A lobster isn’t your standard pet in the tank. Most of us are used to fish in our aquariums. But if you want to take your pet game a notch higher, you could consider keeping a lobster as a pet. There’s a lot you will need to learn first.
Why choose a lobster for a pet?
If you have kept aquatic pets before, a lobster is quite a character you may want to try especially if you like unexpected traits. Their care may not be any more demanding than what you are already used to, so why not give it a try.
These crustaceans are said to live for up to 54 years, with some sources indicating that their lifespan in the wild can be as long as 100 years. This means that you are likely going to have your companion for quite some good long time.
Types and species
There are various species of lobsters you can choose from when buying one. Not every other type can make a good and easy-going pet, so be careful to get what you can actually handle and care for.
While the electric blue crayfish is the most commonly kept look-alike, there are 4 different species you can choose from.
1. Red Lobster
These ones are a bit small, growing only up to 5 inches long. They are predominant in North America where they are known to be extremely good survivors. With a pretty shallow pond that contains only a small amount of substrate to burrow in, you can keep red lobsters as pets.
- The tank set-up should provide adequate room because these little crustaceans are very territorial. According to Drs. Foster and Smith, try to aim for 40 gallons per red lobster to reduce fights and possible cannibalism.
- Provide enough rocks for the lobster to hide.
The care level of red lobster pets is easy because they can feed on almost anything at the bottom of the tank and survive on it.
2. Spiny Lobster
They have very long, thick, spiny antennae and lack of chelae (claws) on the first four pairs of walking legs. These features distinguish them from common lobsters.
These animals can make great aquatic displays if you observe the following care tips:
- Provide a dedicated tank.
- Use a thick acrylic tank to avoid the added expense of a water chiller.
The blue spiny lobster is also an interesting pick you could keep. However, the feeding habits may be too demanding since as they grow (usually up to 24 inches long), they tend to feed endlessly.
3. Feather Star Squat Lobster
If you are shopping around for a smaller lobster to flaunt in your marine aquarium, the feather star is something I would recommend. They don’t grow over 2 cm long.
4. Debelius Lobster
Debelius lobster is quite a colorful addition to the aquarium displays. It has a white to a lavender body, with orange and violet spots.
Build the tank with decent gravel bed to allow him to burrow in. They also like hiding in rocks, so provide plenty of those. Hideouts are also important after molting because they always feel a little unsafe and will need to hide away most of the time.
What to feed lobsters?
Most saltwater lobsters usually feed on crabs, small fish, and shrimp. However, if you are keeping a lobster pet, introduce food that sinks to the bottom of the tank where they like dwelling.
Get the lobster freeze-dried brine shrimp, bloodworms and tubifex worms. Sinking shrimp pellets are an excellent choice.
Some such as the cobalt blue lobster are scavengers and can feed on just about anything found at the bottom of the tank. Therefore, you can introduce into the tank any food remains, pellets, fish flakes, and live plants.
Tank setup and care tips
The general care guidelines may apply in most cases, but it is important to dig deep and learn the specifics of each of these types of pet lobsters.
Some species are seriously destructive and can easily destroy anything and everything in the tank, including feeding on other small animals and fish you may have kept as tankmates.
Setting up the tank will depend on the type of lobster you are keeping as your pet. If you choose the electric blue lobster, the aquarium will need to be fresh water. Most other lobsters are saltwater animals, so be careful not to get mixed up.
Create a lot of room in the tank since these little creatures are very territorial. They can easily turn cannibalistic if congested in the tank.
- Put plenty of rocks, plants and three-sided objects in the tank. Crayfish and lobsters like to hide away from the light, so this will help them a lot.
- A good amount of sand and gravel will also provide enough material for your pet lobster to burrow and hide under.
- Lobsters are escape artists, so, ensure that you seal off any areas of the fish tank where they can escape from. Live plants may not survive for so long in the tank because the pet will eat it up.
- Turn the lights off because the little creatures are nocturnal and will prefer to be active at night.
Tankmates can only include fast moving fish. Your lobster will attempt to take a swipe at any fish or bottom dwellers especially if they are slow-moving.
Never use any copper, brass, bronze, lead or zinc tubing for your lobster tank as the metals are poisonous to lobsters. Use stainless steel or PVC pipe instead.
If you would like to keep several lobster pets, you may need to create a lot of space for their tanks. However, one tip I would recommend is to use a mesh screen in the tank to separate the inhabitants and prevent fights.
The lifespan of a lobster as a pet is not yet known, but some sources indicate that for European lobsters, the male ones live for about 34 years while female ones live up to 54 years.
Other sources indicate that some species can live for as long as 100 years before they die.
There is no need for tankmates. Lobsters are loners and like to keep it that way.
You can introduce a female lobster into the male’s tank once she molts. It is the only time she is ready to mate and have her eggs fertilized. Once that is done, move her back to her tank to lay eggs and wait for her shell to harden again.
Do plenty of research before you opt to keep a lobster as a pet. Each species may require different care methods, so general stuff may not apply to each one of them.