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Newly hatched baby brine shrimp are a favorite not only of small fry,
but of most fish up to a couple of inches long. They're active
swimmers, dispersing throughout the water column, and survive for hours
after being added to a tank. I do these differently than most,
because I don't use air pumps at all
in my fishroom (which is my living room, and the live food area is my
kitchen too). I hate the noise they make (yes, I know the new
linear piston pumps are very very quiet, but even so....).
I hatch brine shrimp eggs daily in a 2 liter flask, set on a magnetic
stirplate. Each night I add 1L of room-temperature tapwater to
the flask and 1/2-1 tsp brine shrimp eggs (depending on how many small
fish there are to feed). 2-3 drops of bleach may be added per
liter to prevent the growth of unpleasant bacteria,
and since bleach is used to dechorionate the eggs to increase hatching,
I suspect it may help hatch rates used like this as well. The
flask is set to stirring overnight
on medium speed, enough to see a little whirlpool vortex in the middle
of the liquid. Stirring needs to be fairly vigorous for
The next morning I add about 1 1/4 ounces of
pickling salt. I keep the salt in a jar next to the stirplate and
flask, and keep a scoop in it that is just the right capacity.
It's all about making it easy to remember even when I am sleepy stupid
in the morning.
Some people think the type of salt makes a difference: most use
non-iodized salt, some people like rock salt or road salt, and Jack
Heller even adds a bit of epsom salts to his along with the rock
salt. I use the pickling salt because the three-pound box is a
convenient size for me to store.
At night I pour the contents into a 1 liter fat-separator measuring cup
(the spout comes
off the bottom) and leave it sit for a few minutes while I harvest the
microworms and feed the grindals.
Then I pour off the hatched
BBS from the bottom and leave the top-floating unhatched and empty
in the separator. And I set up a new flask for the next night's
BBS. I use two flasks in rotation to let one dry while the other
is in use, and this keeps down the smell. When they get a nasty
film on the sides, a dilute bleach solution and rub with a bottle
scrubber will clear it right up.
I don't know what my hatch percentage is, but I get reliable
BBS production on a 24hr rotation and that works for me and my
fish. I may also be feeding some bad eggs, that hydrate but don't
hatch, and sink; this reportedly can make fish sick. I haven't
noticed any problems with my fish. Overfeeding BBS encourages the
proliferation of hydra. This has given rise to the idea that
hydra actually exist in the cans of brine eggs, and hatch out with
them, but to the best of my knowledge and that of my sources this is
not the case. The hydra may come along with live plants or fish
or gravel, and the BBS are a terrific food for them, so overfeeding
encourages the proliferation of hydra that were already in your
tanks. BTW, a bit of fluke tabs quickly takes care of the hydra,
so they don't harass or kill your small fry that are supposed to be
eating the BBS.
More common setups to hatch BBS are designed to use airstones for
vigorous aeration, and are setup so you can
turn the air off, let the hatched nauplii settle to the bottom of the
culture, then pour off directly from the bottom, or use a baster to
suck them up without bringing along the empty floaters. They are
also drawn to light, so a setup incorporating a light at the bottom
will help separate them from their shells. I used to keep a light
on over the culture 24/7, but have since discovered no change in the
hatching rates without it. I have some pictures of Charles
Harrison's brine shrimp hatchery here.
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