10 Mar 2009

Taxicuticulary: Crustacean Shell Preservation

Dear Blue Lobster:

We have a blue lobster in our fish tank. The lobster just shed his shell. Is there a way to preserve the shell or at least the claws for our child to keep? Thank you.

Dear Gentle Sir:

Families often wish to remind themselves of the good times spent with their shelled friends and one way to do this is taxicuticulary, the preservation of their cray's shells.

The first step in shell preservation is cleaning. Using a 1:1 ratio mixture of distilled water and distilled vinegar, scrub the shell parts lightly with a toothbrush. When finished, rinse thoroughly in distilled water. Since vinegar is a weak acid, it will eat the shell if left too long.

After scrubbing, soak the shells in distilled water for twenty-four hours in a cool, dry place removed from direct sunlight. This will help dissolve any deposits on the shell. After twenty-four hours, place the shell on a clean towel to dry for several hours.

The third and final step should be performed by an adult. Take the dried shell and dip it in a clearcoat or varnish. The choice is yours whether you want something thin to simply coat the shell or something thicker. Call or visit your local home improvement store for more details. Tell them you're preserving crayfish shell and they ought to have a recommendation.

One caveat: if you intend to make jewelry, such as a nice pair of pincer earrings, drill the holes after the second step, then again once the lacquer or clearcoat has dried. This preserves the shell more effectively.

Good luck with your taxicuticulary project!


Anonymous said...

Please can you tell me, how to preserve the shell that has not been shed! Is there anyway to eat the tail, then some way clean out the head and attatch them back together?

Unknown said...

Can I use the same method for a little sea horse?

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