Artemia breeding – the instruction

Artemia / © Panupong

You want to breed Artemia and give your wet friends a varied side dish to the dry food? Then you are exactly right here! Live food is a nice balance in the feeding schedule of ornamental fish. Especially the nauplii of Artemia are one of the best rearing foods you can offer your fish. But not only the young fish are happy about the rich food, also adult fish fall into a feeding frenzy as soon as the tiny primeval crabs enter the tank. Just about every child has had them once in their life in their favourite magazine and then bred them with more or less success. But for sustainable breeding you need a few tips.

Breeding Artemia made easy

Artemia are also colloquially known as primeval crabs or brine shrimps. They belong to the genus Artemiidae the gill feet. The best known Artemia species available everywhere is Artemia salina. In our instructions for Artemia breeding you will become a live food professional step by step. In order to take a closer look at breeding, we first need to understand how brine shrimps live and where they come from.

Artemia habitat

Artemia are typically found in inland salt water. By laying permanent eggs they are persistent inhabitants. The eggs survive long dry periods and hatch as soon as they come into contact with salt water again. But not only eggs can lay the cute salt crabs. They are also able to give birth to their young alive.

Food of Artemia

The brine shrimps feed on algae and bacteria. Don’t worry, you don’t have to start growing algae and bacteria as well. There are several suppliers of ready-to-eat food. Usually it is divided into two groups:

  • Rearing feed (for example Liquizell or ArtemioFluid)
  • Adult food (for example microcellular)
]You see the diet is not really difficult. But there are other ways to feed the crabs. Since we want to breed the animals, it is recommended to work with spirulina powder (micro algae) and living phytoplankton. You can get both in the aquaristic specialized trade. I have also read that some private breeders work with wheat flour, but I have not tried it yet. If you have experience, please leave a comment on our site.

Which size of artemia for which fish?

As described above, you use nauplii, i.e. freshly born or hatched Artemia, for baby fish and juvenile fish. For adults and larger animals you can do the same, but it is more productive to let the crayfish grow big and feed them only when they are big red crayfish.

Which container is the right one?

Basically, you can also grow the crabs in a shallow bowl or tank. The main thing is that the container is transparent, because the eggs need light to hatch. There are special containers that are specially designed for breeding. The shape of these breeding containers is a funnel. Here there is an air hose inside, which ensures the constant air circulation.

These ready-made sets are affordable but much easier to make yourself. Below you will find a detailed instruction with video. The advantage of a proper filling system is that the removal of the hatched nauplii is much easier than in a basin or bowl.

What is important?

Important is:

  • clean vessel without preload
  • Air must keep the water constantly in motion (do not use too strong a pump)
  • The water needs a salt content 30 g correspond to 5 teaspoons per liter of water
  • The eggs need light to hatch (a standard light bulb is sufficient for one litre bottle)
  • ideal temperature values 25-30°C
  • PH value 8-8.5 (baking powder is slightly acidic and stabilizes the PH value)
  • Evaporated water must be topped up, otherwise the salt content becomes too high
]By the way, you can also keep Artemia at a lower salt level, such as 15 grams per liter, but for propagation it is advisable to choose the higher dose. The myth that the salt must be iodine-free is buzzing around the net. This is nonsense. I use salt with iodine and my Artemia is fine. If you need more Artemia, then one air pump is enough for several pools.

Quantity of eggs to be attached (cysts)

The quantity of eggs can be determined by eye. How many eggs you put in the container depends on the quality of the eggs. But even if the quality is good, you can only advise against filling too many eggs. Per liter of water I recommend to add 1-2 g.

Duration until hatching

The breeding success of Artemia is not long in coming. Already after 24-48 hours you have your first harvest. Before you start feeding, you should wait three days. Before that the nauplii feed on the yolk. Be careful. If you do not feed, you risk killing them all.

The harvest

When the crab cakes have hatched, their nutrient content is at its highest. You can see that from the intense yellow coloration. But how do you get the small gill feet out of the container? If you have bought or built a professional "tap", you can turn off the pump and wait for some time. Now all the crabs will collect at the bottom and all the eggs at the surface. Now you can open the container until the animals are sucked out. If you do not have a "tap", then there is a little trick.

Either you act like a butterfly hunter and use a fine mesh Artemia sieve or a similar gas (pantyhose) - which can be quite annoying. Or - and here's the tip - you take a straw, leave your finger on the straw while pushing it into the water until you reach your goal. Now you leave your finger off for a short time and the liquid with the crabs is sucked up. As soon as the animals are in the straw, put your finger back on the straw and the hunt was successful. If it doesn't work at the first go, just rewind to the bottom of the video.

When the Artemia are harvested, you can still rinse them off the salt. This is recommended, but it can be said that if the tank is big enough, the fish will not notice the salt. Please do not use any detergent for rinsing, just water.

Breeding sets at a glance

A really nice and easy to use breeding set is available from the manufacturer JBL. If you enter "Artemia Aufzucht" on Youtube you will find it for sure. But it does not always have to be bought. There are also instructions on Youtube in German language to build it yourself. Even if you don't speak English, you will find a very nice DIY project for Artemia breeding here. Below we translate it as a manual.


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Basically you need the following materials to build a real breeding set.

Material list

  • 2 plastic water bottles
  • small air pump (membrane pump)
  • Air hose best transparent
  • Return valve
  • Lamp or daylight
  • Salt
  • Baking Powder
  • Cutter knife or saw
  • and of course Artemia eggs
]So let's go and build a crab farm 🙂

We take a plastic bottle and cut off the bottom (5cm is enough). Now the other bottle is decapitated, here we cut off about 15 cm from the upper body. Now put the intact head part of one bottle into the body of the other and the base is ready.

Building the breeding facility

Next, the hose is brought to the correct length. You put it in the upper half of the bottle and choose this as the approximate length of the hose. Cut it off, put it on a return valve (if you put the pump above the height of the bottle, you can do without it) and again on the other part of the hose, just put it on the pump and the air supply is guaranteed.

The refilling

Now you fill in the water, you don't need rocket science for this, just do it by feel as seen in the video. Add a tablespoonful of salt to the water and a small pinch of baking powder. Now come the eggs - it's best to start with a teaspoon. How many Artemia actually hatch depends not only on your environment (salt, air, temperature, light) but also on the quality. There are vendors that sell very bad quality and it is worth paying a little more (which is no guarantee for quality).

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