Brine Shrimp (Artemia)

Brine Shrimp (Artemia) also known as Sea-Monkeys, is a prehistoric genus of aquatic crustaceans commonly used by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts the world over as a food source for adult tropical fish and their fry.

Brine Shrimp are found in inland saltwater lakes with high salinities up to 25%, which for the most part protects them from almost all predatory wildlife species.

Although several varieties of Artemia exist, all of them belong to a single species under the genus Artemis.

Brine shrimp (Artemia salina)

Brine shrimp (Artemia salina)

Adult Brine Shrimp can be identified by a hard exterior shell, tapered bodies, stalked compound eyes, eleven pairs of feather like legs, and usually do not exceed one half an inch in size.

Brine Shrimp produce dormant eggs known as cysts, which can be stored for very long periods and hatched on demand to provide a live food for crustaceans and tropical fish larvae.   This has led to the extensive use of Artemia in aquaculture and in particular the tropical fish keeping hobby.

Brine Shrimp during their initial stage of development do not feed.   Instead, they exist on the energy stored in the cyst.   When the cyst hatches in the wild, they feed on microscopic planktonic algae.   In an aquarium environment, they can be fed egg yolk, wheat flour, yeast, soybean powder, etc.

Adult brine shrimp easily adapt to wide fluctuations in water salinity and can live without any problem in bodies of water with higher salinity levels than seawater, as well as environments with only one tenth the salinity of marine water.

Both newly hatched and adult brine shrimp provide an ideal food source for tropical fish.   They are high in protein content, easily digestible, and can survive for several hours in a freshwater aquarium full of baby fry.

Brine shrimp cysts hatch in 24 hours at temperatures of 80º to 82º F.   Lower temperatures result in longer hatching times.   Baby brine shrimp have incomplete digestive and excretory systems, which means they cannot ingest or process food.   This means that their bodies are packed chocked full of energy, which makes them a perfect food for baby tropical fish.

Most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts hatch out their own “baby” brine shrimp, and many choose to grow them into adulthood.

Hatching brine shrimp eggs is a simple process and several types of brine shrimp “hatcheries” are commercially available for purchase online; or you can easily make one yourself.

The following examples are constructed from plastic one liter soda bottles and are only one of the many types you can build.

To grow baby brine shrimp into adulthood takes only about 3 weeks.

Fill a growing tank with saltwater that has approximately the same salt content as the brine shrimp hatchery water and locate it near a window or other light source. Install an airstone to provide water movement and a heater if necessary to maintain the water temperature between 65°F to 75°F.

Introduce the baby brine shrimp into the growing tank and for the first 24 hours do not feed them.

Fortunately, brine shrimp are not fussy about what they eat and almost any small food source can be used such as Spirulina powder, yeast, wheat flour, fish meal, soybean powder, egg yolks, or even a commercial fry food.

To keep the water quality in the tank reasonably intact, avoid foods that are easily dissolved in the water and definitely avoid overfeeding.

After 3 weeks or so, the brine shrimp will be large enough to feed to your tropicals.

Simply net them out of the growing tank and rise them off before feeding.

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  1. […] Many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts now feed microworms as an initial diet to their fry, and as a complement to baby brine shrimp. […]


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