Re:New tank

Pete Giwojna

Dear Nigel:

No doubt you have come across a number of different ways for decapsulating brine shrimp eggs (i.e., Artemia cysts) and no doubt they all work well when carried out properly. All the different methods rely on basically the same steps. First the brine shrimp eggs/cysts must be soaked for an hour or so to hydrate them. Next the hydrated eggs or cysts must be exposed to chlorine bleach in order to dissolve away the hard, outer shell or capsule, a process which is accompanied by characteristic color changes that indicate when the decapsulation is complete. Finally, the decapsulated cysts must be rinsed very, very thoroughly and/or dechlorinated to remove any lingering traces of the chlorine bleach. The decapsulated eggs can then be hatched out as usual. For best results, the Artemia cysts should be kept aerated or agitated throughout the decapsulation process in order to keep them suspended in the water.

There is really no right way or wrong way to decapsulate your brine shrimp eggs as long as the process produces the desired effect, but the decapsulation technique that I prefer is outlined below:

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 yourdetoxified/dechlorinated water into a container and clip an 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. (This step will hydrate the brine shrimp cysts.)

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.

3. 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 decapping your brine shrimp eggs, Nigel!

Happy Trails!
Pete Giwojna

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