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Crayfish, sometimes called crawfish, crawdads, mudbugs, or yabbies, are fresh-water crustaceans (decapoda) resembling small lobsters, to which they are closely related. They have five pairs of legs with the front pair having a set of claws. They are found in most bodies of fresh water that do not freeze to the bottom, and which have shelter against predators. Some crayfish have been found living as much as 3 m (10 feet) underground.

The term is also applied to certain marine species which are more closely allied to the lobsters than to true crayfishes.

In the United States, Cambarus is a common genus of crayfish east of the Rocky Mountains, while Astacus is more common to the west. Zarigani are crayfish indigenous to Japanese rivers and ponds and are grayish in color.

Australian crayfish are (mostly?) of the genus Cherax; and include the Marron (Cherax tenuimanus), Red Claw Crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus), Yabby (Cherax destructor) and Western Yabby (Cherax preissii)

Crayfish as a dish

Crayfish are eaten in Europe, but they are perhaps most popular in Louisiana, where the standard culinary term is crawfish. They are also served in various Cajun dishes in restaurants around the United States. They are usually prepared like lobster, except many more are put into each pot to boil. They may also be fried. There are also specific preparations for crawfish in Cajun and Creole food, the best-known of which are crawfish étouffée, crawfish pie, and crawfish beignets.

Crayfish is a popular dish in Sweden, which by tradition primarily is consumed during the fishing season in August. The catch of domestic fresh water crayfish, and even of an implanted American species is very limited and to satisfy demand the majority of what is consumed has to be imported. Sales depended on imports from Turkey for several decades, but after a decline in supply China and the United States are today the biggest sources of import. On the western coast of Sweden, many tend to prefer the larger salt water crayfish, which is caught in the North Sea.

See also: Swedish cuisine