where 3 or more people on board): 600
Restrictions: Female yabbies carrying eggs are totally protected and must be returned to the water immediately. Check for eggs by lifting back the tail.

Good luck with Catching and Keeping Yabbies and let me know what tips you have.

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