How to Hatch Baby Brine Shrimp for Fish Fry
Baby brine shrimps are the best food for raising baby fish. This nutrient-dense food maximizes the survival rate of fry and significantly speeds up their growth. To condition them for breeding, you can even give them to adults. Continue reading to find out how to hatch baby brine shrimp at your home.
What is a Brine Shrimp?
Have you ever heard of “pet sea monkeys” or “sea monkeys?” These tiny saltwater crustaceans are part of the Artemia genus. They reproduce by laying eggs or cysts in encapsulated shells. The cysts can survive on dry land for many years. These same creatures are also used frequently in the aquarium hobby to feed fish. Baby brine shrimp can be hatched by placing the cysts in saltwater for between 18 and 36 hours. The yolk sacs are full of healthy fats, proteins, and vitamins. Baby brine shrimp is the preferred fry food for those who want to breed fish. This is because it’s the #1 choice of major fish farms and veteran fish breeders.
Adult brine shrimp swim upside-down by rhythmically waving their 22 swimming appendages.
How to make Baby Brine Shrimp
We have found the Ziss brine shrimp-hatchery to be one of the most reliable on the market. It is made of strong, high-quality plastic and has built-in ports for inserting a thermometer or heater. This hatchery can be used to hatch brine shrimp 24 hours a day. Although you can build your own hatchery, if you don’t have enough spare materials or tools, this pre-built hatchery will make life easier.
– Ziss brine shrimp hatchery (comes with rigid tubing, Celsius thermometer, air stone, air valve, pipette, and stand) Brine shrimp eggs Air pump Airline tubing Check valve – Small lamp with bendable neck – Aquarium salt or marine salt – Collection cup or container – Small heater (optional) – Baking soda to raise pH (optional) – Epsom salt to raise water hardness (optional)
1. Place the clear plastic “blender”, into the black stand and screw the black blender valve in the base. The blender and stand should be placed near an outlet or power strip.
1. Place approximately 1.75 liters (3.8 to 4.4 cm) of room temperature tap water into the blender. You can avoid brine shrimp eggs sticking to the blender lid by not filling it up to the top. You don’t need to dechlorinate water as it dissolves the brine shrimp eggs’ outer shells.
1. Cut a 1″ piece of airline tubing and use it to connect the rigid tubing to the airline port on the inside of the lid. This allows the rigid tube to reach the bottom. It is not necessary to attach the airstone at the end rigid tubing. We want larger bubbles for increased circulation and oxygenation, which will result in a higher hatch rate.
1. You can heat the water to 74-82degF/23-28degC by heating the entire area, shining a small incandescent or Halogen bulb into the water, or by placing a small heater in the water. (If you are using a heater, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and wait for it to sit underwater for 30 minutes before plugging it in.)
Make sure that the heater’s plug fits through the largest opening on the blender lid.
1. Add 2 tablespoons of aquarium salt to the blender, or use 2 tablespoons of marine salt if you have soft water. Tip: Use a plastic coffee spoon to measure exactly 2 tablespoons. The salt won’t get rusty. If you don’t have marine salt, you can add to 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to raise the pH or add 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt to raise the GH (for 2 liters of water). 2. Add up to 1 tablespoon of brine shrimp eggs. You can extend the life expectancy of your eggs by storing them in the fridge (or in the freezer, if you don’t intend on hatching any more eggs).
1. Find a location for the air pump so that it can reach a nearby power outlet. Connect a longer length of airline tubing from the air pump to the airline port on the top of the blender lid. To prevent water from flooding the hatchery, cut this airline tubing in two. Plug in the air pump and make sure the water in the hatchery is bubbling. (If the pump is running but you can’t feel any air, flip the check valve around.)
This red check valve has the horizontal or colored bar facing the green pump. In the event of a power outage, the check valve prevents water from flooding out of the hatchery.
1. Cover the blender with the lid. Place the O-ring in red on the top of the thermometer and then insert the thermometer into its port. The O-ring should be adjusted so that the thermometer touches the water.
How to Harvest Baby Brine Shrimp
You can take the baby brine shrimps that have hatched after about 18 to 36hrs. If the water is clear and there are no pinkish particles (with the pump off), it could be that the setup is not correct. You could have too many eggs, too much salt, or too low temperatures. Once you’ve identified the problem, wash the hatchery and use a new hatching mix.
1. After the brine shrimp hatch, it’s time for you to separate the eggs shells and unhatched eggs. The heater and air pump should be turned off. Next, shine a light on the blender’s base so that the brine shrimp swim toward the bottom and the eggs rise to the top.
1. After 10 minutes, take a container to collect the brine shrimps and place it under nozzle at base of blender. Remove the blender valve from the base of the blender and remove the brine shrimp. The darker-colored eggs that remain on the surface of the water should not be collected. Screw tight the blender valve to stop the flow of water. Note: If the stand is too short for you to reach the blender valve, we have a short tutorial on how to make a taller DIY stand using PVC pipes.
1. Some people prefer to strain the brine shrimp with a brine shrimp sieve before feeding the fish. We just pour the brine shrimp liquid directly into the tank. (In our experience, a little bit of salt added to the aquarium doesn’t affect the fish.) If you are feeding many tanks, it may be easier to use the included pipette or a no-drip turkey baster to portion out the liquid.
It is easy to tell if fry are eating baby-brine shrimps by their pinkish-orange colored bellies.
1. Thoroughly rinse the blender and the lid after every hatching because rotting eggs and bacterial buildup will pollute the water. Make sure to turn on the blender valve to drain any accumulated bacteria. Wash out all the old eggs and salt deposits with hot water, and now your setup is ready to hatch another batch of brine shrimp eggs.
How Long Can Baby Brine Shrimp Live in Freshwater?
They are saltwater creatures and can only survive in freshwater for about a couple of hours. If you hatched too many baby brine shrimp, refrigerate the liquid and use them within the next two or three days. You can freeze them in ice cube trays if you have excess.
Baby brine shrimp hatch at 450 microns. If your fish fry are too small for you to eat, this tutorial will show you how to grow live vinegar eels.