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Fairy Shrimps

Discussion in 'Invertebrates General' started by skipjacktunafish, Jul 18, 2007.

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  1. Hello :) I hope i am posting this in the right place.

    Last week we purchased a 'Triop kit', we had no luck with the Triops but have some fairy shrimps. I have grown quite attached to these little fella's and before we retry with the Triops i would like to transfer them to a bigger tank. However we have two in one tank that are around 6 days old, and four in another that are around 4-5 days old. The first two are quite big and i am worried if i put them in together the smaller ones will get eaten - but i have no idea if they would eat each other? In fact i know very little about these guys - it has been a fascinating week!

    I wondered also how long they actually live for and if i should put some sand or something in the tank for them?

    I need to get some more food too, can i purchase something in my local aquarium centre and what kind of products should i look for?

    If anyone has any advice on caring for these guys i'd be very grateful.

  2. iturnrocks

    iturnrocks Elite Member

    Your fairy shrimps will be filter feeders. They will eat algae and other phytoplankton. The best food is green water.

    Here is instructions for making green water for daphnia (another type of branchiopod).

    What do I feed them?

    This is a general section on feeding Daphnia. I have summarised my own experiences at the end of this section. Daphnia have similar feeding habits to other tiny crustaceans (especially to the likes of Artemia). The best foods for culturing are algae (typically free-living green algae species which tend to turn water to "pea soup"), yeasts (Sacromyces spp, and similar fungi), and bacteria. Combinations of the above seem to have the most success (i.e. yeast and algae seem to compliment one another). Each food type will be discussed in turn, together with its advantages and disadvantages, and means of attaining/growing it.

    Micro algae is consumed in great quantities by Daphnia, and the abundance of daphnia is usually proportional to the density of algal blooms. There are a number of ways to grow algae, all of which are very basic and require little effort.

    Placing a container of water outside in good sunlight will usually guarantee a good growth of algae within two weeks, usually a lot less. Algal spores are carried on the wind and will colonise the water, but it usually speeds up the process if you "seed" the water with some algae from a container that has already has a bloom.

    Miracle grow, an organic plant fertiliser, can be used to grow algae (after all they're just plants). One method is to use 1 gallon containers, 1 for each day of the week. These sit on a window sill which gets good sunlight for as much of the day as possible. By bubbling air through the containers (an airpump with 7 side lines will do, because there really only needs to be a small movement in the water), algae won't grow on the sides of the containers where it can block the sunlight. Add 1 tea spoon of Miracle grow per gallon. This system is then seeded with green water in tank #1 - two days later tank #2 - two days later tank #3, etc. When this has turned bright green (within 2 weeks), pour it into a Daphnia tank. Refill the container with water mixture and seed with tank #2 which should be about to turn bright green. This is repeated with each container as they turn bright green. As you might be able to tell, this will provide about 1 gallon of fresh green water every two days.

    The advantages of algae as a food are that it is very easy to culture and it is excellent for growing daphnia. There are no disadvantages really, other than the fact that it requires bi-daily maintenance / renewal.

    There are two general kinds of yeast that we need be concerned about - activated and inactive. Activated yeast is generally a better food to feed because it will not foul the water as quickly/as much as the inactive kind. Bakers, brewers, and almost any kind of yeast are suitable for daphnia cultures, but it is recommended that no more than half an ounce of yeast per five gallons of water be fed every five days. If you're using yeast, especially inactive yeast, consider adding some algae to the water as this will counter any fouling which may result from adding the inactive yeast (this isn't so important with activated yeasts). Do take care not to overfeed inactive yeast as it will foul the culture and therefore kill your daphnia.

    Some bakers yeasts come with added ingredients like Calcium Sulphate and Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to aid fast activation of the yeast. These are harmless to daphnia cultures, but care should be taken when adding this kind of yeast because Ascorbic acid can give pHs less than 6, which are far from ideal with Daphnia. However, I have never had any pH changes when using such "mixes" in moderation, and the calcium sulphate gives vital calcium for the daphnia's carapaces.

    The advantages of yeast as a food are that it's easy to acquire, and there is a minimum of fuss when preparing it for the culture. The only slight disadvantage is that it's not quite as good a food as algae (the daphnia need to consume more weight of yeast than algae to get the same food value).

    Taken from: Daphnia
  3. kremlinator

    kremlinator Banned User

    I took a class in invert zoology, as well as freshwater invert diversity. This must be your lucky day.

    iturn was bang on for providing you with that. To give you some more specifics about your critters: Anostraca is the group that they belong to (it's within the Branchiopoda, which is in turn in crustacea and that is in arthropoda).

    Some things about your triops, which are really cool by the way: They are Notostracans (Notostraca) and as stated above, basically, they are within Branchiopoda as well. These guys feed mostly on detrital particles. This means things like leaflitter on the bottom of a vernal (temporary) pool of water.

    Try keeping them in room temperature water with light or no oxygenation. A light isn't really needed other than to give them algae to feed on.

    You shouldn't get too attached to your little friends. I'm sorry to say that as vernal pool inhabitants, they don't have a longeivity that you can really count on anything other than, at best, months. Triops are known for unpredictibility. However, this is the genius of the vernal pool industry. Many people don't realize this little tidbit: Once all your animals have died, take the substrate and dry it out. The substrate, by the way, should be some relatively neutral muddy sediments with bits and pieces of detritus. With this dried out substrate, once completely dried, simply pour water on it. You should get eggs of at least the fairy shrimp hatching relatively soon. By hatching I mean within a day, but the nauplius or metanauplius larvae (just a fancy type of larvae) will be so small for a while that you won't be able to see them.

    The reason I hint that you might not get triops hatching a second time around (and why you didn't find them first time around) is because of their unpredictability. Also, just glimpsing at their life cycle, the female triops will brood her eggs with her. That means that she carries them until they hatch. If the female dies, this can be taken to imply (loosely) that these eggs will also die. Not a big deal, many of them survive as well, especially if you have a healthy population of triops for the next cycle.

    Sorry it's long, but as an addition: Look out for these friendly neighbours of your shrimp: water fleas/cladocerans (Daphnia), Copepods, Cyclopoids (they have ONE eye, neat!), Conchostraca (clam shrimp), ostracoda (seed shrimp, these are VERY common in this type of thing).
  4. Hi, and many thanks to you both for your extensive and helpful information.

    I will print off the information about the algae so i can follow it properly. I put an algae plant i had soaked in mineral water in their tank - would that do the same job?

    Could the leaves be just collected from a lake or pool and stuck in some water -it's raining at the moment and i got some containers outside already - is rainwater best? Also I saw Daphnia growing in algae at the garden/aquarium centre as fish food is this the same stuff i need to grow?

    Yesterday, I put all the shrimps in together and found a triop! Infact i found one that was very much smaller than the shrimps in the second tank and two that are really tiny in the first tank. I had no idea they were there and i have stared at those tanks for hours on end. Do the shrimps have a quicker growth rate or have the triops hatched much later? Maybe the conditions were not right initially?

    Just went through and googled the list of 'neighbours' as there are other things in the tank but they are so quick and tiny it is hard to make them out ...I now know i have seed shrimps though. My shrimps appear to be different so i think i may have at least two species. some have a yellowish tail and the others are just transparent.


    I undertand they have a short life cycle, but they are so cute with their beady little black eyes it is very hard not to get attatched.

    I will definately try to dry everything out for for a later date when the last critter dies (i do actually have another bag of triop eggs somewhere to use during the drying out time), it has been so interesting watching them just 'grow' from what appears to be nothing - better than big brother anyway ;)

    Many thanks again
  5. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    What do you mean by an algae plant?
    Algae does not grow into a plant form.
  6. I'm not too sure to be honest - it had said 'algae plant' on the packet. I think maybe it is made from algae, or induces the growth of algae or something similar. I will go and get another packet this afternoon to see exactly what it is.
  7. iturnrocks

    iturnrocks Elite Member

    The thing that kills off most triops is overfeeding. I usually dont feed anything for the first couple weeks, but then my eggs come from the wild in dirt so there are lots of microscopic organisms.

    Here are some pics of various vernal pool critters.

    Ostracod (seed shrimp) very small creature like the size of a BB.

    My new breed- creamsicle Triops

    Triops eating carrots

    Baby Triops in a pickle jar


    Beavertail Fairy Shrimp (female w/cysts)

    Some wild caught fairy shrimp

    Clam Shrimp

    We found clam shrimp, fairy shrimp, and Triops in this tiny roadside pool this year.

    Another vernal pool creature- smallmouth salamander larvae vs. Triops
  8. ajvw

    ajvw Subscribed User

    Dan, amazing pictures! Are you a biology teacher? :)
  9. iturnrocks

    iturnrocks Elite Member

    No I work in a warehouse. Ive always been interested in turtles, reptiles and amphibians, and when I discovered wild fairy shrimp while looking for spadefoots, a new interest was kindled. Im afraid I dont know of any biology teachers with an interest. Very little is known about these creatures in Kansas and Im working to change that. When I was younger I would walk through the woods by my house and envision discovering a new species. Now that I know about branchiopods it may still happen. Because of their seasonal lifecycle and small size, its entirely possible to find a population that has never been discovered by man.
  10. Fantastic photo's, you must live in a great location to be able to find those creatures naturally. I did read that we have some native here in England but not near London i live, then again there are all sorts of crustaceans and stuff living in the Thames so perhaps they may yet to be discovered there.

    Those beavertails look like some of my shrimps, the other ones in the tank are transparent and look like they have quiffs!

    My triop i getting much bigger now and i have feed him a little of the shrimp food and a couple of catfish pellets.
  11. nicole

    nicole Elite Member

    WoW!! I must say that I have learned a lot from this thread! :D
  12. ajvw

    ajvw Subscribed User

    Very, very cool, Dan. I'm a homeschooling mom, and I have lots of interest!

    Here's a link that might interest you:
    Kansas School Naturalist

    Looks like you might be able to get this publication free, and maybe find out about any research or like-minded folks in your area.

    Have fun turning rocks!
  13. iturnrocks

    iturnrocks Elite Member

    I do know of about 5 people with similar interests in Kansas. I started an organization called the Kansas Vernal Pool Society to that end. The Kansas Biological Survey is the state funded organization that studies flora and fauna in the state, but the only aquatic inverts they study are in lakes and streams. Since the branchiopod lifecycle restricts them to temporary pools, they dont fall into this category. But Im ok with it, that just means more potential discoveries for me!!!

    My favorite Branchiopod is the clam shrimp. The first species I hatched had a very short lifespan, about 3 weeks. I currently have 1 wild caught specimen that I caught as an adult the last weekend in April. I cant wait to see how long he lives. I will be making a trip back to where I found him to see if I can find more. He is the one photographed previously. Here is a gif of the other kind. This pic may not be an accurate speed. I have seen it go faster and slower on various days. Not sure why.

    Heres one at 4 days old, magnified 60x
  14. iturnrocks

    iturnrocks Elite Member

    I guess I should have also mentioned. If you want to see all of the critters after just a few days of adding water, hold a small flash light (like a small LED) at the top of the water in a dark room. Most of the creatures will be attracted to the light and you may see more than you would otherwise.

    You can do this after they are grown too, but the Triops lose interest in the light. The fairy shrimp are still attracted to it. Also Daphnia and Cyclops will head for the light.

    Here is a moina (60x) in action
  15. kremlinator

    kremlinator Banned User

    "the shrimps have a quicker growth rate or have the triops hatched much later"

    -That is a definately probability with my thoughts leaning on the affirmative off the top of my head.

    Actually, he's the only lucky one to live in a place that has those- in my class, I found all kinds of things living in lakes, rivers and other places. We're all that lucky, even in Canada where herps are not around that much. These things are literally everywhere, you cannot go to a body of water without finding something (even if it is tardigrades, rotifers and nematodes only).
  16. ajvw

    ajvw Subscribed User

    That's very cool! We have a creek in our backyard that more or less acts as a vernal pool -- it's dry now, but in the spring, it's where I have found the spotted salamander eggs.

    Any tips on how I can show my kids tiny life in our creek (when it has water again)? I do have a microscope, but not a very powerful one. If I take a water sample, is there a way to encourage a colony of little critters, or make them most easily visible (I will definitely try the LED tip you gave)? Is there a good site online to help me ID what we see?

    We could go get water samples from various ponds, rivers, puddles and creeks, and then compare what we find... We have a homeschool nature club, and I'm always brainstorming for good ideas for activities with the kids.

  17. iturnrocks

    iturnrocks Elite Member

    any of my magnified images were taken with a Intel QX5 toy usb microscope. I removed the bottom plate and I hold a flashlight underneath to increase the lighting. It really helps.

    Here is a site about upgrading the light source on a QX5
    Fun with a QX5 digital microscope, the upgraded QX3. A personal review.

    Here are some good quality microscope pics of fairy shrimp and Triops.
    The tadpole shrimp and fairy shrimp; two rare British crustaceans but available in all good toyshops!

    This site provides some information about various creatures. It has some nice photos of microscopic organisms.
    Organism Menu

    You may also find information here
    Welcome to The Vernal Pool

    Here is info about clam shrimp
    The Clam Shrimp Information Page

    A site with information specific to raising Triops
    MyTriops Home Page

    Other sites of interest
    Robyn's Miscellaneous Pond Animals Page
    Species descriptions
    Introduction to Branchiopoda

    Another good place to find interesting critters is a bird bath. Birds carry various critters from place to place, thats how Triops and Fairy shrimp move around. I have a friend who has found over 100 species of aquatic invertebrates at a university campus birdbath.
  18. kremlinator

    kremlinator Banned User

    Iturn, do you hit up things like rotifers, tardigrades, Nematodes, Annelids, Cnidarians etc...?
  19. iturnrocks

    iturnrocks Elite Member

    Perhaps if I get a good quality microscope someday I might consider looking for smaller critters. Currently Im only interested in things I can photograph with my point and shoot.
  20. iturnrocks

    iturnrocks Elite Member

    Here are some photos I took today of my clam shrimp. He is very difficult to photograph while moving because of my 2 second shutter speed, so these are the best of 50.

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