The Salty Side: Saltwater Aquariums for Beginners

How To Hatch Brine Shrimp

In this article, I’ll show you how I hatch brown brine shrimp and answer some of the most common questions.

This may be news to you, as it was to me, but brine shrimp (artemia) are not actually shrimps.  They do however belong to same group ‘crustaceans’ as shrimps do.  As a kid, you may have heard of them being referred to as ‘Sea Monkeys’ or ‘Sea Dragons’ and them being sold in toy stores. 

Nevertheless, baby brine shrimp are a very nutritious snack for your saltwater fish.  Adults are less nutritious, unless enriched, but are still a nice addition to your main fish food. 

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How to Hatch Brine Shrimp - DIY

Brine Shrimp Hatchery Setup

If you are short on space take a look at this brine shrimp hatchery which will is a lot more compact and easy to store.  You also won’t need any air stones or pumps in order to breed the shrimp.  

You will need:

  • A jar or empty plastic soda/drink bottle
  • 1 TBSP course sea salt, not table salt
  • 18 fl oz. (500ml) dechlorinated water/RO water
  • 1 tsp brine shrimp eggs
  • Rigid air line, tubing and pump

Instructions:

  1. If using a plastic bottle, cut it in half and but don’t throw away the bottom.  Use this to stand the inverted top half that will hold the water and eggs. 

  2. Mix the course salt with the dechlorinated water.

  3. Pour the mixed salt water into bottle/jar.

  4. Add brine shrimp eggs.  

  5. Connect the rigid airline (if using), tubing and pump and turn it on.  If you don’t have a rigid airline, use a peg to secure the airline in place.

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How do you know when brine shrimp have hatched?

Brine shrimp normally hatch within 48 hours however this can take longer in cooler weather.  After this time you can turn the air pump off, if you’re using one, and wait for everything to settle.  You should then see hundreds of wriggling shrimps. 

Because the empty egg cases are now empty, they will float to the top.

How to separate brine shrimp from egg cases

After 48 hours the brine shrimp should have hatched.  Choose the method best suited to your purpose:

Method 1: (If feeding directly to fish)

  1. Turn off the air pump and wait for the water to settle. Empty egg cases should rise to the surface.
  2. Use a turkey baster to suck up the shrimps and feed directly to your fish.

Method 2: (If raising baby brine shrimp into adults)

  1. Make sure the hatchery bottle/jar is higher than the container you are wanting to transfer the baby brine shrimp to.
  2. Using a spare air line hose, siphon the

Can I hatch brine shrimp in my aquarium?

I highly doubt this would be successful as fish will eat the eggs before they have a chance to hatch.  It’s not hard to raise brine shrimp in a separate aquarium though as long as there aren’t any fish in that aquarium. 

My suggestion would be to use the method above by using a plastic bottle and an airline pump to hatch the eggs.  You can then directly add the baby brine shrimp to your aquarium once they have hatched.  

What to do if brine shrimp aren't hatching

This could be due to a few reasons. 

  1. An old batch of eggs – Dry eggs can still deteriorate over time.  (Choose brine shrimp eggs with a high yield rate.  See my recommendation here.)

  2. Too little or too much salt – 1 tablespoon of course salt to 500ml water. Or if you already have a saltwater aquarium you can use the same ratio of salt to water as you use in your tank (i.e. 1.025 specific gravity or 35 salinity).  This is my preferred method as I usually have a small amount of ready mixed saltwater for my reef tank on hand for emergencies.

  3. Wrong type of salt – Although using table salt sometimes works, if you aren’t having any luck with the above, try course sea salt instead.  Table salt is not recommended because it often contains additives. 

How long do brine shrimp live after hatching?

Brine shrimp live about 6 – 8 weeks after hatching. 

Can I hatch brine shrimp without an air pump?

Yes you can but they will not last into adulthood if you don’t not use an air stone or air pump.  

What do you feed brine shrimp? What do brine shrimp eat?

Brine shrimp live on a diet of phytoplankton.  At home, brine shrimp can be fed using the following:

  1. 3-5 drops of yeast for every 5 gallons of water. Mix the yeast with a small amount of water before feeding.

  2. A pinch of spirulina powder.

How often do you feed brine shrimp?

Your aim may be to raise baby brine shrimp into adulthood.  You will need to feed them regularly.  If you only have a small amount of baby brine shrimp then you need to feed them less often, so approximately every 3 – 4 days.  Of course, if you are feeding a large amount of shrimp, then every 1 – 2 days.

Do brine shrimp eggs need light to hatch?

Brine shrimp at least need daylight to successfully hatch however continuous lighting will yield better results.

Check out this nifty little brine shrimp hatching kit.  It will separate the shrimps from the empty egg casings with a small gap allowing the babies to swim toward the light and leave the casings behind.

Brine Shrimp Hatchery Dish (Eggs sold separately.)
  • Easy to Use
  • No Aeration or Additional Equipment Needed
  • Perfec For Small Volume Hatching Needs - Yields over 100,000 Baby Brine Shrimp in 24 Hours

Can you use table salt to hatch brine shrimp?

Table salt can be used when hatching brine shrimp as long as it contains no additives, such as iodine.  You can also use Himalayan or course sea salt.

How much salt should I use to hatch brine shrimp?

1 tablespoon of salt to 500ml water or use ready mixed saltwater that you would use in your reef aquarium.  

Conclusion

Brine shrimp are extremely easy to hatch and baby brine shrimp are the most nutritious for your fish.  You only need a few items to hatch them and within a couple of days you’ll have hundreds, if not thousands to feed your happy fish. 

Brine shrimp are also a great snack for the Mandarin Dragonet.  I use them to supplement feed my Mandarin using this DIY method.   

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