Commercial Fisheries News - March 2000

Potential hazards in holding tanks

Lobsters are more susceptible to abrupt and lethal changes in water quality in small confined holding tanks than they would be in nature. Hazards associated with lobster ailments are particularly problematic in closed systems due to lack of "flushing." This does not mean that holding lobsters in recirculating aquaria is difficult. Such lobster husbandry simply requires a bit of care and vigilance.

Under holding conditions it is critical to closely monitor water quality conditions such as salinity, temperature, pH, and oxygen levels. It is also important to avoid overcrowding because high lobster densities can exacerbate other problems. In addition, always avoid the use of toxins in the vicinity of lobster tanks. Dangerous products include:

Various grades of wood (from pine planks to plywood) are commonly used if displaying the animals is not of paramount importance. Treated lumber should be avoided. Concrete or cinderblock tanks present reasonable options.

Coating wooden or cement tanks with fiberglass or epoxy resin can prolong the life of aquaria and makes them easier to clean. It also allows for rounding off corners — which can help to enhance water circulation and prevent the build up of debris in corners.

New plastic, fiberglass, cement and wooden aquaria should be allowed to cure for several days — then the water changed — before introducing lobsters into the system.

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