How to Hatch Baby Brine Shrimp for Fish Fry
Baby brine shrimps are the best food for raising baby fish. This nutrient-dense food maximizes the survival rate of fry and significantly speeds up their 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 Shrimps?
Have you ever heard of pet “sea monkeys”? These tiny saltwater crustaceans are part of the Artemia genus. They reproduce by laying eggs or cysts in encapsulated shells. The cysts can survive on dry land 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 adult brine shrimp swim upside down by waving their 22 swimming appendages rhythmically.
How to make Baby Brine Shrimp
The Ziss brine shrimp hatchery is one of the best hatcheries we’ve found on the market. It’s made of high-quality, strong plastic. There are built-in ports that allow you to insert a heater and thermometer. The hatchery is ideal for hatching brine shrimp all day. 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. 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. To avoid brine shrimp eggs getting stuck to the blender lid, don’t fill the water up to its top. You don’t need to dechlorinate water as it dissolves the brine shrimp eggs’ outer shells.
1. Cut a 1″ piece of airline tubing and use it to connect the rigid tubing to the airline port on the inside of 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. The water can be heated to 74-82°F (23-28°C) by heating the room, shining an incandescent bulb or halogen bulb inside, or by heating the whole area. If you’re using a heater, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. After it has cooled, place it under water for at least 30 minutes.
Make certain that the heater plug fits through the largest hole in 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: Use a plastic coffee spoon to measure exactly 2 tablespoons. The salt won’t get rusty. If you don’t have marine salt, you can add to 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to raise the pH or add 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt to raise the GH (for 2 liters of water). 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. Connect the air pump to the hatchery and check that it 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. Slip the red O-ring onto the top third of the thermometer, and insert the thermometer into the thermometer-sized port in the lid. The O-ring should be adjusted so that the thermometer touches the water.
How to Harvest Baby Brine Shrimp
The baby brine shrimps will be ready to collect after 18 to 36 hours. If the water is clear and there are no pinkish particles (with the pump off), it could be that the setup is not correct. 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. After the brine shrimp hatch, it’s time for you to separate the eggs shells and unhatched eggs. The heater and air pump should be turned off. Next, shine a light on the blender’s base so that the brine shrimp swim toward the bottom and the eggs rise to 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. Screw tight the blender valve to stop the flow of water. Note: If the stand is too short for you to reach the blender valve, we have a short tutorial on how to make a taller DIY stand using PVC pipes.
1. Some people prefer to strain the brine shrimp with a brine shrimp sieve before feeding the fish. We just pour the brine shrimp liquid directly into the tank. (In our experience, a little bit of salt added to the aquarium doesn’t affect the fish.) If you are feeding many tanks, it may be easier to use the included pipette or a no-drip turkey baster to portion out the liquid.
You can tell if your fry are eating baby brine shrimp by the way their bellies turn pinkish-orange.
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. 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?
They are saltwater creatures and can only survive in freshwater for about a couple of 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.
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.