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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
  • Garden Eels Habitat (Tropical Diver)

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean from Madagascar to Hawaii. Possibly it is more widespread.
  • Found on the outer edges of reefs at night and under rock and reef outcroppings during the day, at depths between 16 to 160 feet (5 – 50 m).

Physical Characteristics

  • Uniquely colored: has a pair of flattened gray-blue antennae along with yellow and red tipped spines on a gray carapace. Appendages are yellow and red and the segmented tail is red and orange.
  • Has small claws that are usually tucked under the body and used for feeding.  
  • Can reach a maximum size of 7 inches (18 cm) long.

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet consists of mollusks and other small invertebrates. 
  • Also scavenges on organic matter of deceased animals known as carrion.

Reproduction / Growth

  • Sheds its external skeleton, or molts, as it grows larger. When molting, lobster shell opens between the tail and carapace. It then “slips” out of the old exoskeleton, yielding a new soft exoskeleton that hardens over time.  
  • Reproduction is external: female carries berry-like eggs under her carapace until they hatch as free-swimming larvae.
  • Larvae settle after nine months to start juvenile and adult phases.

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.
  • As members of coral ecosystems, susceptible to indirect effects of coral bleaching. Coral bleaching occurs due to increased ocean temperatures and acidification.

Additional Information

  • Also known as the “royal Spanish lobster.”
  • Similar in appearance to the regal slipper lobster (A. guineensis)
  • Harvested legally in Hawaii from September to April.

Hawaii’s Sea Creatures; A Guide to Hawaii’s Marine Invertebrates. J.P. Hoover.