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 nutrient-dense food maximizes the survival rate of fry and significantly speeds up their growth. You can also feed them to adult to prepare them for breeding. 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. You can make baby brine shrimp by rehydrating the cysts for 18 to 36 hours in salt water. These eggs are rich in healthy fats and proteins. Baby brine shrimp is the preferred fry food for those who want to breed fish. This is because it’s the #1 choice of major fish farms 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
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. 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. Place the clear plastic “blender”, into the black stand and screw the black blender valve in the base. Place the stand and blender near a power outlet.
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. You can avoid brine shrimp eggs sticking to the blender lid by not filling it up to the top. Also, there is no need to dechlorinate the water since it helps dissolve the outer shells of the brine shrimp eggs.
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 tube to reach the bottom. 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. 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: 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. 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. You will need to locate the air pump where it can be connected to a nearby power source. Connect the longer length of airline tubing to the port at the top of your 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. Turn on the pump to ensure that the water is bubbling. If you feel no air coming from the pump, flip the check valve.
This red check valve has the horizontal or colored bar facing the green 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. Slip the red O-ring onto the top third of the thermometer, and insert the thermometer into the thermometer-sized port in the lid. 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. It could be that the temperature is too cold, eggs are too old, or salinity is not right. Once you have identified the problem, rinse the hatchery to remove it and then start a fresh 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. To stop water from flowing, tighten the blender valve. 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 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 your fry are eating baby brine shrimp by the way their bellies turn pinkish-orange.
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. Also, don’t forget to open the blender valve to flush it clean. 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 Shrimp 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. 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.