Artemia: The Amazing Brine Shrimp
Artemia is a genus of aquatic crustaceans also known as brine shrimp. They are the only genus in the family Artemiidae and they have some remarkable features that make them useful for aquaculture, research and entertainment. In this article, we will explore some of the biology and ecology of Artemia, as well as their applications and benefits.
Biology and Ecology of Artemia
Artemia are small arthropods with a segmented body and broad leaf-like appendages. They usually measure about 8-12 mm in length and 4 mm in width, including the legs. They have 19 body segments, the first 11 of which have pairs of appendages, the next two which are often fused together carry the reproductive organs, and the last segments lead to the tail.
Artemia are found worldwide in inland saltwater lakes, but not in oceans. They can live in waters of very high salinity (up to 25%) and avoid most predators by this adaptation. They feed on microalgae, bacteria and organic detritus, and can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions such as temperature, oxygen level and pH.
The most remarkable feature of Artemia is their ability to produce dormant eggs, known as cysts, which can survive harsh conditions for long periods of time. These cysts are encased in a protective shell and can withstand desiccation, freezing, high temperature and UV radiation. When the conditions become favorable again, the cysts hatch into free-swimming nauplii that can grow into adults in a few weeks.
Applications and Benefits of Artemia
Artemia have many uses and advantages for different purposes. Some of them are:
- Aquaculture: Artemia nauplii are the most widely used live food for larval fish and crustaceans in aquaculture. They are nutritious, easy to hatch, convenient and available year-round. Annually, over 2000 metric tons of dry Artemia cysts are marketed worldwide for on-site hatching into nauplii. Artemia biomass can also be used as a feed ingredient for adult fish and shrimp.
- Research: Artemia are ideal animals for biological toxicity assays and genetic studies. They have a simple genome, a short life cycle, a high reproductive rate and a high sensitivity to chemicals. They can be used to test the toxicity of pollutants, drugs, pesticides and other substances on aquatic organisms. They can also be used as model organisms for studying gene expression, development and evolution.
- Entertainment: Artemia are sold as novelty gifts under the marketing name Sea-Monkeys . They are popular among children and adults who enjoy watching them grow and swim in small aquariums. They can also be colored with food dye or genetically modified to produce fluorescent proteins.
Artemia are amazing brine shrimp that have fascinated humans for centuries. They have unique biological and ecological characteristics that make them valuable for various fields and industries. They are also fun and easy to keep as pets or hobbies.