How To Set Up A Brine Shrimp Hatchery
Every fish breeder will set up a brine shrimp hatchery at some point in their breeding careers, because baby brine shrimp are a brilliant first food for fish fry ranging from Siamese Fighting Fish to large Cichlids. Baby brine shrimp are incredibly nutritious and relatively easy to hatch. The only caveat I would put in place for a first time breeder is that it pays to have several Brine Shrimp hatcheries running. This is for several reasons, which I will outline now.
Your baby fish will need live food pretty much 24/7. Baby brine shrimp will survive in the tank for a few hours, but it can take up to 36 hours for a hatchery to mature with a new batch, that means you'll be going up to 12 hours, sometimes much longer 24 or 36 hours between batches. That isn't good for your fry and if you only have one BBS hatchery running and a batch fails for some reason, then you have 72 hours without live foods, which for some baby fish is a death sentence. (If this does happen, then you can try feeding cooked and mushed up particles of egg yolk, or an artemia based powder, but some baby fish may refuse anything but live food.
There are various commercial baby brine shrimp hatcheries that you can buy. If you are going to go this route, I suggest you purchase one with aeration. There are ones sold without aeration, and the hatch rates are, in my experience at least, god awful.
It is quite cheap and easy to set up a brine shrimp hatchery. You simply need a soda bottle around 2 liters in capacity, some silicone sealant, airhose and an airstone. Cut a hole in the lid of the soda bottle big enough for the tubing to go through, pop your tubing through, ensuring that it goes to the bottom of the bottle, and seal around the hole with sealant to ensure a watertight seal.
Then add the airstone to the end of the tubing in the bottle, hook up the other end to an airpump and bob's your uncle.
That is the method for making an upright hatchery. You can also make hatcheries where the bottle is upside down. To make one of these, repeat the same process as above, but cut off the bottom of the bottle (so that it is open to the air when inverted) and make sure that the aearation tube only goes just into the bottle. You can then suspend your hatchery upside down and when you turn the pump off, the airline will act like a natural siphon for the BBS.
To actually hatch BBS, take some tank water, add aquarium salt to it at a rate of one teaspoon per liter. A two liter bottle therefore needs about two teaspoons of aquarium salt. Then add your BBS eggs, get your bubbler on, and wait 24-36 hours. Ideally, your BBS should be between 20 -28 degrees Celsius to hatch at their best rates.
Once you have your BBS, it is a good idea to clean and separate them from their shells before feeding them to your fry.
BBS always swim towards the light, so no matter which kind of hatchery you have, you can shine a light and the BBS will swim towards it. I recommend pointing a light at the bottom of your hatchery (turn it upside down and make sure that the end is sealed if you are dealing with an upright hatchery.) After a while you will be able to siphon off the BBS. It's then a good idea to go ahead and pop the BBS in some fresh water, then use a turkey baster to feed them to the fish. This gives you the chance to rinse off some of the salt and debris that can wreak havoc in a fry tank.
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