Brine shrimp is an unique animal. It is called Artemia, a class of aquatic crustaceans. First unique trait of brine shrimp is that since the Triassic period, it has changed little externally. This fish possesses the ability to lay eggs which are called cysts which can lie dormant for long periods of time. They are hatched when the conditions in the environment become favorable.
These animals are able to avoid cohabitation with most predators like fish by their ability to survive and thrive in highly saline waters. They are found in the enclosed bodies of saline water like Great Salt Lake where the conditions for other forms of life are quite hostile.
The ability of dormant eggs has led to its use in aquaculture. When required the dormant eggs are activated by creating required conditions and brine shrimps are produced as a feed for fish.
In addition, the resilience of Artemia makes them ideal animals for running biological toxicity assays and is now one of the standard organisms for testing the toxicity of chemicals.
Some unique facts about brine fish are:
- The Great Salt Lake brine shrimp population can produce four or more generations per year.
- Brine shrimp are crustaceans. Their closest relatives include fairy shrimp, triops and water fleas. More distant relatives include crabs, lobsters and shrimp
- Brine shrimp are used in the laboratory for testing the toxicity of chemicals.
- Brine shrimp cysts have been found in Great Salt Lake geologic core samples up to 600,000 years old, so we know they’ve been in the area for a long time.
- Brine shrimp cysts are packaged and sold as Sea-Monkeys.
- Brine shrimp cysts can remain viable for up to 25 years.
- Brine shrimp come in many colors. From white to pink to green, the different colors are probably an effect of diet and environmental conditions.
Nature is so fascinating and diverse that we know but a fraction of it. Many life times are not enough needed to understand. In fact, it can be comprehended. Only our collective wisdom from many generations can help us to understand more and more about nature. Brine fish is an example of strange things nature produces.