Scientists working at the Australian Institute of Marine Science are looking at the prospect of raising rock and spiny lobsters artificially for the aquarium trade and for food. Like many of the giant clam farms, the AIMS scientist have struck on the idea that since it takes many years for these lobster species to mature to a sell-able size for the food market, they can supplement their cash flow by selling the juveniles to the aquarium trade when they are small. The AIMS scientist think they can raise the spiny lobster and cleaner shrimp for the multi-milion dollar aquarium trade with a retail price of AU$150 each, but we beg to differ. Although we applaud the efforts of the AIMS researchers looking into this study, they have got it in their heads that a cleaner shrimp is worth over $100 a piece, and they’d be right if they just looked at the Australian marine aquarium market.
Cleaner shrimp are extremely expensive in Australia because they are really rare in the surrounding waters and they are not allowed to import them from the Indo-Pacific region where a fisherman probably gets a whole dollar for every four or five he catches. Furthermore, the movement is being spurred on by the idea that someone would want to buy a rock lobster when it is small and keep it for several years until it is ready to eat. We don’t know about you but if we kept and grew a spiny rock lobster as a pet for several years, we’d be hard pressed to throw it in a pot of boiling water for dinner. In any case, we encourage and welcome all convergences of the scientific and ornamental aquarium communities and perhaps in the future the successful rearing of spiny lobsters and cleaner shrimp could lead to breakthroughs in a wide range of other ornamental crustaceans.