Resource Center Menu
Marine Lobster Care Sheet

Marine Lobster Care Sheet

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.

Marine Lobster

This care sheet covers a variety of marine lobster species, including:   

  • Blue spiny lobster
  • Daum’s reef lobster
  • Debelius reef lobster
  • Red Hawiian reef lobster

 

Overview

Scientific name: Panulirus versicolor, Enoplometopus daumi, Enoplometopus debelius, Enoplometopus occidentalis

Marine lobsters are beautiful, hardy creatures that can instantly add a bit of interest and color to your aquarium. These nocturnal crustaceans may forage during the day once they feel comfortable in their surroundings. While generally peaceful, marine lobsters may attack small fish and invertebrates. After they molt (or shed) their hard exoskeleton as they grow, marine lobsters need a secure hiding place for protection while their new exoskeleton hardens. Marine lobsters are scavengers and love to burrow into the substrate where they construct shelters. Always place live rock and décor on the tank bottom to prevent accidental injury to your lobster.  

 

Typical appearance and behavior 

  • Marine lobsters come in a variety of sizes and colors
  • Some lobsters are known to eat small fish and invertebrates; research must be done for compatibility prior to placing with tank mates
  • They can be territorial; one lobster per tank should be kept
  • They are opportunistic feeders, consuming both meat and some plant-based foods 
  • The spiny lobster lacks the large front claws possessed by other lobsters 

 

Characteristics 

Care Difficuty Beginner to intermediate, depending on species
Average Life Span Up to 20 years with proper care, depending on species
Average Adult Size 5 to 12+ inches long, depending on species
Diet Omnivore
Minimum Habitat Size 29+ gallons, depending on species
Water Temperature 74-80°F
Specific Gravity 1.023-1.025

 

Habitat 

Habitat size

A minimum of 29+ gallons is recommended for a smaller species or juvenile lobster. However, water conditions can change rapidly in smaller water volumes—always provide the largest aquarium possible.

Building your habitat

  • Water health - Provide proper filtration to ensure optimal water quality to help maintain health. Moderate to strong water circulation, based on species, should be provided to mimic water currents found in the marine lobster's natural habitat. Stable water quality (pH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite) and water temperature are critical to the health of aquatic life. If you are unsure of your water quality, bring a sample to Petco for free testing. The addition of a protein skimmer can aid with maintaining great water quality and high dissolved oxygen levels. An aquatic heater should be used to stabilize water temperature, ensuring it does not fluctuate more than 2 degrees in either direction in a 24-hour period. The specific gravity should remain stable. Do not allow specific gravity to fluctuate more than 0.001 in either direction in a 24-hour period
  • Décor- Provide hiding places or caves, appropriate depth of substrate based on species and plenty of décor for marine lobsters to protect themselves
  • Live rock can provide a natural food source while also enhancing biological filtration

 

Feeding 

A well-balanced marine lobster diet consists of:

  • Sinking pellets, freeze-dried, frozen and fresh meaty foods

Things to remember when feeding your marine lobster:

  • Most lobsters will feed off excess food and debris in the aquarium but will also benefit from small daily supplemental feedings 
  • Thaw frozen food before feeding

 

Marine lobster care

  • Water care: Maintaining great water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration is important to help keep your marine lobster healthy
    • Daily: Check filter, water temperature and other equipment
    • Weekly: Test water quality at least once a week
    • Weekly to monthly: Change 10–25% of the total volume of water every 2–4 weeks, or as needed; change filter media monthly 
  • Use of copper-based medications is toxic to crustaceans such as marine lobsters
  • The use of an iodine supplement can be beneficial during a marine lobster's molting process
  • Lobsters need adequate calcium levels to build their exoskeleton; ensure proper calcium levels are provided
  • Avoid overcrowded conditions, which are a major cause of stress and disease 

 

Where to buy marine lobsters

Marine lobsters are available for purchase at your local Petco location; availability varies by location. Please call ahead to check availability.

 

Supplies

 

Tank mates 

  • Compatibility will vary depending on lobster species selected but may be compatible with fish such as:
    • Angelfish 
    • Clownfish
    • Damsels
    • Cardinals 
    • Butterflyfish
    • Tangs
    • Dottybacks 
    • Basslets
    • Foxface & Rabbitfish
    • Reef-safe wrasses  
  • Introduce new inhabitants to the aquarium gradually
  • Marine lobsters are usually not compatible with mollusks, squid and octopuses 
  • Caution should be used when adding to a tank that contains slow-moving aquatic life or aquatic life known to eat lobsters

 

Health 

Signs of a healthy marine lobster

  • Healthy appetite
  • Even coloring
  • Healthy, non-pitted shell and legs 

Red flags (If you notice any of these signs, contact your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian)

  • Loss of color or appetite
  • Spots, lesions or fungus on body
  • Erratic movements
  • Disfigurement
  • Missing limbs or antennae

 

Common marine lobster health issues

Little is known about diseases that affect lobsters. As long as environmental conditions and food supplies are adequate, marine lobsters are fairly resistant to disease.

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health IssueBody or surface erosion Symptoms or CausesPoor water quality; nutrient deficiency. Suggested ActionTest and treat water or perform a water change immediately; maintain proper diet; contact your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian.
Health IssueLoss of appendage or antennae Symptoms or CausesFighting between crabs or due to an aggressive fish. Suggested ActionWill usually regenerate; an iodine supplement can help with the molting process; contact your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian.

 

FAQs

  • What do aquarium lobsters eat? Lobsters are opportunistic feeders and will primarily feed on leftover foods in the aquarium but will also benefit with supplemental feedings of sinking pellets, freeze-dried, frozen and fresh meaty foods. 

 

Additional care sheets

Notes and resources

Ask a Pet Care Center partner about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all aquatic life are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as atypical mycobacterium and salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your aquatic life or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for aquatic life and should consider not having aquatic life as a pet.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about aquatic life and disease.

The information on this care sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian as appropriate.