You may not be able to cuddle and snuggle with a Sea Monkey, but they are totally fun little creatures to raise as pets. These itty-bitty critters are easy to care for, fun to watch, and come to life almost instantly, so it seems. And since they take up such precious little space and don’t need to be walked or fed often, even my strict parents didn’t mind when I used my allowance to purchase them these mail-order critters as a kid.
Sea Monkeys have stood the test of time as an easy pet and science experiment, and they’re easily available at amazon.com and other local retailers. But what are these little swimming creatures? And what’s the difference between a sea monkey and a brine shrimp?
What On Earth Is a Sea Monkey?
Sea Monkeys, also known as Artemia nyos, are a hybrid form of brine shrimp, which are Artemia Salina. Sea monkeys can grow up to a whopping ½ inch to even an inch long, and they can live up to a grand old age of about a year old under the right conditions. When you purchase a sea monkey kit, you’ll receive a packet of eggs. When you stir the eggs into the preconditioned water, they can hatch almost instantly, according to seamonkeys.com.
Your sea monkeys are males and females, and they will lay eggs and have babies. So you might be able to keep your sea monkey colony going for 3 to 5 years if you take good care of them.
You can watch them hatch, grow, mate, and reproduce in a tiny little tank. What’s not to love about Sea Monkeys?
So What Are Brine Shrimp?
Brine shrimp are tiny crustaceans that grow up to .6 inches long, and are also known as Artemia Salina. They are well-adapted for survival because they can lay two different kinds of eggs. The first kind of egg is laid when conditions are just right. The egg will hatch quickly and easily.
The second type of egg has a harder outer shell. This egg, called a cyst, can just hang around the harsh conditions but stay viable until conditions are more favorable. So if the brine shrimps’ habitat dries up, the little eggs will remain suspended in time until the right conditions return, when they will hatch and grow.
Brine Shrimp are high in protein and are often used as a delectable fish food. They live in brackish (salt) water, and their life span is up to three months long. The highest natural concentration of brine shrimp is in the Great Salt Lake of Utah, where brine shrimp eggs are commercially harvested (www.britannica.com).
Key Differences Between Brine Shrimp and Sea Monkeys
Of course, we already know that sea monkeys are a hybrid of brine shrimp. The difference is that sea monkeys were bred specifically to be pets, while brine shrimp are pretty much just fish food. Brine shrimp are found naturally – especially in the Great Salt Lake of Utah, where they thrive in the brackish, salty water. Sea monkeys aren’t found in the wild at all, they’re bred for captivity, and you could almost say they are domesticated!
The biggest difference between Brine Shrimp and Sea Monkeys is their life span. Brine shrimp typically live from 1 to 3 months long, while sea monkeys will live to a ripe old age of about a year, as long as all of the conditions are right. Overfeeding or underfeeding, or water that is too hot or too cold can affect the life spans of your sea monkeys and your brine shrimp.
Sea monkeys also tend to be a little bit larger than typical brine shrimp, although this isn’t always the case. But sea monkeys can grow up to an inch long, and brine shrimp tend to stay closer to half that size.
Brine shrimp are very fragile, and their ecosystems are easily upset, but their eggs will survive a lot of harsh conditions. However, sea monkeys are a little bit hardier than their brine shrimp relatives and will be a little bit easier to hatch.
Brine shrimp are sold in mass quantities to be hatched for fish food, but sea monkeys are sold in much smaller quantities to be raised as pets. Brine shrimp can be purchased at pet stores, but Sea Monkeys can be purchased at toy stores.
How are Sea Monkeys and Brine Shrimp Similar?
Sea monkeys and Brine shrimp both live in saltwater. When you purchase your sea monkey kit, you’ll get a little packet of water conditioners that makes your water salty enough for them. Brine shrimp live naturally in saltwater, but you can also raise them in a saltwater aquarium. However, you’ll have to do the work yourself to make the water just right. (Don’t worry, a pet store can help you!)
Sea monkeys and brine shrimp also both eat algae. You’ll receive a little packet of sea monkey food in your sea monkey kit, but you can purchase more online when you run out. You can even purchase sea monkey treats! Or you can go to the pet store and purchase brine shrimp food for your sea monkeys or for your standard brine shrimp colony. Either food will work just fine!
Don’t forget, they are similar species, too, and are considered to be teeny tiny crustaceans.
Are Both Sea Monkeys and Brine Shrimp Easy to Take Care Of?
Both sea monkeys and brine shrimp are easy pets to look after. They don’t need to be walked, taken to the vet, or given a bath. However, sea monkeys are a little bit easier to manage because they come with an aquarium, water conditioner, eggs, and food. All you need to add is water. You’ll need to get all of these items at a pet store with brine shrimp.
Sea monkeys were bred to be a little bit hardier than the average brine shrimp, though, because most brine shrimp are just used as fish food and only need to live long enough for the fish to enjoy their meal. But on the other hand, sea monkeys are marketed as pets, so they need to live a little longer.
Sea Monkeys VS. Brine Shrimp
|Sea Monkeys||Brine Shrimp|
|Size||One half to one inch long||A little more than half an inch long|
|Life span||Up to a year||Up to 3 months|
|Food Source||Algae (from Sea Monkey Kit)||Algae (from pet store pellets)|
|Scientific Name||Artemia nyos||Artemia salina|
Interesting Facts About Both Sea Monkeys and Brine Shrimp
Both sea monkeys and brine shrimp are edible! Sea monkeys and brine shrimp are a type of shrimp, making them perfectly edible. But they are so tiny that there isn’t enough nutritional value to make it worthwhile. And it would be really hard to scoop them out with a spoon, although technically you could drink them. (I wouldn’t recommend it!)
Sea monkeys and brine shrimp can reproduce without males. Parthenogenesis is the name of this unusual process of reproduction.
Sea monkey and brine shrimp eggs can be freeze-dried. Maybe it is shocking, but the eggs of these fascinating critters can be freeze-dried, stored, and shipped and still be viable when mixed into water.
Sea monkeys and brine shrimp swim upside down! If you look very closely, you’ll notice that both sea monkeys and brine shrimp swim upside down but beating their legs rhythmically.
Sea monkeys aren’t actually monkeys. In the early stages of marketing, sea monkeys were called “Instant Life” because they seemed to come to life in an instant! But after a few years, their name was changed to sea monkeys because of their little tales.
If your sea monkeys or brine shrimp die, you can bring them back to life! Well, not exactly. But if all of your teeny pets die an untimely death, you can allow the water to evaporate completely. Then add new conditioned water to the tank, and the dried-up eggs that were left behind might just hatch and give you new sea monkeys or brine shrimp to enjoy.
Pros and Cons of Raising Sea Monkeys and Brine Shrimp
There are pros and cons to raising both of these mini crustaceans. Check this out to see if these tiny pets are right for you.
Pros of Raising Sea Monkeys
- Sea monkeys come in an easy-to-use kit
- They don’t need much care
- They live for up to a year
- They reproduce easily
Pros of Raising Brine Shrimp
- Brine shrimp eggs are cheaper and easier to find at pet stores than sea monkeys are
- Brine shrimp don’t need much care
- They’ll reproduce easily
- You can feed brine shrimp to your fish
Cons of Raising Sea Monkeys
- You can’t hug, cuddle, or hold your sea monkeys
- It can be challenging to get the conditions just right
Cons of Raising Brine Shrimp
- They don’t live as long as sea monkeys
- They’re smaller than sea monkeys
- It can be challenging to get the conditions just right
What’s the Verdict: Brine Shrimp or Sea Monkeys?
Sea monkeys are a slightly modified, pet-ified version of brine shrimp marketed to consumers. Although they’re nearly the same thing, Sea monkeys are a little easier and a little bit hardier to have as pets.
In an epic battle between brine shrimp or sea monkeys, who would win? Well, we don’t know, but if you’re looking for an easy pet or a simple science experiment, order some Sea Monkeys because their kit makes it oh-so-simple to get started. On the other hand, if you want more of a challenge or a more natural pet, visit your local pet store for a packet of brine shrimp eggs and saltwater conditioner.
Either way, you’ll have a fun, easy pet to grow and enjoy!
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