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What Do Lobsters Eat? Vet-Approved Nutritional Science & Info

Brooke Billingsley

By Brooke Billingsley

red lobster in aquarium

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Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Lobsters are odd and fascinating creatures that seem to constantly surprise us. Every now and then, you’ll see a new story about a lobster fisherman pulling a blue or white lobster up from the deep, or a lobster that seems to be dozens of years old. When compared to most land animals, lobsters are kind of a marvel of nature. They are not particularly popular to keep in home aquariums and they generally do not do well in captivity, but some people do choose to do so.

Freshwater and saltwater lobsters exist, although most of us are far more familiar with saltwater lobsters. If you’ve ever wondered what lobsters eat and what their purpose in the ecosystem is, keep reading!

aquarium plant divider

Where are Saltwater Lobsters Found?

Saltwater lobsters live in every ocean on the planet. They are varied animals that are found in areas with muddy, sandy, or rocky ocean floors. They can live for around 40-50 years in the wild and there are 75 species of lobsters in the world. Of those, 30 species are clawed lobsters and 45 species are spiny or rock lobsters. Generally, we are more familiar with clawed lobsters.

Lobsters are arthropods, which means they are invertebrates that use a hard exoskeleton in place of bones. They do have to shed and grow a new exoskeleton in order to grow, which leaves them vulnerable to attacks. Lobsters usually live in caves or burrows on the ocean floor and they are not social creatures, so they usually live alone. Lobsters can be found in water as shallow as 10-15 feet and as deep as about 1,500 feet.

sea lobster in sand
Image Credit: Piqsels

What Do Saltwater Lobsters Eat?

Saltwater lobsters are omnivorous animals that typically consume live prey when they are able to catch it. They are known to eat things like fish, smaller crustaceans, mollusks, worms, and other small ocean creatures. They are also known to eat plant matter, although meaty meals seem to be their preference. If needed, lobsters will scavenge, consuming leftover plant or animal matter they find along the ocean floor. Lobsters are known to turn to cannibalism when food is scarce.

Where are Freshwater Lobsters Found?

It’s a little bit unfair to refer to these animals as lobsters, because they aren’t true lobsters. However, you will see these animals sold as freshwater lobsters. Freshwater lobsters are also known as crayfish, crawfish, crawdads, and other regional names. These animals are found in bodies of freshwater like lakes, streams, ponds, and rivers. They are most often found in areas with water that is high in calcium, which is necessary for their exoskeleton health, and oxygen.

Freshwater lobsters are found in places like North and Central America, Australia, Eurasia, and New Zealand. The most diverse populations of freshwater lobsters exist in the southeastern US, where they are a popular food item. There are over 300 species of crayfish in the southeastern US alone. There are another 100 or so species in Australia and New Zealand.

crayfish on top of aquatic plants
Image Credit: Piqsels

What Do Freshwater Lobsters Eat?

Like saltwater lobsters, freshwater lobsters are omnivores who prefer a live, meaty meal when it’s available. They will eat plant matter and scavenge when necessary, too. Many people keep these animals in home aquariums without realizing their penchant for catching and killing tank mates. Freshwater lobsters are known to catch fish and invertebrates alike, and generally make poor tank mates to any animals that come into the lower portions of the water column. In captivity, they seem to enjoy foods like shrimp pellets, algae wafers, fish food, fresh veggies, and fish. They are also considered adventurous and are known to sample aquarium plants. By doing so, they can damage the structure of aquatic plants, which is something pet owners should be wary of.

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In Conclusion

Both saltwater and freshwater lobsters aren’t animals for most home aquariums. They are grumpy and shy, which can make dealing with them and finding appropriate tank mates difficult. They are interesting to watch, though. Don’t rely on them to help keep the tank clean since their food preferences are fresh foods and not scavenging. However, with proper care and feeding, these unusual animals can be a rare and fun addition to your tank.

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Featured Image Credit: Haland, Shutterstock

Brooke Billingsley

Authored by

Brooke Billingsley spent nine years as a veterinary assistant before becoming a human nurse in 2013. She resides in Arkansas with her boyfriend of five years. She loves all animals and currently shares a home with three dogs, two cats, five fish, and two snails. She has a soft spot for special needs animals and has a three-legged senior dog and an internet famous cat with acromegaly and cerebellar hypoplasia. Fish keeping...Read more

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