Brine Shrimp – Life Cycle, Ecology And 2 Weird Behaviors

Brine Shrimp

Last updated on July 29th, 2022 at 05:40 pm

Brine shrimp is any of numerous small crustaceans of the order Anostraca populating brine or saltwater pools and other extremely saline inland waters throughout the world.

A species that occurs in large numbers in the great salt lake, Utah, called Artemia salina,  has high commercial value.

Growing up to 15 mm (0.6 inches) in length, the body of the brine shrimp has a discrete head with a larval eye and stalked substance eyes, a thorax with series of leaflike limbs, and a slim abdominal area without appendages.

Young shrimp hatched from dried eggs are used extensively as food for fish and other little animals inside the fish tanks.

Brine Shrimp

This shrimp typically swim in an upside-down position by rhythmically beating their legs.

Their primary food is green algae, which they filter from the water with their legs.

The capability of the brine shrimp to produce dormant eggs, referred to as cysts, has actually caused substantial usage of brine shrimp in aquaculture.

The cysts may be perfectly saved in a convenient place and hatched when needed to serve as a practical live feed for the larval fish and crustaceans.

The nauplii of this shrimp make up the most commonly used food product, and over 2000 tonnes of dry brine shrimp cysts are sold around the world every year.

Additionally, the durability of Brine shrimp makes them perfect animals running biological toxicity assays and it has actually become a designed organism used in testing chemical toxicity. Breeds of Brine shrimp are sold as novelty gifts under the marketing name Sea-Monkeys or Aqua Dragons

Brine shrimp life cycle

Brine Shrimp

The brine shrimp makes up a group of 7 to 9 types likely to have diverged from an ancestral type living in the Mediterranean area about 5.5 million years back, around the time of the Messinian salinity crisis.

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The Lab of Aquaculture &Artemia Referral Center (ARC) at Ghent University has the biggest know brine shrimp artemia cyst collection, a cyst bank that has over 1,700 brine shrimp artemia population samples gathered from various areas worldwide.

Brine shrimp is a normal primitive arthropod with a segmented body to which broad leaf-like appendages are connected. The body generally includes 19 segments, the very first 11 of which have sets of appendages, the next 2 which are frequently merged together bring the reproductive organs, and the last sections form the tail.

The overall length is typically about 8 to 10 millimeters (0.31 to 0.39 in) for the male and 10 to 12 mm (0.39 to 0.47 in) for the female, however, the width of both sexes, with the legs, has around 4 mm (0.16 in).

The body of this shrimp is divided into the head region, thorax, and abdominal area. The whole body is covered with a thin, versatile exoskeleton of chitin to which muscles are connected internally and which is shed regularly. In female brine shrimp, every ovulation is preceded by molting.

The brain does not manage lots of functions for brine shrimp, like reproduction, food digestion, and swimming; rather, local nerve system ganglia might manage some policy or synchronization of these functions.

The voluntary dropping or shedding of parts of the body for defense, called Autotomy, is likewise managed locally along with the nervous system.

Brine shrimp have 2 kinds of eyes. They have 2 extensively separated substance eyes installed on versatile stalks. These compound eyes are the primary optical sense organ in adult brine shrimps.

]The median eye, also known as the naupliar eye, is located anteriorly in the center of the head and is the only practical optical sense organ in the nauplii, which is functional till the adult phase.

Ecology and behavior

Brine shrimp can endure any levels of salinity from 25 to 250% (25 to 250 g/L), with an ideal variety of 60 ‰ to 100 ‰, and inhabit the eco-friendly niche that can secure them from predators.

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Physiologically, ideal levels of salinity have to do with 30 to 35 ‰, however, due to predators at these salt levels, brine shrimp rarely occur in natural environments at salinities of less than 60 to 80 ‰.

Mobility is attained by the rhythmic beating of the appendages acting in pairs. Respiration is through the fibrous, feather-like plates (lamellar epipodites) and occurs on the surface of the legs.


Males vary from a female by having the 2nd antennae which are bigger and modified into clasping organs used during mating. Adult female brine shrimp ovulate around every 140 hours.

The female brine shrimp can produce eggs, in favorable conditions, that can practically hatch immediately. While in severe conditions, such as low oxygen level or salinity greater than 150 ‰, female brine shrimp produce eggs with a chorion coating that has a brown color.

These eggs, also called cysts, are metabolically non-active and can stay in total stasis for 2 years while in dry oxygen-free conditions, even at temperature levels that are lower than freezing.

This particular characteristic is called cryptobiosis, which means “hidden life”.

During cryptobiosis, brine shrimp eggs can make it through temperature levels of liquid air (−190°C or −310°F) and a little portion can endure and survive above boiling temperature level (105°C or 221°F) for almost 2 hours.

When placed in brine (saltwater), the eggs hatch within a couple of hours. And when they initially hatch, the nauplius larvae are less than 0.4 mm in length.

What do brine shrimp eat?

In their very first phase of growth, Brine shrimp only consume their own energy reserves that is stored in the cyst and do not feed. Wild brine shrimp consume tiny planktonic algae. Cultured brine shrimp can also be fed particle foods consisting of soybean powder, wheat flour, yeast, or egg yolk.


Fish farm owners look for a cost-efficient, simple to utilize, and available food that is chosen by the fish. From its cysts, brine shrimp nauplii can easily be used to feed fish and shellfish larvae in just a day after incubation.

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Instar I (the nauplii that simply hatched and with big yolk reserves in their body) and instar II nauplii (the nauplii after the very first molt and with practical digestion systems) are more extensively utilized in aquaculture, due to the fact that they are simple for operation, abundant in nutrients, and little, that makes them appropriate for feeding fish and shellfish larvae live or after drying.


Brine Shrimp

Generally, brine shrimp are abundant, however, some populations and localized types face many dangers, especially from loss of habitat to introduced species.

A. Franciscana of the Americas has actually been extensively introduced to areas outside its native variety and is frequently able to outcompete the local species, such as A. salina in the Mediterranean area.

A. urmiana are amongst the extremely localized species from Lake Urmia in Iran. And once abundant, the types have actually significantly decreased due to drought, causing worries that it was practically extinct. The 2nd population of this type has just recently been found in the Koyashskoye Salt Lake at the Crimean Peninsula.

A. Monica, the type that is typically referred to as Mono Lake brine shrimp, can be discovered in Mono Lake, Mono County, California.

In 1987, Dennis D. Murphy from Stanford University petitioned the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to include A. monica to the threatened types list under the Endangered species Act (1973).

The diversion of water by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power led to increasing salinity and concentration of salt hydroxide in Mono Lake.

In spite of the existence of trillions of brine shrimp in the lake, the petition competed that the boost in pH would threaten them.

The danger to the lake’s water levels was attended to by a modification to the California State Water Resources Control panel’s policy, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service discovered on 7 September 1995 that the Mono Lake brine shrimp did not warrant listing.

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