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Culture environment for redclaw

The natural habitat of the redclaw, the turbid billabong that is flushed during the wet season, does not provide the best environment for farming. Commercial production only occurs in purpose-built facilities rather than farm dams.

Although redclaw are able to tolerate environmental extremes, commercial growth rates can only be sustained where water quality is high.

Water temperature

One of the most important site selection parameters is temperature, and the site should maximise the period where temperatures are above 23°C.

In Queensland, redclaw grow well over a broad temperature range. Optimal growth occurs between 26oC and 29oC. Lethal limits are around 9-10oC and 34-35oC.

Water quality

Salinity levels in ponds should not regularly exceed 2 parts per thousand or growth and behaviour may be affected.

The ideal pH range for redclaw is 7-8.5. Levels below 7 may cause moulting and shell hardening problems. Low calcium levels - hardness less than 50 parts per million (ppm) - will have the same effect.

Redclaw will tolerate very low oxygen levels, which can result in poorly managed aquaculture ponds. If dissolved oxygen in the pond water drops below 1ppm, redclaw will move to the edge of the pond where oxygen levels are generally higher. In extreme cases of low oxygen, redclaw will migrate from the pond over land.

While redclaw will survive under conditions that would normally kill other species, it is desirable to have a dissolved oxygen level above 5ppm. For maximum growth and good economic returns, it is important that ponds are managed in accordance with best-practice protocols, including good water quality management.

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