The Brine Shrimp Project – The Final Update

I have sad news about my little Brine Shrimp, as you may be able to tell from this blog title.  There were only three naupauli alive in my last post.  I strongly suspected that a bacteria had gotten in my tank and had caused the mass die off.

Another Sea Monkey enthusiast reached out to me through Instagram and reccommended that I change how I was aerating the tank.  At this point I had two Brine Shrimp remaining and felt like I had nothing to lose.  I changed from blowing bubbles through a syringe to tipping the water into a cup and back into the tank.  This disturbed the debris but did not seem to cause my remaining shrimps any immediate harm.  In fact, they seemed to perk up and began rooting in falling algae and debris at the bottom of the tank.  Perhaps there was hope afterall!

I went on YouTube and looked up DIY hatcherys, but they all seemed to focus more on raising large amounts for the purpose of feeding fish.  They didn’t seem to be a long-term home.  Other Sea Monkey or Aqua Dragon enthusiasts were setting up tanks to give their Shrimp long and healthy lives.  I considered going to my local pet shop and buying a small fish tank, complete with a filter and airstone to ensure that my two remaining would have adequate access to oxygen.  However, I would need to make sure the saline levels were right (aaah!) and buy some more eggs.  I couldn’t shake the suspicion that they were suffering from a bacterial infection.  In the end, my mind was made up when I couldn’t leave the house because I was sick.  Had I passed my illness onto the Sea Monkeys, as their primary carer?

The younger of the two remaining Brine Shrimp died shortly after starting the intensive aeration regime.  I was down to one.  My hopes of a breeding colony were offically over, short of adding in more eggs at some point.  Besides, I was almost sure that this survivor was infected somehow.  I watched as it became more sluggish over the next couple of days.  20180426_145340157_iOS

Finally, I woke up yesterday morning and aerated the tank.  I couldn’t see the Shrimp so I shone a light into the tank, this always excited the Shrimp into revealing themselves before.

 

Nothing.

I went to work, thinking that this might just be the end now.  I don’t want to buy a new kit or start a fish tank.  You see, I’ve done some research and found that Sea Monkeys as we know them were marketed by a toymaker with little consideration for their longievty.  Yes, there are some long-lived colonies on YouTube but it would be ego driving me forward to try again.  I’d be doing it to prove to myself that I could, and that’s not a good enough reason for me to try and breed another captive colony.  If I did this again, it would be under better conditions for them and I must confess that I don’t feel like making the committment to provide those right now.  Still, I would keep that tank going as long I knew that one Shrimp was alive.

 

I came home from work and found the dreaded cotton-wool bacteria in my tank.  Finally, I had my answer.  I sterlised the water and tipped it away.  The tank is in the recycling bin.  The cotton-wool bacteria is almost always fatal with SeaMedic and its appearance coincided with the disappearence of my final Shrimp.

My poor Shrimp never matured into their adult or even juenveille stages.  They remained in their baby, or naupiliar, stage and died young.

Have you tried to raise Sea Monkeys or Aqua Dragons? Let me know of your experiences in the comments below.

If you do want to see Sea Monkeys & Aqua Dragons maturing, then please follow SeaMonkeyHeaven on Insta.

 

 

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The Brine Shrimp Project – The Obstacles of Shrimp Rearing

It’s time to catch up with the Brine Shrimp. I wrote the first two blog posts a few weeks after the Shrimp had hatched. This was mainly because Callum & I were still waiting

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our internet to go live. It also gave me an opportunity to know if this project was going to take place, as I was never certain that the old eggs would hatch! So, now I’m going to bring you up to date with the Shrimp in real time. First, I set up the tank and then I waited for hatchlings to appear; you can watch my video on setting up the tank here. So, what next?

There were only a few squiggles visible in the tank. I didn’t mind, I just happy that even a small number of them were growing. There was one squiggle, then three on the next morning and then eight when I got home from work that afternoon. By the next morning, I couldn’t count anymore! Every time I looked into the tank there was more, more, more!

img_1046There soon became a split between those that were further developed and those in that first visible stage after hatching. Before long, I had some of the more developed Shrimp swimming around the middle of the tank with a nursery younger ones at the bottom. I continued to give them bubbles three times a day (you can watch a video of this here) and gave them their first feed about two days after they first became visible.  You can watch my video of their first feed here.

One day, I removed the jar lid to aerate the tank and a beetle dropped into the water! My first reaction was to wonder if they would be able to eat it. Then, I remembered that the shrimp were at the bottom of the food chain, eating algae only. Besides, this invader would do more harm to them with the bacteria on it! I quickly scooped it out and sterilized my syringe. I kept an eye on the tank for a few days, but they didn’t seem to be suffering from any ill effects. I think it had crawled in the jar through the air-holes and dropped in when I unscrewed the lid. As far as I know, it’s alive somewhere. I scooted it on and went back to the tank.

I had another panic when I noticed a cotton-like fuzz on the bottom of the tank. I’d read about the deadly “cotton bacteria” that can wipe out the entire tank. The only solutions that I’d found involved changing all the water and losing all the eggs and babies. All I had were babies, I had no adults so such a solution would kill off my population anyway. I plunged the syringe in again and removed the offending cotton clump. I kept my eye on the tank for a few days after and, again, no ill effects. It seems like maybe some clothes fluff found its way into the tank and not the cotton bacteria.

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Overall, I’ve had the tank set up for 22 days.  However, today I have come to aerate the tank and I can only see about three shrimp alive.  I noticed a dying shrimp in the tank about 3 -4 days ago.  I’d read that some die-off was to be expected so I didn’t worry about this, as not all the hatched shrimp would grow to adulthood.  There were less shrimp in the tank yesterday and I became concerned, but unsure of what was going on.  I gave them a feed and bubbles.  The shrimp usually react enthusiastically to light so I shone a torch in the tank.  Unfortunately, their reaction was quite sluggish, even after they’d been aerated.  I’m unsure of what to do now, as I have no Sea Monkey medic and I’m not sure what has caused this die off.  It seems to have been triggered by their last feed, but it was already underway to some extent.

 

It’s disappointing, as I didn’t want a captive population that I would cause to suffer.  It could just be one of those things, but I’m not sure at the moment that I want to restart another tank.  If I did, I would make some modifications that would hopefully result in a healthier population.  It isn’t all over, there are at least three shrimp that I can see and they may carry on living for a while yet.

The Brine Shrimp Project – Let There Be Life

In my last post as part of the Brine Shrimp Project, I set up my tank in a jar and added the eggs after assessing which room in my house would be best.  At this point, I’d been talking about my baby Brine Shrimp to anyone who would listen and they were starting to get a little following of interested friends and family.  Only, there was nothing to show them!

I soon discovered that I had no more patience than the average child. My routine now consisted of aerating the water as many times as I could remember, a minimum of three times a day but often more at the start.  Then, I would stare into the water looking for any specks of movement.  I know, I know, that the first hatchlings are visible with a magnifying glass after 24 – 48 hours after the “instant life” has time to grow.  However, I didn’t have a magnifying glass and I was still determined to catch a glimpse.  I tried to use my prescription glasses against against the jar, but it didn’t help any.  I resigned myself to seeing them at 48 – 72 hours, after the Shrimp had grown to a size visible to the naked eye.  I was messaging Callum during the day to ask if he had seen any movement from the tank before he went to work.

72 hours later came and passed, and I had still not seen my hatchlings.  I came home from work and checked the tank again.  The bubbles disturbed the black dots, I assume the unhatched eggs, and it was difficult to see anything else in the tank.  I had read that the Shrimp would become more active if placed near a light source or after their tank is oxygenated, so I shone a torch into the tank.  Nothing.

I was dejected; the tank I had wanted to come to life appeared to be barren.  The packet of eggs were out of date, so it had always been a possibility that no brine shrimp would hatch.  Still, I had got attached to the potential of life and began to hope.  I found myself searching the internet for an answer; the best advice I could find urged me to persist and perhaps their hatching or growth had been delayed by the water temperature or light levels.   If all else failed, then I could evaporate the water and try again once the weather had warmed.

So I continued aerating the tank three times a day and checking for tiny specks that appeared to be moving against the current.  It’s important to ensure there is adequate oxygen in the water, especially when the shrimp are babies because they’re not strong enough to reach the surface for air.  I saw the first signs of life at approximately 96 hours (four days) after adding the egg packet.  There was some very, very small squiggles moving at the bottom of the tank.  I was over the moon!  My babies had hatched!

I couldn’t get any decent photos of them, they were far too small to be visible on my camera. Callum has A macro lens for a smartphone somewhere, but our spare room is still all boxed up. So, the best I have is this Brine Shrimp lifecycle. They looked like that first stage after hatching.

The Brine Shrimp Project – Making Babies

img_0954Welcome to the start of my The Brine Shrimp Project. Join me on my journey with my baby Brine Shrimp, otherwise known as Sea Monkeys or Aqua Dragons. As a child, I tried to raise a tank of these small creatures and I was upset when I felt like I’d killed them all prematurely.  I didn’t understand the length of their life cycle, but I may not have been the best Sea Monkey rearer.  I’ve come back to rearing these again, armed with a better knowledge and understanding of their needs so I hope to be more successful this time.

I’m using the Aqua Dragons brand of available Brine Shrimp “instant pet”. Essentially, you get the same outcome with either Sea Monkeys or Aqua Dragons and the only differences I can see are the number of stages during tank set-up. Aqua Dragons are open about mixing their eggs with their water purifiers and have a more simplified process. However, Sea Monkeys have a separate water purifier packet to their eggs which needs to be added first. Rumour has it that there ARE eggs in that first packet from Sea Monkeys, and that is why the “instant life” is visible immediately after adding the egg packet.  Either way, there is a wait for 24 -48 hours before you get your Brine Shrimp.

img_0955I don’t have the standard tank and gear that comes with the Aqua Dragons set. That is because I was talking with some friends about setting up this project and they happened to have the eggs and food sachets to hand. They’d lost the gear, but couldn’t bring themselves to throw out the eggs. Luckily for everyone, they found someone willing to give them a chance at life. So, I cleaned out a 330ml jar and drilled air holes in the lid. Then, I placed a thermometer probe inside and tested the temperatures across the house. Brine Shrimp can live in a range of 17 degrees Celsius to 32 degrees Celsius, however, optimal hatching temperature occurs at about 25 degrees. The living room seemed the coziest room, maintaining a stable temperature that was slightly higher than the rest of the house.

This experiment in finding the “perfect” spot led to me bringing lifeless tanko’water upstairs and setting it up on my bedside table. My theory was that the proximity to the radiator would keep my babies warm and toasty. However, Callum didn’t realize that the eggs hadn’t been added and thought I was becoming too attached to my little ones.  After all, he doesn’t set his kombucha fermenting on his bedside table.  I think it was a good thing for all of us that the best room for the Shrimps was the living room.

 

To hatch the eggs, I filled the jar with spring water and placed this in a larger bowl of hot water. I took the jar out when the thermometer showed me that the water was 25 degrees. I stirred in the Aqua Dragon Egg packet to make sure that the salts were dissolving.  It’s become clear on rereading the instructions that I should have added the eggs to room temperature water, but I really thought I was doing the best at getting them at that optimum temperature.  You’ll have to read on to see if I was right.

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The water turned a light shade of green and lots of little black dots floated to the surface. I used to grow lemon tree saplings and usually the seeds that float aren’t viable. I found myself wondering if that logic also applied to Aqua Dragons… It was quite concerning! Still, it was too soon to tell so I put the “tank” on my coffee table and prepared to wait. The instructions stated it would be about 48-72 hours before any hatchlings would be visible to the naked eye.  My advise? Invest in a magnifying glass and you might be able to see them around the 24 hour mark.

Days 27, 28, 29 & 30 – The End of 30 Days of Gratitude

Today marks the end of my 30 Days of Gratitude “challenge”. A lot can happen in 30 days, and it has been interesting to track my moods.  I’ve gone from feeling low and dejected at work to bouncing back with enthusiasm.  Life isn’t great all of the time, but I’m definitely starting to strengthen my resilience and maintain a more positive outlook.  There have been challenges, like difficulties getting my keys, but I’ve surprised myself with my ability to meet them. I would highly recommend keeping a gratitude journal if you are feeling down.

Here is a quick rundown of the final days of my 30 Days of Gratitude:

Day 27 – Bank Holiday Monday and another normal work day for me.  We only had one set of keys and Callum was working a half day as well.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to get another set cut over the weekend so Callum went before he went to work.  My parents both live a short walk from my new house so Callum left the keys with them on his way to work.  I was grateful for Callum sorting this out for us.  I was also grateful to my parents for helping us out, and for feeding me after I came back from work to pick them up.

Day 28 – It was great to get some peace and quiet on Tueday after a long weekend of hustle and bustle.  I was very tired and a little depleted, so I was thankful for an evening in to catch up on my Angel Season 3 boxset.  I cooked myself a lovely meal and sat down in front of the TV.  It was just what I needed.

Day 29 – Yesterday, I was working on a difficult query.  I was struggling to figure out the root cause of a system error at work and therefore it was hard to know how to implement a solution.  Luckily, I have some experienced and knowledgeable colleagues who I was able to go to for some insight.  I returned to my desk and looked at the problem with fresh eyes, and the answer seemed a lot more obvious.  It means a lot to me to have that back up from my team and to have the opportunity to learn from each other.  I often feel that it’s my colleagues that make a job special for me, and I’m thankful for my colleagues for helping me as I’ve developed into my new role.

I’m also grateful for Callum fixing one of our dressers.  It has been a bit wobbly for a while and the recent house move has only made it more precarious.  He took some time before work yesterday to get some supplies to strengthen it and get to work.  The dresser is a lot steadier now and it should last us until we buy a house together.  This should save us having to buy even more furniture, allowing us to focus our resources on other things.

Day 30 – My Mum, Dad and Niece came round this evening for a visit. It was lovely to have them visit and to have a chat.  Dad will be fitting our new cooker this weekend, so I am very thankful as it means I can stop using the camping stove for all our meals.  Mum and I mentioned about having a Curry Night after Dad fits the cooker, but tonight I mentioned to Mum that I only had two plates.  Mum pulled out a gift voucher and gave it to me, saying it was a housewarming present and to buy some more plates.  Needless to say, I’m very thankful for this gesture.

Thank-you to everyone who has been following this series of posts. Keep your eyes peeled for new series as I start new projects. I’m going to be starting ‘The Brine Shrimp Project’ as I attempt to raise some “shrimp babies”, aka Sea Monkeys or Aqua Dragons. I’m not raising this as fish food, but rather as pets.

All the Best,

Faye x

Day 23, 24, 25 & 26 – 30 Days of Gratitude

I’m going to keep this update brief, as I’m playing catch up for quite a few days of missed blogging. Callum & I are in our new home, we collected the keys on Thursday. Mum & I cleaned the house, ready for our move on Friday. Callum and I have had a busy weekend unpacking and getting used to our new home.

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Day 23 – Callum came with me on Thursday morning to address the issue of when we would be able to collect our keys. Luckily, our tenancy coming in the night before gave us form ground to argue that they had entered into a contract for our tenancy to start as agreed. It was frustrating, but I surprised Callum with my resolution and firmness with the Letting Agency. Mum & I went to the new house whilst Callum went to work to clean. We ended up feeling pretty dejected, the shine having been taken off what we expected to be an exciting day. Still, it all came through in the end. I’m grateful for my Mum and Callum for helping me through the stressful day, and for Mum helping me get the house ready.

 

Day 24 – I picked Callum up in the morning and we went to our new home together. Mum & Dad fetched the van and helped us to move in. They ran an efficient operation so all our belongings were in by 14:00, with the van having been returned. Mum & Dad have been a massive help throughout the process, and I’m really thankful for their support.

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Day 25 – Saturday was another busy day, with Callum & I visiting my friend to pick up some furniture. My sister and her family came round in the afternoon to visit, then we finished setting up the living room. The room really came together with the sofa suite Mum & Dad found for us online, the decorations from Mum’s friend and the coffee table from my friend. Both of my sisters have us some lovely flowers, which bring life to the room. We were both very grateful for the generosity of others.

Day 26 – Sunday is a day of rest, however, I’ve not been very restful since moving house. I set to putting the kitchen cupboards in order and then to organising my clothes. Soon, I was going through my cables and electronics, binning that I no longer use. However, I was tiring myself out and needed a rest before returning to work tomorrow. Callum helped me to see that I needed to take an afternoon off from unpacking and pottering around. I feel tired, but refreshed. I’m grateful to Callum for helping to see my own limits and encouraging me to enjoy my Sunday afternoon.

Day 21 & 22 – 30 Days of Gratitude

The impending move is getting stressful, and we’re due to collect the keys tomorrow but there is still outstanding paperwork before we get our confirmed completion appointment. A van has been paid for, Callum has moved out of his rental and the Progression Team aren’t responding to our calls. It’s times like these that I don’t really feel grateful, I feel powerless. I guess that it is exactly times like this when I need to look for something to be grateful for. What was supposed to be an exciting time feels like it’s been well, well, I have some less than pleasant ways of describing it. Luckily, I have tomorrow booked off as annual leave to go and sit in the letting agents until they resolve the situation.

So, here I am looking for something to feel grateful for. Yesterday, my colleagues gave me a lovely housewarming card and have been very supportive. Advice has been forthcoming and I’m glad that I’ve had people to vent with about all of this. Colleagues, friends and my family. My parents are very supportive, having packed up the furniture in my room whilst I’ve been dog-sitting for at my sister’s house.

Today, I’m thankful for the inner strength that I’m calling on now. There were times in my life when I would have felt helpless and cried, but I refuse to be helpless. Instead, I’ve left voicemails when the phone isn’t being answered and proactively emailed all of our documents to ensure that the agency have everything they need. I’ve called for legal advice, as the agents haven’t confirmed our date in writing but have done verbally. I’m also extremely thankful for Callum, for being by my side throughout all of this and picking this up with the Sales Team whilst I’ve been at work.

Hopefully, this will be sorted soon. We’ve just the DocuSign Tenancy Agreement come through, and we’re going in branch (appointment or not) to pick up our keys tomorrow.

Days 18, 19 & 20 – 30 Days of Gratitude

Moving home is a busy time, so I’ve been struggling to fit in my blog posts over the last few days. So, here I am with my recent gratitude updates.

Day 18 – Callum & I were packing up Callum’s stuff and storing it at my parents’ house this weekend. We realised that he’d left his house les at my parents’ when we got back from dropping some boxes off. Luckily, my sisters was visiting my parents and lives close to Callum, so she dropped off the keys and saved us a trip back. One of Callum’s housemates let us in whilst we waited so we could start dinner. We were both thankful for my sister dropping off the keys.

Day 19 – We spent another day packing boxes and took them back to my parents in the evening. By the time we were finished it was getting on for half ten. I still had some packing of my own to do, so Callum said he would get the bus back to his instead me making another round trip. I was very tired at this point and I was grateful that I didn’t have to get back in the car like I’d originally planned.

Day 20 – Today, I was grateful for my mum and dad helping me out after a really busy today. I’m dog-sitting for my sister and Mum & I had some errands to run after work. I went back to let him out and then off to my errands, not taking time to eat. Dad made some dinner for me and then my packed lunch for tomorrow. It was a thoughtful gesture that really helped me and meant that I could just relax when I got back to my sister’s house. I’m thankful to my Mum for helping with my errands and to my Dad for feeding me I was very hungry.

Day 17 – 30 Days of Gratitude

Well, this evening has been a little more exciting than I expected.  I went to the gym for a swim and was meditating in the jacuzzi afterwards. Then the fire alarm went off.  My eyes snapped open and I looked around, reluctant to get out of the warm water and go out into the cold air outside.  I couldn’t hear what was being said on the tannoy so stayed where I was.  Then, a few members of staff came in to usher us out.

The swimmers gathered in the foyer with the people from the gym upstairs.  No one seemed to be heading outside until the assistant manager made the decision to take us all outside.  I wrapped my towel around my shoulders and one of the fitness instructors noticed me.
“I’ll just fetch you an extra towel,” she said, then rushed into a back room. She came back and wrapped a soft, thick towel around my shoulders.  She fetched more towels for the rest of the swimmers as we filed out.

The borrowed towel was very warm, compared to my thin beach towel.  My beach towel soaked up the water on my skin and borrowed towel seemed to stay mostly dry, acting like a blanket.  I didn’t feel too cold, although I had no shoes and my feet were feeling it.  I was grateful for the extra warmth and the act of kindness that the fitness instructor had shown us in the press to evacuate the building.  There was no fire, but we didn’t know that at the time.  I was saved a significant portion of discomfort thanks to her quick thinking.

We didn’t have to wait outside for long before we were let in.  Those who were fully clothed were also very polite and stood back to let the swimmers back in first, another moment of thankfulness.  We must have made a right sight!  There were plenty of people expressing their gratitude that the evacuation didn’t happen on a snowy day or whilst it was raining.  All of the sauna doors had been left open from when the staff were checking that no one had been left behind, so I closed them all and got inside.  That soon warmed me up.

Day 16 – 30 Days of Gratitude

I would like to share an unexpected outcome of my gratitude experiment. I started this series of posts when I was stressed in an attempt to cheer myself up. I’ve started to feel more involved and connected with the communities around me. I’ve been really touched by those who’ve helped Callum and I in some way as we move closer to our move day.

At the same time, I’ve noticed myself becoming more sociable. I think of myself as an introvert and I enjoy reading by myself at lunch. However, I’ve had a few lunch breaks with a new team member and she’s introduced to me to her friends from other departments. It seems like we’ve clicked and I’ve made a new friend very quickly. It makes me really happy and I feel like I’m fitting in at work 😊

So, today I grateful for the communities and support groups that I find myself in. I hope that one day, I’ll be in a position to repay the kindness.

Please let me know what you are grateful for in the comments below 😀