Raising Brine Shrimp

By: | Date: 10/09/1999 | No Comments |
Adult Brine Shrimp

Adult Brine Shrimp. Photo Courtesy of Hans Hillewaert.

To date, I haven’t found a simple way to raise Brine Shrimp in dense growing conditions in a short period of time, although I’ve seen many postings claiming to have simple methods that work. Low density growing is fairly easy though.

Hatching

To start, I placed up to a tablespoon of brine cysts in each 2 litre container, letting it sit for 1/2 hour to hydrate before adding the rigid air line for vigorous circulation for about one hour. (Soak time helps to stop the cysts from being raised above the water line as much, where they don’t hatch) Use only an open ended airline. Do not use air stones as small bubbles will kill the brine shrimp. To sterilize the cysts, add 4ml of 5% bleach and aerate for 30 minutes followed by rinsing well.

Bottles and Jars for hatching brine shrimp

Recycled materials at work, bottles and jars

After 1 day, I let the container sit for a few hours and the unhatched cysts sink to the bottom and the empty cysts raise to the top. I siphon off the hatched nauplii from in between the cysts, filtering the shrimp out with the shrimp net, (I use a 250 mesh which is approximately 111 microns) and place them in the container of new water to start the feeding and growing cycle in an appropriately sized container. I throw out the contaminated hatching water.

Brine shrimp containers on table

Containers at rest before siphoning and changing water.

Grow out

Once in the gallon or larger containers, I change the water twice a week.

Plastic 5 gallon water bottles.

Plastic 5 gallon water bottles.

I “had” progressed to weekly water changes. The secret to these prolonged water change periods seemed to be the very light multiple feedings, as opposed to the heavier ones I was led to believe was necessary. I barely coloured the water with what ever food I was using, and fed three times daily. However, Unhappy with the yields I experienced, I have now returned to doing water changes about every four days unless something indicates a problem at an earlier point. I still feed lightly multiple times a day.

brine shrimp

Brine shrimp in 5 gallon water bottle

Feeding and Enriching

For feeding the shrimp, I used to use spirulina flake which I crushed up in it’s bag, and placed some in the center of a piece of densely woven cloth, folding the edges up and securing with an elastic. The resultant spirulina “ball” that was formed. As mentioned previously, lighter, multiple feedings will work best. This method worked great for lower density growing, but I looked for a simpler feeding method and began using “pastes”.

Brine Shrimp Direct’s Tahitian Blend worked out to be very simple and convenient and I used this for a long time until I decided to try live phytoplankton.

Using ReefCrew’s nannochloropsis as a starter culture, I grow live phyto to feed the brine. It can be grown quite easy in pop bottles, gallon containers, or as I now do it, in 5g salt pails.

After the brine shrimp have reached mid size, I then switch to using Tahitian Blend cryopaste for feeding as I haven’t enough live phyto to feed them for all stages of growth at this time. It would definitely be cheaper if I could though.
Presently, I’m feeding blended spirulina powder in water because of costs since paste is too expensive now after 9/11 shipping cost increases.

Once the shrimp have reached adult size, (about 4-8 weeks depending on density and temperature of the cutlture) I use a regular fish net to remove some adult brine shrimp and rinse them in fresh water before placing them in the “gut loading container”. (2 litre pop bottle) I leave the shrimp in this enrichment feeding container for a minimum of 1 1/2 hours,but for 8 hours for maximum DHA profile, before feeding them to my fish. (young brine need a minimum of 24 hours to gut load, preferably in two 12 hour stints where the water and food is changed for the 2nd stage)

I am presently using Dan’s Feed with beta glucan from Seahorse Source for my main enrichment.

Continuous Grow Out

Using a regular fish net to catch the adults, leaves the young live born (or added nauplii) to remain and grow themselves to be adults, as most of these smaller nauplii pass through the net. Adult shrimp produce live born young when conditions are right, and produce resting cysts when conditions deteriorate. If you find you are using more than what self propagation provides, you can either add another container to your process or just decapp and hatch out more cysts.

I tried using a product called ClorAm-X to nullify the effects of ammonia in the rearing containers but it turns out, I’ve found, that brine shrimp are reasonably tolerant of the higher ammonia levels in their water.

I do water changes sooner if the water goes brownish.

Keeping the cultures reasonably clean helps to eliminate deaths due to bacterial influences. You can also add Sanolife MIC-F which produces good bacteria and lessens the chances of the bad bacteria overtaking the culture.

Decapsulating Brine Shrimp Eggs

To decap the cysts, I put 2 cups of water in an inverted pop bottle and add a tablespoon of cysts and let sit for about 1/2 hour. I then aerate it for an hour. This hydrates the cysts to be able to decap them.

I then add 1 cup of standard bleach with no perfumes or additives, and aerate for 6 minutes. (use a timer)

I then immediately stop aeration and rinse the cysts under the cold water tap in the laundry room for a minimum of four minutes to stop the bleaching process from killing the nauplii in the cyst.

Update

Now, I’m only growing brine shrimp in the 26g garbage pails and keeping the temperatures cool, around 68 ° to 72 ° but in summer I will try in the mid 70’s.

4 garbage cans

26 gallon garbage containers for brine shrimp rearing

Cooler temperatures mean a lot longer to reach adult, but yields are a lot higher, I’m assuming at this point because of bacterial interference at the 80 ° plus that I was heating the container to previously to get adults in four weeks.

I start by decapping a heaping tablespoon of cysts in bleach and hatching out in a pop bottle. After 24 hours, I siphon off the live nauplii and place in the 26 g garbage pail.

For anywhere from two to about fourteen days, I feed phyto but then start using spirulina powder with a little Algamac 3050, blended with water for a minimum 2 minutes. As the brine grow, I increase the amount of blended spirulina and Algamac 3050 that I feed each time.

I gut load for an 1 1/2 to 8 hours before feeding them to my horses, using Dan’s Feed with Beta Glucan

For the best DHA profile it takes about 8 hours of enrichment.

A heaping tablespoon of cysts yields about 1/2 to 3/4 full brine shrimp net, the standard brown handle 3″ by 4″, depending on some luck for the higher amount.

If you find an easier, proven way to grow adult brine shrimp,(in dense cultures here in the Northern Hemisphere) that is) I would appreciate hearing about it. (Thanks)

There seems to be some confusion on just how much to aerate the brine shrimp water. I’m adding this note to say, you can aerate too much or too little. It takes some practice to get so that there is enough circulation to oxygenate the water, and yet not be too heavy to blow the adult brine shrimp apart. (open ended airline only) The smaller shrimp nauplii can take vigorous aeration. Even after all these years, I still occasionally crash a container by not enough aeration, or, kill the shrimp off by having too much.

Additional Notes

I no longer recycle the water and instead make my own homemade salt water.

I have gone cheaper and mix up 10 parts by weight of Crystal Plus water softener salt and add one part of epsom salts, and dilute to a specific gravity of 1.017.

I think that’s basically all I’ve changed but if I think of any more, I’ll alter this at a later date.

Republished with permission. Thanks Ray!

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