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Hatching Brine Shrimp

Brine Shrimp Hatchery

Tony's Brine Shrimp Hatchery set up that uses two liter soda bottles with the bottoms cut off.

By Tony Griffitts

Newly hatched brine shrimp (Artemia sp.) are used by many hobbyists to feed small fish, cichlid and livebearer fry, and coral reef tanks.  For those hobbyists that like to raise cichlids it is in many cases an essential first food for the newly free swimming fry.  Most newly free swimming cichlid fry will not eat unless the food is alive.

Newly hatched brine shrimp are most nutritious when they first hatch and loose much of their nutritional value within 24 hours after hatching.  You should try to use up all the brine shrimp within 24 hours after hatching.  Brine shrimp eggs normally start hatching in about 24 hours at 70° to 80° F (21° to 27° C).  You should have two containers for hatching brine shrimp if you plan on raising small fry, one you will be feeding out of, and the other for hatching.  I always start a new batch in the evening after the last feeding.  The next morning I will be feeding out of the container I started two evenings ago.

I use two liter plastic soda bottles with the bottoms cut off for hatching. Air line is connected to rigid air line tubing (about 12 inches [30 cm] long).  The rigid air line is placed inside the bottle.  Airline is connected to a gang valve to control air flow rate.  Normally only a small air pump is required to aerate the hatcheries.  San Francisco Bay Brand® also makes a stand that you can screw the neck of the bottle into.  It also comes with an air line to hook it up to an air pump, and 3 bags of eggs and salt.  Once you used up all the initial eggs/salt bags that come with the kit, you can buy the eggs by themselves and use 2 tablespoons of aquarium or marine aquarium salt.  Eggs that are in a container by themselves normally have a better hatch rate.  Marine aquarium salt also increases the hatch rate of the eggs.  The eggs and newly hatched brine shrimp need to be aerated to keep them alive.

How to harvest  newly hatched brine shrimp.

Once the brine shrimp have hatched cut the air supply to the container for 5 or 10 minutes or in my case I just pull the rigid air line from the hatchery.  This will allow for the egg shells to settle (most float to the top) and the brine shrimp to swarm in a small shoal near the bottom.  If you are using the 2 liter bottle, the brine shrimp will normally settle to the neck of the bottle in an orange mass.  This will allow for easy removal with a ¼ inch or smaller tubing.  Start a siphon from the 2 liter bottle to another collection container making sure that you try to collect only the brine shrimp and not the egg shells.  Once the brine shrimp have been harvested you can then strain them from the saltwater by using a "Brine Shrimp" net.  The shrimp can then be rinsed off with freshwater and then fed to your fish.  The brine shrimp will normally swim around in a freshwater aquarium for several hours before they are eaten or die.  Normally cichlid fry will need to be fed newly hatch brine shrimp 2 to 3 times per day and for 2 to 3 weeks before you can switch them over to other small foods.

Published - 2006

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