How to Hatch Baby Brine Shrimp for Fish Fry
Baby brine shrimps are the best food for raising baby fish. This high-nutrient food increases the survival rate and speeds up fry’s growth. Plus, you can even feed them to adults to condition them for breeding. Continue reading to find out how to hatch baby brine shrimp at your home.
What Are Brine Shrimp?
Have you ever heard of pet “sea monkeys”? They are tiny saltwater crustaceans from the Artemia genus. Their reproduction method involves laying encapsulated eggs, or cysts, that can be viable on dry ground 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. If you’re serious about breeding fish, live baby brine shrimp is the #1 recommended fry food used by veteran fish breeders and major fish farms all over the world.
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’s made from strong and high-quality plastic, has built-in ports to insert a thermometer and heater, and is optimized for hatching brine shrimp around the clock if needed. This pre-built hatchery is a great option if your budget doesn’t allow you to build your own.
– 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. Insert the clear plastic “blender” into the black stand, and screw on the black blender valve into the base of the blender. The blender and stand should be placed near an outlet or power strip.
1. Pour in roughly 1.75 liters of room temperature tap water, such that the water level stays about 1.5-1.75 inches (3.8-4.4 cm) below the top rim of the blender. By not filling the water all the way to the top, you can avoid getting brine shrimp eggs stuck on the blender lid. Dechlorinating the water is not necessary as it helps dissolve the brine shrimp egg’s outer shells.
1. Use 1″ airline tubing to attach the rigid tubing to an airline port located inside the lid. This will allow the rigid tubing reach the bottom hatchery. There is no need to attach the air stone at the end of the rigid tubing because we want larger bubbles to increase circulation and oxygenation for a higher hatch rate.
1. Heat the water to 74-82degF (23-28degC) either by heating the entire room, shining a small lamp with an incandescent or halogen bulb, or placing a small heater inside 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 the heater’s plug can fit through the largest opening in the middle of 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: get a plastic coffee spoon, which measures exactly 2 tablespoons and won’t get rusty in the salt.) You can also add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to increase the pH. Or, add 1 teaspoon Epsom salt to increase the GH for 2 liters. 2. Add up to 1 tablespoon of brine shrimp eggs. If you plan to hatch the eggs soon, keep the rest of the eggs in the fridge.
1. You will need to locate the air pump where it can be connected to a nearby power source. Connect a longer length airline tubing from your air pump to the airline port located on top of the blender lid. This airline tubing should be cut into two pieces. Install a check valve between them to stop water from flooding the hatchery. 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 is properly installed with the colored or horizontal bar facing the green air pump. In the event of a power outage, the check valve prevents water from flooding out of the hatchery.
1. Cover the blender using the lid. The lid should be covered with the red O-ring. Adjust the height of the O-ring so that the thermometer reaches the water and you can read the temperature.
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. Now that the brine shrimp have hatched, it’s time to separate them from the egg shells and unhatched eggs. Turn off the heater and air pump. Then shine a flashlight at the blender’s base to make the brine shrimp swim toward it while the eggs float towards the top.
1. After 10 minutes, get a collection container to collect the brine shrimp and place it under the nozzle at the base of the blender. Unscrew the blender valve and collect the brine shrimp. Do not collect any eggs of darker color that are floating on the water surface. To stop water from flowing, tighten the blender valve. You can make a shorter DIY stand by using PVC pipes, if you find the stand too tall to reach the blender valve.
1. Some people like to filter out the brine shrimp using a brine shrimp sieve and rinse them in fresh water before feeding their fish, but we just directly pour the brine shrimp liquid into the tank to feed the fish. (In our experience, a little bit of salt added to the aquarium doesn’t affect the fish.) You may find it easier to use the included pipette, or a no drip turkey baster, to portion the liquid.
You can tell if the fry are eating the baby brine shrimp because their bellies will get round and pinkish-orange colored.
1. After hatching, thoroughly rinse the blender as well as the lid. This is to ensure that the water doesn’t get polluted by rotting eggs or bacterial buildup. To flush the blender, open the valve. Now you are ready to hatch new batches of brine shrimp eggs by washing out the salt and egg deposits with hot water.
How long can baby brine shrimps live in freshwater?
Since they are saltwater creatures, they can only survive in freshwater for a few hours. Refrigerate any baby brine shrimps you hatch and make sure to use them within two or three days. If you still have too much, consider freezing them in ice cube trays for longer term storage.
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.