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I got my son a Sea-Monkey set several months ago.

It's just a very basic set, which had the eggs, the plastic tank, some food, and a feeding spoon.

It's been doing very well, and we've had multiple generations of sea-monkeys, but the instructions suggested that we should get a special aerator:

Sea-Monkey Million-Bubble Air Pump . . . $4.00 A MUST to oxygenate their water!!! No electricity or batteries needed! In fact, IT CANNOT WEAR OUT OR BREAK! Just pump the bellows with your thumb, just once a day, to FILL the Sea-Monkey water with MILLIONS of bubbles that carry life-supporting oxygen. Perfect for REALLY SERIOUS Sea-Monkey owners.

Is there any actual benefit to this? Will using one have a noticeable impact on either the individual lifespan of the shrimp, or the long-term survival of the ecosystem?

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Well clearly it depends on whether or not you're a really serious sea-monkey owner. – Spiderman Aug 25 '14 at 17:31

3 Answers 3

Is there any actual benefit to this? Will using one have a noticeable impact on either the individual lifespan of the shrimp, or the long-term survival of the ecosystem?

Short Answer

It depends entirely on your current method of aerating your tank.

If you aren't adding oxygen to the water (usually by bubbling air through it) then the answer to both questions is yes - any aeration is better than none.

If you are already aerating your tank enough to meet their needs, then there's no additional benefit to using this method, other than ease of use if that compares more favorably to your current method.

Long Answer

Brine shrimp (Sea MonkeysTM) survive in low level oxygen environments. They can live long lives with low oxygen levels, so if your only concern is making sure they live a long time, then as long as they aren't dying, it's very likely that you are putting enough oxygen into their environment.

It only takes a few seconds a day with a straw for a human to blow enough bubbles in their water to sufficiently oxygenate the water for survival.

To reproduce, though, they will require more oxygen than mere survival requirements dictate:

...with a good oxygen supply, the brine shrimp are a pale pink or yellow, or if they are heavily feeding on microalgae they will look green in color. In this ideal condition, growth and reproduction is rapid, and a self-sustaining supply is possible. (source)

So by observing the color of the shrimp, you should be able to deduce whether you are oxygenating enough for reproduction or not. Note, however, that reproduction requires several other good tank conditions, so even if you don't plan on having them reproduce, color is a decent indicator of oxygenation.

Typically you don't want too much oxygen - not because it'll hurt the shrimp, but to prevent algae and other undesirable life in the tank. One of the reasons brine shrimp are so popular is because they are easy to take care of, and one of the reasons this is the case is because they do well in low oxygen level environments which acts as a deterrent to other life.

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@AdamDavis Blowing "air" from your lungs into the tank with a straw puts mostly Carbon Dioxide into the water. I wouldn't recommend that. – Ben Miller Aug 25 '14 at 19:18
@BenMiller If that were true CPR wouldn't work. Normal air is about 20% oxygen when we inhale. Our bodies are hardly 100% efficient at extracting oxygen from normal air, and we exhale about 15% oxygen. This is more than enough to oxygenate the water in the tank. – Adam Davis Aug 25 '14 at 19:21
@AdamDavis: It's not the lack of oxygen that is of concern, it is the presence of carbon dioxide. CO2 forms an acid when dissolved in water. – Eric Lippert Aug 26 '14 at 13:56
@EricLippert Humans exhaled breath is about 3.7% CO2. It is 15% oxygen. Normal air is around 0.04% CO2. Due to Henry's Law you will find that the little CO2 that does get into the tank through bubbling human breath quickly leaves the tank into the atmosphere, and the overall acidity isn't substantially affected. It's better to use air, but it's not bad to use breath. – Adam Davis Aug 26 '14 at 14:22
@AdamDavis: Well I learned something new today, thanks! – Eric Lippert Aug 26 '14 at 15:41

We opted for the Million-Bubble air pump.

Before we had it, we occasionally just used a dropper to blow some bubbles in the tank. The advantage that the Million-Bubble air pump has is that it is bigger than the dropper we were using (pushing more air into the water with each pump), and it has an aerator at the end which creates lots of tiny air bubbles instead of the fewer, larger bubbles that came out of our dropper. This oxygenates the water better.

Whether it is worth it or not is up to you. If your sea monkeys are doing fine, you probably don't need it. However, if you are placing an order for more food or some of the other sea monkey accessories at some point, you might want to add the air pump for an extra $4.

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Just remember that most of the time, the size of the bubbles that the pump produces are too large to be integrated into the water column, therefore most oxygen exchange is done via diffusion (see this webpage).

The bubbles help as they increase the area of the water surface as they break through the top.

I think the cheapest pump/air stone you can buy would be sufficient.

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