Fish Cousin of the Week: Lobsters

Lobsters are what we’re learning about today! Sorry there are no pictures at this time; the website is not cooperating. Be sure to look up all the crazy colored lobsters after reading. Enjoy!

Although not common in aquariums other than the ones at the grocery store, lobsters are starting to become more involved in the aquatic pet trade. Lobsters are not found at any aquatic supply stores unless they specialized in crustaceans. Lobsters are cousins of the crabs and shrimps. They belong to the invertebrate family and are classified as crustaceans by having a hard exoskeleton with jointed appendages in sets of 2.

When you think of a lobster, there are usually two types that come to mind. Spiny lobsters (family Palinuridae) are more common in warm water, whereas the lobster on a plate, or American lobster (Homarus americanus) are found along the northeastern coast of the US. Spiny lobsters lack the big pinching claws that are seen on American lobsters. Depending on what aquarium you are at, you may be able to compare the spiny and American lobsters for yourself, although they will not be in the same tank. Their habitats do not overlap.

Those lobsters kept in aquariums are usually special due to their shell coloration. American lobsters exhibit a few key genetic mutations in their exoskeleton that can develop into many fantastic combinations. Most American lobsters are dark brown-green, and only turn bright red after being cooked. However, they can also be blue, yellow and orange. This condition is VERY rare, with chances being 1 in a few million. Albino lobsters have also been reported (lack all color pigments) and are even rarer. Some lobsters’ colors can be split right down the middle with one color on the left and another on the right!

Most lobsters are wild caught for their value as a food source, and an interested fisherman may contact a local aquarium to see if they are interested in a rarely colored specimen. If you would like to add a lobster to your tank (saltwater, of course) make sure to quarantine it for at least a month before adding it to your tank. Any other crustaceans in the tank with be the most susceptible to any incoming diseases. Most lobsters like to eat bites of raw shrimp. You can feed them by skewering a piece of fish on a long feeding stick and putting it right in front of the lobster.

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