Besides water quality, why do brine shrimp colonies crash? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-11-2020, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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Besides water quality, why do brine shrimp colonies crash?

I have been experimenting with brine shrimp, trying to grow them out from BBS in an easy process. I'm using small containers (trying a variety from 2oz plastic condiment cup to 24oz gladware) so that I do not have to aerate and I can easily do a 50-100% water change each day which I accomplish with a large transfer pipette and a screen. Prime is added to the new salt water to help deal with any ammonia issues that popup during the day. The daily water changes should mitigate the issue of unstable water quality in a small water column.

I feed them a pre-mixed spirulina powder suspended in some water in a dropper bottle and I put a drop in at a time and wait for them to clear it, which might take hours. Feeding is not terribly scientific and hard to tell if I am under or over feeding.

Inevitably the colonies crash somewhere day 3-5. It might be I am putting too many in. It might be over/under feeding. People do this with "Sea Monkeys" all the time and are successful. I think one secret to success with the Sea Monkeys is they hatch very few at a time.

Curious if anyone has tried raising them in small quantities and might have some advice/experience to share?

I know I can just buy them from my LFS and for cheap. Though with a tank of maybe 20 adult endlers at any given time, a bag of artemia from the LFS is usually way too many. A small grow out operation has benefit of being appropriately sized for smaller/single aquariums. I'm also doing this to explore if there is a simple less messy and less labor intensive way to grow them out than with air hoses and larger dedicated tanks (I don't have room even for a 2.5G). After all they do it with Sea Monkeys.

In this video, I think made in Taiwan, they grow them out without any aeration. It's what gave me the initial idea. I want to make a smaller version of what they did.

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-12-2020, 03:02 AM
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If your doing water changes daily, you shouldn't need Prime.

I had some hatch out in a specimen container that hangs on the side of the tank and they lived for quite a while. I don't remember how long and they weren't exactly fed, either.... but they survived for longer than expected. I was surprised they hatched at all since the container of eggs is outdated by years! I also don't recall doing any water changes either... but I did add air to it.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-12-2020, 03:21 AM
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I have also had this issue. I wonder if it has to do with protein build up in salt water. This is different from what happens in fresh water systems. I think having a protein skimmer might be necessary to grow them to adulthood. And they likely need a bubbler too to maintain oxygenation.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-12-2020, 06:27 AM
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Let's see....

Oxygen issue? If I remember correctly, to have no filtration, you need a relatively shallow container. To what height are you filling your water containers to?

Food issue? It seems you're feeding adequately. Are you running the spirulina powder suspension through a mesh in order to make sure that the larger undissolved chunks don't go through and foul the water? Have you tried adding in a touch of something like yeast in order to see if it's a deficiency caused by a spirulina only diet? Have you tried seeing if they'll live longer if fed more? I'll suspend a small amount of spirulina powder in water with a drop of prime, swirl to suspend, then pour it through a brine shrimp net to catch out all the chunks.

Salt issue? What are you using in the water? I use waste water from my saltwater tanks for my brine shrimp growout, and so far they're still thriving. If you're using table salt (something like Morton's or Diamond, etc.), then perhaps locating some saltwater (ask your LFS if you can grab some water from their coral tanks for brine shrimp growout) might be useful.

Brine shrimp issue? How are you doing water changes? Are you gentle with the brine shrimp? I noticed large brine shrimp crashes when I was doing manual pours of brine shrimp with 5 gallon buckets and they'd just get pummelled. Being gentle when doing water changes (making sure there's water when pipetting the water out of the tanks instead of blasting the brine shrimp at a dry mesh) could influence brine shrimp survival.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-12-2020, 07:55 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ichthyogeek View Post
Let's see....

Oxygen issue? If I remember correctly, to have no filtration, you need a relatively shallow container. To what height are you filling your water containers to?

Food issue? It seems you're feeding adequately. Are you running the spirulina powder suspension through a mesh in order to make sure that the larger undissolved chunks don't go through and foul the water? Have you tried adding in a touch of something like yeast in order to see if it's a deficiency caused by a spirulina only diet? Have you tried seeing if they'll live longer if fed more? I'll suspend a small amount of spirulina powder in water with a drop of prime, swirl to suspend, then pour it through a brine shrimp net to catch out all the chunks.

Salt issue? What are you using in the water? I use waste water from my saltwater tanks for my brine shrimp growout, and so far they're still thriving. If you're using table salt (something like Morton's or Diamond, etc.), then perhaps locating some saltwater (ask your LFS if you can grab some water from their coral tanks for brine shrimp growout) might be useful.

Brine shrimp issue? How are you doing water changes? Are you gentle with the brine shrimp? I noticed large brine shrimp crashes when I was doing manual pours of brine shrimp with 5 gallon buckets and they'd just get pummelled. Being gentle when doing water changes (making sure there's water when pipetting the water out of the tanks instead of blasting the brine shrimp at a dry mesh) could influence brine shrimp survival.
I'm intentionally going very shallow, 1-2 inches of water, so that I do not have to aerate.

I'm suspicious of the food. I did not think of using mesh to take out large chunks and that is great idea! I do see green "remnants" left after they clear the spirulina from water and perhaps those are particles too large for them to consume and they would absolutely rot in short order.

I have not tried yeast or anything other than spirulina. I imagine if that was not nutrionally perfect they would still hang on for longer since they are not picky eaters. A lot of people feed them that and nothing else. I am currently shopping around Amazon for a bottle of live phytoplankton or something "green water". That would clean and oxygenate the water, as well as replenish itself if it has light.

The salt may or may not be an issue. I have been using API "aquarium salt" which I just noticed says its for freshwater aquariums. Not sure if it is the same stuff used to make salt water. However I just ordered some Fluval marine salt to try instead.

Water changes are gentle. They are in a small container. I stick a small cup with a fine mech bottom (for sieving BBS) into the water. I put the tip of big transfer pipette in that and withdrawal water. The sieve prevents taking any BBS/BS. I take 50-90% of the water depending on how it looks. I then gently pour more saltwater in to replace.

One thing I haven't been careful with is temp. I'm keeping these experiments on top of my tank between my two Fluval lights (not on top of the lights). The containers are too small to measure temp but perhaps they are too warm.

Thank you for the ideas!
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-13-2020, 01:58 AM
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The salt may or may not be an issue. I have been using API "aquarium salt" which I just noticed says its for freshwater aquariums. Not sure if it is the same stuff used to make salt water. However I just ordered some Fluval marine salt to try instead.
I've also been unable to keep BBS going past a few days using API Aquarium Salt. Someone suggested that proper marine / sea salt is needed, but I haven't got around to getting some yet to see if it makes a difference. So very interested to hear how you get on!

If you do achieve success, so please post an idiots guide of exactly what you did for the rest of us to follow!

Thanks, and good luck!
James
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-13-2020, 02:32 AM
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LFS stores also sell saltwater for 50 cents a gallon, usually.... so might be something to look into while you wait for the other salt?

But you will want to dilute it with freshwater so it would help to have a way to measure salinity if you don't have a way to already.... in which case I would recommend a refractometer. It is worth it to get this over something cheaper.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-13-2020, 04:57 AM
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Agreed^^.

For phytoplankton/greenwater/microalgae cultures, look into Nannochloropsis, Isochrysis, Tetraselmis, and Rhodomonas. Nanno will be the hardiest microalgae for you. You'll also want to look into buying Guillard's Formula, which is just a fertilizer designed for microalgae.

Aquarium salt, is not marine salt. Marine salt is a complex of various mineral salts (potassium, sodium, calcium, chloride, bromide, and other ions). Aquarium salt is usually just sodium chloride with maybe a few other elements inside it.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-13-2020, 05:48 AM
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Aquarium salt, is not marine salt. Marine salt is a complex of various mineral salts (potassium, sodium, calcium, chloride, bromide, and other ions). Aquarium salt is usually just sodium chloride with maybe a few other elements inside it.
Maybe the right salt is the key then! Or at least a sensible starting point....
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-13-2020, 09:24 AM Thread Starter
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Agreed^^.

For phytoplankton/greenwater/microalgae cultures, look into Nannochloropsis, Isochrysis, Tetraselmis, and Rhodomonas. Nanno will be the hardiest microalgae for you. You'll also want to look into buying Guillard's Formula, which is just a fertilizer designed for microalgae.

Aquarium salt, is not marine salt. Marine salt is a complex of various mineral salts (potassium, sodium, calcium, chloride, bromide, and other ions). Aquarium salt is usually just sodium chloride with maybe a few other elements inside it.
I ordered some "Ocean Magik" that apparently has "Tetra x Nanno x Iso x Thal". That's going to take a week to come in at least so I'll soldier on with sieved spirulina and may try some yeast.

I'm currently trying the very common 16oz carryout plastic soup containers like this:

I drilled a couple air hose size holes in the lid and am trying some soft aeration on this one.

I received the Fluval Sea salt. I'm hatching in my remaining API, but that seems to always work. After hatching and feeding most of the BBS to the fishes I'll start a couple cultures in the sea salt. I hope it makes a difference! I know people use the refractometer for this, I guess I should get one just to keep things measured and rule out that as a variable. In the video I posted above, they recommend 3x the normal salinity to keep bacteria from developing. I'm not going to do that at this point, but the recommendation makes it appear brine shrimp are not too finicky about salinity. Their morphology is documented to change with salinity however, with longer bodies the lower the salinity.

Ultimately my goal is to see if there is an easy way of doing this and keep a small colony or two going with no more than 5 minutes or so a day using quick daily water changes, or better yet a live green water that can thrive synergistically with the shrimp. The smallness makes it easy to clean. I am able to run a pipette along the bottom to get molt and food remnants, dead shrimp etc... all in about a minute. Of course, keeping it clean has not helped me yet, they still crash, but maybe the correct salt and other tips I've gotten on here will. Thanks all!
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-13-2020, 05:43 PM
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I've definitely been able to get brine shrimp to get to juvenile stage (they look like adult brine shrimp but smaller) with Oceanmagik. Keep in mind that if you buy a mix, only one microalgae is going to come out on top though. That stuff also settles very quickly (within 24 hours).
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-13-2020, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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I've definitely been able to get brine shrimp to get to juvenile stage (they look like adult brine shrimp but smaller) with Oceanmagik. Keep in mind that if you buy a mix, only one microalgae is going to come out on top though. That stuff also settles very quickly (within 24 hours).
Do you mean you expect it will settle out to the bottom of the brine shrimp container after 24 hours? Do you recommend pipetting the settled material out if it does that? Or doing some gentle swirls to re-mix?
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-13-2020, 08:03 PM
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Without sufficient water movement, the microalgae is going to settle to the bottom of the container. If you can, I recommend swirling the containers as often as you can to keep it suspended, or at the very least using mild aeration in the middle of hte containers to try and keep the microalgae off the bottom.
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