How to Hatch Baby Brine Shrimp for Fish Fry
Baby brine shrimps are the best food for raising baby fish. This nutritious food greatly increases the survival rate of fry, and also speeds up their growth. Plus, you can even feed them to adults to condition them for breeding. Keep reading to learn how to easily hatch your own batch of baby brine shrimp at home.
What Are Brine Shrimp?
Have you ever heard of pet “sea monkeys”? They are actually tiny, saltwater crustaceans that belong to the Artemia genus, and they reproduce by laying encapsulated eggs or cysts that can remain viable on dry land for years. These same creatures are also used frequently in the aquarium hobby to feed fish. By rehydrating the cysts in salt water for 18-36 hours, you can hatch baby brine shrimp, which come with highly nutritious yolk sacs that are packed with proteins and healthy fats. 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. You can make your own hatchery, but if you don’t have a lot of spare materials and tools lying around, this pre-built hatchery will make your life a lot 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. Place the blender and stand somewhere near a power outlet or power strip.
1. You should add approximately 1.75 Liters of room-temperature tap water to the blender. The water level should be between 1.5-1.75 inches (3.8-4 cm) and the top of 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. Use 1″ airline tubing to attach the rigid tubing to an airline port located inside the lid. This allows the rigid tubing to reach the bottom of the hatchery. 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. Follow the instructions on how to use a heater. Wait for it to cool down for 30 minutes before you plug 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: 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. Use up to one 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 of airline tubing from the air pump to the airline port on the 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. Turn on the pump to ensure that the water 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 that there is no power, the check valve will prevent water from flooding into the hatchery.
1. The lid should be placed on the blender. The lid should be covered with the red O-ring. Adjust the height of your O-ring to ensure that the thermometer is at the water level and that you can read its temperature.
How to harvest baby brine shrimp
You can take the baby brine shrimps that have hatched after about 18 to 36hrs. If there are no pink, moving particles in the water after the pump has been turned off, then the setup may be incorrect. The temperature, eggs or salinity could all be wrong. Once you’ve identified the problem, wash the hatchery and use a new hatching mix.
1. Once the brine shrimp are hatched it is time to separate them the egg shells from unhatched eggs. Turn off the air pump and heater, and then shine a light at the base of the blender so that the brine shrimp swim towards the bottom while the eggs float toward the top.
1. After 10 minutes, collect the brine shrimp in a container and place it underneath the base of your blender. The blender valve should be removed and the brine shrimp collected. 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 rinse the brine shrimp in fresh water and filter it out with a brine shrimp Sieve. However, we simply pour the brine liquid into our 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 your fry are eating baby brine shrimp by the way their bellies turn pinkish-orange.
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. You can now wash out any salt deposits and eggs with hot water and hatch more brine shrimp eggs.
How Long Can Baby Brine Shrimp Live in Freshwater?
Since they are saltwater creatures, they can only survive in freshwater for a few 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.
Keep in mind that baby brine shrimp hatch at approximately 450 microns. So if you have fish fry that are too small to eat, consider growing live vinegar eels with this step-by-step tutorial.