Most saltwater aquarium enthusiasts provide their fish, crustaceans, and corals with live feed. It is a great way to give them a natural diet and helps your ecosystem develop and mature.
A popular live feed for saltwater aquariums is brine shrimp. Perhaps you already incorporate these into the diet of your marine life, but did you know that you can hatch and grow brine shrimp yourself?
What Are Brine Shrimp?
Brine shrimp are small crustaceans that can grow at least 8mm in length. They are found in brine pools and other inland waters with a high level of salinity. They do not exist in the oceans. Because they can in waters with high levels of salinity they are able to avoid most natural predators, allowing them to thrive in these places.
These wonderful little creatures have existed since the Triassic period without evolving much, so they must be getting something right! They feed mostly on green algae and their eggs are really hardy, meaning they can hatch under a range of conditions.
Hatching and looking after brine shrimp is pretty easy. In fact, you might have already hatched these crustaceans as a child without even realizing it! Sea monkeys, the forever popular pet for a lot of kids, are actually a breed of brine shrimp.
Why Are Brine Shrimp a Good Live Feed?
Brine shrimp are a great source of protein for your fish and contain a lot of great nutrients that are important for your marine life to be strong and healthy.
If you have baby tropical fish in your saltwater aquarium, brine shrimp are a perfect way to prove these with the protein and nutrients they need to grow. They are also easy to digest for the smaller fish.
Brine shrimp are also known to survive for a few hours when put in the tank and this means that your marine life has a longer supply of feed. It also engages your fish’s natural hunting abilities, keeping your creatures active and occupied.
How To Grow Brine Shrimp
Brine shrimp grow quickly and there are lots of reasons why you would wish to grow them before feeding them to your fish. When you are growing the brine shrimp, you are increasing the protein in the small crustaceans. This means that they are more suitable for larger fish.
By hatching and growing brine shrimp, you will have a constant supply of live feed for your fish.
What You Will Need
To grow brine shrimp you will need;
- Brine shrimp eggs, which you can buy at a lot of pet stores.
- Two containers, one a cone hatchery and one a grow out tank.
- Fresh saltwater.
- An air supply.
- Food for the brine shrimp.
The Hatching Process
You can buy specific hatching cones, however, some people chose to make DIY hatching cones out of plastic drinks bottles. You will then need to put a tube attached to an air pump in, with the tube nearly touching the bottom of the cone.
The water in the hatchery should be of a pH of 8.0 or higher and have a saliency of 25ppt. A constant light source is helpful for the hatching process and a temperature of 26-28°C will mean the eggs will hatch in a day or so. Do not have the light too close to the hatching cone, rather at a distance of about 8 inches.
It is important not to put too many eggs in the one hatchery and it is advised that 1 gram of eggs per every liter of water gives you the best chance of success.
After hanging up and setting up the hatchery with the correct light, heat, and water, add the egg. Let them soak before turning on the water pump. Leave them for a day or so and then check them to see if they are hatched!
The Growing Process
When the brine shrimp have hatched, turn off the water pump, and let the water settle. You will see broken eggs at the top of the hatchery and the baby shrimp will be swimming around the bottom. You can then either carefully drain or siphon the water to remove the shrimp from the broken eggs. Rinse the baby shrimp with salt water, and then put them into the growing tank!
Of course, you can feed these baby brine shrimp to small fry at this point, so it is up to you and your aquarium needs if you choose to grow the shrimp.
In regards to the grow tank, what the container is doesn’t matter too much. You could use buckets or small tanks, whatever is available to you! Make sure the levels of salt and the temperature is similar to the hatching tank. Add air stones to the tank to assist in the water movement.
For the first 24 hours, your baby brine fish won’t eat, but then after this period they will need a constant supply of food! Brine shrimp aren’t fussy when it comes to food, so commercial feed and foods such as yeast, egg yolk, soybean powder can be fed to them.
They will need a lot of food to grow, but be careful not to add too much food into the tank as this will cause maintenance issues! After a few weeks, your brine shrimp will be fully grown and ready to feed to your fish!
Growing your own brine shrimp for your marine life can be really rewarding and it means that you are making sure your fish are getting the live food that they need! It can take time to get the hang of the method, but once you do it will become second nature and you will love having a constant supply of live feed for your fish!