About Brine Shrimp
Brine shrimp deserve to be considered by the tropical fish industry as the single most important food item in the whole world. This is due to the fact that brine shrimp contain an unbelievably high amount of energy. If not for brine shrimp, the tropical fish industry might not be what it is today. To help larval tropical fish have a good start, newly hatched brine shrimp is used by almost all individuals who breed tropical fish at home as well as at nearly all fish farms.
What Are Brine Shrimp?
Small Crustaceans. Brine shrimp is the common name that refers to a water animal belonging to crustaceans, which are identified by their multiple pairs of legs as well as their hard exterior shell. Commonly used for feeding tropical fish raised in aquariums, brine shrimp usually grow no more than 1.30 centimeters in length. Several varieties of brine shrimp exist, but all of them are considered to belong to a single species under a single genus (Artemis). They are generally characterized by their compound eyes, which are stalked, as well as their tapered bodies, which consist of a trunk to which eleven pairs of leaflike legs are attached.
Adaptable Creatures. Brine shrimp are different from true shrimp and cannot be found in the oceans but they can be found in many bodies of water in the world, especially inland saltwater lakes. What is so fascinating about these crustaceans is their ability to easily adapt to fluctuations in water salinity. Brine shrimp can live without difficulty in a body of water which has a higher salinity level than sea water. They also have high tolerance for a water environment which has only one tenth of the salinity found in marine waters.
Easy Prey. The Great Salt Lake harbors vast windblown lines of brine shrimp, which generally occur in large numbers. Their small size makes them easy prey to larger water animals and this is why they are not found in oceans. Brine shrimp can flourish in inland high salinity habitats, in which their predators do not live.
Bearers of Highly Resistant Eggs. The female brine shrimp carries a brood pouch in its body. Under favorable conditions, the female adult brine shrimp liberates all her active young shrimp from this pouch. Female brine shrimp may also lay their eggs without having them fertilized by sperm. When shrimp eggs do get fertilized, they may hatch right away or are made to undergo a drying process (to make them viable for a number of years). Brine shrimp eggs are able to tolerate harsh environmental conditions; this quality gives them the ability to hatch without difficulty in salt water as well as their usefulness as tropical fish food.
Why Brine Shrimp Is An Essential Food for Tropical Fish
A diet which consists of live baby brine shrimp has been tried and tested to be effective in raising many types of tropical fish. There are several reasons for raising brine shrimp to be an ideal food for baby tropical fish (or “fry”). One is the natural movements of brine shrimp, which attracts baby tropical fish into eating them. Another reason why feeding brine shrimp is good for baby tropical fish is the naturally high levels of protein that it contains. Brine shrimp is also rich in other nutrients that have not been subjected to any form of processing method, such as those undergone by freeze-dried foods, pellets, and commercial flakes.
In addition to that, baby brine shrimp can be easily digested. They also have the ability to survive for several hours when placed in a freshwater tank filled with baby tropical fish. This ensures that the tropical aquarium fish are provided a continuous supply of food and that they get to grow in a tank in which the water chemistry has been maintained. A number of commercial fish foods easily dissolve in water and affect its quality.
How to Make a Brine Shrimp Hatchery
What are referred to as brine shrimp eggs are actually cysts which swell with water when they become wet. The brine shrimp cysts start to hatch at a temperature of 78°F after about eighteen hours to one day. Since the baby brine shrimp have incomplete digestive and excretory systems at this point, they cannot take in and process any food. This, and the fact that their bodies are packed with energy, makes them a perfect food source for tropical fish.
Equipment Needed For Brine Shrimp Care
Raising brine shrimp cysts is a simple process which allows you to easily make your own shrimp hatchery. To construct it, you will need to gather your equipment. A small glass tank will serve as the hatching tank for the baby brine shrimp, and another glass tank that is larger in size will serve as the growing tank.
Other supplies needed include a large stiff plastic sheet, a small tapping screw made of stainless steel, air stones to provide a dedicated air supply for the two glass tanks, a large bag of sea salt, a container filled with shrimp eggs, and a handy flashlight. You may add a third glass tank for brine shrimp care if the plan is to raise brine shrimp to adulthood.
1. Divide the hatching tank into two parts
The hatching tank needs to be divided into two parts, with one part taking up two-thirds of the tank’s area. Use the large stiff plastic sheet for this purpose to serve as the divider. In the center portion of the plastic divider, make a hole that is 1 ½-inch in diameter. This hole will be where the baby brine shrimp will easily swim through. After making the hole, set aside the divider to start working on the tank to use when the eggs hatch.
2. Blacken the two-thirds portion of the tank as well as its lid
The goal here is to create an area without a light source while still allowing light to pass through the remaining one-third portion of the tank.
3. Make a cover for the hole in the tank divider
Make a cover for the hole in the tank divider by cutting a disc of plastic that is big enough to go over it. Then use a drill to make small holes both in the disc and in the divider itself. Doing so will accomplish the idea of having the disc function as an eyehole in the hatching tank that, when swung into position, will cover up the hole in the divider. This prevents light from entering the darkened portion of the tank.
4. Place the divider in the tank
Place the divider inside the tank, making sure to get it securely attached and it achieves a snug fit.
5. Measure the entire tank to determine its actual size
Use the figure in order to calculate how much sea salt is needed to create salt water that is strong enough to allow the baby brine shrimp to hatch. Make sure to follow the instructions indicated in the sea salt bag so that salt levels that are a bit higher than required by marine fish are achieved. Since the chlorine and chloramines in chlorinated water are toxic to the baby brine shrimp, it is important to use only dechlorinated tap water or freshwater.
6. Make the blackened portion of the hatching tank truly dark
Place the eyehole in position so that the blackened portion of the hatching tank for it to become truly dark.
7. Install a heater
In case the room where the hatching tank for the baby shrimp is placed is cold, have a heater installed in order to maintain a water temperature that hovers between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Install the air stones
Set up the air stones inside the hatching tank, specifically in the dark area of the tank. Turn on the air stones after installing them successfully.
9. Add shrimp cysts to the dark portion of the hatching tank
Pour 1/4 teaspoon of the shrimp cysts to the dark portion of the hatching tank. Ensure that the air stones are functioning well in order to make sure the cysts float on the water’s surface; it is important that the cysts are prevented from setting on the bottom of the tank.
10. Cover the tank and let the eggs float
Place the lid on the tank and allow the eggs to float on the surface in complete darkness for 12 to 24 hours. When the time is up, check the baby brine shrimp eggs, which usually hatch after 36 hours to two days.
11. Fill the growing aquarium with salt water
Prepare the growing aquarium by filling it with salt water. Make sure it has the same salt concentration as the salt water used in the hatching tank.
12. Do not blacken the growing tank, and do not place any divider in it
Since light is beneficial for growing brine shrimp, it is recommended that the growing tank is placed near a light source such as a window.
13. Install an air stone in the growing tank
To ensure water movement inside the growing tank, make sure to install an air stone. If the room in which the growing tank is situated is cold, set up a heater that prevents the water temperature inside the tank from dipping or rising from around 65°F to 70°F.
14. Turn off the air stone inside the hatching tank
When the eggs have settled, turn off the air stone inside the hatching tank. The moment the brine shrimp have hatched from their eggs, allow the eggs to settle first by turning off the air stone inside the hatching tank. Remember, though, to turn the air stone back on at a later time. Open the eyehole the moment the brine eggs have settled on the bottom of the tank.
15. Encourage the brine shrimps to swim through the eyehole
Encourage the brine shrimps to swim through the eyehole by turning on a flashlight and placing it near the non-darkened portion of the aquarium. Doing this will get the live brine shrimp transferred to the light side of the tank while keeping the dead shrimp as well as any unfertilized or unhatched eggs and empty shells within the darkened area.
16. Remove the live brine shrimp by carefully siphoning them off
Transfer them to a net, and then place them in the growing tank (Some of the live brine shrimp can be set aside in order to be used for tropical fish to eat).
17. Remove unhatched brine shrimp eggs, shells, and dead brine shrimp
It is important to remove any unhatched eggs, shells, and dead brine shrimp from the darkened part of the hatching tank. To keep the shrimp hatchery going, some new eggs should be added each time the tank is cleaned.
How Long It Takes to Hatch Brine Shrimp Eggs
It usually takes 24 hours for eggs to hatch at temperatures of 80°F to 82°F. Getting any lower from these temperatures should be avoided; otherwise, this will result in longer hatching periods. It is also important not to go beyond a temperature of 86°F, or else it would risk damaging the young shrimp.
Feeding Brine Shrimp
Besides raising brine shrimp (at their baby stage) to feed tropical fish, they can also become adult brine shrimp when fed properly. Because the digestive system of a brine shrimp is not yet fully developed in the first 24 hours of its life, no feeding is needed yet during that time. Growing brine shrimps are actually easy to feed since they are not fussy when it comes to their food. One can feed them almost any type of food such as whey, yeast, commercial fry food, soybean powder, wheat flour, spirulina powder, fish meal, and even egg yolk. What is important is that the food used in feeding them is easily digestible by the shrimps but not easily dissolved in water, which is why powdered milk is not an option. One should also avoid overfeeding the brine shrimps as doing so can damage the water quality in the growing tank.
How to Feed Brine Shrimp to Baby Tropical Fish
Many young tropical fish will only eat the food fed to them if that food is moving. As soon as the baby brine shrimp are hatched, stop the aeration process inside the tank by unplugging the air pump, allow the baby brine shrimp immediately to settle, siphon them out, place them in a net, and then feed them directly to the baby tropical fish by pouring into their aquarium.
How to Feed Brine Shrimp to Grown Tropical Fish
The one thing to keep in mind when feeding grown tropical fish is that the wild brine shrimp need a rinse before use. Rinse them under tap water and then place them in a container filled with water taken from the tropical fish aquarium. Doing so will help get the brine shrimps cleaned as well as prevent any trouble with changes in acidity. Similar to feeding the baby tropical fish, one should follow the rules on not overfeeding grown tropical fish.