Author Archives: Lobster Life
“Can I use kosher salt, Epsom salt, or traditional table salt?”
We get asked this question many times, especially in the busier summer months. Unfortunately the answer is no. Here’s why…..
KOSHER SALT, TABLE SALT, HIMALAYAN SALT, SEA SALT – There are many varieties of food salt available on the grocery store shelves and the problem with using these in a salt water aquarium ( which is what your lobster tank or Shellfish Spa® is) is that most, if not all, contain anti caking agents which are harmful to live stock. Although suitable for human consumption, they introduce other trace elements that will damage your tanks bio bed, and eventually kill the livestock. You may find an “all natural” sea salt dehydrated from ocean water (Dead Sea for example). These are OK to use in a pinch but the cost is extravagant and chances are the quantity you need will wipe out the store’s inventory and you’ll spend an exorbitant amount of time opening small containers.
EPSOM SALT – or bathing salt is magnesium sulfate, which breaks down into magnesium and sulfate ions in saltwater. Using this will add way too much sulfates into the water, eventually killing the livestock, and damaging the bio bed.
WATER SOFTENER PELLETS, ROCK SALT, CALCIUM CHLORIDE (ICE MELT) –Absolutely not. Using any combination of these salts will introduce way to much (a toxic amount) of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other trace chemicals or metals, that are not only deadly to the livestock, but not intended for human consumption. STAY CLEAR OF THESE.
“OK SO WHAT DO I DO? I NEED SALT RIGHT AWAY”
One solution is to use a pet store brand marine salt for reef tanks. Instant Oceans, SeaChem, Tropical Ocean are to name a few. Be very cautious, however, not to overbuy. These are very expensive alternatives that management may not be too happy about authorizing. Also stay away from any salt that claims to have higher calcium, magnesium, or potassium content. These are designed for various reef tanks and although not harmful to lobsters or mollusks, they are extremely costly.
Best practices are those users who ALWAYS have an extra box or two of LLS Marine Salt on hand at all times. Never be without a spare box for those times an emergency water change or excessive purging is apparent.
Don’t panic! We’re here to help. Don’t forget to call our 24/7/365 support line that was given to you, or is printed on every box of salt for more advice.
WHAT IS IT?
Bacterial blooms are extremely common, especially in newly set up lobster tanks, or in those where overstocking has occurred or those that have just undergone a significant water change.. Heterotrophic bacteria feed on organic matter, such as decaying algae, lobster feces, and dead bacteria. These bacteria can rapidly reproduce, causing the tank to cloud up. When exactly this occurs is hard to determine as bacteria are living organisms, and difficult to predict. Most cases we’ve seen experience bacterial blooms within 2-3 days of a water change, and 1-2 weeks after a newly set up tank.
HOW CAN WE FIX IT?
Insuring that all the activated carbon is new, and filter media is clean will help but the most important step is patience. The tank water has not stabilized and cloudy water (bacterial bloom) is all part of the process in growing a healthy bacteria colony to combat the ammonia produced by lobster waste. It is critical to not put more than 10% capacity in the tank upon after doing a water change, and expect to lose some product. 10% more can be added after a few days and every other day thereafter until capacity is reached.
HOW CAN WE AVOID IT?
Vigilance in tank maintenance, proper purging procedure, and loading schedule. Don’t forget that lobsters are the ONLY living product for sale in a seafood market. They require specific care to survive. Lack of knowledge, due diligence, and (most times) patience, will not advance the stabilization of the water and only set the process back.
BUT MY TANK IS NOT BRAND NEW.
This does not matter. Once all the water, or a significant amount is removed, a good amount of healthy bacteria id removed also. Introducing an excessive amount of freshly made salt water will also kill off most of the bacteria left behind. Think back to biology class in High School. Bacteria are living organisms that are creatures of their environment. There are literally thousands upon thousands of strands and a slight change in its environment will weaken or kill it. New bacteria will grow and reproduce but will take time. This process can’t be rushed. A healthy colony of bacteria can be supported and helped by adding Lobster Life Systems Liquid Nitrifying Bacteria at a rate of 16oz per 50 gallons. It is important to note that this will not clear the tank, but speed the break in period.
The break in period (“new tank syndrome”) is painful. Here is a great chart and outline to further support this blog. It is recommended that you print and distribute this to the seafood dept. staff. Knowledge is power, and experience breeds confidence.
Activated Carbon; What is it?
When you serve a customer by hand picking a number of fresh lobsters out of the tank, do you expect to catch an unpleasant whiff or see the water filled with a cloudy fog? Obviously not and we have activated carbon to thank for that (Along with other process but we will save that for another day). Activated carbon can help you maintain a healthy environment for your aquatic aquarium.
What Is Activated Carbon?
Activated carbon by Google’s definition can be stated as “charcoal that has been heated or otherwise treated to increase its adsorptive power.” In other words, activated carbon is charcoal that is treated in a way to generate a large number of new tiny holes, increasing the surface area greatly. Thus, the large surface area is able to absorb a variety of particles polluting the environment of the tank due to its porous nature. Other carbon products are plant based but charcoal is most commonly used.
What Can Activated Carbon Do For A Tank?
When activated carbon is introduced to an aquatic environment such as a lobster tank, the quality of life increases dramatically. Without activated carbon in the filtration system, you will begin to smell the foul stench of lobster waste and its decaying products because there is no way to absorb the dissolved contaminants in the water. The carbon absorbs the chemicals that change the color of the water and fills the tank with a cloudy fog. All together, the carbon helps create a healthy environment for the lobsters that looks clear and smells fresh.
How To Use Activated Carbon
In order for activated carbon to be effective in your aquatic environment there are a few things to know. For starters, you must know where to place it. Place the carbon in between layers of filters in the filter compartment. At LLS we keep the user in mind by making the filtration bed easily accessible. Eventually the activated carbon absorbs all that it can hold and your tank will begin to smell and become cloudy. It is important to remember that the carbon should be replaced once a month to maintain a healthy environment for your lobsters. However, in higher volume grocery stores where lobsters typically sell well you should change carbon pillows every two weeks.
Where Can You Find Activated Carbon?
This is the easy part. To make sure you find the lowest prices available, check out our products and give us a call http://lobsterlife.biz/supplies/. We hope you found our first installment informative. Check back soon for our next article!
Depending on the lobster tank model you have, the foam you see in the picture above will appear on top of the water on top of your tank or underneath the tank in your reservoir base (sump).
This foam is caused by an excessive amount of protein floating about the water. Such circumstances are a result of dead lobsters deteriorating and releasing the protein into the water or lobsters with broken limbs whose protein filled blood is being released into the tank water. Please note that neither the protein or the foam is toxic to the lobsters.
How to combat Excessive Protein:
Luckily it is fairly easy to get rid of the unwanted foam from the tank. Depending on how bad the situation, you may only need to skim the foam right off of the top of the water using a Styrofoam tray or plastic scoop. DO NOT USE ANYTHING METAL. Metals are toxic and will infect the tank water. However, if the foam seems to be a reoccurring, a simple 50% water change can be arranged with one of our highly qualified aquatic technicians in no time.
To avoid future excessive protein, we suggest you perform small water changes of 10-20% as often as once a week depending on your tank load. Even when the water appears to be clear. But remember, too much of a water change can remove beneficial bacteria in your tank, rendering high ammonia levels.
In addition, do not add lobsters with any visible injuries into the tank (lobster blood is clear). Inspect them closely for broken or cracked limbs. Inspect the tank daily and remove any weak, or dead lobsters immediately. Be sure to call LLS for 24/7/365 free phone support (existing customers only please) or call for emergency service. 201-398-0303, or 888- 550-SALT(7258) for guaranteed competitive rates and 24 hour response time.
Stay tuned for more informational lobster tank blogs!
Soft Shell Lobsters.
Lobsters go through many changes in their lives. Alike most species in the world, lobsters grow throughout their lifetime. In order to grow bigger, the lobsters must undergo a vital process called Molting. A lobster’s shell is hard and inelastic and therefore has limited space for growth. When it is a lobsters time to grow, it will begin forming a new, soft shell beneath its hard exterior. When the new shell is fully formed, the lobster will begin drinking an excessive amount of water causing it to swell, resulting in the cracking of the old shell. Once the hard shell is crack, the lobster will slip out of the old shell and abandon it forever. The new soft shell is paper thin thus making it vulnerable to injury during handling and shipping. All soft shell lobsters should be examined before they are put into a lobster tank to ensure it is alive.
How often does a lobster molt?
A lobster loses its shell as many as 25 times during the first six to seven years of its life. After about seven years a female lobster will Molt approximately every two years and a male lobster every year. The Molting process typically occurs in the spring or fall.
Are they weaker than hard shell lobsters?
YES- Soft Shell Lobsters, having recently molted, are in a weakened and vulnerable state. Many soft shell lobsters will not make it into a lobster tank because of this. Slight temperature swings of two degrees or more (up or down) will result in many weakened and dead soft shell lobsters.
How should soft shell lobsters be stored?
Soft shell lobsters can be kept alive for at least 48 hours at refrigerated temperatures. AVOID packing them on freshwater ice because the cold temperature can eventually kill the lobsters. If the seafood staff intends on putting soft shell lobsters in the tank, they must be purged. This process allows the staff to individually inspect each lobster before submerging them in the tank. If a soft shell lobster is visibly weak, do not add it to the tank, it will kill them.
What is the correct temperature for storing soft shell lobsters?
The correct temperature is 48 degree Fahrenheit. Healthy bacteria will not grow in water colder than that.
Here is a video of a Lobster going through the molting process we found on youtube. Stay tuned for more lobster information!
Nobody enjoys watching money go down the drain and nobody knows this better than the seafood department staff. A successful live lobster program requires maintenance and attention, which takes time, and time is a valuable commodity, especially in a retail operation! Too often do we find a tank of weak lobsters, and some dead, due to high ammonia levels. Purging lobsters before putting them in your tank is a very important step in the process of maintaining a healthy environment, and profitable lobster program. Unfortunately this critical step is often rushed, or worse yet, skipped. The direct result is lobster fatality and increased shrink.
What does Purging mean and why is it important?
In a nut shell, to purge your lobsters is to introduce them to the tank water in a separate container where they will eliminate waste (urinate and defecate). Often the container is a meat lug or a styrofoam box. Eliminating this process, or decreasing the proper time, will greatly increase the risk of a high fatality rate. Improper purging will create a high ammonia level. Ammonia is toxic to lobsters. Lobsters should be purged for 15 minutes no more, no less. Once purging is complete the toxic water is discarded and the lobsters submerged into the tank. The purpose of purging is 3 fold. It not only reduces the amount of ammonia released into the tank, it acclimates them to the water in which they will be displayed and also serves as a partial water change (another critical step to any aquatic system, from a small goldfish bowl on your desk to a lobster tank, to the aquariums in Sea World. The science and maintenance are all the same.)
How to Purge Lobsters:
Purging your lobsters is an easy process with an LLS system. We’ve built it right in! Check out our website www.lobsterlife.com. There you’ll find pictures, video links, brochures and a 24/7/365 customer support line. However, if you do not have an LLS system any container large enough to hold lobsters and just enough pre-conditioned water from the tank to cover their backs is sufficient. Leave the lobsters in the bucket of water for fifteen minutes then transport them to the tank. The same water can be used up to three times in the same day before discarding. Once completed, you’ll need to replace the salt water mix with the approximate amount of water you originally used to fill the bucket (partial water change). BE CAREFUL! The bucket method leads to an increased risk of liability claims due to the excess water that is spilled onto the floor and can potentially result in a slip and fall. Alternatively, if you are working with an LLS tank, purging is a snap! To purge your lobsters in an LLS tank first place the lobsters in the purging tank, followed by opening the valve labeled “Purging tank” located on the top of the tank. Fill the tank just enough to cover the lobsters. Once the lobsters have been in the water fifteen minutes place the lobsters in the tank above. Next open the valve marked “to drain”. The water will be eliminated into the floor drain. Easy peasy! Now replace that same amount of water. Remix new salt water using LLS Premium Marine Salt at a ratio of 1lb salt to 4 gallons water. Once fully dissolved, check the salinity with a hydrometer. Proper salinity should be between 1.020 – 1.025 (or floating within the green area of the hydrometer). Open the valve marked “to tank” and the new water will be slowly introduced into the tank. Good luck and remember to call the LLS hotline should you have any questions at all. Please be advised that the hotline is for existing LLS customers. (201) 398-0303