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The Bug Farm
San Rafael, CA 94903 USA
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Use these for:
· Betta from
hatching to sub-adult
· Corydoras from fry to 1/2 inch sup-adults
· Apistogramma fry to 1/2 inch
· Killifish from fry through adult
· Gourami from 1/4 inch through adult
· Guppy and livebearer fry through adult
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about brine shrimp
Brine shrimp are a superlative food for
starting a large number of aquatic larvae...fish, newts, salamaners, frogs...even shrimp
do very well on newly hatched baby brine shrimp. However, there are few fish that do
better with other foods. Corydoras for example, do very well on Microworms
to start. Microworms sink to the bottom where the catfish fry swim. Vinegar eels are another small nematode that are smaller than
most brine shrimp nauplii, making the eels a better food for smaller mouthed fish fry.
While there is little dispute regarding the
benefits of using newly hatched brine shrimp as a primary food for aquatic larvae, the
timing of that use relative to the hatching time is frequently forgotten. Brine shrimp
have a fairly narrow window of high nutritional value. If one does not feed the shrimp to
the the larvae within about 8 hours (8 hours is on the high side of the equation), the
shrimp lose a significant percentage of the shrimp's original nutritional advantage. The
shrimp use that nutritional value for their own development as it was intended, but
because of their rapid development, musch of that value become waste into the water
column. There are ways to compensate for that nutritional lose but the methods are more
complicated and costly than simply feeding the nauplii within the eight hour window (a
window that may narrow as the temperature of the shrimp hatching water goes up).
There is also the challenge with the salt
water shrimp being placed into a fresh water environment. The shrimp that do not get eaten
quickly (within that nutritional window) either die or loose their nutritional advantage.
One must feed the fish frequently and in small amounts. Vinegar
eels live in fresh water for days. However, the eels are not touted to have the same
high nutritional value of newly hatched shrimp...it's a fine line to walk. You will have
to think of several factors when you consider brine shrimp...and not all of the factors
are directly involving shrimp.
All factors considered...we wouldn't want to
think about not using baby brine shrimp for most of our fishes...we use brine shrimp in
our hatchery and think that you probably should consider learning to use them also.
However, if you are "new" and/or the situation you find yourself in is a
"once-in-a-life-time" sort of situation, you may find that the microworms and vinegar eels will
easier to deal with. While we find that brine shrimp are not difficult to work with, in
some situations (usually scheduling or personal preferences) the shrimp hatchery can
become a burden. Our hobby is fun...keep it that way...do what works for you.
There are other methods of hatching and
harvesting. We have read about plenty of them but each person has to decide what is the
best method for their situation. Each situation dictates what can be done and what will
We have to admit that this is not the most efficient method of hatching and we probably
let some of the artemia die. And too, most days we probably throw out as much baby brine
shrimp as most people use use. But this is what we do and it works for us.
Our brine shrimp hatchery consists of 4 one liter water bottles with the bottom cut off
and the cap screwed on tightly. The
four units sit in small flower pot supports, bottle neck pointing down and the bottom
which was previous cut from the bottle inverted into the open end of the bottle as a
Three of the bottles have a bubbler
placed in them. The bubbler consists of a 10 inch length of rigid plastic tubing on the
end of a length of air tubing. The tubing is connected to a valve to control the air.
The fourth bottle is used in the process of harvesting and cleaning.
The four bottles and their flower pot stands sit inside an old small aquarium and they
rest inside a water bath. A heater heats the water to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
On top of each of three bottle are three pieces of sponge marked: 12, 24 and HAR. The
fourth bottle does not need a sponge marker. These markers are used as reminders of which
of the bottles is in which stage of the process. If you don't think that these markers
play a significant role, try it without them. You'll change your mind.
To start the process, fill each of the bottles with water and place the bubbler tubes into
three of them. Place the numbered marker on the top of the three of them with bubbler
tubes. We find that working clockwise or counter-clockwise is better for us than haphazard
placement of the bottles. It might go something like blank, 12, 24 and then HAR
followed by the blank one.
For the purpose of starting the system, we will pretend that each of the marked containers
has shrimp in various stages of develop in each of the bottles.
The first thing you must do is move one of the bubbler tubes into the empty (blank)
hatching container, then put ¼ teaspoon (we find we can use 1/2 teaspoon with little
negative effects on the hatch rater) of brine shrimp eggs into the new and now bubbling
container. Measure a 1 tablespoon worth of non-iodized salt and set it aside. The reason
you must soak the eggs in bubbling water is that they need to become wet (and round) and
can do that best in fresh moving water.
Move the foam markers (the 12 goes on the new one) the 24 on the formerly labeled 12 and
the HAR goes onto the one that was formerly 24.
*** Continue this process each morning
and evening until each of the marked containers has eggs and hatch(ed)(ing) baby brine
shrimp in them. When the last of the bottles has been filled with eggs and water, wait 12
hours (or so) and them continue with the following explanation.
Take the container that was labeled HAR into the kitchen and prop into a cup. Remove the
lid and rinse off the old eggs. Wait for about 10 minutes.
After ten minutes, put a fine net in position and siphon tube the brine shrimp into the
net. If you start the siphon with your mouth, be sure to pay attention. I have sucked a
moment to long and for the life of me, I don't know what the baby fish taste in baby brine
shrimp. It's gross. Remember to aim the siphoning mixture into the net. I usually
put a weight on the tubing to hold it over the net so that I can work on other things
while the siphon is doing it's thing. When the siphon is done the tube will usually clog
with eggs and the mixture will stop flowing before the shrimp eggs get into the net.
Rinse the eggs and transfer the mix into a container of water.
Rinse the used hatching container and refill to within about 1 ½ inches of the top and
replace it in the empty flower pot in the brine shrimp hatchery in the
its ready for the next batch.
Put the salt that you measured out earlier into the tube marked 12
that should be the
tube that you put the eggs into a little while ago.
***it is important to check that the airlines are resting all the way into the mixture on
the bottom. If their not the eggs will not circulate and then will not hatch.
***if when you are siphoning the brine shrimp into the net they are brown and not
orangish-brown or orange dont bother to feed them to the fish, they have no
nutritional value and the fish probably wont eat them anyway dont worry, just
go through the routine for the hatching process to make sure that you have food in 36
hours. Use Microworms or some other back up food for the
missed 12 hours cycle.
This method does result in a number of dead shrimp prior to feeding. That is if one simply
relies on the 36 hours cycle and 78 degree Fahrenheit. The shrimp should be hatching in
something like 30 hours but we feel that in our particular situation the simple method
compensates for the inefficient nutritional aspects.
In nearly all cases the fry eat the shrimp dead or alive with great gusto.
You might be having second thoughts about using the one liter bottles. We used to use the
2 liter size but found that it took longer to siphon the shrimp and there was a tremendous
waste of water. The one liter system is more compact and we harvest nearly as much shrimp
from the one liter bottles as we did from the two liter ones. The one liter bottles with
the former bottom inverted into the new top can be picked up from the top. The
bottom reinforces the opening and allow us to pick the unit out of the water bath without
the bottle collapsing. Try that with a two liter bottle!
You might also have noticed that we are harvesting and then feeding the shrimp on a 12
hour cycle rather than using bigger batches only once per day. Thats true and on top
of that, each feeding may consist of several mini feedings over the course of an hour. On
top of that we try to feed fry a couple of additional times during the course of a day.
You might think about our method and adapt it so that it works for you. We find ourselves
adapting the method also...when the weather changes for example. We have found that in
cooler weather it takes longer for the shrimp to hatch. We add a fourth one-liter bottle
into the system which lengthens the time between starting and harvesting by 12 hours. You
need to stay somewhat flexible and observant.
In all likelihood your fish and newts will
outgrow the baby brine shrimp. So it's not too early to look beyound the baby brine shrimp
in preparation for their future needs. With the price of brine shrimp cysts skyrocking
such as they have been doing in the late 1990s and into the new decade, you might want to
consider weaning you fish from baby brine shrimp as soon as they are able to eat a food
such as Grindal worms. While not a natureal food for too
many animals, Grindal worms fit a unique niche in size and application. You can "gut load" the worms for additional nutritional benefits.
For nearly all applications, Grindal worms are a near perfect fit for "life after
"We grow food not