Sea-Monkey Care – With or Without The Kit

Sea Monkey Care

My teen recently told me she had a batch of Sea-Monkey eggs, but no kit. If you Google how to care for Sea-Monkeys without a kit, most articles will tell you to buy a kit. But, I was determined to use what we had, so I dug a little deeper.

With some research, I was able to find some information on how to start a Sea-Monkey Colony without a kit. I’m sharing that information here. If you raise brine shrimp, leave us a comment. We want to know your experience.

Ironically, we actually did have a full kit that came with my daughters microscope set, she had just lost the instructions and didn’t know what to do with the pieces. Luckily, the research I had done helped us to know what to do with the kit and when we needed to supplement.

Microscope Kit came with Brine Shrimp Eggs
Our microscope kit came with Brine Shrimp Eggs to hatch and view.

What Are Sea-Monkeys?

Sea-Monkeys are a man-made hybrid of brine shrimp. They do not exist in the wild — or at least not naturally in the wild.

The more I read about Sea-Monkeys, the more questions I had. Are they environmentally safe? Have we released Frankenstein’s monster into the world? I couldn’t find that answer, so I’m assuming they are relatively harmless.

If man-made Sea-Monkeys concerns you, there are two alternatives. In this article, we actually worked with natural brine shrimp, but we call them Sea-Monkeys. Brine Shrimp (and their hybrid cousins) require saltwater, so flushing them down the drain is unlikely to start a rogue colony in the Mississippi.

Similar to Sea-Monkeys, but natural, you can raise Triops with a Smithsonian Prehistoric Sea Monsters Kit. Triops have existed naturally since the time of the dinosaurs. They exist on every continent except Antarctica, although probably not as far north as Minnesota. (Triops are considered a natural defense against mosquito larvae. Maybe, if you are doing this experiment in the summer, you could keep them in an outdoor fountain?)


What Comes With A Sea-Monkey Kit?

  1. A packet of “Water Purifier“. This basically turns your purified water into a saltwater base. I found directions for creating the necessary salt-water solution on HomeScienceTools.com.
  2. Sea-Monkey Eggs. If you don’t have eggs, than you would probably want to purchase the kit. Although the video below suggests you could buy live adults from the pet store (they sell them as fish food) and start with the adults rather than the eggs, that doesn’t sound like as much fun.

    Brine Shrimp Eggs for our Sea-Monkey experiment
    Brine Shrimp Eggs
  3.  A packet of “Growth Food”. This turns out to be yeast and spirulina. If you get your ecosphere going, you should not need to feed the Sea-Monkeys after the original packet is gone. They should be able to live off the algae that naturally forms in tanks. If you do feed them, McGalver Blog Spot suggests you only do it once a week.
  4. Some come with a tank or bowl.  Otherwise, you can make a DIY Sea Monkey Tank out of a fish bowl or a jar.  We used a fish bowl we already owned.

How to Make Sea Monkey Water Purifier Substitute:

Sea Monkeys need saltwater. HomeSchoolTools.com provided directions for preparing our own saltwater solution. We did have some conditioner that came with our microscope, but it wasn’t enough for the size of bowl we were using, so we used these directions to supplement with sea salt. Their salt to water ratio for sea monkeys is 1 to 1½ teaspoons of sea salt to 1 cup* of water. Tap water is not recommended, but if you use it, let it sit for a day before starting the process. *Thank you to reader James for correcting my mistake.

Adding sea-salt to our sea-monkey habitat.
Adding sea salt to our sea-monkey habitat.

YouTube Channel Life in Jars, suggested that getting the balance right is important to Sea Monkey tank setup; and it may be better to just go to a pet store and ask for a quart of water from one of their saltwater fish tanks. Apparently, this worked for him. In retrospect, this step is probably where we went wrong.

12/7/20 Note:  See the comments, Christina tells us that temperature matters. She recommends a mug warmer or an aquarium heater in cooler months. This California State Science Fair project (<-PDF) found that 80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.

6/24/21 Note: Reader Christina checked back to tell us she has had great luck in the last six months. She bought the brine shrimp eggs and aquarium salt from an aquarium store. Her little guys are breeding like mad and are super cute to watch.  So, if you don’t want to buy the plastic kit, she recommends you keep trying.

DIY Brine Shrimp / Sea Monkey Food:

My next question was, “What can I feed Sea Monkeys?”. It turns out that Sea-Monkey food is basically spirulina and yeast, but algae is their natural food source. Theoretically, a healthy tank will grow enough algae to feed your colony. McGalver Blog had good luck with simply feeding the brine shrimp spirulina powder sparingly, once a week. I found a fish food that contained both spirulina and yeast (and other filler ingredients). Most of my research suggested brine shrimp are not picky eaters. This is a possibility if you can’t grow enough algae to feed your colony.

Make An Aquarium Into a Self-Sustaining Eco-sphere

This was a funny, but informative video about creating an eco-sphere that grows the Sea-Monkey’s food and other essential habitat needs.


Is It Worth It to DIY?

No. Buy a kit.

We had absolutely no luck hatching our brine shrimp eggs. None. I don’t know if they were too old or we just messed up one of the early steps. My final analysis is that, if you are planning a long-term colony, knowing how to make your own food and saltwater is worth the learning curve. However, if you are fine with this being a short-lived experiment, purchasing the kit is probably best for your needs.

As our kit did not come with much food, had our eggs hatched, we would have needed to purchase a small bottle of spirulina fish food, crush it and use as needed. This is half the price of the cheapest kit.

 

1/24/22 Note: This is my all-time favorite article that I’ve written because I have learned so much from readers. After so much helpful advice, I actually think if my kids are interested, I will be willing to try again, with or without a kit. Most recently, Leslie has included some really helpful tips in the comments:

  1. As Christina also mentioned, Leslie says temperature is key — minimally 74 degrees and best for hatching was 78-80 degrees.
  2. Aerating and feeding are also keys to happy Sea Monkeys. Also, they are sensitive to bacteria, so keep their tank clean.
  3. The kit is not necessarily easier if you don’t read up on brine shrimp first. (Although, I maintain that it may be simplest for getting everything you need in one spot.)
  4. Don’t give up if they don’t hatch. Let the tank dry up and try again with warmer water. Leslie reminds us that unhatched does not equal dead, it means conditions were not right.

Sea-Monkey Kits

Sea Monkey kits are pretty inexpensive. The cheapest does not include a bowl. The more expensive kits come with plastic containers and fun decorations. The microscope kit, which I linked to above, is more expensive, but can be used for a variety of science activities. I would recommend doing the sea monkey experiment right away rather than holding onto it. However you choose to go forward, we have linked to our resources below. We would love to hear about hour experience.


This article contains affiliate links to Amazon and Family Fun Twin Cities receives a small commission on sales through our site.


Sea-Monkey Bowl
Our sad DIY experiment did not work, but we can re-use the bowl and decorations when we buy our kit.

 

Resources:

  • Sea Monkey care: The best place to start, is the official care instructions.
  • Background: Wikipedia contained a wealth of useful information and is worth a read for an understanding of what sea-monkeys are and what comes with a kit and also to learn about triops.
  • Science: HomeScienceTools.com not only provided guidance in how to make salt water for Sea Monkeys, it also has ideas for incorporating Sea-Monkeys into science projects. To do all of these activities, you may want to purchase a microscope.
  • Feeding Sea Monkeys: McGalver Blog Spot helped me determine what went into food for Sea-Monkeys and explained how often to feed them.
  • Self-Sustaining Ecospheres: Life in Jars is a YouTube channel dedicated to creating ecospheres.
  • Sea Monkey Habitat Temperature: California State Science Fair Project Number J192 by Deanna J. Purther.

More Science Fun to Do Together

This article contains affiliate links to Amazon and hand2mind, from which we receive a small commission on sales through our site. As an Amazon Associate, Family Fun Twin Cities earns on qualifying purchases.

30 thoughts on “Sea-Monkey Care – With or Without The Kit”

  1. A kind smile, it works well to DIY if you take into consideration the temperature – as it is essential and will not work if not warm enough.

    I placed mine the first time (350ml plastic tank) on a mugg warmer available on ebay. Second time used a (for a several litres tank) 25c aquarium heater. Hach within 24h.

    1. Hey I’m just wonder if you use aquarium salt or rock sea salt the amount for salt the same for same amount of water please ty my email is done just in case I can’t find this page again for any reply ty

      1. Those are good questions, Dale. Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer. It would be a good question to ask at your local pet store.

    1. Hi Lesly. Mine didn’t hatch either and that is why I recommend just buying a cheap kit the first time. My house is drafty and cool and I’m guessing that is where I went wrong.

  2. JAMES MCELDOWNEY

    The ratio is 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt to 1 cup of water. Not 1 quart. Your water wasn’t salinated enough.

    1. Thank you, James for catching that. I’ve made the edit in article. I hope this helps others have a successful experience.

      1. I know this is probably too late, but it has taken my brine shrimp up to 5-6 days to hatch. Key things I noticed – temp is really big (74 degrees slow hatching where 78-80 faster hatching). The kit is not all that easy if you don’t read up on brine shrimp on line. First, if they don’t hatch you can let the tank dry-up and try again. Usually unhatched does not = dead. Just not optimal for hatching. Second, temp is key to happiness which is followed by aerating and feeding. These little guys are pretty sensitive to bacteria etc. But, I hatch 17 and it dwindled to 2. I was so frustrated. I worked on aeration, and clean water (making changes etc) and next thing I new I was up a few. Just started my 3rd kit and am hopeful this will be successful. Just hoping I can add the 4 from the other container to the new one. Fish you cannot do this with without an introduction/water adjustment so now I am nervous I’ll lose my little buggers.

  3. JAMES MCELDOWNEY

    From: https://learning-center.homesciencetools.com/article/brine-shrimp-science-project/#:~:text=Fill%20the%20container%20with%20one,use%20rock%20or%20aquarium%20salt.)

    Hatching & Raising Brine Shrimp
    Use a glass container as a hatching tank for the brine shrimp, either a wide-mouth quart jar or a shallow glass pan at least two inches deep (this will work best).

    Fill the container with one quart of salt-water solution: mix 1 to1-1/2 teaspoons of sea salt mixture or non-iodized table salt per cup of bottled water.

    (If you want to use tap water, let it sit for an hour so the chlorine settles. You can also use rock or aquarium salt.)

    The shrimp will die in salt water that is either too weak or too strong.

  4. Christina Svensson

    Do not give up. I had a few failures.

    Buy eggs (brine shrimp) and aquarium salt from an aquarium store. Mine are now breeding uncontrollably – no heater needed in summer – water does need to reach 17c

    And they are cute to watch…

    1. Thank you, Christina, for your encouragement. I’m excited to try again now! I’ve shared your success story with our readers.

  5. Chaul Jhin Kim

    What is that bizarre turtle-like thing inside that bowl?

    Dear GOD/GODS and/or anyone else who can HELP ME (e.g. MEMBERS OF SUPER-INTELLIGENT ALIEN CIVILIZATIONS):

    The next time I wake up, please change my physical form to that of FINN MCMILLAN formerly of SOUTH NEW BRIGHTON at 8 YEARS OLD and keep it that way FOREVER.

    I am so sick of this chubby Asian man body!

    Thank you!

    – CHAUL JHIN KIM (a.k.a. A DESPERATE SOUL)

  6. I really enjoyed this article! We bought a sea monkey kit (the volcano zoo) during our recent trip to the MN Science Museum with our 5 year old. We had them by the north facing window in our house and opened the blinds in the morning to give them indirect light. Amazingly, the temperature didn’t seem to be an issue Brevard they hatched just as the directions said and are going strong! We did move them away from the window after a couple weeks because it got colder outside. I am curious if the temperature is possibly the reason we don’t have a lot of sea monkeys at this point. We have about 10 of various sizes but the largest appears to have egg sacs attached so hopefully that is a good sign of a growing population! Thank you for the great article!!!

    1. What an interesting thought, Carolynne. We would love to hear the effects of moving them to a warmer space on the population of your SeaMonkey Family. Also, I love the idea of buying them at the Science Museum. That is such a great way to extend the fun.

    1. Thank you, Mick. This may be more than beginners want to jump into, but some of our more experienced community members could find this video useful and intriguing.

  7. Your site has a link to a Grow A Frog Kit. Do you know how inhumane it is to keep a frog in such a tiny living space? I hope you consider removing it. It does not fit with the overall good quality information and informative resources on your website.

    1. But raising Brine Shrimp is okay in your opinion? I feel like anyone who took the time to read this article is capable of doing the research to give their grown frog proper care or to harvest local tadpoles for a raise-and-release experience.

  8. this blog is giving terrible advice.

    you didn’t manage to hatch or raise sea monkeys so why are you advising others copy your failure – as they did.

    christina is growing brine shrimp – not sea monkeys. they are two different creatures. brine shrimp needs warmer water than sea monkeys. you then went and mixed sea monkey instructions with brine shrimp instructions.

    1 to 1 1/2 tea spoons is a massive difference, especially when you’re only mixing it into a cup of water.

    oh i do love the internet and how it’ll allow anybody to publish any old nonsense they want.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, John. You are absolutely right. I did not manage to hatch or raise sea monkeys, but I also spent a great deal of time researching because the information was not easily accessible. I simply gathered my research into one place for the ease of the next person. The collective community has been so helpful that I have continued to add their advice to this article as it is left. While my children showed no interest in trying again, I do believe collectively we found that my experience was probably unsuccessful because of our drafty Minnesota home. We keep our winter temperature too low for sea monkeys. If my kids decide they want to try again, I am confident we will get it right on our next try, thanks to a wonderful community who has shared their knowledge.

  9. Daniel Williams

    Better than sea monkeys, are Aqua Pups, sold on Etsy. Isaac sells the best supplies. and cheaper than sea monkeys. He’s very knowledgeable when it comes to making his products. They are very well packaged. and shipped free and fast. With all the instructions needed. Go check out his stuff.

    1. Thanks for that suggestion, Daniel. Note that if you search for these, add “sea monkeys” and “etsy” to your search terms. Searching just “Aqua Pups” will not get you there easily. Prices are comparable to the Amazon kits.

  10. Okay I did these when I was a kid & now doing them for my kids.. my only question.. when water gets low.. I know to add more bottled water but do we need to add more water purifier as well?

    1. That is a good question, Hailey. After your initial start, I would follow the instructions that HomeSchoolTools provide for making your bottled water into a salt-water base. See the section above, entitled: How to Make Sea Monkey Water Purifier Substitute.

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