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/A Diversity of Aquatic Life

Lobsters For Marine Aquariums?

Bob Fenner

Panulirus penicillatus

All Lobsters trend toward omnivorism... eating everything in their path with age/growth... all specimens over about  four inches in length are unsuitable for anything other than rough and tumble systems of size. 

Subphylum Crustacea:   

About 42,000 species of some of the most familiar arthropods; crabs, shrimps, lobsters, crayfish, wood-lice (sow-bugs, rolly-pollies, you know, terrestrial isopods, and aquatic, even parasitic marine ones). Many small members in fresh and marine habitats of importance in aquatic food chains. Primarily aquatic, mostly marine.

Some common characteristics of the crustaceans: 1) Their heads are more or less uniform with five pair of appendages: they have two pair of antennae (this feature is distinctive within the phylum); the third pair as opposing, biting, grinding mandibles. Behind the mandibles there are two pair of accessory feeding appendages, the first and second maxillae. 2) Their bodies trunks are composed of distinct segments covered by a chitinous exoskeleton strengthened by deposition of calcium salts. 3) Crustacean appendages are typically biramous (two major elements). 4) They typically have a carapace covering the trunk of their bodies. Enough of this detail. We'll cover this stuff in more general survey pieces of the mega-groups. On toward the lobsters.

A systematic resume of the Crustacea is necessarily large and complex. Allow me to semi-skirt around a full discussion here. The nine Classes that don't include our family of interest enclose the primitive cephalocaridans (C. Cephalocarida), the Class Branchiopoda (fairy shrimps, tadpole shrimps, water fleas (Daphnia); the Class Ostracoda, Class Copepoda (Anchor worm, Lernaea), Classes Mystacocarida, Branchiura, Tantulocarida, Remipedia, Cirripedia (barnacles), whew! & finally, our:

Class Malacostraca

Comprises almost three-fourths of all described species of crustaceans and most of the larger forms, such as crabs, lobsters, and shrimps. Characteristics: Trunks typically composed of 14 segments plus the telson ("tail"); the first 8 segments form the thorax, the last 6 the abdomen; all segments bear appendages. Four Superorders: Syncarida, Hoplocarida, Peracarida, and the one we want to talk about, the Eucarida.

Superorder Eucarida contains many of the large malacostracans. They have highly developed carapaces displaying fusion of all thoracic segments (the cepahalothorax). Eyes are stalked... Two living orders; the Euphausiacea (krill) and the:

Order Decapoda includes the familiar shrimps, crayfish, lobsters and crabs. This is the largest order of crustaceans with @10,000 species. Decapods are distinguishable from euphausiaceans and other malacostracans in that their first three pair of thoracic appendages, The remaining five pairs are legs (Decapoda= "ten feet").

Decapods are divided into two Suborders, the Dendrobranciata, with "tree-like" branched gills, body laterally compressed..., eggs planktonic, nauplius as the first larval stage (as in Artemia, our brine shrimp), as an example of further, finer, to-the-species classification the:

Suborder Pleocyemata: with phyllobranchiate and trichobranchiate gills, eggs carried by the female on pleopods and hatch as zoeae. Divided into six Infraorders on the basis of structural differences in the cephalothorax and legs, & development. Or:

Phylum Arthropoda:

Subphylum Crustacea:

Class Malacostraca:

Superorder Eucarida:

Order Decapoda:

Suborder Pleocyemata: Lobsters (et al.). Cylindrical to flattened carapace, with muscular tail and broad telson.

Infraorders Astacoidea, Palinura, Anomura

Infraorder Astacoidea, Superfamily Nephropoidea, Family Nephropidae, the Clawed Lobsters. One pair antennae. Genera Homarus, Metanephrops, Nephrops, Nephropsis

Enoplometopus daumi Holthuis 1983, Daum's Reef Lobster. East Indian, Western Pacific Oceans; imported from the Philippines, Indonesia. Common in the wild, but shy and reclusive. 
Enoplometopus debelius Holthuis 1982, Debelius' Soft-Bodied/Reef Lobster. Indonesia to Hawai'i. Covered with red/pink spots. Legs, cheliped ends and antennae are colored yellow-orange. to five inches in length.  
Enoplometopus occidentalis (Randall 1840), the Hairy or Red Reef Lobster. Found throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific. White emarginated spots all over the body. Nocturnal. 
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Homarus americanus, (H. Milne-Edwards, 1837) the American Lobster. Found throughout the Northwest Atlantic, from Canada all the way to North Carolina, although most prolific in Maine and Massachusetts. Cool to cold water.
Homarus gammarus (Linnaeus 1758), the European Lobster. Mediterranean, Atlantic to Norway. Cool to coldwater bruiser. Best served with lemon, drawn butter. Got extra? Give me a call.

Infraorder Palinura: has members with the cephalothorax more or less cylindrical, abdomen well developed, flattened dorsoventrally. Legs may be chelate or subchelate, but the first pair in most species is not enlarged. These are the "spiny" (versus the Infraorder Astcidea's "clawed") lobsters. 

Superfamily PalinuroideaFamily Palinuridae,  Spiny Lobsters. First walking legs as such, not pinchers or claws. Genera Jasus, Linuparus, Palinurus, Panulirus, Puerulus

Justitia longimanus, the Red-Banded Lobster. Legs and principal antennae with light and dark bands. 5-8 inches. This one in Roatan 2016.

Panulirus argus, the Caribbean Spiny Lobster. Common in the tropical West Atlantic. To two feet maximum length. One out during the day (protected and very BIG) in Cozumel and another at night in the Bahamas.

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Panulirus gracilis, the Green Spiny Lobster. East Pacific; Baja south to Peru, including the Galapagos. To more than a foot in carapace length. Here skipper John is hovering a couple over owner Ray Huffman (R.I.P.) on the Reward (now Megalodon) on a trip to the Islas Revillagigedos.

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Panulirus guttatus, the Spotted Spiny Lobster. Most are 5-8 inches in length. Grow to 18 in. This one walking about at night (typical) off of Cozumel. 

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Panulirus inflatus, A Blue Spiny Lobster. East Pacific; Mexico's Baja to Oaxaca. Photo taken in Magdalena Bay, Baja.

Panulirus marginatus, (Quoy & Gaimard 1825), the Banded Spiny Lobster. A Hawaiian endemic. Base of antennae light pink, reddish. Tail segments marked with white bands in-between. Legs all one color, dark. To sixteen inches in length. Here is an eight inch specimen at the Waikiki Aquarium.

Panulirus ornatus, the Ornate Spiny Lobster. Red Sea, East Africa to the western Pacific and Fiji Islands. A monster at twenty inches, and very bold when large. This large one challenged Bob in the Seychelles!

Panulirus penicillatus (Olivier 1791), the "Hawaiian" Blue Lobster, typically collected out of Hawai'i for the trade, also found in the Eastern Pacific. Conspicuous yellow white lines on brown to green legs. No stripes on back. Dark green tail fan. To about sixteen inches in length. A notorious non-scavenger amongst aquarium lobsters. 

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Panulirus interruptus, the California Spiny Lobster. Aq. pic.

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Panulirus regius Capello 1864. Thailand

Panulirus versicolor (Latreille 1804), the Blue Spiny Lobster. Found throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific. To twenty inches in length. Can be kept together with their own kind but must be kept well fed (on meaty foods). Cannibalistic. At right a juvenile in N. Sulawesi. Below, a tiny one from there and adults in Fiji and N. Sulawesi.

Verticals (Full/Cover Page Sizes Available)
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Family Scyllaridae , the Slipper, Spanish, Locust, Shovel-Nosed Lobsters. Genera Ibacus, Parribacus, Scyllarides, Thenus


A pair of Scyllarides astori  (See the link above for family coverage)


Bibliography/Further Reading:

"100 Fun Facts About Lobsters." http://www.woodmans.com/100-lobster-facts/

Lobsters of the World (FAO): http://xrom.com/cdprod1/cdhrec/010/242.shtml

Anon. A look at lobsters. Modified trap catches both spiny and "slipper" lobsters. Natl. Fisherman.; vol. 64, no. 7, pp. 64-67; 1983.

Baensch, Hans & Helmut Debelius. 1994. Marine Atlas, v.1. MERGUS, Germany. 1215pp.

Barnes, Robert. 1987. Invertebrate Zoology. Saunders.

Choat, J.H.; Barnes, D; Borowitzka M.A.; Coll J.C.; Davies P.J.; Flood P.; Hatcher B.G.; Hopley D. et al (eds.) Proceedings of the sixth international coral reef symposium, Townsville, Australia, 8th-12th August 1988. Vol. 2. Papers Rudloe A. Preliminary studies of the mariculture potential of the slipper-lobster Scyllarides nodifer.

Debelius, Helmut. 1986. Reef Lobsters: Genus Enoplometopus. FAMA 3/86.

Friese, U. Erich. 1984. Crustaceans for the home aquarium, part 2- lobsters and crayfish. FAMA 11/84.

Gosliner, Terrence M, David W. Behrens and Gary C. Williams. 1996. Coral Reef Animals of the Indo-Pacific. Animal live from Africa to Hawai'i exclusive of the vertebrates. Sea Challengers, Monterey California. 314pp.

Headstrom, Richard. 1979. All about lobsters, crabs, shrimps and their relatives. Dover Publ.

Hoover, John P. 1998. Hawai'i's Lobsters. FAMA 10/98.

Humann, Paul. 1992. Reef Creature Guide. Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas. New World Publications, FL. 320pp.

Hunziker, Ray. 1988. Curious crustaceans- the Reef Lobsters. TFH 1/88.

Kerstitch, Alex. 1988. Samurai in painted armors. A look at the remarkable lobster, not as a gourmet's delight, but as an aquarium resident. FAMA 7/88.

Kosaki, Randall K. 1987. Hawaiian cave crustaceans. FAMA 4/87.

Reeves, Linda. 1994. Florida lobster diving. Where to find and how to catch these wily crustaceans. Skin Diver 7/94.

Robles, Carlos. 1996. Turf battles in the tidal zone (palinurid lobsters). Natural History 7/96.

Segars, Herb. 1992. The North American Lobster. Discover Diving 1-2/92.

Sleeper, Jeanne Bear. 1992. West coast lobster hunting. Skin Diver 10/92.

Walls, Jerry G. 1977. Lobster tales. TFH 12/77.

Williams, Austin B. 1988. Lobsters of the World- An Illustrated Guide. Osprey Books.

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