Sea monkeys are the ultimate low-maintenance pets. These fascinating creatures have been a phenomenon since they were dreamed up as ‘instant life’ pets in a New York lab in the 1950s.
Sea monkeys are real animals. They do not exist in nature as they are a hybrid breed of brine shrimp specifically developed for the novelty pet market. They move through a set life cycle from eggs to mature sea monkey adults. If kept in suitable conditions, they can live up to two years.
Unless you have owned sea monkeys, you may not understand what all the fuss is about. A tank of tiny, wriggling critters might not seem too exciting to you, but once you get started, they may just become your new favorite pets.
Are Sea Monkeys Real Animals?
Sea monkeys are living creatures and therefore are real animals. However, you won’t ever stumble across a pool of them in the wild because they are a hybrid form of brine shrimp developed in a lab.
These tiny creatures were heavily marketed as ‘Instant Life’ in the 1960s were an immediate hit. The small shrimp have stood the test of time as pets because they are still popular today. They were rebranded as Sea Monkeys in 1962.
Sea monkeys hatch from what appears to be a dry, grainy formula that comes in a packet. This has left many wondering if they are real animals or simply the result of a chemical reaction.
The scientific name for Sea monkeys is Artemia NYOS. They are a hybridized version of two types of shrimp that the developers claimed would live longer and grow larger than ordinary shrimp.
The powder that results in live sea monkeys appearing in your tank is, in fact, eggs that have undergone a process called cryptobiosis. While they are in the dehydrated egg form, no metabolic processes occur.
As soon as they are provided with suitable, hospitable conditions, these tiny creatures appear to almost magically spring to life. So long as conditions remain favorable, they grow, reproduce, and individuals can live for up to two years.
Sea monkeys can be rewarding animals to keep as pets as they don’t require a lot of special equipment or time. So long as their water formulation is correct, the temperature is suitable, and they are fed regularly, sea monkeys can provide many years of entertainment.
Are Sea Monkeys Alive?
Sea monkeys are alive. If they are not kept in the right conditions, they can quickly die—the life span for an individual sea monkey in optimal conditions is two years.
Sea monkeys sold in the kit form start out as lifeless-looking dust. The kits can be stored for up to 10 years and still hatch when added to saltwater.
When they are dried out, sea money eggs enter a sort of suspended animation called crytobiosis. They are neither dead nor alive. However, they will quickly spring into living form as soon as the right conditions for them to live are met.
This almost magical property of being about to spring to life is one of the things that has made sea monkeys so popular. These tiny pets were initially marketed as ‘Instant Life,’ and the official sea monkey handbook still refers to the hatching process as ‘hidden life.’
What Are Sea Monkeys Actually?
Sea monkeys are tiny, brine shrimp that have been cleverly marketed as interesting pets. They are nothing like primates like the name implies and their only connection to the sea is that they need a saline solution to survive.
The scientific name for sea monkeys is Artemia NYOS, and they are a hybrid form of shrimp developed in the 1950s. They were created especially as pets, and their attraction was that anyone could bring them to life instantly.
Even though they have been selectively bred to grow slightly larger than the shrimp they developed from, sea monkeys are still minuscule. They usually grow to be around ½ an inch long, with females growing slightly larger than males.
How Do Sea Monkeys Work?
Sea monkeys are great pets because you can decide exactly when you want to hatch them. It is possible to carry around an unopened packet of sea monkey eggs for years, and the moment you dump them into the prepared water, they will spring to life with no problem.
They can do this because sea monkey eggs go through a process called cryptobiosis. That means that sea monkey eggs can go into a type of hibernation, or quiet holding pattern, just waiting for the day they will be added to water to come to hatch.
Sea monkeys are usually purchased as a kit that includes three packets and sometimes a tank that features magnifying viewing portals on the sides. Any transparent bowl or container can work to keep sea monkeys, so long as the saltwater solution has been correctly prepared.
The first packet in the sea monkey kit contains the ‘water purifier,’ which is a salt mixture that must be added to unchlorinated water.
After 24 hours, the ‘Instant Live Eggs’ can be added. These are the shrimp eggs that are in a state of cryptobiosis. The eggs will hatch as soon as they are immersed in a salt solution. They might not be visible immediately, but you will start seeing little flickers of life inside the tank in the next few days.
The third packet in the Sea Monkey starter kit is the ‘growth food.’ Sea monkeys will only need to be fed from around day 5.
If the water is kept at around 72F and they get enough oxygen and food, a tank of sea monkeys can live and reproduce for up to five years.
What Do Sea Monkeys Look Like?
Hatched sea monkeys look very different from when they were tiny eggs in the Instant Life packets. At first, when you add them to the prepared water mix, it will feel like you are adding dry granules into the water.
Within a few days of hatching, you will see tiny sea monkeys swimming around in your tank. You need to look quite carefully as they are only about ½ long even when they are fully grown.
When they first hatch, sea monkeys only have one eye, but they develop two more as they mature! They have translucent bodies, so you will be able to see their digestive tract, which is handy so you know if they are getting enough food.
Although there are slight variations between males and females, all sea monkeys are shrimps with a discernable head, thorax, and abdomen. Their tiny bodies are covered in a hard exoskeleton that sheds periodically as they grow.
Female sea monkeys are often larger than males and often have visible circular-shaped egg sacks in the midsection of their bodies. Males have two sets of whisker-like antennae on their heads. One set is for grasping the female during mating.
How Are Sea Monkeys Made?
Sea Monkeys are not made; they hatch! Their almost magical ability to remain in a state of suspended animation in tiny egg form is called cryptobiosis.
If you are wondering how the tiny granules that you add to water spring to life, it is because they are shrimp eggs. Although they are related to regular brine shrimp, sea monkey shrimp have been hybridized to make them slighter bigger and more sturdy than their cousins in nature.
Once you have a bowl of sea monkeys, they will make more on their own if you take care of them. Males and females breed readily, and before long, your tank can be filled with generations of sea monkeys.
In fact, you don’t even need any male sea monkeys to get more. These tiny shrimp can reproduce asexually, which means a female sea monkey can produce babies without any males being present.
Where Do Sea Monkeys Live in the Wild?
There are no wild sea monkeys, but don’t feel sad. It’s not because there are none left in the wild, but rather because these tiny creatures have never existed in the wild.
Sea Monkey pets resulted from a science experiment in the 1950s when a marine biologist called Harold von Braunhut came up with the notion that the pet shop shrimp could be made suitable as pets rather than fish food. Two major features were worked on, which included size and longevity.
The relations of sea monkeys are brine shrimp known as Artemia salina. These tiny animals can be found naturally in brine pools in the Great Salt Lake in Salt Lake City.
Can Sea Monkeys Live in Freshwater?
Sea monkeys cannot live in freshwater. The water that the eggs go into will not hatch unless it contains the correct ratio of salt.
Sea monkey eggs are usually sold in kit form, and the first packet must be mixed 24 hours before adding the sea monkey eggs. It contains the correct balance of salt needed to create an optimal environment for your new pets.
Keep in mind that you should only use distilled or unchlorinated water when mixing the water purifier kit.
Do Sea Monkeys Live in Saltwater?
Sea monkeys need saltwater to live. Although you will never encounter wild sea monkeys in rock pools while visiting the ocean, the tiny shrimp must always be kept in a saline solution.
When you purchase a sea monkey kit, the first packet is a water conditioner. This should be mixed with the correct amount of water to make up the solution.
If you don’t have the original water conditioner packet that came with the kit to create saltwater, you cannot use table salt. Use sea salt or aquarium salt mixed at the correct concentration with unchlorinated water.
Salt should be mixed at a ratio of 1 and a quarter teaspoon per cup of water in your tank. Mix it well, and let the solution stand for at least 24 hours before adding the sea monkey eggs.
Do Sea Monkeys Sleep?
The term sea monkeys is just a glamorous name for tiny hybridized shrimp, which are similar to many other types of Artemia shrimp that occur naturally. These tiny crustaceans must swim continuously and therefore never truly sleep.
Since their bodies are heavier than water, if they stop swimming, they will sink. Dead sea monkeys sink to the bottom of the tank. Living animals swim and feed continuously.
Although sea monkeys don’t sleep, they are light-sensitive. This can make them very entertaining as you can get them to move along the side of their tank in response to movements you make with a flashlight along the sides.
How Do Sea Monkeys Live in a Package?
One of the many fascinating things about sea monkeys is how they can almost magically be brought to life by adding the contents of a package to saltwater. The package contents are dehydrated eggs, which can stay perfectly ready to hatch for up to ten years.
This process called cryptobiosis is a sort of suspended animation. This has allowed relations of sea monkeys to survive through periods of drought and spring back to life as soon as conditions improve.
There are no adult sea monkeys in the package. Once the sea monkeys hatch, they will die if they are removed from water. However, any eggs in the water can be dried out and hatch if they are added to saline water again.
How Do Sea Monkeys Move?
Once they have hatched from their eggs, sea monkeys have ten small leaf-like fins and a tail that they use to swim through their watery habitat. Despite their tiny size, these shrimp are strong swimmers and can even swim upside down.
Researchers at Caltech have revealed that organisms similar to sea monkeys play an essential role in the up-down mixing system of the oceans. Although your tiny sea monkeys may seem insignificant, they are powerful swimmers.
If your sea monkeys are not moving as much as you would like them to, try encouraging them by making the dark and then moving a small light source along the side. You can play with your sea monkeys and create patterns as they follow the light.
Sea monkeys will also naturally swim against a current. Gently stir the water and watch them happily swim against the tide to provide some stimulation.
Sea monkeys are real animals. They are relations of brine shrimp that occur naturally. The variety purchased as novelty pets are a hybridized version bred to live longer and grow larger.
Sea monkeys are fascinating little animals that are perfect low-maintenance pets.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. I have a wife and two children and love taking them to the zoo to see all the animals. I grew up with dogs and fish and now have two dogs and two cats. I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.