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Gut Loading Brine Shirmp?

mjreefs

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Hi everyone,

I'm currently planning on including mysis shrimp to the diet of my fish, however, mysis shrimp is expensive and hard to come by here, so I've read that you can gut load brine shrimp so that it becomes nearly as nutritious than mysis. How exactly do you gut load brine shrimp? Is adding some vitamins/selcon enough? I plan on hatching my brine shrimp and then gut load them once they hatch, and then freeze them afterwards so I can make a large batch and feed them to my fish whenever I like. Would this work? Many thanks!
 
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ichthyogeek

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So in order to gut load brine shrimp, you have to get the brine shrimp nauplii to develop mouths. Adding vitamins/selcon might be enough, but it tends to coat the brine shrimp as opposed to them ingesting the vitamins/selcon in question.

So what you can do, is hatch the brine shrimp eggs for 2-3 days. Preferably, you'd bleach the eggs first to get rid of all the nasty gunk and bacteria that thrive on brine shrimp cysts off. After the eggs have hatched and the nauplii have developed mouths (48-72 hours after you put the dry cysts in water), you can add something like phytoplankton, spirulina powder, or yeast (not recommended) to the water. 2-4 hours after that, the brine shrimp will have ingested the phyto/spirulina, and you'll have gut loaded brine shrimp.

It's important to make sure that you have live brine shrimp after hatching for 2-3 days. What I do, is I hatch them for 24 hours, filter off the hatched cysts (the top layer), and stick the unhatched cysts and the brine shrimp into another container like a 2L bottle or plastic bucket. I then slowly aerate the water (as slow of an aeration as possible), and after another 24 hours, I add in the gut loading food.
 

ichthyogeek

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As for freezing them, it might work, it might not. Freezing water and flesh tends to lyse cells at the temperatures that normal freezers use, since the freezing (and therefore water crystallization) process is so slow. You can try it, but be warned about it beforehand.

A potentially better way (I haven't tested it yet) would be to take dry ice, and freeze the brine shrimp that way. Get a small styrofoam box, fill it with dry ice, and a flat surface (like a cutting board or piece of cardboard), and when the brine shrimp are ready, stick them in a ziploc bag and put it on the flat surface, and hopefully they'll freeze a lot quicker than in a home freezer.

Also, you're going to have to get high densities of brine shrimp in order to achieve a level similar to commercial products. Keep that in mind as well.
 

YumaMan

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Here's how I gut-load my BBS. First, buy decapsulated eggs (E-Z Egg is the name of the product). These eggs do not leave husks after hatching and so the water is much cleaner. My eggs hatch after 18 hours. At that point the BBS have their egg sacs and so offer good nutrition to your fish and corals. After 8 hours they begin to feed through their mouths, so that you can begin to gut load them. I use a blend of four marine microalgaes called Tahiti Blend from BrineShrimpDirect.com. After another 4 hours they may be harvested with the algae gut-loaded; now they offer good protein value, but you can further improve their nutritional value by adding 1/4 tsp of Selco to their water, adding important lipids to the BBS for faster growth to fish larvae and corals. The Selco is not ingested by the BBS but rather coats their bodies with the sticky lipids. BBS loaded in this way is highly nutritious. This has been my preferred feed for about 8 years.
 

ichthyogeek

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Point missed. You also said they need to develop mouths. What?
The first instar (form of development) stage does not have a mouth. Yup. They're just twitchy little sacs of HUFAs and chitin (and other stuff). After that first instar stage, they develop a mouth (and maybe also an anus? I can't remember if anus is first or second instar). This is why you have to gut load your nauplii 24 hours after you hatch them. Because by the time they reach the second instar, they've used up most of their stock of lipid reserves and thus have very little nutritional value.
 
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mjreefs

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So in order to gut load brine shrimp, you have to get the brine shrimp nauplii to develop mouths. Adding vitamins/selcon might be enough, but it tends to coat the brine shrimp as opposed to them ingesting the vitamins/selcon in question.

So what you can do, is hatch the brine shrimp eggs for 2-3 days. Preferably, you'd bleach the eggs first to get rid of all the nasty gunk and bacteria that thrive on brine shrimp cysts off. After the eggs have hatched and the nauplii have developed mouths (48-72 hours after you put the dry cysts in water), you can add something like phytoplankton, spirulina powder, or yeast (not recommended) to the water. 2-4 hours after that, the brine shrimp will have ingested the phyto/spirulina, and you'll have gut loaded brine shrimp.

It's important to make sure that you have live brine shrimp after hatching for 2-3 days. What I do, is I hatch them for 24 hours, filter off the hatched cysts (the top layer), and stick the unhatched cysts and the brine shrimp into another container like a 2L bottle or plastic bucket. I then slowly aerate the water (as slow of an aeration as possible), and after another 24 hours, I add in the gut loading food.
As for freezing them, it might work, it might not. Freezing water and flesh tends to lyse cells at the temperatures that normal freezers use, since the freezing (and therefore water crystallization) process is so slow. You can try it, but be warned about it beforehand.

A potentially better way (I haven't tested it yet) would be to take dry ice, and freeze the brine shrimp that way. Get a small styrofoam box, fill it with dry ice, and a flat surface (like a cutting board or piece of cardboard), and when the brine shrimp are ready, stick them in a ziploc bag and put it on the flat surface, and hopefully they'll freeze a lot quicker than in a home freezer.

Also, you're going to have to get high densities of brine shrimp in order to achieve a level similar to commercial products. Keep that in mind as well.
Ok, so I probably wouldn't freeze them given that it might just lose the benefit of it. There's a local company here who sells liquid coral food that is composed of chlorella, spirulina, and phytoplankton, would that work in gut loading the brine shrimp? Also, if I have to use decapsulated brine shrimp eggs, how long before can I start gut loading them?

Here's how I gut-load my BBS. First, buy decapsulated eggs (E-Z Egg is the name of the product). These eggs do not leave husks after hatching and so the water is much cleaner. My eggs hatch after 18 hours. At that point the BBS have their egg sacs and so offer good nutrition to your fish and corals. After 8 hours they begin to feed through their mouths, so that you can begin to gut load them. I use a blend of four marine microalgaes called Tahiti Blend from BrineShrimpDirect.com. After another 4 hours they may be harvested with the algae gut-loaded; now they offer good protein value, but you can further improve their nutritional value by adding 1/4 tsp of Selco to their water, adding important lipids to the BBS for faster growth to fish larvae and corals. The Selco is not ingested by the BBS but rather coats their bodies with the sticky lipids. BBS loaded in this way is highly nutritious. This has been my preferred feed for about 8 years.
Sadly, I don't live in the US, but I think I can source the decapsulated eggs locally, hopefully, they are of good quality.

Stupid question, can I use my tank's water to hatch decapsulated brine shrimp eggs?
 
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ichthyogeek

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Chlorella, spirulina, and *other phytoplankton would work well! It may be cheaper, however, to use spirulina powder that you buy. A small amount goes a long way towards gut loading the BBS, especially since it's dry!

If you're using decapsulated brine shrimp eggs, make sure that you've either decapsualted them yourself, or they are decapped eggs specifically for the purpose of hatching. There are differences in decapsulation protocols depending on if the eggs/cysts are destined for hatching into nauplii, or if they're meant to just be decapsulated and used as food (for things like corals, nonpicky fish, etc.)

You can definitely use your tank's water to hatch brine shrimp eggs, decapsulated or not. I would, however, recommend that you run it through a filter to get rid of anything (like hydroids) that might negatively affect hatch rates.
 
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mjreefs

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Chlorella, spirulina, and *other phytoplankton would work well! It may be cheaper, however, to use spirulina powder that you buy. A small amount goes a long way towards gut loading the BBS, especially since it's dry!

If you're using decapsulated brine shrimp eggs, make sure that you've either decapsualted them yourself, or they are decapped eggs specifically for the purpose of hatching. There are differences in decapsulation protocols depending on if the eggs/cysts are destined for hatching into nauplii, or if they're meant to just be decapsulated and used as food (for things like corals, nonpicky fish, etc.)

You can definitely use your tank's water to hatch brine shrimp eggs, decapsulated or not. I would, however, recommend that you run it through a filter to get rid of anything (like hydroids) that might negatively affect hatch rates.
Am I right the decapsulated brine shrimp eggs for hatching are usually stored in water and not the dried ones?
 

LordJoshaeus

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Here's an article on the matter of enriching brine shrimp; http://www.fao.org/3/W3732E/w3732e0o.htm#b4-4.3.4. Enrichment with nutrients

Of note is the observation that, at the usual temperatures used to hatch brine shrimp, they molt to their second instar (and thus become capable of feeding) about 8 hours after hatching, in contrast to the commonly stated figure of 24 hours. In response to that discovery, I have begun taking some of the brine shrimp I hatch and setting them back in the hatchery with new saltwater and either astaxanthin powder, spirulina powder, or a mix of both (.15 ml per 500 ml). I harvest them the next day; interestingly, when I use pure astaxanthin powder, the resulting brine shrimp are markedly more reddish than usual no matter how much I rinse them, suggesting that they are eating the astaxanthin powder and thus most likely did develop mouths well before the oft-cited 24 hours mark (note that I do not currently decapsulate my eggs before hatching them).

Do note, though, that neither astaxanthin or spirulina have much DHA and baby brine shrimp don't have much of it to begin with, so if the intention is to raise marine larvae you will have to resort to Selco, selcon, some sort of dried HUFA supplement, or live/preserved microalgae that contain decent amounts of DHA (such as Isochrysis). Most freshwater fish have no difficulty producing their own DHA, so this isn't a serious issue on the 'fresh' side of the hobby (though they often benefit when it is occasionally added)

Also, here's a potentially useful article I found on decapsulating brine shrimp eggs; http://www.fao.org/3/ab909e/ab909e00.htm
 
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ARAJEA

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Next time I run out to the garage fridge I'll look at what brand we got of the eggs. We got them from amazon because BRS was out and in a tiny scoop we were getting a ton. I was so impressed I questioned if we should buy BRSs but I want to try them next time for comparison.
 

YumaMan

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You can certainly recycle your reef tank siphoned water and use it for hatching brine shrimp. Save lots of time and salt expense, too. Set aside a bucket of your spent aquarium water and let the particulates settle. Then decant from the top of the bucket any time you need new BBS hatching solution. However, I would make sure that the water is mostly free from medications like copper, etc.
 

LordJoshaeus

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I do not currently have a saltwater tank, so I make a salt mix of my own from canning salt, epsom salt, and baking soda. Per roughly 1 liter water, I use 2 teaspoons (10 ml) canning salt (pure sodium chloride...not sure if iodized salt will work), 3/4 teaspoons (3.75 ml) epsom salt (magnesium sulfate), and 1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Brine shrimp will hatch in water with salinities as low as 5 ppt (5 grams per liter) and will often hatch faster at salinities below that of seawater.
 

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