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Look after brine shrimp

You will need:

 
  • Brine shrimp! These are also known as Sea Monkeys and you should be able to source them from a local pet shop or online. Keep the packaging to refer to for care & maintenance (eg. water salinity).
  • An aquarium or clear container to keep the brine shrimp. Ideally the container should have an aerator to keep oxygen levels level and a water filter.
  • A thermometer to measure water temperature.
  • A pH meter or litmus strips to meaure water pH
  • Ask your pet store for test papers to monitor nitrogen levels.
  • Ask your pet store if they have feedstock for the brine shrimp, which usually consists of an algal paste.

    Copyright notice
brine shrimp swimming
Brine shrimp swimming

Instructions

 
  1. Prepare the brine shrimp holding tank and the water as per discussed above. This experiment is about watching brine shrimp for changes as they grow... a great chance to record your observations via some classroom blogging!
     
  2. Take an initial reading of the water temperature, salinity, pH and nitrogen levels. You can get the materials you need from most pet supply stores.
     
    Optimum levels
    - pH between 7.5 and 8
    - Temperature between 20oC and 25oC
    - Nitrogen levels below 320 mg/L
    - Salinity levels at 35mg/L

    pH test unit
    pH test unit 
     
  3. Observe how your brine shrimp first look when they are in the packet. The brine shrimp have most likely arrived as eggs although sometimes they might arrive in their dormant state. 
     
  4. Once your brine shrimps hatch in the water there are several things you could do:

    - you can use a digital camera or smart phone to take photos; this is handy if you want to observe them to count their swimming appendages, segments or similar. 

    - you could use a digital microscope to look at the brine shrimp in action (especially if you can isolate some in a small tray or petri dish)

    - you could see the behavioural responses of the brine shrimp to light & dark (variable testing!)

    - try to estimate how many brine shrimp there are in your container.

    - compare the anatomy of the brine shrimp with that of crustaceans found in your seafood shop.

    - look for when the exoskeleton of the brine shrimp moults

    brine shrimp swimming
    Brine shrimp swimming

    You will have to explore with your students whether they want to see if the changing the salt concentrations effects the growth and hatching of the brine shrimp; some students may not feel comfortable with this.

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Did you know?

Brine shrimp are small crustaceans (Artemia spp.) that feed on blue-green algae. These shrimp have a pink colouration due the carotenoid pigments they ingest when eating algae. The Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) eats brine shrimp, which in turn gives these birds their classic pink colour!

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