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Brine Shrimp Hatchery

A small aquatic crustacean, brine shrimp (Artemia salina), is a very popular live (but also frozen) food for many fish species. Many African cichlids keepers use the fresh hatched baby brine to feed the newly hatched fish fry or after they leave the mother’s mouth in mouthbrooders. As there are only the brine’s eggs available, we need to create the adequate conditions to hatch as many baby brine as possible. The brine shrimp hatchery serves for this purpose. There are many plans and I wanted to find the best features: high hatchability, low maintenance and cost.

I used the 1.5 L PET bottle in this project. I used two same bottles. It is possible to use any bottle of any volume. I recommend finding the bottle that has a knurled upper third not glare. It helps to catch the empty or unhatched eggs on the bottle surface and they don’t mix with the hatched baby brine. First, on one bottle a few centimeters up from the bottom cut off the baseThe main part of the bottle will be used for hatchery. On the second bottle 10 cm up from the bottom cut off the base. It will be used as a hatchery holder. The hatchery will be placed into it upside-down. From the second bottle cut off the upper third with the lip. This cone shaped part can serve as a cover for the complete hatchery which protects to sprinkle the salt water (optional). Pic. 1 shows individual parts of the hatchery prepared.

Drill two holes through the original bottle cap (Pic. 2) to match the diameter of an air tube. The holes should be a little bit smaller to fit the tubes closely. Then no sealing is needed. Pass the air tubes through both holes. One of the tubes will serve for an air supply. The end of this tube in the bottle can stay as it is but it is better to attach some small air stone to it (Pic. 3). Using the air stone also protects the eggs and baby brine entering the tube while the air pump is off (while harvesting the baby brine). Put the air stone closely to the cup. Then insert the same tube through the second hole and leave only a few millimeters to protrude it into the bottle (Pic. 4). This tube will serve to harvest the hatched brine shrimps.

The bottle with cap is ready. Drill two holes through the cut 10 cm part (holder) of the second bottle (Pic. 5) to pass the tubes easily (Pic. 6). Reverse the bottle and place it in the holder. Pass the tubes through the holes in the holder out. It is good idea to connect small valves to the tubes but I used a simple clothes pins. Connect the tube with an air stone to air pump. Close the second tube using the valve or twist and fix it with the clothes pin. Now, we can fill the hatchery with water (Pic. 7).

Obr. 5 – Stojan liahne Obr. 6 – Stojan liahne Obr. 7 – Kompletná liaheň Obr. 8 – Nasypeme soľ Obr. 9 – Zapneme vzduchovanie Obr. 10 – nasypeme vajíčka Obr. 11 – vajíčka pri silnom vzduchovaní
To prevent water to leak from the tube, fix the tube with a small hook to the hatchery edge (Pic. 8). Fill the bottle with a warmish tap water (about 1 L) and add 1 full teaspoon of salt (Pic. 8). I use to use the sea salt normally available in food shops. Run the air pump to mix the water and after the salt has diluted add the brine shrimp’s eggs (Pic. 9, 10 and 11). The amount of eggs depends on how many fish you need to feed. Remember, the eggs are very small and hatching half a teaspoon of eggs will result in thousands of baby brine.


No additional condition adjustments are needed for hatching the eggs. It is better to adjust the temperature over 25°C but I hatch them in the cooler conditions successfully. The hatching success depends mainly on the egg quality. While strongly aerating the first baby brine shrimps hatch after about 20 hours so you can feed them to fish next day. Stop the aeration (the reverse valve is helpful to prevent water to flow into the air pump or disconnect the tube from the pump) and wait about 10 minutes while hatched baby brine go to the bottom and the empty eggs rise up or settle on the knurled part of bottle. Open the second tube and suck as many baby brine as you need. I pour the brine shrimps through the dense textile over the empty glass. On the textile you can see the pink mass, they are the brine shrimps. Don’t pour the eggs with the brine shrimps as they may cause some digestive problems to the fry. Anyway, I have never observed the problems. Rinse the brine shrimps under the cold water and put them into the fry tank.

The poured water can be returned back. Then blow water from the tube, fix it and turn on the air pump. Using this method you can get the newly hatched brine shrimps for 3 days depending on how many fry you need to feed and how frequently you feed them. It is best to feed the newly hatched brine shrimps, not older as they loose their nutritional value. After pouring the last dose of brine shrimps, rinse the bottle with fresh water and you can prepare another fresh salt solution. You could use the used medium but it is often muddy. There is no need to save the money as the salt is really cheap. Some of the breeders note that the fresh tap water with higher of chlorine increases the hatchability of the eggs.

Tip: Make a few hatcheries, fill them every second day and you will get the regular supply with the fresh hatched baby brine shrimps for your fry.

DISCLAIMER: By building this DIY project you agree not to hold the author responsible for any injury or bodily harm you may cause to yourself or others. Read all safety instructions pertaining to equipment prior to use.

Copyright © 2003 - 2017 Robert Toman

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