Live brine shrimp (Artemia) can be a fantastic fish food that can be utilized for many purposes. After you have been in the fishkeeping hobby for awhile you may become interested in brine shrimp because you'll start to hear about it all the time. There are mainly two different varieties out there. One is the San Francisco brine shrimp and the other is the Great Salt Lake brine shrimp. The San Francisco shrimp is smaller that the Salt Lake variety and can be used to feed small fry in the early stages of development. You could then transition to the Salt Lake variety.
Live brine shrimp serves an important purpose:
- You can give them to your tropical fish as a high quality treat
- Feed them to your fry (baby fish) for quicker growth rates
- Can be used to trigger spawning and breeding behavior in certain fish species
Brine Shrimp for Breeding Fish
Brine shrimp is packed with good stuff for your fish. These small shrimps are approximately 50% protein and 20% fat. If you're trying to breed your fish, whether it is freshwater or saltwater, brine shrimp can be an excellent food source for any successful larvae you produce. If you're having difficulty breeding fish, and assuming you have a pair, try giving them live brine shrimp for a few days or even a week and see if it helps.
How to Set Up a Brine Shrimp Hatchery
Now that you've heard about some of the benefits of this great food source, let's talk about how to make some for your own fishes. The best part about raising your own brine shrimp is that it is fairly easy to do. First, you will need the following equipment:
- Empty, clean 2 liter soda bottle with lid
- Rigid airline tubing with air stone
- Small air pump with flexible airline tubing
- Light source
- Turkey baster
- Coffee Filter
- Brine Shrimp eggs
Set up your hatchery
The amount of water to put into the soda bottle depends on the directions that come with the shrimp eggs. The San Francisco Bay brand of brine shrimp eggs is very popular and commonly found in pet shops. We'll use this product in the setup of our hatchery. According to the directions you will want to use 1 liter of water for each 14 oz. package of brine shrimp. So, fill up the soda bottle half way with room temperature dechlorinated tap water. Empty the contents of the brine shrimp package into the soda bottle.
Next, you will need to poke a hole into the top of the soda bottle lid. Use a nail or screw slightly larger than the rigid airline tubing to poke the hole in the bottle lid. A slightly larger nail will create a hole that will allow air to escape from the bottle once we plug in the air pump. Push the rigid tubing through the newly created hole in the lid and then attach the air stone to the bottom of the rigid tubing. Then hook up the flexible airline tubing to the top of the rigid airline tubing. Finally, hook up the flexible airline tubing to the air pump, place the air stone end of the rigid tubing into the soda bottle and screw on the lid. Plug in the air pump and ta da! You have your very own brine shrimp hatchery.
Setup the hatchery near a light source to keep the water in the soda bottle warm. The warmer the water the faster the eggs will hatch. You don't want it too warm though. Try for a temperature range between 80-90° F (27-32° C). Let it sit for 24 to 48 hours and you should have a fresh hatch of brine shrimp. They are extremely small and can be hard to see. The water should look more red than brown. You may need to hold the bottle up to a source of light and watch for the tiny shrimp swimming around.
Congratulations on your first hatch. Now it's time to use the turkey baster to siphon out the brine shrimp. If you have a larger size turkey baster, you may need to cut off the top of the soda bottle to get it in there. Once you do you will want to siphon out the small shrimp and then slowly expel them into a coffee filter sitting in the sink. The water should drain through the filter leaving only the shrimp behind. Be sure to stick the turkey baster towards the bottom of the soda bottle before siphoning. The empty shrimp shells should float to the surface of the bottle. If you place a light under the bottle while doing this the live shrimp should be drawn towards the light, making it easier to collect them.
Once you've siphoned out most of the water from the bottle into your coffee filter, you should have a decent amount of brine shrimp for feeding your fish. Spoon them to your fishes and they will love your for it. If you produce too much for one feeding just put them into some dechlorinated, warm temperature water until you're ready to feed your fish. Their nutritional value does diminish as the get larger.
Obviously, this was a quick, cheap and dirty way to get your own brine shrimp hatchery setup and you'll no doubt want to experiment and modify this technique to fit your own needs. There are many, many ways you could enhance this setup. For instance you could rig a second soda lid so that it is water tight (use aquarium sealant) around a short length of rigid tubing. Then use a airline valve that will be used to regulate the flow of shrimp. Put this new lid on the soda bottle, close the airline valve, tip the bottle upside down next to a light source and over a collecting container and then open the airline valve. Watch all the live brine shrimp flow into the collecting container. Then you could use the turkey baster to feed your fishes from the collecting container. The set up possibilities are only limited to your imagination.
Still need more information on how to set up a brine shrimp hatchery? Check out the tutorial video below.Brine Shrimp Video
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