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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Care Guides > Invertebrates Setup Steps


Aquatic Invertebrates

Did you know? Many species of Aquatic Invertebrates are peaceful and can be kept with tropical community fish, but be sure the sizes are compatible. Juvenile freshwater lobsters and crayfish can be kept in a community aquarium, but as adults they may harass their tankmates and should be kept by themselves or with other larger fish. Lobsters, crabs and shrimp shed their skin in order to grow.

Step 1Choosing an Aquarium

(A) Most freshwater Aquatic Invertebrates require an aquarium habitat similar to freshwater tropical fish. A good rule of thumb is one gallon (4 L) of water for every 1" (2.5 cm) of full-grown fish or invertebrate.

Aquarium stand
(B) An appropriate aquarium stand will safely support the weight of your filled aquarium.
• Aquariums weigh as much as 10 lbs. per gallon capacity and require strong stands.
• Locate your aquarium in a low-traffic area, away from direct sunlight and drafts.

Hood and light Fixture
(C) Place an aquarium hood with light fixtures on the aquarium to reduce water evaporation, splashing, and escape.
• The light should be on for 8-12 hours a day. Turn it on during the morning feeding, and off after the evening feeding, or use an automatic timer.

Step 2Filtration and Heating

Filtration (mechanical and biological)
(D) Undergravel filters or power filters will provide aeration and filtration for the aquarium. Consult filter package for appropriate filter size.
• The filter should move the water in the aquarium through the filter media 3-5 times per hour. The flow should be gentle enough to not blow the Aquatic Invertebrates around in the aquarium.
• Add beneficial bacteria supplements to your aquarium to promote biological waste break down during initial set-up.

Water Heater and thermometer
(E) Use an aquarium heater to maintain the water temperature. The general rule for aquarium heaters is five watts of power for each gallon of aquarium water. For large aquariums, it is better to divide this into two heaters, one at each end of the tank, rather than using one large heater.
• Aquatic Invertebrates require water temperatures ranging between 68-82o F (20-28° C).

Step 3Substrate and Decor

Aquarium Gravel
(F) Use 1.5 lbs (680 g) of aquarium gravel for every gallon (4 L) of tank capacity to make a 2-3" (5-8 cm) layer on the bottom of the aquarium. Rinse the gravel in a clean container before adding it to the aquarium (do not use soaps or detergents as they may be toxic).
(G) Decorate the aquarium with live or artificial plants.
• Live aquatic plants are beneficial for snails, whichwill graze on their leaves.

Ornaments and rocks
(H) Use ornaments and rocks that are designed for aquariums to provide caves for sheltering crabs and shrimp.
• Hiding places should be offered to provide a secure area as a retreat.


Do not release Aquatic Invertebrates or any other pet into the wild. They likely will not survive, but they may transmit diseases to the wild animals or otherwise be harmful to the environment.

Water Quality Testing
PetSmart offers free aquarium water testing. By bringing in a sample of your aquarium water, we can test the quality within minutes. See the guide on Setting Up an Aquarium for more information about water quality and water testing.

Things to Watch For
• Decreased appetite or activity
• Swollen joints

• Excessive shedding of the skin
• Inflamed or discolored skin or shell

If you notice any of the signs described above, speak with a PetSmart store associate or a veterinarian about the health of your pet.

PetsSmart Cares
Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet AssuredTM program; a program designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well-being of our pets. The program includes:
    • Specific standards our vendors agree to meet in caring for and observing pets for common illnesses.

    • Specific standards for in-store pet care.
    • The PetSmart Promise: If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.