NT Labs Brine Shrimp Hatcher Complete Kit, available from Swell UK at reduced prices.
Complete starter kit: This is the complete kit for hatching Artemia to feed to your fish. It contains the hatcher itself, suckers, and airline tubing for connecting to an airpump (NOT INCLUDED). The kit also contains 5 salt rocks to add to freshwater making it suitable for hatching the shrimp.
Also contained is a 10 g bottle of ARTEMIA REVOLUTION decapsulated eggs, and finally, a 10 g bottle of BRINE SHRIMP FOOD to grow the shrimps to adults if desired.
Brine Shrimp prefer a high pH and Carbonate hardness (KH). For an optimal hatch rate a pH of around 9 and a KH of over 10 dKH is required. They will hatch in water of lower pH and KH, but the hatch rate is occasionally impaired.
One way to raise the pH and KH the water for Artemia is to add a minute quantity of Bicarbonate of soda. An easier alternative is to add a few drops of JUST UP, the New Technology aquarium pH adjuster. Always test the water using W Test Kits before you add the shrimps to ensure the pH and KH are adequate.
The simplest option if a lot of Artemia are being hatched on a regular basis is to make a large vat of water of known pH and KH and decant some into the hatcher for each hatch.
The air supply to the hatcher is essential as this keeps the eggs in the water whilst they hatch. As the eggs have had the capsule removed, they have lost their natural buoyancy. If the eggs were allowed to settle they would clump together and only a few shrimps would hatch.
The aeration also adds oxygen to the water, and removes carbon dioxide. If allowed to remain in the water the CO2 would lower the pH and reduce the survivability of the shrimps.
Light is essential for the Artemia to hatch. A light sensitive enzyme present in the cyst converts a substance called Trehalose into Glycerol upon the stimulus of light. This sugar is very hygroscopic (it attracts water), so the influx of water through the tough membrane into the egg by osmosis causes it to burst thus releasing the nauplius.
Thus the whole hatching process is dependant on the presence of light. Normal aquarium fluorescent tubes tungsten bulbs or even daylight are perfectly adequate for hatching the shrimps. The only limitation is that the light is not too red.
Feed the hatched shrimps (called nauplii) to your fish after 24 hours hatching. Providing conditions have been ideal for the shrimps to hatch (water chemistry, aeration, light etc), the majority of the nauplii should have hatched. At this stage of their life the shrimps are feeding from their oil reserves, which give them their red-orange colouration, the mouth and anus of the shrimp has not yet formed.
It is due to these oil reserves that newly hatched Artemia, are such a valuable food source for fish. Thus the shrimps should be offered to the fish as early as possible to ensure maximal oil content.