The fairy shrimp, or Branchinecta sp., is an insect that grows from 1 cm in length, which makes it one of the world’s smallest invertebrates. It can be found in freshwater across Canada and the United States, with the highest concentrations on the East Coast. This species isn’t protected by any kind of conservation program because it doesn’t face threats to its survival due to over-collection or destruction of its habitat.
They are an incredibly interesting species of freshwater crustaceans that are native to the state of Michigan in the United States and some parts of Canada, too. They get their name from their small size and delicate pink coloring that they acquire in the springtime, when they mate and lay eggs. But fairy shrimp have more going on than meets the eye.
They are found across the United States in lakes and slow-moving streams. These tiny creatures have transparent bodies that allow them to easily blend into their environment, making them hard to see with the naked eye.
What are fairy shrimp?
Fairy shrimp are tiny freshwater crustaceans that can be found across the United States and Canada. Most of these tiny invertebrates fall under the genera Branchinecta and Parameletia.
They are an interesting species native to many parts of the United States and Canada. Belonging to the Order Anostraca, this small invertebrate lives in freshwater habitats and grows to be just over an inch long
Origin and descriptions
They are aquatic crustaceans found in freshwater ponds and lakes. It belongs to a larger group of crustaceans known as Branchiopoda, which literally means lobster-footed and refers to how most species of fairy shrimp have two sets of antennae located near their head. The most common species of fairy shrimp is Branchinecta temporalis, which has orange or yellow coloring on its abdomen.
They are also called water fleas because they look like fleas when viewed under a microscope. They are not really fleas, however; they belong to a different class of arthropods than insects (arthropods are invertebrates with segmented bodies). Fairy shrimp typically grow up to 0.25 inches long and can live for several months if conditions are right.
Fairy shrimp species profile
They belong to the family Branchinectidae, from the order anostraca, which is part of a larger group called Branchiopoda. This group includes over 5,000 species of freshwater crustaceans that are found all over the world. The fairy shrimp is one of only two members of its genus, Branchinella. In fact, it’s one of only three species in its entire subfamily! (The other two are not native to North America).
They are tiny—their bodies range from about 0.5 to 1 centimeter long—and they live for just a few months. They can be distinguished from other branchiopods by their elongated heads and tails, as well as their overall size and shape: they have relatively long bodies and short legs compared with most other branchiopods.
Their coloration also varies quite a bit between individuals: some of them have dark backs with white spots, while others have light-colored backs with dark spots or stripes.
Fairy shrimp scientific name
The scientific name of the fairy shrimp is Anostraca
Fairy shrimp habitat
Fairy shrimp are commonly found in tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and North America. They’re also very small, only growing to be about an inch long as adults. If you want to observe these adorable creatures for yourself, consider a visit to Thailand or Guatemala.
Fairy shrimp size
The size of fairy shrimp ranges from 0.39 inches (1 cm) to 2 inches (5 cm). The largest fairy shrimp size recorded was 6.7 inches (17 cm).
Fairy shrimp aquarium size
Due to their small sizes, they can be housed in an aquarium as small as 2 gallons.
They can be kept in all types of aquariums, but most aquarists keep them in freshwater aquariums. They are a hardy species but can become stressed easily when kept in dirty water or over-crowded tanks. Keep your tank clean by performing regular water changes and siphoning out debris from time to time.
If you’re setting up a new tank, fill it with aged water instead of straight tap water to minimize stress on your shrimp. Most experts recommend keeping at least one gallon of water per adult fairy shrimp, although some hobbyists have successfully kept them in smaller tanks.
In addition to providing plenty of space for your shrimp, you should also provide an environment that mimics their natural habitat as closely as possible. The pH level should fall between 6.5 and 7.0; hardness should range between 2 and 8 dH; the temperature should fall between 65°F (18°C) and 80°F (27°C).
Aquatic plants like Java moss, Anubias barteri var. nana, and cabombas will help give your fairy shrimp a sense of security. You may also want to consider adding driftwood or stones to create hiding places for them.
Fairy shrimp is particularly vulnerable to predators, and pairing it with larger, more aggressive tank mates can create a hostile environment. When choosing tank mates for your shrimp, keep in mind that any animal that can eat another needs to be housed separately.
If you do choose to keep shrimp with other animals, make sure that they don’t have sharp teeth or claws. It’s also a good idea to avoid keeping shrimp with larger fish that may eat them.
Fairy shrimp breeding
The average fairy shrimp life cycle takes about 30 days, though there are several species that can reproduce in less than two weeks. Begin by putting a male and female together in an aquarium with plenty of oxygenated water. Keep them at temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal breeding conditions. The fairy shrimp eggs are deposited by the female into clumps of algae or other aquatic plants to keep them from being eaten by predators.
The breeding season for fairy shrimp usually lasts from April to May. Immediately after mating, males die, whereas females live until the pool dries. After the fairy shrimp eggs have been released into the water, they remain dormant for the rest of the dry season. It’s usually October or November before the eggs hatch after the pool fills up with water again. With each stage of development, larvae undergo molts and gain segments of the body, reaching 20 segments as adults.
There are a few ways to increase your odds of breeding shrimp. One is by making sure you have plenty of plants, especially fast-growing ones like water hyacinths and duckweed. These provide a perfect hiding place for the fairy shrimp eggs and baby shrimp, making it easy for them to grow until they’re large enough to fend for themselves. Another option is to add a small amount of salt to your tank; while most species can tolerate slightly salty water, fairy shrimp prefer it.
Fairy shrimp care
The fairy shrimp requires a tank with aeration to keep its water clean and oxygenated. It also needs special lighting, as it’s usually sold in stores under fluorescent lights and adapted to those conditions. When you bring your fairy shrimp home, acclimate it to low light levels and slowly introduce it to natural sunlight over two weeks.
Make sure your new tank has a tight-fitting lid, as aquatic fairies escape by jumping.
What do fairy shrimp eat?
They are filter-feeders that scrape food off the bottom of their tanks. If you want to keep your fairy shrimp, you’ll need to feed them very well. These little guys are tiny, and their natural diet is algae, small detritus, flatworm eggs, and Arcella. They eat like a cow, grazing all day long, so it’s a good idea to have your tank stocked with plenty of plants and other vegetation for them to feed on.
Fairy shrimp lifespan
Fairy shrimp are among some of nature’s most resilient creatures. In favorable conditions, they can live up to one year. And in unfavorable ones, well, they can still hold on for a few months at least.
Parasites and diseases
While not as prominent in aquaculture as they are in other forms of farming, parasites and diseases can still have a major impact on your shrimp population. As with fish, you should do your research before deciding on a species and researching its susceptibility to various parasites. In general, dwarf shrimp tend to be more susceptible than larger shrimp.
Some diseases that affect them are White Spot Disease (WSD) – A disease caused by a protozoan parasite. It is one of the most common maladies in shrimp and is highly contagious. The symptoms include white spots on shrimps’ carapace, which will eventually lead to death if not treated.
If you already have a large population in your tank and begin to notice something is off, test for diseases immediately to avoid losing your entire population. Keeping your water clean and maintaining proper pH levels can help keep disease at bay.
Fairy shrimp predators
Like most small organisms, fairy shrimp are eaten by a variety of animals, including larger invertebrates, fish, birds, reptiles, and mammals. Some notable predators include raccoons, Waterfowl, frogs, salamanders, snapping turtles, bullfrogs, and large crayfish.
Do they make good pets?
No, fairy shrimp are not ideal pets. They are very sensitive to water conditions and their diet is hard to replicate. In addition, many states consider them a non-native species and prohibit keeping them as pets. Their introduction into a new area can also damage natural ecosystems; be sure you know how you will control their spread before bringing one home.
Fairy shrimp vs brine shrimp
At first glance, the two shrimp species may look the same, but a closer inspection reveals some significant differences between them. Despite their differing colors, and even their different habitats, fairy shrimp and brine shrimp have different characteristics.
They both have voracious appetites, eating all sorts of plants, algae, bacteria, and everything else they can find. Smaller fish will often eat both species, making them excellent home aquarium additions.
It’s difficult to culture the fairy shrimp in captivity, and it’s on the endangered species list. For food sources, however, brine shrimp can be easily cultivated in aquariums.
In spite of the fact that fairy shrimps seem like a larger version of brine shrimps, there are many important differences between them.
There are 4 major differences between both shrimps”
They have different habitats
The two shrimp species have different habitats in the wild, with fairy shrimp living in cold lakes and other bodies of water around the world. On the other hand, brine shrimp only live in saltwater-filled lakes.
They have different scientific name
As distinct species, fairy shrimp and brine shrimp have different scientific names. The scientific name of fairy shrimp is Anostraca, while that of brine shrimp is Artemia.
They have different sizes
The size of these shrimp species also differs. Fairy shrimps and brine shrimps both look similar, but fairy shrimps can reach sizes up to one inch, while brine shrimps grow only to 0.3 inches or so; usually less than a quarter inch.
They need different water conditions
Freshwater fairy shrimp require a pH level of 7.0 – 7.6, whereas saltwater brine shrimp need a pH level of 7.5 – 8.0.
In terms of water parameters, shrimps are highly specific; fairy shrimps prefer freshwater to have a pH of seven or higher, while brine shrimp prefer a pH level of eight or higher.