Cherax lorentzi is a crayfish or “freshwater lobster” that has been popular in Germany for many years and has been rising in popularity in North America more recently. They are native to the Klasafet drainage in the Irian Jaya Province of in Papua New Guinea. Like many popular aquarium inhabitants they have developed a few common names; in North American we most often called them Blue Lobsters with a couple different variables. We currently stock 3 different color variants of this species: Papua Sky Blue Lobsters, Blue Marble Lobsters and Red Tiger Lobsters, which are the focus of this article. Other common names for them are the Pink Coral Freshwater Lobsters, and the Lorentz Crayfish.
Regardless of what you call them they represent a great choice for freshwater aquarium Lobsters. They stay relatively small with a max size of just about four and half inches long. They are definitely among the most peaceful lobsters you can buy; they can be housed together (more on this later), and they do well with many dwarf shrimps. Compatibility with plants is hit and miss as they will likely dig up and consume softer plants, so make plants choices with this in mind. We've found them to be peaceful with fish, though with any crayfish, incidents can and will happen, so hobbyists often stock them with larger peaceful fish.
Husbandry of Red Tiger Lobsters is straightforward. They can tolerate a fairly wide range of temperatures, though do best in tanks maintained in the low 70s. The pH range they happily deal with is similarly wide from 6.5 to 8.5. This trend continues when we address hardness range which seems to be nearly irrelevant; any aquarium you are successfully housing normally available aquarium species in will be fine for the Red Tigers. The are omnivores, but the bulk of their diet should be vegetable matter; the do very well on specialized foods for Lobsters / Crayfish. Their diet should be supplemented with meaty foods, on a consistent but infrequent basis. If you house them with oak or beech leaves, they will slowly consume these as well. Do not house any freshwater Lobsters / Crayfish from Asia or Europe with North American Crayfish as North American Crayfish can carry a parasite that is generally fatal to other species. As with any Lobster species, a course grain gravel is suggested as it is easy for the Lobsters to dig in, and offers many opportunities for scavenging.
Red Tiger Lobsters are easy to breed; males and females cohabit well, even frequently “snuggling” in the same burrow. Identifying males and females can be challenging to differentiate at any time and this is nearly impossible to do before they reach sexual maturity at around 6 months old. Females can hold multiple clutches per year and will hatch 60-100 eggs that turn into immediately independent young. The young should be offered plenty of cover and food, and dry oak leaves are a popular way to offer both.
If you're a hobbyists who's been looking for a gorgeous, peaceful Freshwater Lobster that stays small, look no further than the species Cherax lorentzi. The Red Tiger variant is a remarkably beautiful Lobster that will be a little different than everyone else's choice. Ask your LFS to give us a call here at Aquatropic and ask about getting you a couple today!