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Difference Between Lobster and Crayfish

lobster-pdLobster vs. Crayfish

If you are fond of sea foods, you may have noticed the common question of how one can tell the difference between a lobster and a crayfish. These crustaceans may have been served on your plate without you knowing what you’re going to eat. Hence, it is best to tell the difference between both before savoring their chewy and soft meat.

To avoid more confusion, the lobster and the crayfish are very close relatives. The lobster that people usually talk about pertains to the specific lobster type called clawed lobsters. These species are not that related to the other lobsters, like the spiny lobsters, because the latter types don’t have any claws (claw-less lobsters). As mentioned, the clawed lobsters are, in fact, more related to the other three families of crayfishes when compared to the other lobster types. They are so related that they almost even look the same.

They have a similar number of appendages (limbs) used for swimming, they both have antennas, and possess a relatively long tail. They both strike with two powerful claws and live with an outer protection or shell. Both species also have compound eyes. Obviously, these sumptuous creatures do not possess a neck. Hence, their heads and bodies seem to be fused. This is why the term cephalothorax (head and body)is relevant. Their abdomens are also composed of several segmented stacks, to which the said appendages are attached.

However, in terms of habitat, you can almost always tell the difference between the two. Together with the shrimp family, lobsters dwell in almost all types of seas or oceans. Conversely, crayfishes are the crustaceans that live in freshwater environments, like creeks, rivers and even lakes. Specific locations where they dominate are the Northern Americas, some Asian spots, and European and Australian regions.

Secondly, the crayfish, otherwise known as the crawfish, is said to be shorter than the average clawed lobsters. Adult sized crayfishes can reach lengths of 10 to 15 cm. On the contrary, lobsters can stretch longer, up to 5 to 10 cm more, or 20 cm at an average. If they are not harvested, sometimes lobsters even grow a lot longer. Moreover, to some people’s surprise, lobsters are also sometimes known by their alternate name – crawfish.

Overall, although lobsters and crayfish are typically the same crustaceans in terms of body structure, they still manage to be different in two major aspects:

1. Lobsters live in saltwater habitats, whereas crayfish live in freshwater environments.

2. Lobsters are generally the longer crustacean version when compared to crayfish.

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  1. then what about what we get in new zealand? we dont call them lobster there crayfish………. or did you like many other people in the world not know we exist and have and eat crayfish

  2. New Zealand? Where’s that? I thought the US was the only country that had seafood 🙂

  3. Crayfish live is the ocean (SALT WATER) just FYI.

    • in*
      i think you’re thinking of yabbies? or maybe crayfish are different in Australia?

      • Yabbies you reckon? YABBIES are freshwater crustaceans found in lakes, rivers, farmer’s dams etc – which aussies and kiwis definitely do NOT confuse with CRAYFISH, which are fished from THE OCEAN ( that would be Indian Ocean / Southen Ocean (Antarctic) / Pacific Ocean.
        If you don’t live in the Southern Hemisphere, may be you shouldn’t comment on things you THINK you know.

  4. I’m a cray fisherman from bluff new zealand,10-15 cm wtf? Maybe if u want to go to jail for under sized fish. Who ever wrote this article is a fool. The southern pacific is not fresh water. What a moron!

    • Hahaha I know exactly what you mean! I am a Kiwi living in China and the seafood that they serve here would get us arrested back home!!! The shellfish are teensy tiny and the crab are so small I don’t know how they get any meat out of them!

    • Sorry you are wrong. Aussies and kiwis might call them crayfish but they are rock lobsters.

    • I think there’s a breakdown in communication here as well as definition by region. Kiwi’s call some species of saltwater lobsters “crayfish”. In the states that term refers to a small freshwater crustacean. The critters are all related. Atlantic lobster have claws, pacific spiny lobsters (coastal US) don’t. Crayfish (crawfish or crawdads here in states) also have claws so actually closer to real, clawed lobsters even though in freshwater. There are other examples of same critters having different names in different regions of world as well as just slang terms (football vs ‘foot’ball, bum vs bum, etc)….

  5. U gays suc ral bad. I am smrt and I no that all crayfish are gay. I am a smart scientist and I like to have se with them. Wahmen crayfish dont exist. So shut up you .

  6. Yes, crayfish in Australia certainly live in the sea.

  7. Always thought lobsters with claws came from the northern hemisphere and crayfish without claws are from the Southern Hemisphere so now I am confused.

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