HomeShrimp Care GuidesFairy Shrimp vs Brine Shrimp

Fairy Shrimp vs Brine Shrimp

Shrimps are the unsung heroes of the food chain. They’re constantly getting eaten, but they don’t seem to mind because many different creatures, including fish and birds, love shrimp too! Some species like fairy shrimps or brine shrimps are popular in aquariums as pets, while others make good meals for all sorts of critters.

Today we are sharing with you the difference between fairy shrimp vs brine shrimp. Some people think that they are not different at all, but they do have some differences. In this article, we will see how both species of shrimps compare.

Fairy Shrimp vs Brine Shrimp: Are they Same?

The correct answer is No; they are not the same.

Though they may look the same at first glance, once you get a closer inspection of these two shrimp species, it becomes clear that there are some pretty significant differences. One is fairy shrimp, and the other is brine shrimps, but both have different colors, and even their habitats vary from one another.

However, fairy shrimp and brine shrimp have one common trait: they are first in the food chain hierarchy.

Both fairy shrimp and brine shrimps have a voracious appetite, eating whatever they can find, including plants, algae, bacteria, and many other tiny organisms. Both species will often get eaten by smaller fish, making them perfect additions for any home aquarium.

The fairy shrimp is on the endangered species list, and they are difficult to culture in captivity. However, brine shrimps can be easily cultured for food sources by aquarium companies.

Fairy Shrimp vs Brine Shrimp: 4 Major Differences

Even though fairy shrimps may seem like a large version of brine shrimp, it’s important to note there are many differences between them.

Though they might look similar at first glance, it’s clear that there is much more than meets the eye with these two aquatic creatures when looking closely.

These are the main differences between the Fairy Shrimp and Brine Shrimp:

1. Have Different Habitats

Both of these shrimp species have different habitats as in the wild, fairy shrimp can be found in cold lakes and other bodies of water across the globe. On the contrary, brine shrimp live only on saltwater-filled lakes.

2. Distinct Scientific Names

Fairy and brine shrimp are both scientifically diverse species, with fairy shrimp’s scientific name being Anostraca while brine shrimp is Artemia.

3. Different Sizes

Another distinction between these shrimp species is their different size. Fairy shrimp and brine shrimp both look similar, but the fairy shrimps can be anywhere from half an inch long to one whole inch in length, while the brine shrimps only grow up to 0.3 inches or around; a quarter of an inch at most.

4. Different Water Conditions

Fairy shrimp are freshwater creatures and require a pH level of 7.0 to 7.6, while brine shrimp live in saltwater, with the optimal range being between 7.5 – 8.0.

Shrimps can be highly specific when it comes to water parameters; fairy shrimps need freshwater with a pH level of around seven or higher, whereas brine shrimp prefer their habitat’s water parameters at about eight on the scale.


Fairy Shrimp vs Brine Shrimp

Fairy Shrimp

Fairy shrimp are one of the four orders in crustaceans that make up Branchiopoda. They have been named Anostraca, and there are about 300 species across the world. These small, crystalline creatures can only be found living among highly oxygenated waters like ponds with plenty of vegetation where they will eat algae to sustain themselves for survival.

Fairy shrimp is an incredible creature found in many parts of the world. They have 20 body segments and 11 pairs of leaf-like phyllopodia along their side to help them swim through the water faster than other types. Fairy shrimp don’t always grow up to 6 inches long (exceptional cases), but they do live for as short a time frame as two weeks!

Many people might not believe how amazing this tiny little guy is because it’s so tiny at about 0.24 – .98 inch size range with only two legs on each segment you may think it is useless; however, these creatures date back to 500 million years ago during what we call “The Cambrian era.

The fairy shrimp’s original habitat was the ocean. But because of evolving predators, their habitats gradually changed to freshwater environments.

How To Recognize Fairy Shrimps

Fairy shrimps are fascinating creatures that come in many different colors, including orange and red. Fairy shrimp have stalked eyes and 11 legs called phyllopoda, which they use to swim with an “upside-down” swimming behavior. They also don’t have a carapace.

What do Fairy Shrimps Eat

These tiny creatures can eat just about anything and survive on practically nothing. From rotting plants to algae, these shrimp are able to make a meal out of almost any type of food you offer them.

The fairy shrimps have an insatiable appetite that does not discriminate between the living or dead; they will go after their prey with no regard for what it is.

Fairy Shrimp Life Cycle

When a fairy shrimp hatches, they live only for about six to eight weeks. Yet when the shrimps are in their cysts and preserved well enough, they can survive anywhere from decades to centuries before hatching again.

Fairy shrimp have four stages in their life cycle. The eggs are inoperative until the cysts hatch into larvae when water levels rise, which can happen at any time of year but is most common during winter or early spring as that’s usually when it rains heavily and immerses ponds where fairy shrimps live.

When they finally break out from the eggshells, some fuzzy little creatures called metanauplii emerge with legs for swimming around right away. They feed on algae all day long before eventually turning into adults about a week later- you’ll see them scuttling everywhere.

Fairy shrimps have a very short life cycle of up to three weeks. Once the pool dries up, it’s game over for these tiny creatures. However, they can lay their eggs and hope that when the rain comes back to fill the pools with water again, there will be an opportunity for them to hatch in safety from predators.

Also Read: Betta Glass Surfing – Why It Happens & How To Stop It

Hatching Fairy Shrimp Eggs

Fairy shrimp eggs are a treat for any aquarium enthusiast. You can buy them online and come in capsules or laid out on coffee filters, which you then need to hatch with spring water.

If using the latter option, ensure that it is not tap water as it contains chlorine & other chemicals toxic to fairy shrimps. Instead, use some clean drinking-quality spring water in a clear glass container; dump your “dust” into the vessel before stirring gently until dissolved – 3g of dust will contain over 250000 fairy shrimp eggs ready for hatching.

It can be challenging to see the tiny fairy shrimp for eggs from a freshwater pond. These tiny baby crustaceans hatch into their metanauplii stage over 10°C-17°C and will emerge after 24-48 hours of soaking in warm water (or shorter or longer depending on conditions). The best way to spot these teeny creatures is by shining your flashlight beam through the side of the pan at night with all other lights off.

With their phototropic tendencies, they can be seen swimming towards the bright light. If you turn it off and wait a few minutes, many of them will swim back to where you found them. You might find a magnifying glass handy for viewing them at just the proper distance.

How to Breed Fairy Shrimp?

When the fairy shrimp reaches adulthood, it is able to reproduce and create more of its own species.

Once the female fairy shrimp grows big enough, she stores her eggs in a cigar-shaped pouch inside her abdomen. This way, they are safe from being eaten by predators and can hatch into new baby shrimp.

Male shrimp are always seeking out the perfect female to fertilize their eggs. When they find her, he quickly jumps on and swims away.

The eggs change from being transparent to a pale tan color. They also increase in size as they are fertilized.

As the female shrimp’s eggs are filling and swelling, she pushes them out of her pouch. The fertilized eggs drop to the base of the pan, where they will grow for an estimated 24 hours before reaching 4000 cells.

Then they run down and shift to inoperative mode, and they won’t hatch until the eggs are completely dried, chilled, and re-wetted.

How to Store Fairy Shrimp Eggs?

The eggs dry out when the bottom pan is removed from the water. Eggs can be stored in tightly-sealed containers once they are thoroughly dried, and these should be moisture-free to keep for about a year at room temperature.

Brine Shrimp

Brine shrimp, or Artemia as they are more commonly known, is a genus of aquatic crustaceans found in saltwater lakes. They can survive anywhere with an average salinity level of up to 25%. Their ability to thrive in high salt levels has helped them lay claim on many bodies of water around the world where predators such as fish await their next meal.

Artemia varies in color from pale green to red and even semi-transparent grey. The saltier the water they live in, the more it influences their hue as well. Brine shrimps that are found living near very salty waters have a reddish tint inside them, while those who dwell farther away tend towards more bluish shades or white ones.

The Brine shrimp are tiny invertebrates that measure up to 15 mm (0.6 inches) in length, with a discrete head and stalked compound eyes – the slim abdomen is without appendages, although it features leaf-like limbs on its thorax.

The upside-down position of the Brine Shrimps is not an accident. They use their leg muscles for swimming in this way, and they even have a unique set of compound eyes designed specifically for seeing food below them.

What Do Brine Shrimps Eat?

In the wild, brine shrimp eat tiny planktonic algae. Brine shrimp are nonspecific continuous feeders that can’t help but consume anything in their size range (within 5-50 microns).

You’ll need to give your Brine Shrimp food a few times every week. This can come from natural sources like algae and bacteria, or you might want to try yeast, wheat flour, soybean powder, or egg yolk too!

Try feeding your brine shrimp with some of these delicious foods; they’re full of protein for such little guys.

Brine Shrimp: How Long Do They Live?

When it comes to brine shrimp, they can live up for as long as six months in ideal conditions. However, a baby brine shrimp will take only eight days before maturing and breeding at rates of 300 nauplii or cysts every four days.

Eggs of Brine Shrimp

Female Brine Shrimp have a natural ability to produce eggs with a chorion coating that protects the egg from unfavorable conditions. These shrimp are born in an environment of low oxygen levels and high salinity, which is why they create their offspring this way.

For their offspring to survive these harsh environments, female briny shrimp will create an outer layer of protection around their egg called a “chorion.”

Brine shrimp cysts are so tough that they can survive for up to two years in total stasis, even under extreme environmental conditions. Hydrated and oxygenated, their metabolism is currently inactive, but these eggs will hatch within a few hours when exposed to air or water.

When these cysts meet saltwater, the eggs hatch within a few hours. When nauplius larvae first hatch, they are less than 0.4 mm long but can grow up to about 2 cm in length and feed on phytoplankton or other tiny organisms found at this stage of their life cycle.

How to Hatch Brine Shrimp Eggs?

Propagating brine shrimp eggs is a simple process, but breeding them is complex. If you desire to collect nauplius for your fry, you must employ a 2-Liter standing cone or an Imhoff cone and an inverted soda bottle to work.

Otherwise, any clear vessel will operate just fine. Next, add saltwater into the vessel and keep in mind that the salinity should be 25ppt.

When you’re not sure about the salinity of your water, it’s always a good idea to test. To do this:

  1. Use aquarium salt and mix one teaspoonful with 1 quart of water.
  2. Avoid using chlorine-filled tap waters as they can be toxic for brine shrimp.
  3. Ensure that the pH level is eight or higher before adding any Shrimp since these need an alkaline environment to thrive!

We recommend using a water temperature of 80-82°F when hatching and adding one cap of brine shrimp eggs to the container. The egg will take around 24 – 36 hours before it hatches, so keep an eye on your tank until they hatch into tiny baby shrimps!

How to Breed Brine Shrimp?

Breeding Brine shrimp is a breeze when they have the right conditions. However, many of them will die before reaching their mature age in captivity.

When people culture Brine shrimp, they only raise the larva for a day or two to harvest baby brine shrimp. The larvae are an excellent food source for aquarium fish fry, and hence it is not uncommon to find them in many pet stores around town.

Brine shrimp are an inexpensive and sustainable food source. The harvesting companies harvest brine shrimp cysts from natural saltwater lakes, so there is no need for any reproduction in captivity.

Fishkeeping Expert
Fishkeeping Expert
With years of collective fishkeeping knowledge, we are pleased to share the tank maintenance tips and fish care advice we've picked up along the way. Fishkeeping Expert is home to all fishkeeping tutorials and guides that will help you keep your fish healthy.


    • Yes, fairy shrimp can reproduce in an aquarium without drying out the eggs and getting them wet again. Fairy shrimp reproduce by laying eggs that can remain dormant until the right conditions are met, such as the availability of suitable food and water conditions. In an aquarium setting, if the water conditions are suitable and enough food is available for the shrimp to thrive, the eggs can hatch, and the shrimp can reproduce.

  1. Can you just put fairy shrimp eggs in a aquarium that has fish in it already, I mean will they be able to hatch and hide and live for even a short amount of time? Or are my fish just going to eat all the eggs?


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