Vernal Pool Fairy Shrimps (Anostraca)

Vernal pool fairy shrimps are aquatic crustaceans that are part of the Anostraca family, in the order Anostraca. These shrimp can be found throughout the United States and parts of Canada, primarily in the southern areas of states such as Florida and Texas, or in the northern areas of states such as New York and Pennsylvania.

They are small creatures, growing to be only 2 to 5 millimeters long; this makes them one of the smallest species of shrimp that exist today.

They are one of the most fascinating types of freshwater crustaceans in the United States, and they’re very popular among aquarium hobbyists because of their interesting shapes and colors as well as their unique behavior.

Fairy shrimp (Anostraca) have been kept as pets since the time they were first discovered by aquarists in the 1940s. These small crustaceans are popular among hobbyists and their care requirements are straightforward, making them an ideal first pet shrimp species to own.

However, there are many different varieties of fairy shrimp, and some species require more specialized care than others, so it’s important to know exactly which kind you’re buying before you start setting up your tank.

Vernal pool fairy shrimps description

fairy shrimp

In the class Branchiopoda, order Anostraca, fairy shrimps are small crustaceans found in the same family as lobsters, krill, and crabs. A crustacean such as this is considered to be one of the most primitive creatures alive today. Marine sediments from the Devonian Period have been found containing fossil remains that resemble modern fairy shrimp.

They are found in 25 species in California. Those that are found in vernal pools are endemic (found only there) – small, seasonal wetlands that collect rainwater only for a short time. Shrimp-supporting pools are devoid of fish since the shrimp are easily consumed by the fish.

There are eleven pairs of swimming legs on their bodies, and they have delicate elongate bodies, stalked compound eyes, and no carapace. The legs glide gracefully from the front to the back of the body, beating in a wavelike motion as they swim upside down.

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Swimming, feeding, and breathing are all accomplished with the legs. There are a variety of sizes of shrimp, ranging from a few millimeters to 17 centimeters, most of which are in the range of 1 to 5 centimeters.

They filter small particles from the water, such as algae, protozoa, bacteria, detritus, and rotifers, using their omnivorous filter-feeding strategy. There is no discrimination in the selection of prey; only food items of adequate size are taken in by them.

Fairy shrimp scientific name

The scientific name of fairy shrimp is Anostraca

Fairy shrimp habitat

A fairy shrimp is a relatively large and slow-moving crustacean that lives in vernal pools, which are small, shallow forest ponds that are fed by melting snow, rain, and groundwater. However, they dry up during certain seasons.

Fairy shrimp size

Fairy shrimp measure between 0.39 inches (1 cm) and 2 inches (5 cm). In all, 6.7 inches (17 cm) was recorded as the largest fairy shrimp size.

Tank size

The size of the tank you will need is based on the volume of water and how many fairy shrimp you plan to keep. But generally, due to their small size, they can be housed in a tank as small as 1 or 2 gallons size.

Tank Mates

Small fish such as neon tetras, glassfish, or danios are suitable tank mates. Additionally, cherry barbs, Endler’s livebearers, fancy guppy fish, African dwarf frogs, and Betta fish can be kept together. Shrimp shouldn’t be kept with animals with sharp teeth or claws if you choose to keep them with tank mates.

Fairy shrimp life cycle

fairy shrimp

Several species of fairy shrimp can reproduce in less than two weeks, though the average life cycle takes about 30 days. Ensure that the aquarium has plenty of oxygenated water before placing a male and female together. To ensure optimal breeding conditions, keep them at a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. For protection from predators, the female deposits fairy shrimp eggs in clumps of algae or other aquatic plants.

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Usually, they breed between April and May. Females live until the pool dries, whereas males die immediately after mating. During the dry season, fairy shrimp eggs stay dormant after being released into the water.

When the pool fills back up with water, the eggs usually hatch in October or November. A larva undergoes molts at every stage of development, and by the time it reaches adulthood, it possesses 20 segments of the body.

Several methods can help you increase your shrimp breeding odds.

Plants are one way to make your garden look good, especially those that grow quickly like duckweeds and water hyacinths. The eggs and babies of these shrimps grow and develop in these safe hiding places, making it easier for them to fend for themselves as they grow.

They prefer slightly salty water, which you can add to your tank by adding a small amount of salt.

Fairy shrimp care

fairy shrimp

It is important to take care of your fairy shrimp because they are sensitive to water quality and any changes in their surroundings. If you provide them with the proper conditions, they will thrive in your home aquarium.

Provide an aquarium with plenty of hiding places for your shrimp, like live plants or decor items that create safe spaces for them. Keep the water clean by performing regular water changes and replacing any activated carbon filters on a regular basis.

What do fairy shrimp eat?

Keeping fairy shrimp requires a lot of care and feeding. There are several types of fairy shrimp food, including algae, flatworm eggs, small detritus, and Arcella. Their tanks are topped with a layer of food that they scrape off the bottom. They graze all day long, so putting plenty of plants and other vegetation in their tank is a good idea because they eat like cows.

Tank requirements

The tank requirements for these small crustaceans are relatively minimal. They do well in a large, shallow tank that has a sand or gravel substrate and some rocks for hiding places. The water should be kept at a pH of 6 to 7 and the temperature should range from 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

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The tank does not need a lid, but if one is used it must have an opening for ventilation. These shrimp require very little light and only need to be fed once every two days. Make sure you clean the tank often with dechlorinated water, which can be accomplished by using a siphon to vacuum any waste that may accumulate on the bottom of the tank.

It’s also important to periodically replace 10% of the water so that ammonia levels don’t rise too high. Remember when cleaning your shrimp tank to use warm tap water as cold tap water can stress your shrimp!

Fairy shrimp lifespan

Their lifespan is very short, surviving for only 91 days on average.

Fairy shrimp predators

Their predators include frogs, birds, insect larvae, and salamanders.

Can fairy shrimp be kept as pets?

Yes, but they do not make good pets. They can live in a small container with a filter, and they need to be fed at least once a day. They are sensitive to light and will die if the tank is too bright or dark. The water needs to stay clean and free of chemicals such as chlorine.

Fairy shrimp vs brine shrimp

  • There is a difference in habitat between fairy shrimp and brine shrimp in the wild, with fairy shrimp inhabiting cold lakes and other bodies of water all over the world. In contrast, brine shrimp can only be found in saltwater lakes.
  • There are differences in scientific names between brine shrimp and fairy shrimp, as they are distinct species. Fairy shrimp are known by the scientific name Anostraca, while brine shrimp are called Artemia.
  • Shrimp species differ in size as well. A fairy shrimp may grow up to one inch in size, while a brine shrimp may grow to 0.3 inches or less.
  • The pH level needed for freshwater fairy shrimp is 7.0 to 7.6, while the pH level needed for saltwater brine shrimp is 7.5 to 8.0. A fairy shrimp prefers water with a pH of seven or above, while a brine shrimp prefers water with a pH of eight or above.

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