Owning an electric blue crayfish, also known as a blue lobster, can be an incredibly rewarding experience for a dedicated aquarium hobbyist. However, proper setup and maintenance of a blue lobster tank requires understanding the creature’s specific care requirements. This comprehensive guide will provide everything you need to know to keep blue lobsters, from tank setup to feeding and health management.
What Are Blue Lobsters?
Blue lobsters belong to Procambarus alleni, a freshwater crayfish native to Florida. They are genetically modified variants of the common crayfish that exhibit a striking, deep blue color over their entire exoskeleton. The scientific name for true lobsters refers to saltwater species, but blue crayfish are commonly referred to as blue lobsters in the aquarium trade. They have an average lifespan of 5-6 years and can grow up to 6 inches long as adults.
Blue lobsters are not considered a beginner species due to their complex habitat and dietary needs. They also have a reputation for being territorial and aggressive compared to other dwarf crayfish. Successfully keeping them requires prior aquarium experience and an understanding their behavioral quirks. If proper care guidelines are followed, blue lobsters can thrive and add a vibrant color to freshwater tanks.
Minimum Tank Size Requirements
One of the most important factors for ensuring the health and survival of blue lobsters is providing an adequately sized tank. As opportunistic omnivores, blue lobsters need ample space to hunt live foods and scavenge. A minimum tank size of 30 gallons is recommended. Anything smaller will likely result in territorial aggression and stress.
For single specimens, a 30-40 gallon tank is suitable. If housing multiple blue lobsters together, aim for at least 40-55 gallons. Each additional crayfish will require an extra 10 gallons of space. Introduce tankmates slowly and provide ample hiding spots to disperse territorial disputes. Avoid overcrowding at all costs, as blue lobsters are highly intolerant of cramped quarters.
Specialized Blue Lobster Tank Kits
For convenience, all-in-one blue lobster tank kits are available that bundle all the essential filtration, heating, and housing components. Kits targeted for crayfish care allow for easy setup and cost-saving compared to buying items separately. They include appropriately sized tanks, lids, lighting, customizable filtration systems, heaters, test kits, décor, substrates, and supplements.
Look for kits that are 30+ gallons and specifically designed for either freshwater crustaceans or aggressive species. Avoid generic community tank kits not optimized for blue lobster requirements. Investing in a specialized kit helps set up the proper environment.
Required Water Conditions
Maintaining suitable water parameters is vital for blue lobster health. Here are the ideal conditions to provide:
- Temperature: 65-75°F. Blue lobsters prefer slightly cooler water. Use an adjustable heater and thermometer.
- pH: 6.5-7.5. Key for exoskeleton growth and preventing disease. Test and adjust levels as needed.
- Hardness: 3-10 KH. Aim for the softer side. Add calcium supplements or reverse osmosis water for dilution if needed.
- Ammonia/Nitrites: 0 ppm. An established nitrogen cycle is required before adding blue lobsters.
- Nitrates: <40 ppm. Perform regular partial water changes to keep nitrates low.
Providing clean, oxygenated water within these parameters will allow blue lobsters to thrive. Test levels weekly and make adjustments as needed to maintain consistency.
Tank Setup and Décor
Blue lobsters are active creatures that need ample space to explore and places to hide away safely. Here are some key tank setup tips:
- Substrate: Use smooth, rounded aquarium gravel or sand 3-5cm deep. Avoid sharp substrates. A blue or black color will make the crayfish pop.
- Décor: Provide plenty of caves, overhangs, driftwood, rocks, and tunnels for hiding and territorial establishment.
- Plants: Live plants can help with water quality but may get uprooted. Use hardy, fast-growing species like anacharis, hornwort, and anubias.
- Background: A solid blue or black background makes the blue Lobster’s colors stand out.
- Lighting: Moderate lighting to support live plants. Avoid over 12 hours per day.
- Oxygenation: An air stone or bubble wall provides needed oxygenation. Position near the filter outlet for optimal water circulation.
Take the natural habitat of blue lobsters into account when designing the aquascape. Ensure there are dim, sheltered spots for sleeping and open swimming space for exercise and hunting. Perform weekly maintenance to remove waste and uneaten food.
Finding Suitable Tankmates
Blue lobsters are solitary creatures best housed alone when possible. However, with careful selection, certain fish can make appropriate blue lobster tankmates. Some examples include:
- Fast, schooling fish like tetras, danios, and barbs can evade crayfish. Avoid long-finned varieties.
- Bottom-dwelling fish like loaches, catfish, and corydoras share habitat preferences.
- Armored fish like gouramis and livebearers that won’t get nipped by crayfish.
- Snails and shrimp may work but could get preyed upon. Nerite snails are too large to eat.
Avoid the following tankmates:
- Slow, open-swimming fish that will get grabbed like guppies, bettas, goldfish.
- Aggressive fish like cichlids that could harm blue lobsters.
- Other invertebrates like crabs that may fight for territory and food.
- Small shrimp and snails like cherries that will become food.
Introduce any tankmates slowly and provide ample hiding spots. Have backup housing available in case conflicts arise. Limit tankmates to 1-2 small schools of fast fish for a 30-gallon tank. Avoid crowding to reduce aggression issues.
Feeding and Diet
Blue lobsters are omnivorous scavengers requiring a varied diet to thrive. Here are some key dietary considerations:
- Protein sources: Freeze-dried krill, brine shrimp, bloodworms, mysis shrimp. Offer 2-3 times per week.
- Vegetation: Blanched vegetables like zucchini, spinach, kale. Spirulina powder or flakes. Once per week.
- Algae: Spirulina-based flakes or pellets. Algae wafers. 1-2 times per day.
- Calcium-rich foods: Cuttlebone, spinach, shrimp shells. For exoskeleton health.
- Sinking pellet or stick foods: Look for high quality formulas for bottom feeders. Can make up daily staple.
- Occasional treats: Live or frozen foods like blackworms, daphnia, crickets. Small amounts.
Feed once or twice daily, removing uneaten food to avoid waste buildup. Provide a diversity of vitamin-rich foods for full nutritional requirements. Use feeding dishes or scatter food across the tank.
Breeding Blue Lobsters
While complex, breeding blue lobsters is possible for experienced aquarists. Key considerations include:
- Set up a separate 10-20 gallon breeding tank with places for the female to hide and abundant plant coverage.
- Maintain warm water temperatures of 75-80°F to stimulate breeding. Cooler water can delay breeding activity.
- Include calcium-rich foods and blanched veggies to support female egg production.
- Females carry bright orange eggs underside for 3-4 weeks before hatching. Do not disturb during this incubation period.
- Newly hatched juveniles are tiny and vulnerable, requiring infusoria or powdered fry foods.
- House juveniles separately once they are 1/4 inch long to prevent cannibalism by adults.
- Cull any discolored or weak juveniles. Healthy offspring will show blue hues at 2-3 months old.
Breeding blue lobsters requires patience and ideal conditions. However, captive breeding can help sustain unique color morphs in the hobby.
Maintaining Water Quality and Health
The water quality and health of blue lobsters depends on the following management practices:
- Perform 25% partial water changes weekly or biweekly, depending on stocking levels. Use dechlorinated, temperature-matched water.
- Check ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH levels weekly. Adjust as needed to maintain ideal parameters.
- Clean tank surfaces regularly to remove algae and prevent waste accumulation.
- Use appropriately sized filters capable of 4-5 tank turnovers per hour and supplement with air stones or powerheads.
- Check blue lobsters regularly for signs of stress like reduced activity or appetite. Isolate and treat any illnesses rapidly.
- Quarantine new blue lobsters for 2-4 weeks before adding to the main tank to prevent disease transmission.
- Avoid copper-based medications that can build up and harm invertebrates. Use natural treatments
Potential Diseases and How to Treat Them
Like other aquatic creatures, blue lobsters can sometimes fall ill. Here are some common blue lobster diseases and how to treat them:
- Bacterial Infections: Symptoms like lesions, cloudy eyes. Treat with API Furan-2 or other antibacterials.
- Molting Issues: Soft shells, trouble molting. Increase calcium and iodine. Add minerals to water.
- Parasitic Infections: Visible parasites on body, lethargy. Use aquarium salt, raised temperature.
- Fungal Infections: White cottony growth, rotting tissue. Treat with antifungal medications.
- Viral Diseases: Discoloration, tissue necrosis. Difficult to treat viruses. Cull carriers.
Quarantine new specimens and maintain pristine water quality. Provide well-balanced diets with calcium for proper molting. Rapidly treat any signs of disease using proper medications. Avoid using copper treatments.
Costs of Blue Lobster Tank Setups
The upfront costs of a proper blue lobster tank setup can add up quickly. Here are some average price estimates:
- Blue Lobster: $20-60 depending on size and color intensity.
- Minimum 30 Gallon Tank: $80-150 for glass aquariums.
- Substrate: $20-40 bags of aquarium sand or gravel.
- Decor: $30-60 for hides, plants, wood, and rocks.
- Lighting: $40-80 for LED overhead tank lights.
- Heater: $40-60 for adjustable freshwater heaters.
- Filter: $50-100+ for adequate canister filters or HOB filters.
- Air Pump: $15-25 for sponge filters or bubble walls.
- Water Testing Kit: $30-60 for master test kits.
- Supplements/Food: $20-40 for initial supply.
Total startup costs can easily reach $400 or more. Ongoing food, water treatments, and equipment replacement costs are also required. Blue lobsters are more expensive pets than small tropical fish but provide unique beauty and interest.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions and answers about blue lobster care:
Can I house a blue lobster in my community tropical tank?
It’s not recommended. Blue lobsters are known for their predatory tendencies. They may prey on smaller fish and shrimp in the tank, making them unsuitable for a peaceful community setup. It’s best to house them in a species-only tank where their aggressive behavior won’t harm other aquatic life.
What water temperature do blue crayfish need?
65-75°F (18-24°C). Blue lobsters thrive in a water temperature range of 65-75°F. Extreme temperatures can stress the animal and lead to health issues. A stable, well-regulated environment is crucial for their well-being. Consider investing in a reliable aquarium heater and thermometer to maintain optimal conditions.
How often should I feed my blue Lobster?
Once or twice daily. A balanced diet is essential for your blue lobster’s health. Feed them once or twice a day with various protein, plant matter, and algae-based foods. Overfeeding can lead to water quality issues, so be mindful of portion sizes.
Can I keep a blue lobster with fish tankmates?
Yes, but choose wisely. While blue lobsters are generally aggressive, they can coexist with fast-swimming, upper-level fish like tetras. Slow swimmers risk becoming a lobster’s meal, so avoiding those is best.
How long can a blue lobster live in a small tank?
Not long. Cramped conditions can stress your blue lobster, affecting its health and lifespan. Aim for a tank that holds at least 30 gallons of water per lobster for long-term well-being.
Do blue crayfish need air pumps and filters?
Absolutely. Proper oxygenation and water flow are vital for your blue lobster’s survival. Air pumps and strong filtration systems help maintain these conditions, making them non-negotiable equipment for your tank.
From tank setup and decoration to ideal water parameters and diet, properly caring for blue lobsters takes dedication. Their unique appearance and behaviors make them fascinating captives for experts. Ensure aquarium newcomers thoroughly research their needs before obtaining one. With pristine water quality, ample space, robust filtration, appropriate tankmates, and regular care, blue lobsters can thrive in home aquariums for years.