How to Hatch Baby Brine Shrimp for Fish Fry
When it comes to raising baby fish, baby brine shrimp are one of the best live foods that money can buy. This nutritious food greatly increases the survival rate of fry, and also speeds up their growth. To condition them for breeding, you can even give them to adults. Keep reading to learn how to easily hatch your own batch of baby brine shrimp at home.
What are Brine Shrimps?
Have you 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. 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. Live baby brine shrimp is the best choice for fish breeding if you are serious about it. It’s used by major fish farms around the world and veteran fish breeders.
The 22 swimming appendages of adult brine shrimps are rhythmically waved upside-down to swim upside down.
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. Although you can build your own hatchery, if you don’t have enough spare materials or tools, this pre-built hatchery will make life 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. The clear plastic “blender”, which is the transparent plastic part, should be inserted into the black stand. Screw the black blender valve into its base. The blender and stand should be placed near an 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. To avoid brine shrimp eggs getting stuck to the blender lid, don’t fill the water up to its top. Dechlorinating the water is not necessary as it helps dissolve the brine shrimp egg’s outer shells.
1. You can cut a 1 inch piece of airline tubing, and connect it to the airline port 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. 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 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 spoon that measures exactly 2 tablespoons. It won’t get stained by 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. You can add up to 1 tablespoon brine shrimp eggs. For increased longevity, store the rest of the eggs in the refrigerator (or in the freezer if you don’t plan on hatching the rest of them in the near future).
1. Find a location for the air pump so that it can reach a nearby power outlet. Connect a longer length airline tubing from your air pump to the airline port located on top of the blender lid. Cut this airline tubing into two pieces, and install a check valve in between to prevent water from flooding out of the hatchery. Plug in the air pump and make sure the water in the hatchery is bubbling. If you feel no air coming from the pump, flip the check valve.
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. 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
The baby brine shrimps will be ready to collect after 18 to 36 hours. If there are no pink, moving particles in the water after the pump has been turned off, then the setup may be incorrect. It could be that the temperature is too cold, eggs are too old, or salinity is not right. 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, take a container to collect the brine shrimps and place it under nozzle at base of blender. The blender valve should be removed and the brine shrimp collected. (Do not collect the darker-colored eggs floating at the water surface.) Screw tight the blender valve to stop the flow of water. 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.) It may be easier to use the pipette included or a non-drip turkey baster to portion the liquid if you have multiple tanks.
You can tell if the fry are eating the baby brine shrimp because their bellies will get round and pinkish-orange colored.
1. After every hatching, rinse thoroughly the blender and the cover. Rotting eggs and bacteria can pollute the water. Make sure to turn on the blender valve to drain any accumulated bacteria. 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 for?
They are saltwater creatures and can only survive in freshwater for about a couple of hours. If you hatched too many baby brine shrimp, refrigerate the liquid and use them within the next two or three days. If you still have too much, consider freezing them in ice cube trays for longer term storage.
Remember that baby brine shrimp hatch out at 450 microns in size, so if your fish fry are too small to eat them, try culturing live vinegar eels first with this easy, step-by-step tutorial.