Is Crawfish Considered Seafood? What Is It?

is crawfish seafood

Since water is their natural habitat, crawfish are often considered seafood. However, crawfish are often found in freshwater and not in the seas or oceans. Therefore, there’s a common confusion regarding the classification of crawfish. So, is crawfish considered seafood, and what is it exactly?

Crawfish are considered seafood because they are aquatic animals. They belong to the crustaceans family and are very similar to lobsters. Although they predominantly live in freshwaters, such as rivers and ponds, there are crawfish types that live in saltwater too. 

Because they live in freshwaters, it is debatable whether or on crawfish is seafood. By definition, seafood is all aquatic animals people eat. Therefore all fish, shellfish, crustaceans, mollusks, and echinoderms fall under the seafood category. 

In the following text, I will talk about crawfish habitat, what kind of animal they are, when they are most available, which are the edible crawfish parts, and are they healthy to eat. 

Is Crawfish a Seafood? 

Crawfish is seafood. The common confusion comes from the notion that seafood must come from the sea, and crawfish are native to freshwaters. 

However, there are types of crawfish that live in saltwater, but this is not why crawfish are considered seafood. By definition, all animals that live in water that people eat are seafood. This definition covers crustaceans (shrimp, lobster, and crab) which is where crawfish belong. 

Crawfish are very similar to lobster, only smaller in size. What is more, crawfish are even smaller than langostino lobster. In addition to their similar appearances, crawfish and lobster also have anatomical similarities. They both have claws and antennae. 

Therefore, the most significant differences between lobster and crawfish are their sizes (lobsters are bigger) and habitat (lobsters live in saltwater, and crawfish in sweat water). 

is crawfish seafood

However, since they are both crustaceans, it is logical that both of them would be seafood, despite the fact that crawfish live in sweat waters. 

Crawfish have segmented bodies, a hard exoskeleton, and feather-like gills throw which they breathe. They have a blue, green, red, yellow, or brown color, and they have two front claws, very similar to the lobster.  

Just like the lobsters, crawfish live at the bottom of the waterbed, as it is easier for them to hide from predators. They mostly live in the shallow end, surrounded by plants and mud.

Crawfish feed on worms, plankton, fish, shrimp, water plants, insects, and also fresh corpses. 

Freshwater crawfish cannot survive in saltwater. In fact, because of the high salt amount, they would die a painful death if they were to live in the sea or the ocean.

Is Crawfish a Freshwater or Saltwater? 

Although there are a few crawfish species that live in saltwater, crawfish are generally regarded as freshwater animals. 

They live in rivers, streams, lakes, canals, and ponds. Most freshwater crawfish species cannot survive in polluted waters, but there are some that are more resilient and they can live under harsher conditions. 

Crawfish live on the bottom of the waterbed. Since crawfish are easy prey, being on the bottom makes it easier for them to hide from potential predators. Also, much of their food is on the bottom, in the shallow end where there are worms and insects. 

Most often, crayfish live under rocks or in holes under the ground near the freshwater basin.

is crawfish seafood

Where Do Crawfish Live? 

There are around 500 species of crawfish, and half of them live in North America. There are about 100 species of crawfish living in Australia. New Zealand also has species of crawfish. 

In addition to their natural habitats, crawfish are intentionally farmed in other parts of the world. 

In North America, crawfish are also called crawdads, freshwater lobsters, and mudbugs. 

Do Crawfish Come from the Ground? 

Because they are easy prey and, therefore, a target to many aquatic predators, crawfish dig themselves into holes to stay safe and away from predators. However, this doesn’t mean that they come from the ground per se. 

Crawfish live in moist areas, and you don’t have to dig in the lake or river to find them, as the holes are interconnected, and the water that fills them comes from the primary freshwater source. 

Therefore if you find crawfish digging into the ground, it isn’t the ground they came from but the freshwater source under it. 

Crawfish usually dig holes with the same size they are so as to fit them without having more space. The reason for this is that crawfish need to be wet at all times to survive, and making bigger holes carries the risk that the water may spill out of the hole or be absorbed by the surrounding soil. 

To camouflage their holes, crawfish pile up mud over them, and the whole thing looks like a chimney. 

Is Crawfish a Fish or Meat? 

Crawfish is considered a type of fish. To the surprise of many who expect it to taste like fish, or maybe lobster, because of their similar appearances, crawfish taste is nothing of that sort. 

Crawfish are indescribably delicious, without even a trace of that recognizable and strong fishy aroma and taste you would expect. Their taste is refined, with a firm texture, as opposed to fish, which is soft and strong-tasting. 

The taste of crawfish is a combination of crab and shrimp and is truly delicious. 

Is Crawfish a Type of Shellfish? 

As a crustacean, crawfish fits into the shellfish category. The term shellfish is the umbrella term for all exoskeletal aquatic invertebrate animals that people eat. This definition includes crawfish because of their hard amour around their bodies. 

Are Crawfish Healthy to Eat? 

Since seafood is known for its health benefits, it is only logical to assume that crawfish would also bring health benefits. That assumption is correct; crawfish are good for you to some extent

The health benefits of crawfish stem from their low fat and high protein composition. Also, they contain omega-3 fatty acids and are rich in vitamins and minerals. The bad news is, that when you cook them, they lose much of their nutritional quality. 

Moreover, if the recipe involves deep-frying, or boiling and baking afterward (double-cooked), the crawfish lose almost all nutritiously valuable features.

Still, incorporating crawfish into your diet would be a healthy choice, as they retain some of the nutritious elements after being cooked. 

To make the most out of your crawfish, you need to find the right recipe which would allow the crawfish to retain as much of its nutritious quality as possible. 

Is Crawfish Good? 

Crawfish is excellent. Not only that they are nutritiously rich, but they also have incredible taste. Sweet and not fishy at all, they are the perfect combination of shrimp and crab. There are many recipes for cooking crawfish, varying from rustic (crawfish pie) to more refined (crawfish etouffee). 

Where Is the Best Place to Catch Crawfish? 

The crawfish are most likely to be found in the shallow part of their habitat- river, pond, lake, or canal. Wherever you see a chimney-like mud formation, there is most probably crawfish there. 

Also, since they feed on water plants, wherever there are crawfish, there is likely to be vegetation around.

You can also lure them with bait such as shiners, herring, or sunfish. 

Where Are Most Crawfish Found?

 Species of crawfish are dispersed in different parts of the world. However, the continental part of the USA is the most abundant when it comes to crawfish. 

Out of 500 species of crawfish, about a half are in the United States. Louisiana has been known for crawfish, and many of the crawfish recipes come from there.

Australia and New Zealand are home to about 100 species of crawfish. 

When Is Crawfish Season? 

The crawfish season can last from November to July if the winter is relatively warm and wet. You will find the best crawfish in the rainy seasons, from early spring to early summer, from the end of February until the end of May. 

In the stores, crawfish are available all year round, but their quality and prices can vary. The store-bought crawfish during crawfish season is of better quality; they are cheaper because they are more available. If you buy crawfish outside the crawfish season, it will likely be more expensive and of lower quality. 

Which Crawfish Parts Are Edible? 

Although the edible part of the crawfish is known as the crawfish tail, you can eat the entire crawfish, including the shell. Everything the crawfish contains is digestible; however, that doesn’t mean that we should eat it. 

The shell, for example, even though we can digest it, wouldn’t contribute much to the taste, and it is certainly not pleasant for the teeth. 

Even though the head isn’t advertised as an edible part, it has been known to contain the most flavor. Also, some describe the claws as a delicacy as well. 

The middle of the body is also edible and quite tasty. The tail, however, is the most famous edible crawfish part as it contains the most meat. 

  • Laura is the owner of Julie's Cafe Bakery. She started this blog with her grandma Julie who introduced her to the amazing world of cooking. She likes to experiment with different flavors, and her favorite flavors combo is chicken with coconut milk, curry and peanuts!