Caring for your pet lobster
February 26, 2005 2:07 PM   Subscribe

I want to go buy a lobster from a supermarket and keep it as a pet. However, I can't find anything beyond how to keep it alive long enough to cook it.

How exactly do I make saltwater that won't kill it? What the hell do lobsters eat? Does it need plants and stuff for itto hide under?
posted by borkingchikapa to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, imagine my surprise when I Googled "keeping a lobster as a pet" and found this. Be sure to check out the Lobster Game page that started the whole discussion!

I would suggest contacting an aquarium store that specializes in salt water fish and tanks as a start.
posted by cyniczny at 2:19 PM on February 26, 2005

This sounds like an interesting project. I wish you luck and can't add much to help.

But that said, I don't think I could manage it. I'd constantly be thinking how wonderfully delicious my pet would be when boiled and served with melted butter.
posted by Justinian at 2:44 PM on February 26, 2005

The lobsters most people keep as pets aren't the ones from the supermarket. Most people keep little blue "lobsters" or crayfish like this guy or Bobster the Lobster which live in fresh water. The Lobster Lovers page has a teeny FAQ which answers pretty basic questions like what to feed it and mentions that young lobsters will pretty much hide for the first year of their lives.
posted by jessamyn at 2:52 PM on February 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

A problem with this to consider is lobsters are prety active creatures usually, and keeping them in an aquarium could be rather harsh for them. Which may be why most advice surrounding this issue is concerened with eating lobster.

having said that... look at This.

"Aquarium water changes over a period of time with the increase of nitrates well known to the students of biological filtration, but also there is always a drop in pH values to about 7.8 if the required water changes are not made, as well as a shortfall of calcium, magnesium and other minerals required by the new shell. When keeping lobster and the larger crabs through their moulting cycle, it is imperative that the 25% monthly water changes are made. This is the absolute minimum and for success the water changes may need to be more frequent. Some Public Aquaria use a natural flow system where seawater is pumped in and out of the tanks when the tide comes in. This has advantages when keeping invertebrates but it is rarely the best system when keeping fish.

In the soft moult condition, all crustaceans are vulnerable to being attacked by hungry fish and even other lobsters. "

They eat fish, or eachother.
posted by edgeways at 2:53 PM on February 26, 2005

Baudelaire supposedly took his own pet lobster on walks, although I doubt the lobster appreciated his owner's showboating.

Also: they can live for fifty years? Good God...
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:50 PM on February 26, 2005

Don't lobsters like risotto?

//well, not really
posted by C.Batt at 4:24 PM on February 26, 2005

If you want to do a great trick with this lobster-pet fill the bottom of the tank with iron filings. After it moults it roots around and fills a certain sensitive body cavity with the filings (which is usally sand and stuff). This weight serves to orient the lobster to up and down. If you place a big magnet at the top of the water, the lobster (with iron filings instead of sand inside) will turn upside down having found the ground is now up. Fun stuff, except I presume, for the rust that is created.
posted by jmgorman at 4:24 PM on February 26, 2005

That wasn't Baudelaire, that was GĂ©rard de Nerval. When asked why he took his lobster for walks through the streets of Paris, he said: "Because it does not bark, and it knows the secrets of the sea."

(I personallly doubt the whole story, but it is a fantastic line...)
posted by xil at 4:28 PM on February 26, 2005

From the episode "Lisa gets an 'A'" where Homer brings home a baby lobster. Link to the script here if you wanna read it.

Marge: Mmmm ... who left these muddy claw prints on my clean floor?

Homer: Sorry, Marge. Pinchy got all dirty in the yard chasing birds. But don't worry! I put him in a nice, hot bath.

Bart: [sniffs the air] Hey, what smells so good?

Homer: Yeah... Pinchy? Pinchy!?! Oh... Pinchy!!! [he runs out of the room worried]

% Later that night, Homer is crying at the dining room table, taking bites out of Pinchy's dead body while the family is watching. %

Homer: [eating, crying] Oh, man, that's good. [sob] Pass the butter.

Bart: Are you gonna eat that all by yourself?

Homer: Uh-huh. Pinchy would've wanted it this way. My dear, sweet Pinchy. [takes a bite] No more pain where you are now, boy. [rips him in half and sucks out the meat inside] Oh, God, that's tasty! I wish Pinchy were here to enjoy this. [takes more bites] Oh, Pinchy...
posted by glyphlet at 5:15 PM on February 26, 2005

You essentially want a salt-water aquarium. They're difficult and expensive to maintain, but the internet is loaded with information about them.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:43 PM on February 26, 2005

it is imperative that the 25% monthly water changes are made. This is the absolute minimum and for success the water changes may need to be more frequent

That's a whole lotta of water.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:00 PM on February 26, 2005

posted by rolypolyman at 8:44 PM on February 26, 2005

The lobsters you see in most grocery stores in the USA will be Homarus americanus. You will definitely need need to attach a chiller to your tank. If you can find a copy of this book by Quinn, he has a short section on keeping Maine lobster, IIRC.
posted by piskycritter at 11:19 AM on February 27, 2005

Also, lobsters are essentially scavengers in the wild, and not too particular about what they eat. Any meaty fish food intended for saltwater animals should suffice, such as silversides or krill. Variety helps. I am guessing you will need a tank at least three times the size of the adult animal as a minimum, but you should get the largest tank you can afford. I am certain the lobster would like some sort of refuge. A large terracotta flower pot on its side might work.
posted by piskycritter at 11:32 AM on February 27, 2005

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