Brine shrimp are hatched in full strength saltwater. Be sure to set up an array of at least two brine shrimp hatcheries so you can hatch out more baby brine shrimp each day before you run out. Many commercially made hatcheries are available or you can easily improvise your own from 2-liter soda pop bottles or quart jars. Fill the jars or bottles about 4/5 full with saltwater and equip each container with an airstone connected to a length of rigid airline tubing that reaches all the way to the bottom. An inexpensive vibrator air pump with a set of gang valves with put out enough air for the entire battery of hatching containers. Add 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of brine shrimp eggs to each container and adjust the valves so the airstones bubble vigorously, keeping the eggs in suspension at all times. Shine a light directly on the hatching bottles and keep them illuminated 24 hours a day.
The eggs will begin hatching after 18-24 hours, and the emerging nauplii should be harvested and used as soon as possible after incubation while they still retain their full nutritional value. (The yolk supply lasts about 1-2 days after hatching, and the food value of the nauplii deteriorates steadily as the yolk sac is consumed. Once it has been exhausted after about 48 hours, the nutritional worth of the nauplii drops drastically.)
However, before they can be used as food, the nauplii must first be separated from the indigestible egg shells. Otherwise the empty shells may be accidentally ingested by the seahorses, which has been known to cause intestinal blockages and death.
The brine shrimp nauplii can be separated from the eggs simply by turning off the air for a few minutes and allowing the water to settle. The unhatched eggs will sink to the bottom of the hatching jar while the empty egg shells will float to the top. The nauplii can then be concentrated in the center of the jar by darkening the room and shining a flashlight on the jar’s midsection. (Brine shrimp are attracted to light and will be drawn together in midwater where the light is focused.) Harvest the nauplii by using a siphon or turkey baster to suck up the concentrated mass of shrimp. The shrimp-laden water can then be strained through a plankton screen or fine-meshed brine shrimp net.
Return the strained water to the hatching container, add more eggs, and readjust the aeration. The same hatching solution can be used for a week’s worth of hatchings before it has to be replaced.
Alternating the hatching container from which you harvest each day’s supply of nauplii will assure that you have a nonstop supply of newly hatched brine shrimp available at all times. For best results, you should decapsulate the cysts before hatching them, as explained below.
If you’re still uncertain about how to proceed, Nigel, the information at the following links should make everything perfectly clear:
Click here: Hatching Brine Shrimp
Good homemade hatcheries here:
Click here: Culturing Brineshrimp
Click here: Brine Shrimp Technical Information 1
The best eggs or cysts to use for your brine shrimp factory are decapsulated eggs which have had their hard, outer shells stripped away. These shell-less eggs have many advantages over ordinary Artemia cysts. For starters, they simplify the task of separating the live nauplii from the unhatched eggs, since there are no empty shells, and the decapsulated eggs eliminate the possibility of clogged intestines due to the indigestible cysts. Secondly, the decapsulation process destroys virtually all known pathogenic organisms. Since the shell-less eggs have been disinfected, there is much less risk of introducing disease or parasites to the aquarium when you feed your seahorses with brine shrimp from decapsulated cysts. More importantly, the nauplii produced from decapsulated eggs have greater caloric value than the nauplii from unaltered cysts. This is because the nauplii from decapsulated eggs do not have to waste energy struggling to break free of their shells, and thus emerge with 20% greater food value, primarily in the form of additional amino acids and essential fatty acids. This extra nutritional value can make a crucial difference to the rapidly growing seahorses.
You can easily decapsulate your own brine shrimp eggs at home, as explained below.
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
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Pour decapsulated eggs into a brine shrimp net. Add a dechlorination product if you want and rinse until you no longer smell bleach.
4. 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 feed the bbs to your seahorses immediately after hatching, when their yolk supply is virtually intact and they have their maximum nutritional value.
Best of luck rearing your Zulu-lulus (Hippocampus capensis), Nigel!