How to catch, feed and breed yabbies
How to Catch, Feed and Breed Yabbies

We have been keeping Yabbies in a fish tank at home for a while now but a recent addition of another wild yabbie to the tank has revealed some parasites or lice on its body. Now, there are a few different types of parasites that can live on the shell of a yabbie and for the most part, they don’t seem to hurt an adult yabbie. They look like something is growing on the shell of the yabbie.

The removal process is very easy and will only require a bucket of salt water. Now you can either use sea water but most people make up a batch of salt water with 10 grams of rock salt per 1 liter of fresh water.

How to make up a saltwater parasite removal solution

Giving yabbie parasites a saltwater bath
Yabbie being placed into a saltwater bath solution to remove parasites

I used 30g of table salt for 3L of fresh tap water in this container. Mix in the salt well and wait for the salt to dissolve completely. The water will go a milky color. You will now be ready to place in your yabbie carefully.

Once the yabbie was in the salt solution the parasites fell off within 4 minutes. It’s totally fine to keep your yabbie in the solution for up to 5 minutes. Yabbies are very hardy and will tolerate this process.

Different types of Yabbie Parasites

Now there are a few different types of parasites that can live on the outer shell of a yabbie which could include:

  • Temnocephalid flatworms.
  • Flukes
  • Epistylis
  • Lice
  • Hydra Parasite

Temnocephalid flatworms are the most common hosts that can hitch a ride on your yabbie. There are a few different types and go under the common name of Temnocephalans, or Temno for short. They are considered the friendly flatworm.

Now, for the most part, they won’t cause too much of a problem but they don’t look nice. If you are into breading yabbies your survival rate for the smaller yabbies may reduce. You also won’t receive top dollar if you are selling them to a pet shop. They are not a Yabbie disease but a host that lives on its shell. Removing them is easy.

Parasite treatment – Salt Bath

Once you have put your yabbie into the salt bath solution, monitor them closely for the full 3-5 minutes. Don’t keep your yabbies in this solution any longer, even if some of the parasites are still hanging on. It is better to do another saltwater bath in a few days.

Yabbie in a 10 gram per liter of water salt water solution bath
Yabbie getting a 5-minute salt water wash

I actually always do another saltwater bath around 1 week of the first wash. This way if there are any parasites still living in the tank they will attach themselves to the yabbie and we should be able to kill them all.

With the yabbie out of the fish tank or pond, now is a great time for a complete clean of the tank. Don’t use any chemicals but use a clean fresh sponge to wipe down the 4 glass walls. A gravity suction hose works great to clean up any dirt in the sand bottom. For those with really big fish tanks, you could use a long handle rotary scrubber.

Once they all fall off, take the yabbie out of the salt solution and rinse it off with fresh water. Reintroduce it to the fish tank and enjoy your new clean yabbie. 

Parasite free yabbie after a 5 minuter salt water wash
Yabbie alive and well after a salt bath and fresh water rinse.

Best way to remove your yabbie from the tank

A fish catching net is the best way to catch these beasts. If you don’t have a net then drain some water and use a glove to pick them out of the fish tank. Yabbies can bite hard so be careful.

Also be mindful if your yabbie has just shed its shell to not touch them for a few days as their new outer shell will still be soft and you could damage the yabbie.

Yabbies can live out of water for a while so you can remove them to clean out their tank, but be mindful to keep them moist. If a yabbie dries out it may be injured and possibly die. Check out this post if you would like more information on how to catch and keep yabbies in an aquarium.

Conclusion

Any wild yabbie that I now add to our indoor and outdoor ponds now get a salt water bath before adding them to the population. It’s totally safe for the yabbie as long as you don’t keep them in the salt solution for longer than 5 minutes. So don’t place them in the solution and walk away.

Yabbies make great pets and look great in a fish tank. Just don’t add in any fish because they will slowly get eaten. If you want your yabbie to look blue then add in blue objects into your tank or even a blue background.

Yabbies make great pets for kids and look fantastic in a large fish tank with plenty of hiding places like logs, plants, and rocks. They live long and are very hardy. Clean the tank every month and change 1/4 of the water so they will have a clean environment. If they do shed their shell keep it in the tank as they will eat it for calcium over the next few days.

Let me know in the comments below your favorite food for your yabbie. For me its grated carrot and peas.

 

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