Crawfish producers told to check pond oxygen

Robert Romaire, Lutz, C. Greg  |  3/1/2008 3:36:52 AM

News Release Distributed 02/29/08

HAMBURG – Most crawfish producers don’t check oxygen levels of their water, but that step can help improve production, according to an LSU AgCenter aquaculture expert.

“If you’re in the crawfish business, you really ought to be checking it on a regular basis,” Dr. Robert Romaire told producers at a meeting here on Feb. 29. The meeting was one of several conducted by the LSU AgCenter throughout the crawfish-growing region.

Romaire said oxygen levels tend to increase during colder months, but the levels are low after a pond is flooded in the fall and when temperatures begin to increase in late spring.

Low oxygen can lead to stressed crawfish, exposing them to diseases and slow growth, he said. Kits to test water for oxygen cost less than $50.

Dr. Greg Lutz, LSU AgCenter aquaculture specialist, said water pumped from the ground should be oxygenated by allowing the water to spill over screens as it flows into a pond. Good oxygen levels will take care of the bad effects of high levels of iron and hydrogen sulfide, he said.

Romaire said crawfish producers often ask if they should feed crawfish with hay or other material. “By and large, it doesn’t pay. It’s usually a waste of time, money and effort,” he said.

He said the size and growth rate of crawfish are determined by the population density of crawfish. A large number of crawfish results in smaller crawfish that won’t grow quickly, he said, because they are competing for food.

He said it’s not recommended that small crawfish be returned to the water because they either won’t survive or won’t grow.

Romaire said producers are asking why this year has been difficult with late crawfish that are small.

He said many producers waited for rainfall to avoid the expense of pumping, and flooding didn’t occur until November, which delayed emergence of female crawfish with young.

Romaire said it usually takes 3-4 months for a pond to produce harvestable-sized crawfish.

If a pond is flooded in September, he said, a producer shouldn’t expect to have marketable crawfish until December.

He also advised running traps 3-4 days per week and every other day for large crawfish.

Crawfish producers said after the meeting that their catches have been improving.

“It’s looking good for us,” said Ed Laborde of Hessmer.

Allen Wyman of Simmesport said the 5-acre pond he manages has been producing close to 200 pounds a day.

“They’re a decent size,” he said.

Roland Dugas, who farms near Spring Bayou, said he will start harvesting after March 1. Until then, he said, it’s not profitable. He said his best months are May and June.

Robert Devillier of Plaucheville is in his first year of production.

“At first it was very slow,” he said. “Everybody is running behind.”

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Contacts: Robert Romaire at (225) 765-2848, or rromaire@agcenter.lsu.edu

Greg Lutz at (225) 765-2848, glutz@agcenter.lsu.edu

Writer: Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821, or bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

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