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Americans love seafood, so it should come as no surprise that statistics show more than half of them eat seafood roughly twice a week. Lobsters in particular have always been a preferred delicacy due to their tasty meat on the inside, and the adventure of navigating through their hard and intimidating exoskeleton. However, for some people, the love of lobster is not solely about its taste, but more about the quirky charm they can add to a home aquarium. This leaves many asking the question: can you keep a lobster as a pet?
Yes, you can keep a lobster as a pet. Some of the most popular lobsters to keep as pets are the crinoid squat lobster, blue spiny lobster, and reef lobsters. As long as you provide the right living conditions, you can keep colorful lobsters in your reef aquarium healthy and lively. Lobsters are relatively easy to raise as long as you understand the living conditions of the specific species you intend to raise. This article features some of the best species of lobsters you can keep as a pet and offers an overview of the ideal living conditions for each one.
Getting to Know Lobsters
Once you decide to get a lobster as a pet, know that you must pay special attention to ensure its proper growth. In particular, you must provide additional supplements to replenish your lobster’s mineral needs that they naturally would receive from the wild. Depending on the species you choose to raise, you will need to provide these supplements:
- Calcium: Lobsters need this mineral for their exoskeleton. Corals in your tank will also benefit from a steady calcium supply
- Iodine: This nutrient is another essential component for healthy lobster shells. Algae that your lobsters feed on also need iodine to thrive
- Magnesium: Your aquarium needs proper magnesium levels to balance its calcium and alkalinity. Without this nutrient, the two nutrients become unusable
- Strontium: Lobsters use strontium for their tissues and organs. Hard corals that you keep in your reef tank also need this nutrient to absorb calcium properly
- Trace Elements: These extra nutrients occur naturally in seawater in minuscule amounts but are still necessary for healthy growth
Providing all these nutrients is essential for the overall goal of creating an ideal environment for your lobster. They need the right water conditions rich in minerals to survive in captivity. Depending on your aquarium setup and the number of organisms you keep, your nutrients could deplete at a rapid rate. Be sure to keep track of your supplements to maintain an ideal environment for your pet lobster.
What Kind of Lobster Can I Keep as a Pet?
Lobsters come in different species and have various requirements for raising them properly. You can keep them at home just as you would when keeping fish with the proper setup. Generally, you need to provide specific supplements to help them grow and maintain the following water conditions:
- Temperature: 72-78°F (22.22-25.56°C)
- pH: 8.1-8.4
- Alkalinity (dKH): 8-12
- Salinity (sg): 1.023-1.025
Here is a closer look at specific lobster species you can raise.
Crinoid Squat Lobster
Allogalathea elegans is a lobster species that you can keep in a marine aquarium. You might have heard about them being colorful kings of the ocean, which could explain why elegant is in their scientific name. These colors can be uniform or alternate across their tear-drop-shaped body.
Crinoid squat lobsters are small species and are relatively low maintenance. You might find them for sale in specialty aquarium trading stores between a half and one-and-a-half inches. They will eventually grow up to two inches in size. Despite its maximum size, ten gallons of water is the minimum tank size you will need if you intend to keep this lobster species as a pet.
Debelius’s Reef Lobster
Enoplometopus debelius is another lobster species that you can easily take care of in an indoor aquarium. Native to Hawaii and the Indo-Pacific West, they are small species that can grow up to five inches in size. These species usually come in orange, purple, lavender, and white colors, so you might find them in marine pet stores as purple or orange reef lobsters for sale.
Their colorful spots against a light body may make a lively addition to your reef aquarium. However, take note that this species has a semi-aggressive temperament. Its natural behavior may harm the other small fish and invertebrates you raise.
Hawaiian Red Reef Lobster
Enoplometopus occidentalisa is another type of reef lobster that you can raise in an aquarium. Under the right conditions, it can grow up to five inches. This species shares a lot of the requirements for the previous type of lobster we mentioned, including its diet and supplements for proper growth.
Perhaps your deciding factor when choosing between reef lobsters to keep as pets is your preferred color and aesthetic for your aquarium. As the name suggests, this species comes in red. Female Hawaiian red reef lobsters may appear larger than males because of their tails. Some stores may sell them as hairy reef lobsters because of their hairy appearance.
Blue Spiny Lobster
Panulirus versicolor is an Indonesian species of lobster with a striking blue color highlighting their legs and tails. You must keep these large species in a tank big enough to accommodate its maximum size when it matures. You could buy a blue spiny lobster from an aquarium trader, and it starts between one and five inches large. Under the right conditions, it may grow up to a foot and two inches in size.
Some pet shops might label this species as the painted spiny lobster or painted crayfish. Either way, you can tell these species apart from other lobsters you can keep as pets because they lack the large claws you would typically associate with such animals. They may even appear larger than you expect because of their long antennae. These lobsters use their antennae to detect and defend against predators in the wild.
Pros and Cons: Why Keep a Lobster as a Pet?
Lobsters have a unique charm about them that only some people can appreciate. Keeping them as pets is almost like raising fish. They can be relatively easy to take care of, especially since they are unlike traditional pets that you have to groom, bathe, and take out for walks. Simply keep them in a tank with the right conditions. With different lobsters coming in various colors, you can assure that your aquarium will be the highlight of your home.
However, be sure to exercise caution when keeping lobsters with fish. Many lobster species suitable for keeping as pets are omnivorous, meaning you risk losing smaller reef fish you are raising. At the same time, they may compete with your fish when eating algae since lobsters are scavengers that usually enjoy feeding on such food.
Can you keep a lobster as a pet? Absolutely. These sea creatures can be easy to raise in an aquarium with the right conditions. With the right kind of lobster, you can even keep other types of fish in your setup. Popular lobster species include the crinoid squat lobster, blue spiny lobster, and reef lobsters that come in different colors.
Just remember that lobsters require specific water conditions to thrive, which may differ from other fish you intend to keep. Be sure to confirm whether your fish and the lobsters you want to add to your aquatic collection are compatible with each other. Lastly, if by chance you ever decide to make a meal out of your spiny companion, make sure you conduct your research before eating a lobster.