Cherax peknyi, formerly known as Cherax sp. zebra or Cherax sp. tiger, is an incredibly striking and beautifully patterned crayfish species found in Papua and Papua New Guinea. With a body length of around 10-12 cm, it falls into the medium-sized category and is often referred to as the zebra crayfish or tiger crayfish. Despite its captivating appearance, Cherax peknyi is a relatively peaceful creature with fascinating social behavior.
This crayfish species tends to lead a somewhat secluded lifestyle and is primarily active during crepuscular periods. However, if undisturbed, it can be observed more frequently, especially during feeding times and even throughout the day. Cherax peknyi exhibits a mesmerizing coloration, featuring light to bluish claws, orange joints, a blue-grey to brown-orange carapace, and a dark abdomen adorned with light bands. Interestingly, slight variations in the width of these bands previously led to the belief that they represented two distinct species, namely tiger crabs and zebra crabs. However, it has since been established that these variations originate from different locations but belong to the same species, Cherax peknyi.
Distinguishing between male and female Cherax peknyi can be challenging, as the males possess slightly bulkier claws compared to the females. However, their sexual openings, known as gonopores, provide a reliable means of identification. In males, these gonopores are located between the attachments of the third pair of legs, while in female tiger crabs, they are situated further back at the attachment of the fifth pair of legs.
Cherax peknyi can be housed alongside peaceful ornamental fish and dwarf shrimp without any issues. However, it should not be kept with crabs, larger-armed shrimps, or fan shrimps. As part of its natural diet, Cherax peknyi enjoys consuming snails and possesses the ability to crack their shells. If you also maintain crayfish from the American continent, it is crucial to ensure that neither they nor the water from their aquarium come into contact with Cherax peknyi. This precaution is necessary to prevent the transmission of crayfish plague, an algal fungus that can prove fatal to Cherax peknyi.
Overall, Cherax peknyi stands out as a visually captivating crayfish species, showcasing remarkable social behavior and compatibility with certain tankmates. Proper care and attention to their specific requirements will help create a thriving and harmonious environment for these fascinating creatures.