Lobsters are everywhere these days. SpongeBob is friends with one. Jordan Peterson cites the crustacean to justify his theories on human hierarchies. There is even a popular restaurant chain with the word “lobster” right in its name. But lobsters as pets: is there really such a thing?
Lobsters can be kept as pets. However, not all lobsters do well outside their natural habitat. Therefore, you need to choose from certain breeds, and each variety has its particular care requirements. Special attention is required regarding the type and size of the aquarium for your lobster pet too.
Lobsters can make quirky and unique pets. Which doesn’t mean you rush off to the seaside and catch the first one that waves its claws at you. Instead, keeping a lobster as a pet requires research, from the breed of lobster you adopt to the size of the aquarium you use as a home for your new buddy.
Reasons to Keep Lobsters as Pets
It might seem weird to some people to have a lobster as a pet. But the crustacean has its positive points. Here are some great reasons why lobsters can make great pets…
- You don’t have to take a lobster for walks (but you do you).
- They don’t have dander, the source of most fur allergies.
- It won’t pee on your quilt or chew your slippers (although it might pinch your fingers).
- Lobsters make great conversation starters.
- They have long lifespans: from 34 years to some reports of reaching 100.
- They are happy to live alone in their tank.
- They don’t create massive vet bills (or any vet bills).
- They are fun to watch, making them a unique alternative to your TV.
- There is no litter box to clean (there is, however, a tank).
As I mentioned earlier, not all lobsters are suited to living at home with you. Let’s take a look at which particular species may do well as pets…
Lobster Species That Do Well as Pets
If you want to join the pet lobster party, don’t rush off to your nearest fish market or beach to find your new crustacean friend!
The world contains many lobster species. (Check out my article “15 Different Types of Lobster” for more info). However, there are not a lot of lobster species that will make good pets.
You want to pick a pet-friendly breed because while it is customary to keep lobsters in a tank as you wait to cook them, most lobsters will not survive long term out of their natural habitat.
Here are some recommended choices that would make good pets:
- Blue Spiny Lobster
- Debelius Lobster
- Electric Blue Crayfish
- Feather Star Squat Lobster
- Red Lobster
- Spiny Lobsters
It’s important to choose the right types of lobster to avoid having a sick or depressed lobster. You want your lobster to be happy! Speaking of which, let’s talk about how to take care of a lobster if you were to have one as a pet. And then we will go into more detail about which of the above species of lobster might suit you best.
How to Take Care of a Pet Lobster
Having a pet lobster is not the same as owning a tiny goldfish. Lobsters require incredibly roomy tanks. If you are thinking of keeping two (research the species first), you will be looking at an even larger tank. Crowding doesn’t just make lobsters cranky and destructive; it can also turn them cannibalistic!
Here are some general guidelines for taking care of a lobster as a pet:
- Lobsters enjoy spacious tanks, the size will be determined by the particular species.
- They enjoy some ambiance to their tanks, such as rocks, gravel, sand, plants, and places to hide.
- They need some time in the dark as they are nocturnal.
- Feeding your pet lobster will generally require a combination of pellets and seafood, but each breed has its own dietary needs.
- Your tank must be free of any tubing made from brass, bronze, copper, and zinc. These metals will poison your new pet. Instead, get tubing or pipes made of stainless steel or PVC.
- They’re more intelligent than often assumed and will break out of unsecured tanks. You will need to seal off escape routes, or you might discover your new pet hiding in your slippers!
Now that you’ve got a general overview of what taking care of a lobster might entail, let’s consider which species may be best for you…
Overview of Pet Lobster Species
The popular pet lobster varieties differ in size, diet, and temperament. Each also comes with its own tank requirements. So, let’s take a closer look at the lobster species recommended for pets.
Blue Spiny Lobster
The Blue Spiny Lobster is not the easiest choice to make space for in your home, as they tend to grow up to 14inches (35.5cm); some said to reach even 24 inches (60.9 cm). But this lobster variety is pretty and has its dedicated fans.
The Blue Spiny Lobster lacks large claws, making it less destructive and more peaceful than some other pet-friendly species, so long as it has plenty of room.
It is compatible with other lobsters, fish, and reefs, but with caution. Quirks to this lobster variety include the ability to create a locust-esque sound, and some enjoy dancing, which involves “whipping” its white antennae.
The Blue Spiny Lobster is considered easy to care for. It enjoys a “meaty” diet that must be supplemented with calcium, iodine, magnesium, and trace elements. However, it will require at least a 75-gallon tank and far larger if there is a second.
The water’s temperature should be kept between 72-78F (22.2-25.5C) and have low levels of nitrate and copper. It will need “live rock” (rocks from the sea) in its tank, with plenty of caves and places to hide.
The colorful Debelius Lobster goes by a few names and varieties, such as:
- Debelius Reef Lobster
- Daum’s Purple Reef Lobster
- Debelius Purple Reef Lobster
This saltwater lobster’s colors range from white to primarily orange with spots and light lavender with darker purple claws and spots.
These lobsters are considered easy to care for with a peaceful to semi-aggressive temperament. They grow to about 5 inches (12.7 cm). They are night scavengers with an omnivore diet. However, they do require supplements of iodine-rich food so they can molt adequately.
Debellius Lobsters like to hide, burrowing in thick gravel beds, tucking under a rock, or slipping into a cave. They can live with some types of fish and, with caution, homed with coral. But they are territorial and should not be kept with another lobster unless a mated pair.
Debellius Lobsters need at least a 30-gallon tank. The water’s temperature should be kept between 72-78F (22.2-25.5C). Take care with any copper-based medications as the species is highly sensitive to high levels of copper in the water.
Electric Blue Crayfish
The Electric Blue Crayfish (aka Blue Crayfish and Electric Blue Freshwater Lobster) is a freshwater friend beloved for its intense color. It is well known in Florida, as the critter hails from the Southeastern parts of the United States.
Compared to other crayfish, the Electric Blue is considered active and spends plenty of time exploring (aka scavenging for food). They’re not the most welcoming to other tank-mates, but they can live with fast-moving fish. They’re not too big, ranging from 4-6 inches (10-15 cm). Unlike other pet-lobster varieties, these crayfish have a much shorter lifespan of only 5-6 years.
Electric Blue Crayfish enjoy their water at a temperature between 65-70F (19-24C). The smallest tank advised is 20-gallons, although the more room the better.
Feather Star Squat Lobster
The Feather Star Squat Lobster and the Crinoid Squat Lobster make tiny pets. The former are smaller than an inch (2 cm), and the latter reaches a maximum of 2 inches (5 cm) and are the easier of the two to keep in an aquarium.
These tiny friends can be kept in a tank as small as 10-gallons and are reef compatible. They enjoy their water to be maintained between 72-78F (22.2-25.5C).
Red Lobsters are another freshwater choice. They only grow to about 5 inches (12.7cm) and can be kept in either an aquarium or a pond. Some people use Red Lobsters as a natural way to keep their koi pond clean. However, they are not recommended to be homed with slow-moving fish that are their size or smaller.
Red Lobsters need around 40-gallons of water per lobster in their dwelling. However, if you are putting your Red Lobster in a tank, it is advised it be no smaller than 50-gallons. These hardy lobsters can handle a wide range of water temperatures: 33-85F (0.5-29.4C).
There are over 20 varieties of Spiny Lobsters. As seen in the Blue Spiny Lobster, the common feature is the lack of large claws and, as the name suggests, have long spiny antennae. The lack of claw is said to make them a “peaceful” choice. They range in size, some varieties as small as 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) to the hefty 24 inches (60.9 cm).
The tank size required will depend on which sort of Spiny Lobster you adopt. Some varieties will need a water chiller for their tank. However, some people get around this by buying a thick acrylic tank like this one from Chewy.com.
Summary of Lobster Pet Care Needs
Here’s a table summarizing all of the different needs for the above mentioned lobsters so you can make an informed decision about which types of lobster might make the best pet for you…
|Size of Lobster||14 Inches (35.5cm)||5 inches|
|Tank Size||75 gallon||30 gallon||20 gallon||20 gallon||40 gallon||Depends on size of lobster|
|Diet||Meaty diet with|
|Omnivore diet with added supplements||Omnivore diet with added supplements||Meaty diet with added supplements||Omnivore diet with added supplements||Omnivore diet with added supplements|
|Appearance||Blue & white||-White to orange & spotty|
-Light lavender with dark claws & purple spots
|Intense electric blue||-Dark red|
|Red||Yellow to orange with purple|
|Temperament||Peaceful||Peaceful to semi-aggressive||Active||Active||Active||Peaceful|
-Ability to create sound
-Can live with lobsters, fish and reef
-Like to hide
-Can live with some types of fish
-Can’t live with other lobsters (unless mated pair)
-Like to hide
|-Shorter lifespan of 5-6 years|
-Likes to scavenge for food
-Can live with fast moving fish
-Like to hide
|-Can also be kept in a pond|
-Can live with fish bigger than them that are fast moving
|-Wide variety of sizes|
How Much Does a Lobster Aquarium Cost?
Aquariums can be a beautiful and soothing addition to your home and are essential to keeping your pet lobster alive and healthy. The cost of setting up a tank for your new lobster pal will depend on a few things, the biggest being the size.
For example, the 20-gallon Marina LED Aquarium kit off Amazon is not overly expensive. However, if you have a larger lobster or two, you are going to need something over 50-gallons. And and it goes without saying, the bigger the tank, the bigger the cost.
The 66-gallon Starfire PNP system starts at $1,499.99. But this includes the tank only. Add an overflow cover, and that’s another 30 dollars. The EcoTech Marine Vectra M1 Centrifugal Pump will run just under 350 dollars. Then there is shipping and other potential upgrades.
All without having bought food for your lobster or a water testing kit, which typically runs between 15-30 dollars. So although the cost will vary depending on the size of tank you need, there’ll generally be a large upfront cost when introducing a new lobster to your home.
Reducing Lobster Aquarium Costs
If you are feeling dizzy at the price of setting up a home for your pet lobster, there are ways to reduce costs. For starters, you could buy one second-hand. You could also make a tank if you are good with DIY.
How to Look After Your Lobster’s Aquarium
Your pet lobster’s home will require some looking after, regardless if you have a variety that lives in freshwater or the more common (for a lobster) saltwater aquarium. Regularly maintaining the aquarium isn’t just so it looks pretty for your home but also essential to keeping your pet lobster and the other inhabitants alive and healthy.
Tips for Maintaining a Freshwater Aquarium
Most pet lobsters will require a saltwater aquarium, but there are some that like a freshwater tank, such as the Electric Blue Crayfish. A general checklist to consider for your freshwater tank is as follows.
- Check temperature
- Check all aquarium equipment is operating correctly.
- Make sure your lobster and any tank-mates look healthy.
- Check if there is uneaten food. You may need to remove it, depending on your lobster’s needs.
- Feed your pets.
- Check the tank’s water level and top it off with water that’s appropriate for your tank and its inhabitants. This will typically be specially treated water or aged water.
Weekly or Bi-Weekly Maintenance:
- Give a general wipe down to the outer surfaces of your tank.
- Jiggle off any debris from plants, regardless if they are real or artificial.
- The glass must be given a scrape.
- Use a siphon to rid debris from the tank’s water and floor.
- Check conditions and journal to see if a partial water change is due.
- Give the water a test for pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and any substances your lobster and co are highly sensitive to.
- If needed, give the live plants a trim.
- See if your filter(s) require any changing, cleaning, or other maintenance.
- Check and clean tubing.
- Check and clean filter intake.
- See if plants require fertilizer.
Tips for Maintaining a Saltwater Aquarium
Most pet lobsters will be living in a saltwater aquarium, providing your home with its own mini-sea. While many saltwater tank duties are similar to that of a freshwater tank, they are generally performed with greater frequency. A significant difference between the aquariums is that saltwater tanks need their saline levels constantly monitored.
You will require a hydrometer or a refractometer to measure the salinity of your saltwater aquarium. Hydrometers, (like this one on Amazon), are generally cheaper, but refractometers are often considered the superior tool. (Here’s a great choice for a quality refractometer available on Amazon). To reset the saline levels, you will need to add heated freshwater.
A general checklist to consider for your saltwater tank is as follows.
Daily or Frequently:
- Checking the saline levels and adjusting as need.
- Making saltwater.
- Checking the water’s temperature.
- Make sure all pets and coral look healthy.
- Feeding your pets
Weekly or Bi-Weekly:
- Examine your filter media and rinse as required.
- Scrapping and scrubbing your algae build-up.
- Test water for ph, phosphate, nitrates, and other substances that might irritate or harm your pet.
- Changing the water.
- Siphon debris from gravel and sand.
- Monitor all tubes and filters and clean when needed.
- Care for any plants or coral per their specific needs.
10 Lobster Facts to Impress your Friends
Your pet lobster might be having a shy day when you try to show it off to your friends. But don’t despair as your friends roll their eyes and begin talking about their cats flushing toilets or their dogs fetching soda from the fridge.
Instead, you can impress them with all your lobster facts. Here are 10 fun facts about lobsters to get you started:
- Lobsters smell with their legs thanks to special chemosensory hairs.
- Lobsters’ “teeth” (aka the gastric mill) are in their first stomach (yes, they have two), which sits directly behind their eyes.
- Lobster blood only looks white when cooked. When alive, their blood is clear.
- Lobsters urinate from a gland on their face.
- Some lobsters communicate through their pee.
- A female lobster can store the male’s sperm to use for later.
- There is a biodegradable golf ball made from lobster shells.
- Lobsters don’t age like most living creatures, which gives them “biological immortality” (not the same as never dying).
- Lobsters can regrow limbs.
- Lobster’s “see” through reflection instead of like humans via “refraction.”
Lobster pets are unusual but can be a quirky and fun addition to your life. Learning to care for their aquarium does require research and careful attention at first, but over time it will become routine and easy. Besides, the ambiance your pet’s aquarium will bring to your home will make it worth it.
More About Lobsters…
Check out some more of my articles about lobsters…