Brine Shrimp Culture
Brine shrimp (Artemia) are a highly nutritious food that you can easily culture
in your home. The newly hatched shrimp, called nauplii, are small enough to be
eaten by corals and young marine fry. It is also quite simple to grow the nauplii
out to adults, which will be eagerly eaten by your adult fish. See the references
below for more on raising adult brine shrimp.
Building the Hatchery
- 1 L soda bottle
- Rigid airline tubing
- Flexible airline tubing
- Coarse filter material
- 50micron filter material
- Canister of brine shrimp cysts
- Rubber bands
Step 1: Cut the soda bottle at about 1/3 of its height, measured from the
bottom. Make sure the cap is sealed well on the top (test that it will hold
water). Invert the top of the bottle and place inside the bottom for support.
Step 2: Create a stock solution of salt water from tap water and 1 Tbsp/Liter of
your favorite salt mix. You do not need to dechlorinate the tap water. (1 gal
= 3.8 Liters)
Step 3: Add salt water to within 1" of the top of the hatchery container.
Add 1/4 tsp. (or even less) of brine shrimp cysts to the water.
Step 4: Attach the flexible airline tube to an air pump on one end, and to
the rigid tube on the other end. Put the rigid airline tube through the
center of the coarse filter material. Insert the rigid tube into the
hatchery, and rubber band the filter material around the top of the
hatchery - this will keep salt spray in.
Step 5: Turn on air flow, and adjust so that the water and cysts are being
vigorously aerated. The amount of flow you want is often likened to a
Harvesting the Brine Shrimp
Within 24 hrs or less the brine shrimp cysts will have hatched. Turn off
the air pump and place the hatchery container underneath a light. After a
few minutes hatched cysts (empty shells) will float on the surface. The
brine shrimp will collect in the middle of the bottle and will be drawn
towards the light. Any unhatched cysts will settle on the bottom of the
container. Draw off brine shrimp from the middle of the container using
either a turkey baster, or airline tubing as a siphon. Since brine shrimp
are drawn to a light source, you can also use a flashlight to get them all
into one area.
Cut off the bottom of a disposable plastic cup and attach the 50micron
filter to the bottom of it with a rubber band. Pour the collected brine
shrimp through this cup - you do not want to add the brine shrimp water to
your tank. Then rinse them back off in the other direction with tank
water. For this purpose, you can also purchase a brine shrimp net online
or at an LFS for about $2. Now you are ready to feed!
That's all there is to it. You should feed all your nauplii within the
first twelve hours of them hatching. After this time, they have used up
the yolk sack that they hatched with and their nutritional value is greatly
diminished. Brine shrimp feed by absorbing nutrients from the water, so
you can feed (enrich) them by adding green water, DT's phytoplankton,
selcon, etc. to the hatchery container. Using this technique you can
prolong the amount of time you have to use them by about 24-36 hrs. If you
wish to maintain them (in a nutritious state) any longer than this, you
should read more about their adult culture in the references.
Many sources recommend maintaining the culture at specific temperatures and
under lights to improve hatch times and rates. I have found with these
cysts that keeping them at room temperature and without any extra lighting
(I keep them in the corner of a dimly lit room) I have excellent hatch
rates and a hatch time of ~18-20 hrs.
If you are feeding the brine shrimp to a reef tank, do not be concerned
with getting some cysts in the tank. This is merely an aesthetic problem,
as the cysts may collect at the water line and be unsightly. If you are
feeding fry, however, you must be very cautious as some small fry may choke
on the cysts. If this is a concern for you, read about decapsulating cysts
in the references.
If you enjoy this project and would like to purchase more cysts, I highly
recommend ordering them from Jehm Co., a fish room supply company located in NJ.
- Marini, Frank. "Artemia". Advanced Aquarist's Online Magazine. The Breeder's Net Column, Dec. 2002. http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/dec2002/breeder.htm
- Moe, Martin A. Breeding the Orchid Dottyback. Green Turtle Publications, 1997.
- Wilkerson, Joyce D. Clownfishes: A Guide to their Captive Care, Breeding, & Natural History. TFH Publications, Inc., 1998.
There are many others available online, so surf around!