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The Bug Farm
San Rafael, CA 94903  USA

2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, J.Atchison

The Bug Farm grows Grindal worms, Fruit Flies, Microworms and more!
Use these for:

Betta from hatching to sub-adult
Corydoras from fry to 1/2 inch sup-adults
Newts
Salamanders
Apistogramma fry to 1/2 inch
Killifish from fry through adult
Gourami from 1/4 inch through adult
Guppy and livebearer fry through adult

Ask us more 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 work.
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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.
wpe61D.jpg (8177 bytes)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 splash guard.

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.
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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 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 inches of the top and replace it in the empty flower pot in the brine shrimp hatchery in the fishroom…it’s 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 don’t bother to feed them to the fish, they have no nutritional value and the fish probably won’t eat them anyway don’t 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. That’s 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 brine shrimp."

"We grow food not bait"


 

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