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Raising Brine Shrimp

by "Scott Page" <rs_page/>
Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998

I struggled with BS culture for a very long time. I now have a protocol which works fantastic. My 12 - 18 year old students can make it work the first try. BS are hatched (in normal fashion) in inverted 2 liter bottles and harvested after 48 hours. They separated from empty cysts and moved to growout aquarium. I know that many advocate conical bottoms for growout aquarium, but we have found that we do not need them if we hatch the naupli first and transfer them. For growout aquarium we use 28 5 gallon aquarium, a 30 gallon garbage can, a 25 gallon "muck bucket". two 20 gallon aquarium, and various plastic "sweater boxes" or storage boxes. They all work fine. We have also experimented with various substrates, but find that no substrate works best...except we add a bit of used activated carbon each week (about 1g/l). First I use synthetic sea salt. Other(homemade) mixes have not worked for me beyond the first week. In my case I reuse the water which I remove from the marine aquaria in my classroom. The water is about 3.5% salinity..or..with a specific gravity of about 1.026. This is heavily aerated for the first week, moderately aerated the second week, and gently aerated then after. Twice a day we mix up (scale to your needs) 1 tbs. spirulinia powder (expensive but worth it) in 1.5 liter of pure water. This is blended for 4 - 5 minutes. The suspension of spirulinia is allowed to settle for the next 5 to 10 minutes. As it settles the liquid suspension forms on the bottom and a foam layer on top. The suspension is poured through a brine shrimp net to remove larger particles and most of the foam. This liquid is then added to bs aquaria at a rate of about 10 - 50 cc per 20 liters - but only in aquaria which have cleared out the previous feeding and resultant bacterial cloud from the water. The amount depends upon the feeding rate of that particular aquarium. It is surprising that when we measure the dissolved oxygen tolerance - we have found that shrimp surviving DO concentrations below 1 mg/l. Which brings me to color. If the DO is low over a sustained period of time - say a 5 to 7 days, you will notice the shrimp changing from a green to reddish. This is reportedly caused by development of an oxygen carrying pigment - hemoglobin or similar pigment. Synthesis of a substance (any substance) is metabolically costly so undoubtedly the nutrient value, growth rate, fecundicity, or some other life parameter is compromised with lower dissolved oxygen rates. Harvest is done with a standard aquarium net. The larger netting allows immature shrimp to remain in culture. Cultures which are not overharvested will become self sustaining in 4 to 6 weeks. Water changes can be minimized with the addition of 1g/l of used (or new if you have the $) activated carbon. This brings me to another point. Our high school aquatic biology program is not funded beyond the most basic (paper pens). We rely upon donations and recycling everything possible. If anyone has used activated carbon, light bulbs, trade magazines, books, retired reef lights, hardware of any kind, or livestock, and would like to donate it (tax purposes?) please contact me @ or

R. Scott Page
Aquatic Biology Instructor
Hanford High School

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