Ecospheres (with Opae Ula aka Volcano Shrimp)
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Old 01-09-2012, 03:51 AM   #1
xenxes
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Ecospheres (with Opae Ula aka Volcano Shrimp)


Update:

The "up-to-9" year claim in these spheres seems real, the shrimp used in these spheres are called opae ula known for their unusual longevity and hardiness:
Recent popularity of ʻōpaeʻula as a low-maintenance pet in Hawaiʻi and elsewhere has brought this otherwise obscure decapod crustacean into popular consciousness. A long-lived species, ʻōpaeʻula have been known to live for as long as 20 years in captivity. Sexes are difficult to distinguish, but gravid females carry clusters of red/maroon eggs under their pleopods, and early larvae are planktonic filter-feeders.
But the average life-span is 1-2 years because the shrimp slowly suffocate or starve to death in the tiny air-tight spheres when the environment becomes unbalanced. They do make cool paper weights but I don't want my pets living like that.

I'm going to try to make my own (don't know about these instructions), but in a larger (~1 gal) container with a close-able lid and a tiny filter. Water change will hopefully be @ a minimal, once a month or two if any. Balancing the nitrogen/oxygen cycle might be tough. If I get it right I'll have a neat close-to-zero maintenance tank.

Some further reading: 1 | 2 | Pictures of natural environment.


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----------------------

So I was Googling self-sustaining aquariums and ran across this:

http://www.eco-sphere.com/about.html

It's expensive, but the site claims that they last 2-7 years (but on order page says replacement 6/12 months). Anyone have any experience with these? Says it contains -- "seawater, red shrimp, microbes, algae, Gorgonia sprig, gravel, shells, and glass."

Seems really gimmicky, from the client testimonials:
Two of my shrimp have been living since 2002! They are almost 9 years old and still doing great. The people at ecosphere know what they are doing.
What kind of shrimp lives for 9 years!?!
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Old 01-09-2012, 03:58 AM   #2
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There are several companies that make them with varying degrees of cost.

Some people say they are shrimp from Hawaii and they even buy them to set them "free". But its a marine environment from what I've read.
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Old 01-09-2012, 04:04 AM   #3
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Yeah.. vastly overpriced but does seem like cool paperweight.
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Old 01-09-2012, 04:14 AM   #4
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Make your own! I don't the gorgonian would live long though, those things generally need good flow.
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Old 01-09-2012, 04:46 AM   #5
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I could see one or two kicking the bucket in there and fouling the water taking out the whole thing.
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Old 01-09-2012, 03:10 PM   #6
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I just read a lot about these and they do have a 6 month warranty on the smalls and a year on the big ones.... From reading it looks like as long as you regulate the temp and light level, everything else does its own thing... They even stated that the shrimp will eat the dead and the bacteria will absorb it in a "day or two"... dunno about the timeframe there, but really cool... expensive, but cool
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Old 01-09-2012, 03:27 PM   #7
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I'm going to try to make my own (don't know about these instructions though).

I just saw this, one of their new cheaper products http://www.byoes.com/. Here is the kit (lol @ the Nestle bottle spring water):


So all I need is a container with a closeable/sealable semi-seamless lid. And I figured out what shrimp they use -- Halocaridina rubra. They look like tiny RCS

Also, the up-to-9 year claim seems to be real:
Recent popularity of ʻōpaeʻula as a low-maintenance pet in Hawaiʻi and elsewhere has brought this otherwise obscure decapod crustacean into popular consciousness. A long-lived species, ʻōpaeʻula have been known to live for as long as 20 years in captivity. Sexes are difficult to distinguish, but gravid females carry clusters of red/maroon eggs under their pleopods, and early larvae are planktonic filter-feeders.
Balancing the nitrogen/oxygen cycle might be tough. I'll probably do something much larger to give them space & sustain a colony. Expensive online.

Here's an article on the shrimp, and another on how the shrimp (who can live up to 20 years) suffocate to death in 1-2 years in these tiny spheres.

I'd buy them to set them free too if they weren't $500 for a 9". But then they'll just recapture it and resell it to me for $500. Best we just boycott.

Pictures of natural environment. Wish I lived in Hawaii.
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Old 01-09-2012, 04:19 PM   #8
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I've seen these for sale around here in the higher end souvenir shops in Newport. They are pretty cool. Except that the shrimp may eventually suffocate.
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Old 01-09-2012, 04:28 PM   #9
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I've actually bought these.. This brand used to be sold by brookestone at a much cheaper price. Theres still a store around here that sells them.

They are quite nice and as long as everything is stable can last for a year or two. But thats it. My husband had one that lasted for 4 years. Cool little things but not really worth the price. If you can find a different brand they run much cheaper.
Not the nicest things to the animals but I never bought one to be nice to them. I bought one for it to look good on my desk. In have a hard time garnering emotions for 3 tiny shrimp...
Perhaps if they had been more personable like my other shrimp I would care more...
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Old 01-09-2012, 05:40 PM   #10
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I've seen these for sale. I'd avoid them since I heard the shrimp die a slow death within the closed system due to ammonia poisoning and a lack of food. The shrimp actually get smaller after molts.

http://www.petshrimp.com/hawaiianredshrimp.php

I'd rather buy a bunch of the Halocaridina rubra and set up a small brackish 2.5 gallon with filtration, more algae, food, and water changes.
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Old 01-09-2012, 05:53 PM   #11
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Yea, xenxes don't keep them in a closed, air tight container, without any filtration. They deserve their own tank!
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Old 01-09-2012, 06:18 PM   #12
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I would think if you can keep the algae at the right size, the ammonia and the oxygen would not be a problem... algae uses ammonia, produces O2, shrimp give ammonia and CO2... hence the sustainable... I think its cool that this balance can be kept for months, let alone years, when we have unbalanced ecosystems that kill our fauna all the time... sealed or not... how many of us can keep shrimp alive for 2 years?
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Old 01-09-2012, 06:24 PM   #13
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Its very easy to make your own (just top off with distilled/RODI water), and its much more humane for the shrimp.

Also, the shrimp will only live for about 2 years in the Ecosphere before they starve to death.
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Old 01-09-2012, 07:56 PM   #14
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I had about 20 of these guys but I made the mistake of getting live sand and rock from the bay (when I lived in Hawaii). Ended up with some not-so-nice critters in the tank and the algae took over big time. I did a massive water change and did not get the salt content right and they all croaked. They are very nice shrimp to keep but they are small and vary from clear to bright red. They do like the Hikari algae wafers though.

Edit:
http://www.hawaii-opaeula.com/opae-aquahomes.html

1.00 each plus live rock and water. Hmmmmmmmm.......
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Old 01-09-2012, 08:04 PM   #15
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xenxes, have you looked at any of the walstad style shrimp bowls?? Thats the closest I have come to a sustainable ecosystem, no filtration, no heat, just plants and shrimp in organic potting soil capped with sand... could be right up your alley, here is a link to my bowl and Newmans

Ozy's Walstad bowl for the office

Newmans Shrimp bowl
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