How to Hatch Brine Shrimp

Brine Shrimp HatcheryThe image to the right shows my home made brine shrimp hatchery. It is a simple wooden frame which supports three hatching containers. The containers are made of plastic soda bottles from which the bottom has been cut off with a utility knife. The bottoms are inverted and become lids which also support rigid plastic bubbler tubes. The tubes are inserted through small holes in each lid and connected to an air pump through a set of valves (which regulate the air flow).


The brine shrimp eggs will hatch in a solution made from untreated tap water, any non-iodized salt (table salt works fine), and baking soda. I make up about 5 gallons of solution at once and use it over several days. I use 15 cc (1 tablespoon) of salt per liter of water. I use about 15 cc of baking soda per 5 gallon bucket. The latter is not at all critical.


Depending on the temperature in my garage I keep a 40W or 60W bulb on at all times within about 15 cm of the hatching containers. I always run two containers at a time, and start one batch in the morning and one at night. 24 hrs. at 85-90 F is enough time for a good yield. The newly hatched shrimp will live for several days without food but I always use them in the first 48 hrs. (and usually after only 24 hrs.). After that time the nutritional value decreases as the brine shrimp consume their own "yolk sacks". I never feed them. The large brine shrimp sold at pet stores are fed yeast (if cultured) or algae (if harvested from the wild).



Close up photographs of brine shrimp and brine shrimp eggs.

Unhatched brine shrimp eggs

Unhatched brine shrimp eggs usually come in a vacuum packed can.


Newly hatched brine shrimp
The newly hatched brine shrimp make an excellent food for young fish. I feed my angelfish fry only newly hatched brine shrimp for the first two weeks after they become free swimming. I then introduce them to very small amounts of finely ground flake food over the next two weeks (a little bit before each feeding of brine shrimp). It is then possible to completely "wean" the fish to flake food. Continued occasional feeding of brine shrimp will ensure they have adequate beta carotene in their diet which helps in the early development of yellow, orange, and red pigment.


Brine shrimp and fry

This photo shows a freshly hatched shrimp with a fry who has been free swimming for five days. A bite size treat. Uneaten live brine shrimp will live in fresh water for several hours. They are not only a nutritious food source, they are very unlikely to introduce dangerous parasites to a fresh water tank since they are raised in salt water.

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