Brine Shrimp

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Artemia salina - Leach, 1819
Brine Shrimp

Brine Shrimp, a crustacean vital to fishkeepers.


Brine shrimp are small marine crustaceans that belong to the genus Artemia.

Their dry cysts (essentially eggs encased in a leathery protective shell) are collected from salty marshes and bays worldwide for use in aquaculture and the aquarium trade. They can live in a dry, dormant state for a number of years and will hatch within 24 hours of being re-introduced to water, usually in an aerated hatchery vessel.

When newly hatched, they are known as Artemia nauplii and are an excellent food for captive-reared young fishes and have a high content of desirable fatty acids. They are an important first food for the rearing of many freshwater fishes, but larval marine species are generally too small to be able to eat Artemia until they have grown.

Brine shrimp grow rapidly and lose their value as fish food unless enriched (fed a pulverized ration of fatty acids) before being offered to fishes.

Family: Artemiidae

Other common name(s):

  • Sea Monkeys

Native range:

Habitat: Salt marshes, bays, estuaries. They can tolerate different levels of salinity, from very high to very low.

Water: Marine 26 °C (79 °F) - 28 °C (82 °F)

General swimming level: Mid-level.


Excellent food for young fishes when first-hatched.


Can enrich with Selco or other HUFA (highly unsaturated fatty acids) supplements. Adults are collected and frozen as fish food; cysts are collected in huge quantities for hatching by aquaculturists and aquarists.

They can also be fed yeast, pulverized egg yolk, and ground fish meal.

Special Care

  • Salinity: 25 ppt / 1.018 SG for hatching, or 1 and 2/3 tbsp salt per quart (L) of water.
  • pH 8.0
  • 26-28C (80-82F)
  • Light is needed to initiate hatching.
  • Hatching time is 18 hrs to 36 hrs, depending on temperature and source of the cysts.
  • Cyst density: Add 1/2 level tsp of cysts per quart of water.
  • Vigorous aeration must be supplied at all times, except when collecting newly hatched nauplii. (Turn off air flow, hold a flashlight near the top of hatching vessel and the nauplii will swarm into the light.)


Will reproduce in captive conditions.

Reference: The Complete Illustrated Breeder's Guide to Marine Aquarium Fishes
Image credit: AJN
Text credit: SWM