Brine shrimp, also known as artemia, are a boon to tropical fish keepers. They can be used as food for fish of all sizes. They can be fed live or frozen and even freeze-dried. Processed brine shrimp can usually be obtained from almost any pet shop. The live shrimp may be a little harder to find, but they are worth it.
Live baby brine shrimp are the best source of food for fry. The eggs are easily hatched in a solution of salt water, then strained through a fine net and fed to the fry.
Adult Brine ShrimpAn adult brine shrimp, about twice its natural size.
Ugly spud isn’t it?
Making Your Own Brine Shrimp Hatchery
© 1997, Clint Norwood
Brine Shrimp hatchery
The Hatcher In Action
Macro photo of baby brine shrimp © Clint Norwood You will need an empty 1 litre soft drink bottle, a 12 inch length of rigid airline tubing and a large mouth jar of some sort so that the soft drink bottle will fit into when inverted.
Cut the bottom off of the soda bottle, leaving about an inch of the sides left on. Punch a hole the size of the airline tubing in the center of the bottom piece. Invert the large top part of the soda bottle and fit it into the wide mouthed jar.
Now turn the bottom piece over and fit it into the top of the inverted bottle, insert the tubing all the way to within about a 1/4 inch of the bottom of the hatchery. Add some regular airline tubing to hook it up to an air pump and your hatchery is complete.
Using the hatcher
Now all you need to do is add about 1/2 litre of tap water and a half teaspoon of aquarium salt. Hook up the air pump to mix the salt solution and add about a 1/4 teaspoon of brine shrimp eggs. In about 24 hours you should have hatched most of your eggs if they have been kept at 80 degrees F, it takes longer at cooler temperatures.
Unhook the air pump and wait about 5 minutes the baby brine shrimp will settle to the bottom neck part of the hatchery and then you can use the air line to siphon the shrimp into a fine meshed net.
I usually invert the net into a cup of fresh water and use a eye dropper or turkey baster to dole out the shrimp to all of my fry tanks. You can usually use the same hatching water twice before mixing up another batch although you do have to add more eggs each time.
You will find that baby brine shrimp are the perfect fry food, ensuring fast growth and healthy vigorous fry.
My Personal Tips For A Better Hatch
Getting the highest quality eggs with the highest hatch rate, 95%, is very much worth the price difference.
I use less salt for hatching than most references state, the shrimp seem to hatch quicker and the water quality holds up longer. Salt is cheap, but in this instance less is better.
There’s no need to dechlorinate hatch water, in fact the chlorine is beneficial to a better hatch rate.
If you are having consistantly bad hatches, blame the eggs. Buy better quality eggs. Eggs that are stored in a petshop for a few months will get exposed to excess moisture and the hatch rate will really suffer.
Always keep stored eggs in a dry place, not close to the fish tanks. I use a sealed container for egg storage, and when posible I use 2 or more of those tiny “stay dry” silica pouches that come with some electronic and food items.