Brine Shrimp Hatchery DIY Guide
Updated: Apr 24
Brine shrimp make an excellent source of live food. One of the main drawbacks however is that live food when bought from the store typically doesn’t last anywhere as long as dried food such as flakes do, this makes it one of the biggest disadvantages. However, we're here to help. By setting up your own brine shrimp hatchery you can keep a continuous supply of live food on the go without losing the supplies with time. Simply create as many as you need and store the rest.
So how will we do that? Well, brine shrimp eggs can be bought online from places such as amazon (we use amazon because of its mainly high quality products and great customer service) and then you only add a spoon full to the hatchery at a time, or more depending on how many fish you have in the tank.
Now there’s two paths you can take and really, they’re both about the same in outcomes - one just requires a little more work. You’ve got the option of buying kits online, these typically come with everything you need minus the eggs. Your other option is to go as close to fully DIY as possible, which is just as effective and cheaper, but requires more time. A lot of people may go for the online kits, (which is completely fine and you find those here) but we’re going to walk through the DIY version so that both parties benefit.
To start off with, your eggs need to be stored correctly in order for them to be viable. To do this they need to be stored in a sealed container such as a sealable bag, such as sandwich bags, or something like tupperware. They need to be completely free from moisture and you need to store them in a cool environment at or below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Refrigeration is good for short term storage but if you’re keeping them longer than four weeks then get them frozen instead.
A good method here is that as soon as you get the eggs, if you’re buying in a big packet, then separate all the eggs you may need for the next 3 weeks and store the rest in the freezer. Keep in mind that freezing eggs delays the hatch rate, so expect frozen eggs to take up to a couple of days longer to hatch than their thawed counterparts.
Okay before we start crafting our hatchery, it’s best to mix up a large amount of water to use - the reason for this is that you’ll be needing to have high salinity. This means a higher salt content. Specifically it needs to be around 1.018 gravity if you have a hydrometer in your box of tools, if not then simply add around 1 and 2/3s of a tablespoon of salt to around a liter of water, or one quart. Make sure you use marine salt or solar salt for this - table salt and cooking salt won't work.
The pH levels are also something you need to establish too. Brine shrimp hatching is optimal around a pH of 8 or higher. If you’re at 7 or lower you can add half a teaspoon of Epsom salt per quart, or roughly a liter until you reach a pH of 8.
The optimum water temperature for a 24-hour complete hatch is 80-82°F (26-28°C) and never exceed 86°F or 30°C. Don’t use an immersion heater for this - we suggest an incandescent bulb being placed above the hatchery or you can use an immersion bath if you have one.
Aeration is also needed as you need to constantly supply oxygen to the eggs and also keep them suspended so that none of the eggs hatching underneath other eggs get trapped, or the shrimp will die.
Okay let’s get building. What you’ll need for the DIY way is:
An air pump (View Here)
Air pump hose (If your pump doesn't come with one) (View Here)
A plank of wood (you’ll need around 2ft in length and 5 inches in width, we recommend 14mm plywood. Stay away from MDF as it will expand significantly when introduced to water.)
5 plastic bottles (empty)
A hot glue gun (view here)
A drill and a hole saw that’s just a bit smaller than your bottles in diameter
Some inch long screws
Desk lamp with an incandescent bulb
A 5-way airline manifold (View Here)
5 airline valves (View Here)
For this hatchery we’re going to have 5 small tanks set up so that every few days you have another tank ready to go with a few in between in case of delayed hatching rates. This means you can use a bottle’s worth per day to feed small snacks throughout the day if you have a large aquarium with several fish.
Starting with the base, we’re going to use the plank of wood to cut two sections off the side which will become the legs of the base, the remaining larger part will house the bottles on top. We recommend you have sides around 5 inches tall, and use the remainder for the top.
Measure out the spacing for your 5 bottles on the section for the top, then cut the holes out with your drill and hole saw bit. You can then glue and screw the sides to the top.
Next, remove the lids from your bottles and drill using the 4mm bit, 2 holes in the top of them, be careful here and if you can secure them down then definitely do so. You can screw them on to the bottle and hold the bottle in a vice for example. Using your knife, cut the bottoms off of the bottles in a clean manner. Check that your bottles fit snugly into the holes in the base with their lid-end facing down.
Next we’re going to start the air lines. Cut 5 lots of 5-inch sections of air hose and 5 lots of 10-inch sections. Attach one short hose and one long hose to each of the Bottle Caps, pushing them a few millimetres inside. Now using the hot glue gun, fix them both in place. Don't be afraid to add a lot of hot glue here, just make sure your hoses protrude through so that you don't get any glue clogging up the hose. These should be watertight when they’ve cooled.
Now you can screw the caps onto the bottles, and place the hose through the holes in the base before resting the bottles in place. Connect the long hoses (there should be 5 of them) to the 5 way manifold. Connect airline valves to each of the small hoses. Either push the bottles snuggly into their holes, or you can hot glue them in place as they won’t need to be removed anymore.
Next mix up your water either in a large bottle or small bucket so it's all consistent. Connect your air pump to the manifold with some more hose, don’t switch it on yet but make sure that the manifold is closed for each of the pumps and that the 5 valves on the short pipes are closed. Then add your water, filling the bottles to around 70%. Now turn on the air pump and then open the manifolds. Check to make sure you’re getting consistent air flow in each of the bottles, if not, adjust the valves so that they all look similar. Occasionally depending on manifold set up, one side will have more airflow than the other, but this isn’t always the case.
Now add your shrimp eggs to one bottle. Around half a level teaspoon per liter is recommended. We’re only going to add them to one bottle either every day or every two days, this means that you always have a fresh supply. Pop the cut off lids back onto the top of the bottles upside down if they’ll fit. This helps keep in heat and limit evaporation.
Set up your desk lamp closeby, this will provide both heat and light, as this is also needed during incubation. The shrimp may take up to 36 hours to hatch. Once you’re ready to harvest them, turn off the air supply to that bottle and leave it for a few minutes.
The empty egg shells will float and the shrimp will sink to the bottom. Use the lever on the small section of pipe to empty out some of the water including the shrimp into a small cap, or something like a plastic shot glass if you have those around and then close the line back up, turn the air back on. Then simply pour the cupful of shrimp into your tank and let your fish feast on them. The small amount of saltwater won't hurt your freshwater fish, but if you want to play it safe you can use a coffee filter to strain them out if you want to.
When your hatchery tank is empty of brine shrimp, there should still be some water left inside. This is because you need the egg shells to keep floating. If you’re running out of water but there are still shrimp inside, just top up with water. To clean out the hatchery tank, empty the last of the water including the egg shells into a container. Fill the tank back up with fresh water, tap water is fine, and then empty it out again to flush more waste out. Then simply refill with your saltwater and add your eggs. You can leave the water in for a day if you want it to be at the correct temperature as you put the eggs in.
If you do opt for the hatchery kit it’ll be set up in a similar way, hopefully this guide explains how they also work. The principle is the same. Thank you for reading, if you do have a look a the products linked in this guide and purchase them, we earn a small commission that costs you absolutely nothing, but helps to keep our site active so that we can bring you more guides like this as well as general pet advice and help. Thanks for your help!
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