Raise brine shrimp. Everything you need
P. Every fan of aquarium hobby, sooner or later will find words like daphina, brine shrimp, brine shrimp nauplii, larvae or tubifex are a recurrent when we talk about live food for fish .
We at all times want the best for our fish, and we fervently want to feed them that live food that they catch in the wild, but we are not very sure where to buy it and how to keep it at home.
Fortunately, today it is possible to buy brine shrimp eggs and raise brine shrimp at home, so that we never lack to feed our fish.
But let’s start at the beginning …
Buy artemia eggs and everything you need to hatch brine shrimp at home
What is brine shrimp?
When I read for the first time that my guppies ate brine shrimp , and that it was necessary to provide brine shrimp to my female guppies, in order for them to make a good clutch, I went wild to find out what the brine shrimp were.
The brine shrimp (Shrimp or shrimp), which is used to feed aquarium fish, is a tiny crustacean that lives in brackish lakes and ponds.
Their eggs can live up to 5 years in drought conditions, that is why we will see how many fish food manufacturers sell brine shrimp eggs, so that we can hatch them at home and feed their larvae (nauplius) to our fish.
Although any fish that eat live can eat brine shrimp, they are typically marketed to feed fingerlings and small-sized or small-mouth fish.
You can also buy adult brine shrimp that will keep alive for up to a week in the refrigerator, without the need to feed it.
Artemia life cycle
To start the cultivation of brine shrimp at home, it is convenient to know the life cycle of brine shrimp, this small crustacean so important in the feeding of our fish.
Artemia eggs or brine shrimp cyst are produced by adult females. Eggs can remain in this state for a long time.
In nature, this dormancy period occurs when winter arrives, when the water temperature drops.
Hatching brine shrimp eggs
When spring arrives, the daylight hours increase, the water temperature rises and the salinity of the water falls.
It is the ideal environment for brine shrimp cysts to become active and hatch.
They will first begin by absorbing water and after a day or two, they open and the brine shrimp nauplii appear.
Phases through which the artemia nauplius passes
During the first days the nauplii feed on the yolk sac from the egg.
Within a few days your digestive system matures and begins to feed on microalgae, bacteria and debris.
At first its body is practically non-existent, it has a large head with which it helps to swim and a poorly developed trunk.
After it develops its trunk, limbs appear that help it to swim and eyes appear, which at first do not exist.
Juvenile phase of brine shrimp
At this stage they bear a great resemblance to their adulthood. The limbs, called thoracopods, are already fully developed.
Sex differences appear between males and females. Females develop their brood sac, while males develop clamps that serve to anchor themselves to the female during mating.
In this phase , males are clearly differentiated from females, which are slightly larger and their sack of young is visible to the naked eye.
Females can live for four months and produce 300 young every four days , if conditions are right.
If conditions change, salinity rises, temperature drops or oxygen decreases, females produce dormant cysts, what we know as eggs.
Buying live brine shrimp or growing brine shrimp at home
If you don’t want to bother raising brine shrimp at home, you can always buy live brine shrimp from specialist places. The great advantage of growing brine shrimp at home is that it is really cheap, you control the entire process and the quality of the food you give your fish.
For brine shrimp eggs to hatch at home and have constant live food, you only need one or two plastic bottles, brine shrimp eggs (which can be easily purchased, even online) and the right conditions.
I suggest using plastic bottles for bottled water or soft drinks, although there are several models on the market to hatch brine shrimp eggs.
Optimal conditions for brine shrimp eggs to hatch
- Saltwater. The proper salinity is 32.5 grams per liter, about three or four teaspoons.
- We can use common kitchen salt, although it is advisable to use sea salt for aquariums.
- The optimum water temperature is 28ºC, but it can range between 20ºC and 30ºC.
- The incubation time of the eggs is 24 to 48 hours.
- The eggs must always be kept in motion, for which it is convenient to put an air pump on the bottle.
- Highly oxygenated water, almost saturated.
System for hatching brine shrimp eggs
Using a plastic bottle of bottled water is no coincidence, if you look at the devices they sell to incubate brine shrimp eggs, you will see that they are funnel-shaped.
The reason is that if the eggs stay at the bottom they die. One trick is to tilt the bottle a little.
- The first thing is to cut the bottom of the bottle to let the air out, change the water… it will be like a micro aquarium.
- A small hole is made in the cap of the bottle, to which we will attach a small tube, through which we will add air through the aeration circuit of the aquarium. The aerator must be above the level of the water surface to prevent backlash, if the air pump stops.
- To get the water to have the right temperature we have several ways. You can use a thermo-heater, put the bottle next to a heat source (such as a lamp) or put the bottle in a warm water aquarium.
We already know how the mechanical part of the brine shrimp hatchery works.
- To start it up, it is enough to fill the bottle with salt water halfway.
- Add one or two teaspoons of brine shrimp eggs , turn on the aerator and cover.
- After a day or two depending on the water temperature, the brine shrimp will start to hatch.
Collecting the brine shrimp
- To collect the brine shrimp we must stop the aerator, and let it rest for about five minutes.
- Next, we have two ways to extract the brine shrimp. We can remove the cap and we pass the water through a sieve to collect the brine shrimp or we use a tube to extract the water (siphon), and we pass it through a sieve.
- With the tube (if we take it to the bottom of the bottle), we will first obtain the eggs that have not hatched, then the brine shrimp nauplius and finally the empty shells.
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