How to Raise Brine Shrimp (with Pictures)

What Are Brine Shrimp?

Have you ever heard of pet “sea monkeys”? They are actually tiny, saltwater crustaceans that belong to the Artemia genus, and they reproduce by laying encapsulated eggs or cysts that can remain viable on dry land for years.  These same creatures are also used frequently in the aquarium hobby to feed fish. By rehydrating the cysts in salt water for 18-36 hours, you can hatch baby brine shrimp, which come with highly nutritious yolk sacs that are packed with proteins and healthy fats. If you’re serious about breeding fish, live baby brine shrimp is the #1 recommended fry food used by veteran fish breeders and major fish farms all over the world.

Adult brine shrimp swim upside-down by rhythmicall

Adult brine shrimp swim upside-down by rhythmically waving their 22 swimming appendages.

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Brine Shrimp Hatching at Home

As I’ve stated, brine shrimp are an ideal food source for aquatic life, especially larval-fish.

I know hatching brine shrimp can be a daunting task considering prepared and frozen foods are less of a hassle. The only problem is it will take your fish more than a long minute to grow.

Moreover, freshly hatched artemia troops still have their yolk sacs while they are harvested, which make them super nutritious for babies, and their jerking motions really trigger feeding instincts for fry and crustaceans.

Parent fish will also breed more readily if they believe there is plenty of food available for their babies to eat.

So, what do you need and how do you hatch brine shrimp at home?

Below is a detailed guide.

Materials List

  1. Hatchery kit
  2. Air pump and accessories
  3. 6 mm Airline tubing and check valve
  4. Airline manifolds and Micro ball valves: This will allow you to run multiple cultures off of one air pump and control the air to each using the tiny valves
  5. 2 liters plastic bottle: Pick the strongest, thickest bottle that won’t crush
  6. Painters tape and a market
  7. Measuring devices; you can also use tea spoons
  8. RO or Dechlorinated water
  9. Baby shrimp eggs
  10. Aquarium salt; but rocks salt is aslso perfectly OK, and dirt-cheap?
  11. Baking soda or epsom salt
  12. Desk lamp or any other appropriate light source that takes incandescent or halogen bulbs
  13. Thermometer
  14. Botttle holder or hangers; You can try out your DIY skills on this one.

How to Instal Your Brine Shrimp Hatchery Kit

Before we get to the process, I deem it essential to mention that putting all your stakes on one brine shrimp culture is not a risk you want to take.

This is especially true because hatcheries do crush, leaving you with nothing to feed your fish. As such, run several (up to 5) setup at different times for a steady supply/.

Of course, you will need a little more products or custom ones, including a place to hold the bottles.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the steps.

  1. Prepare your water bottle
  2. Instal the air pump
  3. Mix the contents
  4. Start the air pump
  5. Add the brine shrimp eggs
  6. Place the setup under a desk lamp

Step #1&mdashStart with The Water Bottle

To start with, you will need to cut the bottoms of the bottles and put the cut off potions aside as you will use them a while later.

Next install the seal to the bottom of the hatchery stand and place the upside-down bottle on it, with the top part attaching to the base.

However, if yours is a DIY project, meaning you do not have a hatchery kit, you can use DIY C02 bottle caps at the base instead. But since they caps do not have a flat-base, remember to install the bottle hangers or use a wooden holding stand to keep them in place.

When you cut the base of your bottle, make sure the part that remains is strong enough and won’t crumble under the weight of pressure when you add the contents.

Also, make sure you remove the plastic ring that seals the new water or soda bottle to the cup to make it watertight when you screw it to the base or CO2 caps.

Step #2&mdashInstal the Airline Tubing and Air Pump

Once you have your bottle set on the base or the caps on, its time to connect the air supply.

From the stand, hatchery stand, you will have a probe at the very bottom where you insert the airline tubing. Putting your airline on DIY CO2 cups is straightforward because the connection points are clearly visible.

Even so, if you intend on having more than one hatchery running on off the same air pump, meaning you’ll need a manifold, attach two tubings on the DIY cups.

Attach the short ones to the microvalves, and the long one goes to the manifold. Use another airline tubing to attach your manifold to the air pump.

If you are concerned about an imminent power cut, you might want to place a check valve on the airline tubing leading to the pump to keep it from flooding when the lights go out.

Alternatively, place your pump in a spot above the hatchery setup.

Step #3&mdashMix The Contents in The Bottle

With everything well set and in place, mix the hatchery contents in the bottle.

First, start by feeling your bottle about three-quarters (70 percent) full with the dechlorinated or RO water. Some aquarist recommend using warm water, which is also an option, though I have not tried it yet.

If you have a thermometer, place it in the water but make sure you have a reading dial outside the system because the water will get quite hazy.

While adding the salt, baking soda, and the brine shrimp eggs, follow the instruction given in the hatchery kit.

But typically, the average is about a tablespoon and a half of salt per liter of water or 25 parts per thousand which is the specific gravity of 1.018

A pinch of baking soda per liter of water will help to sufficiently stabilize the ph.

Step #4&mdashTurn The Pump On

Now, we are inching closer to the end.

To supply your eggs and hatchling with the much-needed air, you want to turn the air pump on and open the air valves before your add the brine shrimp eggs.

If you have more than once hatchery, regulate the air coming through the manifold using the microvalve to make sure each bottle has sufficient aeration (even number of bubbles).

Step #5&mdashAdd Your Brine Shrimp Eggs

The second last step is to add your brine shrimp eggs in the saline water.

Again, follow the instruction on the hatchery kit, though any amount equal to half a teaspoon per liter of water is perfectly OK. Besides, the measurements are quite flexible, so don’t worry about getting it all accurate.

If you have more than one hatchery, which I recommend, try not to add all your eggs at the same time, stagger then over several hours to a day to make sure you have a continuous supply o brine shrimp for your fish.

To ensure you do not lose track of which bottle is older and which to feed first, use the painter tape to write down the date and time you set up each unit.

Step #6&mdashPlace Your Hatchery Under The Desk Lamp

The last thing we need is heat and light, luckily, something as simple as a desk lamp will provide both.

The water will need to be pretty warm, usually upwards of 82℉ , also keep the light on throughout the incubation period.

Finally, remember to take the cut off parts of the bottle and set them on top of the open side. This will help reduce evaporation and heat retention.

Your eggs will hatch within 24 hours but do not stress out if they don’t because at times the process takes up to 36 hours depending on the conditions.

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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 cysts start to hatch at 78°F after about eighteen hours to one day. Because 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 perfect as food for tropical fish.

Equipment Needed: Hatching brine shrimp cysts is a simple process which allows one to easily make one’s own brine shrimp hatchery. To construct it, one will need to prepare a number of 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 their growing tank. Other supplies needed include a large stiff plastic sheet, a small tapping screw made of stainless steel, airstones to provide a dedicated air supply for the two glass tanks, a large bag of sea salt, a container filled with brine shrimp eggs, and a handy flashlight. One may add a third glass tank to the list if the brine shrimp are to be grown up to their adult stages.

Directions:

1. 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 hatching tank itself. 2. Blacken the two-thirds portion of the tank as well as its lid. The goal here is to create a lightless area 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 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 inside the tank, making sure to get it securely attached and achieving 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 saltwater 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 a salt concentration that is a bit higher required by marine fish is achieved. Because the chlorine and chloramines in chlorinated water are toxic to the baby brine shrimps, it is important to use only water that has been stripped of chlorine. 6. Place the eyehole in position so that the blackened portion of the hatching tank becomes truly dark. 7. In case the room where the hatching tank for the baby brine shrimps is placed is cold, have a heater installed in order to maintain a water temperature that hovers between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 8. Set up the airstones inside the hatching tank, specifically in the dark area of the tank. Turn on the airstones after installing them successfully. 9. To the dark portion of the hatching tank, pour about one-fourth of a teaspoon of the brine shrimp eggs. Ensure that the airstones are functioning well in order to keep the eggs afloat on the water; it is important that the eggs are prevented from setting on the bottom of the tank. 10. Place the lid on the tank to cover it, and then allow the eggs to float in complete darkness for one day and twelve hours. When the time is up, check the baby brine shrimp eggs, which usually hatch after 36 hours to two days. 11. Prepare the growing tank by filling it with saltwater. Make sure it has the same salt concentration as the saltwater used in the hatching tank. 12. Do not blacken the growing tank, and do not place any divider in it. Because 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. To ensure water movement inside the growing tank, make sure to install an airstone. And 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. The moment the brine shrimps have hatched from their eggs, allow the eggs to settle first by turning off the airstone inside the hatching tank. Remember, though, to turn the airstone 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 by turning on a flashlight and placing it near the non-darkened portion of the tank. Doing this will get the live brine shrimps transferred to the light side of the tank while keeping the dead brine shrimps as well as any unfertilized eggs and shells within the darkened area. 16. Remove the live brine shrimps by carefully siphoning them off. Transfer them to a net, and then place in the growing tank (Some of the live brine shrimps can be set aside in order to be used as feed for tropical fish.). 17. It is important to remove any eggs, shells, and dead brine shrimps from the darkened part of the hatching tank. To keep the brine 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 brine shrimp 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 brine shrimps.

Final Thoughts

Brine Shrimp hatcheries are fairly easy to put together and maintain. Shopping around for the right materials, brought this build out to around $10. I know there are plenty of other ways to put a hatchery together besides this. Where you able to find this guide useful enough to hack up something similar? What are some of the ways you could improve this Do-It-Yourself build?

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