Artemia Tips

by Richard Webber

This is intended as an additional guide to help with the growing of Artemia. There is an article on Artemia in the library. You can find it here.

Here are some tips on how to improve the cultivation of Artemia:

Tip One:

Light is essential for Artemia to hatch. A light sensitive enzyme in the egg converts a substance called Trehalose into Glycerol when exposed to light in water. This sugar is hygroscopic (it attracts water), so the influx of water through the tough membrane into the egg by osmosis causes it to burst thus releasing the naupliu. Thus the whole hatching process is dependant on the presence of light. Normal aquarium fluorescent tubes tungsten bulbs or even daylight are perfectly adequate for hatching the shrimps.

Tip Two:

Heat is useful for the speeding up of the hatching process. Heat can be provided nicely by the light bulb you are using to provide the light from step one. Be careful NOT to let the Artemia get too hot - they should not exceed 27 degrees.

Tip Three:

Feed the hatched shrimps (called nauplii) immediately after hatching. Providing conditions have been ideal for the shrimps to hatch (water chemistry, aeration, light etc), the majority of the nauplii should have hatched at around 18 hours. At this stage of their life the shrimps are feeding from their oil reserves, which give them their red-orange colouration. It is due to these oil reserves that newly hatched Artemia, are such a valuable food source for fry. The shrimps should be fed to the fry as soon as possible after hatching to ensure maximal oil content.

Tip Four:

At the stage that the nauplii hatch, they have no mouthparts, so trying to enrich them is pointless. Around about 24 hours after hatching the shrimps will have moulted into the second larval instar, which has a fully formed digestive tract, including functional mouth and anus, and this critter can feed on bacteria, algae, detritus or Enrichment Solutions..

Tip Five:

To grow the shrimps on to the centimetre long adult stage is a rather tricky process to do in the home, and will take a lot of trial and error to find the right procedure. There are two alternatives available:

Firstly the shrimps can be grown in small vessels such as a drinks bottle. This method can deal with a high stocking density of shrimps, but it involves an almost complete saltwater change every day. One hatch of shrimps can be placed in two 2 litre bottle for example. However as there is a massive build up of waste products like Ammonia and Nitrite, it is essential to change the water the shrimps are being reared in every day. Pour the old water away over a brine shrimp net to prevent loss of the shrimps and add some new freshly made salt water. You can use the water from your tank to grow your Artemia, as this has a bacteria, algae and organic compounds that the growing Artemia need. Never return the old shrimp water back to your marine tank as the levels of Ammonia and Nitrite will be very high.

The other alternative is to establish a filtered system that requires far less water changing and general maintenance. The problem with this method is that it is extremely difficult to establish in the home, and requires a much lower stocking density than the previous method. The lower stocking density lowers pollution levels so that a biological filter can process the waste. In this system one hatch could be placed in a large bucket with a sponge filter, or an old tank with an under gravel filter..

Both systems require vigorous water movement and aeration. The best way to do this is to construct an Air-Water-Lift, like those found on an undergravel filter. This circulates the water and prevents stagnation, and also aerates the water adding oxygen and removing carbon dioxide.

Tip Six:

Artemia prefer high pH, SG and Carbonate hardness (KH). For an optimal hatch rate a pH of around 9 a SG of around 1.030 and a KH of over 10 dKH is optimum. They will hatch in water of lower pH, SG and KH, but the hatch rate is occasionally impaired. One way to raise the pH and KH the water for Artemia is to add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to a 2 litre bottle of water.

Tip Seven:

Once the shrimps have been growing in the rearing vessel for a number of days, a slime is noticeable on the walls of the vessel. This slime contains algae and bacteria on which the shrimps will graze and add extra nutritional value for the growing Artemia. Don't clean this from your tank. It is good to have this in an Artemia tank.

Tip Eight:

When using older Artemia as a food source, you first need to feed the shrimps. They will pass on any nutrients to the fry that eat them. There are special enriching fluids that you can buy to 'gut feed' the Artemia. These are fats in an emulsifier. The Artemia will pack their stomachs with these fats, making their nutritional value quite high. This will usually jam up the internal workings of Artemia, and they will usually die within 36 hours of enrichment. Typically you want to enrich Artemia for 6 to 8 hours maximum, then RINSE WELL and feed.

Most recent revision: 2002

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