Common Name: SLACKWATER CRAYFISH
Scientific Name: Cambarus (Hiaticambarus) halli Hobbs
Rarity Ranks: G3G4/S2
State Legal Status: None
Federal Legal Status: None
Description: The overall color of the Slackwater Crayfish is grayish blue. The pigment is lighter on the carapace than the abdomen and may include pinkish hues. The edges of the rostrum are orange and the antennae may be pinkish to orangish in color. There is an orangish band at the posterior edge of each abdominal segment and an orangish tubercles on the claw where the movable finger connects. The areola is fairly wide and the rostrum is nearly parallel sided and usually exhibits marginal spines or tubercles. A single cervical spine is usually present. This species reaches a maximum total body length of about 75 mm (3 in).
Similar Species: The Slackwater Crayfish occurs with its close relative, the Tallapoosa Crayfish, Cambarus englishi. In life the two can be separated by the color of the antennae; whitish in the Tallapoosa Crayfish and pinkish or orangish in the Slackwater Crayfish. Additionally, the rostrum of Tallapoosa Crayfish appears to be more tapered and pinched in the middle, whereas the rostrum of the Slackwater Crayfish is more parallel-sided. The Variable Crayfish, Cambarus latimanus can also be found with the Tallapoosa Crayfish, but it is a drab species with an areola that is narrower and hence more hourglass shaped than that of the Tallapoosa Crayfish.
Habitat: The Slackwater Crayfish is a stream dweller and can occur in most available habitats. It is more commonly found in quieter waters in root mats or associated with undercut banks (Hobbs 1981).
Diet: No studies of the Slackwater Crayfish are known. Crayfishes are considered opportunistic omnivores and likely feed on live and decaying vegetation, aquatic insect larvae, small fishes, and dead animal matter.
Life History: Male Slackwater Crayfish in reproductive condition have been collected in Georgia in April, September, and October, and in Alabama in November. Seven females carrying eggs were found in April and number of eggs ranged from 94-182. The smallest male from Georgia is about 60 mm (2.4 in) and the smallest female with eggs is about 43 mm (1.7 in) in length (Hobbs 1981).
Survey Recommendations: Flipping larger rocks or woody debris in just about any habitat in a stream could turn up this species. The animal can be pinned by hand or gently driven into a dipnet. Dipnetting through leaf packs and undercut banks could yield some specimens as well.
Range: The Slackwater Crayfish is known only from the Tallapoosa River system in Georgia and Alabama (Hobbs 1981).
Threats: This species is apparently secure across its range, although it appears to be somewhat rare in Georgia. Water quality in the Little Tallapoosa River system appears degraded and may limit its distribution in that system.
Conservation and Management Recommendations: Conserving populations of the Slackwater Crayfish will require general watershed level protection measures, including the protection of riparian zones, control of sediment and nutrient runoff from farms and construction sites, and limiting the amount of impervious cover (e.g., pavement) within occupied watersheds. Non-native crayfishes should never be used for bait; instead, anglers should use crayfishes collected from the river system where they will be fishing. Unused bait of any kind should not be released back into Georgia waters.
Hobbs, H. H., Jr. 1981. The crayfishes of Georgia. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 318:1-549.
Taylor, C. A., G. A. Schuster, J. E. Cooper, R. J. DiStefano, A. G. Eversole, P. Hamr, H. H. Hobbs III, H. W. Robison, C. E. Skelton, and R. F. Thoma. 2007. A reassessment of the conservation status of crayfishes of the United States and Canada after 10+ years of increased awareness. Fisheries 32(8):372-389.
Date Compiled or Updated: August 2012