Reef Lobsters

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Enoplometopus spp. - A. Milne-Edwards, 1862
Reef Lobsters

Enoplometopus spp.jpg

This small, colorful lobster is a harmless scavenger in most aquaria. Scott W. Michael


Gloriously pigmented, these are the marine equivalent of freshwater crayfish, and they make very hardy aquarium animals. Colors range from orange to deep red, lavender, or deep purple with orange legs. These modestly sized lobsters are generally reef safe, with their claws used mostly for defense. They mostly feed at night in the wild and may tend to stay hiding in the shadows when the lights are on.

Family: Enoplometopidae

Other common name(s):

  • Flame Lobsters

Native range:

Maximum length: 15 cm (6 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 114 L (30 gal)

Lighting: Dim

Water: Marine 24 °C (75 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)


Omnivore. Will scavenge all manner of foods and wastes. Offer a variety of meaty items such as pieces of marine fish, shrimp, and squid.

Aquarium Compatibility

If kept well fed, will ignore most reef invertebrates and fishes. However, when placed in a nano tank crowded with reef invertebrates, they may prove destructive. All lobsters have cannibalistic tendencies and should be kept singly, especially in smaller aquariums.

Special Care

They need a sand bed for burrowing and good water conditions: clean, well-filtered, and with vigorous circulation.


Purple Reef Lobster (Enoplometopus debelius) is an outstanding choice for a species tank with a cave or two and perhaps a fish or two that hover in the water column, such as larger cardinalfishes.

Other species: E. antillensis (Flaming Reef Lobster)· E. crosnieri. E. debelius (Debelius Reef Lobster, Purple Reef Lobster). E. gracilipes. E. holthuisi (Bullseye Reef Lobster). E. occidentalis (Hawaiian Lobster). E. pictus. E. voigtmanni.

Reference: The 101 Best Marine Invertebrates
Image credit: SWM
Text credit: SWM