Brine Shrimp Fact Sheet
Here are some interesting data on this fascinating life form.
- Under optimal conditions, brine shrimp grows from larvae to adult in less than two weeks, increasing in length by a factor of 20 and in biomass by a factor of 500.
- Artemia can be found in a wide range of water salinities; i.e. from 10 ppt to saturation level. Above 100 ppt no predators or food competitors survive, resulting in a monoculture under natural conditions.
- There are literally hundreds of locations on the five continents where brine shrimp live, and many natural strains of Artemia thrive in coastal salinas as well as in inland salt lakes (rich in chlorine, sulphate, or carbonate salts).
- Artemia can reproduce by two ways, viviparous or live reproduction (free swimming nauplii) occurring in lower salinity levels. Oviparous reproduction occurs at salinities exceeding 150 ppt (the ocean is around 35 ppt). The Artemia will switch reproductive modes to maximize their survival according to the conditions. During oviparous reproduction, the embryo develops into gastrulae at which stage they are encapsulated in a cyst shell and their metabolism is reversibly interrupted. As the salinity drops (in the rainy season), the dehydrated cysts will hydrate and the hatching mechanism will be triggered. Within 24-48 hours, a live Artemia nauplii will emerge.
- Artemia has a high fecundity rate (more than 100 cysts or nauplii, every four days) and a long lifespan (exceeding 6 months).
- Proper knowledge of the biological and ecological (life cycle and habitat) characteristics of brine shrimp reveals the potential to understand and manage existing natural resources of cysts and biomass in operational saltworks or salt lakes. The natural distribution or "dispersion" of Artemia an be enhanced by human intervention, i.e., introduction or "transplantation" of a selected Artemia strain into a suitable environment.
- The quality of the Artemia produced differs from strain to strain and from location to location as a result of genotypical respectively phenotypical variations. The Artemia largely reflect the food conditions of the high levels of heavy metals and/or chlorinated hydrocarbons and/or deficient in essential fatty acids for marine predators.
- Artemia are non-selective filter feeders and feed on particulate matter of biological origin as well as on living organisms of the appropriate size range (microscopic algae and bacteria). In fact, due to the absence of predators and food competitors in hypersaline conditions, Artemia often develop into large monocultures, the densities of which are mostly controlled by food limitation.