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For decades brine shrimp
were sold under the ingenious
marketing label, “Sea Monkeys.” You could turn to
the back of any magazine or
comic book and there they were just waiting for you to snip the order
and enclose it in an envelope with a prepaid money order. There was no
thing as the Internet or Online ordering yet. At the risk of dating
can remember anxiously awaiting for the postal delivery man to knock on
door and present me with my Sea Monkey Kit. Wow, I was the first kid on
block to have my very own Sea Monkeys.
In the world on
sophisticated aquarium hobbyists, many aquarium
owners (both freshwater and saltwater) raise their own brine shrimp to
their aquatic livestock. In this article you will learn everything you
need to know
about hatching, raising and breeding brine shrimp as food source.
If you are new
concept of raising your
brine shrimp the most common unfamiliar terms you will come into
are nauplii, encysts
Nauplii: The scientific
to describe newly hatched brine shrimp.
Encysts: Encysts is the term
used to describe eggs or dormant brine shrimp embryos. In nature,
covered with a hard shell known as a chorion. This hard shell protects
preserves the dormant embryo until the conditions are right for
home brine shrimp farmers prefer to remove the chorion prior to
hatching baby brine shrimp. This process is known as decapsulation.
decapsulating the brine shrimp eggs is not strictly necessary, many
swear the benefits outweigh the additional step of the decapsulation
Since encysts can be
purchased Online in either their
natural state or decapsulated, we will move directly to hatching brine
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Hatching brine shrimp is
actually quite easy even if you are
a complete novice in the field. The first thing you will need is an
chamber or hatchery. Virtually any glass or plastic container capable
holding water will do. Many aquarists simply cut a water bottle in half
invert the top (lid sealed) into the bottom so the bottom of the bottle
functions as a base.
will also need a basic air pump, aquarium tubing, a
preparation of standard aquarium saltwater solution (specific gravity 1.020-1.025) and an incandescent light to
as a heat source if available. Any desk top light or table lamp with an
bulb in it will work fine.
*saltwater and add it
to the hatchery. Add in
your brine shrimp eggs. The higher the grade of brine shrimp eggs the
the hatch out rate. Grade A brine shrimp eggs have an 82% hatch out
equates to approximately 225,000 baby brine shrimp per gram of encysts.
your air pump and stick the air hose in the water to aerate the
chamber. Now all you have to do is wait for the baby brine shrimp to
Hatching time is directly correlated to water temperature. If
you place the hatchery next to or
directly under an incandescent
light source (60-100 watts) and
raise your water temperature
to between 77-86°F your brine
shrimp should hatch within 15 to 20 hours. If you have replaced all
with compact fluorescents to do your part to help create a greener
to worry, your brine shrimp will still hatch. It will simply take
can expect to have baby brine shrimp within 48-72 hours. So if you plan
getting away for the weekend put some brine shrimp eggs in your
(without the additional heating element) and you will have newly
brine shrimp when you return.
|Once the brine
shrimp have hatched expect your water to change from a dull brown to a
If you are using
non-decapsulated encysts you will need to
separate the baby brines from their chorions. Just turn off
the light source, unplug
your air pump and remove the hose. Wait 10 minutes. The baby brine
shrimp will instinctively
settle to the bottom of the chamber. Their discarded shells are buoyant
will float to the top. Just siphon or spoon them out like you would
fat from the top of a pot of chili or soup.
you are a freshwater aquarium enthusiast you don’t
need to run out and buy all kinds of supplies to prepare a saltwater
for raising brine shrimp in. Here is a Video
on the most economical way to prepare and hatch baby
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the first 36 to 48 hours, newly hatched brine shrimp
survive off of a yolk sac that is attached to their digestive system at
time of birth. It is this yolk sac that makes them such an ideal source
nutrients and fatty acids for baby fish fry.
the egg sac is empty it will detach itself from the
brine shrimp. At this point they will need to be fed in order to
nutritional value as a food source for fish fry will also be greatly
diminished. Brine shrimp can be fed yeast, wheat flour, soybean flour
powdered egg yolk. Any of these commonly available pantry products will
them alive and healthy. These products do not however sufficiently
their continued nutritional value as a food source for your fish fry.
optimum nutritional value, many brine shrimp farmers
“enrich” their brine
your brine shrimp is a simple process. You just
change their diet. Feeding brine shrimp food preparations such as algae
or any product containing a high
algae content will allow your brine shrimp to produce the natural fatty
for proper fish fry development.
Note on Nutritional Value: Nauplii (newly hatched brine
shrimp) have a high fatty acid content (approx. 23% by body weight).
them an excellent food source for fish fry. Adult brine shrimp only
about 7% fat content. Adults however have a much higher protein content
nauplii (63 as opposed to 45% protein). A high protein content
preferable for adult carnivorous fish species.
Brine shrimp typically
grow to adulthood in eight days. They
will reach anywhere between 8-20 mm in length depending on
conditions. An average brine shrimp’s lifespan is 3 months.
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brine shrimp will molt (shed their shells) an average of 15
times between birth and adulthood. If left to decompose these molted
will substantially reduce your shrimp farms water quality.
separating brine shrimp from their molted
shells is a relatively easy process. Brine shrimp are instinctively
light just like a moth. Discarded shells will sink to the bottom
tank. In a dimly lit room, shine a flashlight at water surface
rather than vertically. The brine shrimp will migrate toward the light
a turkey baster or a straw to suck up the molted shells from the bottom
aeration is a must to maintain proper oxygen levels
in your water.
A brine shrimp farm does
not need a filtration unit. In
fact, because of their size, filtering their tank could prove
fatal. A 20% water change once or twice a week is more than sufficient.
remove the water from the bottom of the tank you can eliminate molted
and replenish their water supply at the same time.
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a small container of brine shrimp eggs will last an
average aquarium owner quite some time. Many hobbyists choose to breed
adult brine shrimp to guarantee an inexhaustible food supply.
typical adult female is capable of producing approximately
75 baby brines every four days. A single female can reproduce 10 to 12
during the course of her three month life span. This can easily yield
brine shrimp per female.
high protein diet (zooplankton based), lowered salinity levels and
increased water temperatures will help to induce the spawning cycle.
ultimately lead to the question, “What do I do with all these
Brine shrimp (both newly
hatched and adults) can be stored
in your refrigerator for anywhere from two weeks to an entire month.
water temperatures drastically reduce their metabolic rates making
feeding them unnecessary. If for any reason you are dubious about this
a pinch of your preferred shrimp food to the water prior to storage.
Brine Shrimp Eggs
Brine shrimp eggs will
last for years stored in a
refrigerator as long as the lid to their container is sealed tightly to
exposure to moisture.
their natural state, brine shrimp eggs are encased in a
hard shell known as a chorion. The chorion acts to preserve and protect
unhatched embryos from severe climate conditions until the premium
for hatching return. The purported befits of decapsulating brine shrimp
follow immediately after the actual process.
Note: Decapsulating brine shrimp eggs involves the
use of bleach. It is strongly recommend that the entire process be
a kitchen sink.
shrimp eggs typically come in a dehydrated state. The
initial step in the decapsulation process is rehydrating the eggs. Take
amount of eggs you want to decapsulate and submerge them completely in
container with regular tap water. The decapsulation container
2/3 full to the top. Additional aeration with the use of a water pump
recommended throughout the entire decapsulating process. Allow the
to rehydrate for around 10 minutes.
the eggs are rehydrated add approximately 1/3 cup household
bleach for every 2/3s cup water in the decapsulation chamber. Allow the
aerated eggs to
approximately 7 minutes or until they change from brown to a yellowish
in color. Strain the bleach and water solution through a net,
material or a coffee filter and rinse thoroughly until you can no
the bleach. This process can be expedited with the use of dechlor or
brine shrimp eggs are now decapsulated and ready to
hatch immediately or store for future use.
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Benefits of Decapsulating
brine shrimp farmers swear by the benefits of
decapsulating encysts prior to incubation. These advantages are
beneficial when baby brine shrimp are used to feed newly hatched fish
befits are as follows;
- When brine shrimp are
hatched, they have yet to shed their hard shells. Because of their
size, it is impossible to separate the brine shrimp that have shed
their chorions from those who have not. Empty or attached shells can
become lodged in a fish fry’s digestive tract increasing
- Decapsulated brine
shrimp eggs no
longer have these shells attached.
The risk of chocking or digestive
tract blockage is
decapsulated brine shrimp eggs are an excellent food source
both fish fry and adult fish.
- The decapsulation
introducing encysts to a sodium hydrochloride (common household bleach). Exposure
to bleach kills any bacterial cultures, in essence, sterilizing the
shrimp eggs while not affecting their ability to hatch. This is
particularly beneficial when you are planning to feed baby brine to
newly hatched fish fry that have yet to develop an affective immune
- The benefits of
shrimp eggs are nowhere near as important when feeding adult livestock.
Just thoroughly rinse the brine shrimp off in a net
under tap water (to reduce the possibility of bacteriological
before introducing them to your aquarium.
- Those who swear by the
decapsulating process claim a much higher hatch rate over
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Decapsulated eggs can be
stored in a small amount of
saltwater in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you need to store
decapsulated eggs for longer periods of time you will need to
them. Drain and remove the excess water from the eggs. Prepare a brine
of 300+ ppt salinity and store them in the refrigerator
brine solution will partially dehydrate the eggs extending viability or
shelf life. Drain
the eggs and add fresh brine solution after 24 hours. Brined eggs will
fresh in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
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