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How To Decap Brine Shrimp

How to decap brine shrimp Decapsulating Brine Shrimp Eggs.

Decapsulating brine shrimp cysts -- the process of dissolving away their hard outer shell -- may sound intimidating at first and may seem awkward when you first attempt it.  No doubt you will have these instructions open, your eyes glued to the page, with all of your supplies at the ready the first few times you perform this procedure. Relax, this is not difficult at all, and after you've done it a couple of times, you will see how truly easy it is and realize decapping is well worth the extra few steps. I will walk you through each numbered step. Measurements do not have to be exact. Regular strength bleach is best, but ultra bleach can be used at lesser portions. You can estimate this yourself.

Decapsulating your cysts is beneficial for a number of reasons:

  • Reduces the risk of hydroids.
  • Removes the outer shell, which means less mess and no fouling of your tank.
  • Eliminates intestinal blockages from accidental ingestion of indigestible shells.
  • Kills off any and all unwanted contaminants.
  • Slightly quicker hatching times.
  • Better hatch rates.
  • Increased nutritional value secondary to less energy expenditure during hatching.

Supplies Needed for Decapsulating:

  • Brine shrimp net
  • Air pump
  • Plastic clip or paper clip wrapped in baggie to clip airline into  the container
  • Approximately 2 teaspoons brine cysts.
  • Approximately 2/3 cup of bleach
  • Approximately 2 cups of water


Pour your water into a container and clip airline tubing to the side. (No air stone is needed for this). This will keep the cysts in motion. Allow the cysts to aerate this way for approximately 1 hour or a little more.

Add in your bleach and continue aerating. As the outer shell gradually dissolves, the eggs go through a series of color changes from brown to gray to white and finally to orange--the color of the nauplii within.  This process takes about 7 minutes.   The decapsulation process is complete when your cysts become an orange- yellowish color.

Pour decapsulated eggs into a brine shrimp net. Add a dechlorination product if you want and rinse until you no longer smell bleach.

Drop eggs into your hatching container. You can also refrigerate eggs for about 1 week prior to use in a supersaturated saline solution.

You will need to either feed the bbs to your seahorses immediately after hatching, when their yolk supply is virtually intact and they have their maximum nutritional value, or feed bbs that are 2-days old or older and have been enriched prior to feeding.

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