Sea monkeys are cute, wriggly pets that have been a cult sensation since the 1950s. They are appealing in their simplicity, and if they are well cared for, a tank of sea monkeys can survive for many years.
To care for sea monkeys, provide the correct saline solution, temperature, oxygen, and food. They are low-maintenance pets that don’t need a lot of special equipment. To survive and thrive, they require sufficient light but must stay out of direct sunlight as it can promote excessive algae growth.
If you’ve been gifted a sea monkey kit and don’t know where to start, you are in the right place. Let’s cover everything to do with caring for your new pets, from hatching to breeding and everything in between.
Sea Monkey Care
Thankfully sea monkeys do not resemble the tiny naked humanoid creatures depicted on the back of comic books in the 1960s and 70s. You will not need to provide small human meals or little outfits to care for them.
Sea monkeys are a product developed in the 1950s from regular brine shrimp. Even in their current hybridized form, they are pretty similar to the common variety, and there is some controversy about whether they differ.
Whether sea monkeys are regular Artemia shrimp or not, they still make fascinating pets that have enchanted kids of all ages for more than 60 years. Their inventors did give them the new scientific name of Artemia NYOS and claimed that they not only grew bigger but would live longer than common brine shrimp.
Caring for a bowl of sea monkeys is straightforward, and this has been one of the drawcards of these novelty pets. With just a basic inexpensive kit and some basic care, it is possible to have an inexhaustible supply of the little creatures.
The magical thing about having a sea monkey kit is that it can be stored and started at any time. There is no urgency to hatch the eggs as they will remain viable if they remain in a dehydrated form for up to 10 years.
The essential elements to keeping a colony of sea monkeys healthy and thriving are the following:
- Saltwater habitat
- Water temperature
- Availability of food
Let’s go through these requirements and answer some frequently asked questions about caring for these tiny creatures.
Sea Monkey Habitat
The first thing that sea monkeys must have to survive is the correct habitat. They are brine shrimp which means that they can only survive in saltwater.
Regular table salt mixed in water is not suitable for sea monkeys as it often includes other additives like anti-caking agents. Sea monkey kits come with a water preparation solution that must be mixed at least 24 hours before adding the eggs.
Some sea monkey kits come with a tank, but any deep, clear container will do. Sea monkeys often congregate around the base of a tank, so choose one that has a large bottom.
Sea monkey tanks that come with the kits are popular as they are compact and have convenient magnified viewing sections around the sides. It makes watching the tiny sea monkeys more convenient as they leap into magnified focus each time they swim past a portal.
It is essential that the ‘water purifier’ powder in the packet labeled ‘1’ is mixed with distilled or spring water. Mix the solution at the ratio noted in the instructions on the package. Do not use chlorinated water.
If the water purifier package is not present, sea monkey water can be made using aquarium salt. Mix it with dechlorinated water at the rate of 1 and a quarter teaspoons of salt per one cup of water or ½ a cup per gallon.
It is essential to ensure that there is sufficient oxygen in the water for the shrimp. This can be tricky, especially when using the small sea monkey kit tank.
A Million-Bubble air pump is a small handheld pump specifically designed to oxygenate sea money tank water safely. A small turkey baster works well in the absence of a pump. Repeatedly fill the baster with air and release it into the tank.
Sea Monkey Temperature
Sea monkeys need to be warm to survive, but letting them get too got will be lethal. The best place to put a sea monkey tank is in a warm place where it won’t be in direct sunlight.
Sea monkeys don’t do well if the water gets too cold. They slow down, and they will not grow as well as quickly as they should.
A project conducted to measure the best temperature for optimal growth of sea monkeys showed that they grew largest in a tank temperature kept at 80F. In this experiment, sea monkeys kept at this temperature were more than twice as large as a second group kept at 70F.
Although warm water is preferable, sea monkeys should never be placed in places where the water in the tanks could become too warm. Avoid areas close to heating vents or windowsills where the sun could overheat the water.
If sea monkeys are active and moving about, the temperature is suitable. It is recommended to move the tank to a warmer spot if the creatures are not energetic as usual.
How Long Do Sea Monkeys Take to Hatch?
Sea monkeys hatched from a kit may appear as tiny dots in the water as the ‘instant live eggs’ packet is stirred into the prepared solution. To see them hold the tank up against the light.
If the water temperature is warm enough, most sea monkey eggs hatch within 4 to 6 days of being added to the brine solution. You will notice the minute specks of life swimming about in the tank.
The water containing the eggs must be well oxygenated. Even if the sea monkeys have not yet hatched, ensure that the water remains at a suitable warm temperature and contains enough oxygen.
Sea monkeys were initially marketed under the name ‘Instant Life,’ and it was claimed that they would hatch before your eyes. However, this was a clever marketing strategy, and there was a good reason that tiny specks may instantly be observed swimming against the current if using a sea monkey kit.
The patented Sea-Monkey formula indicates that the first preparation packet also contained eggs. In addition to containing the ‘instant live eggs,’ the second packet also includes a subtle dye that made the first group that already had a 24-hour head start more visible.
The ‘instant life’ claim has always been a fascinating feature when acquiring sea monkeys. While it is possible to see microscopic dots in the water in high-light conditions, one needs to wait a few days to detect any actual signs of life in the sea monkey tank.
Sea Monkey Tank Size
Sea monkeys are not fussy about the size of the tank they are kept in. Most tanks included in sea monkey kits are very compact and only hold 12 ounces of water.
Luckily, sea monkeys are tiny, so they can easily live in a small tank as long as they have the correct solution and enough food. The most important aspects are that the saline solution is mixed correctly, the water is oxygenated, and remains at a suitable temperature.
Sea monkeys can be kept in any transparent container. The container should have an aquarium-type lid that will allow oxygen to reach the surface and minimize water evaporation from the tank.
Remember that sea monkeys are tiny. Even the most impressive specimens will only ever reach around ½ an inch in length. This will make them difficult to see clearly in a large tank, and it may also be more challenging to keep the water oxygenated without an air pump like the type used in small aquariums.
Never be tempted to add sea monkeys to existing aquariums that contain other fish. Brine shrimp are often sold as food for other species, so any pet sea monkeys added to existing aquariums will quickly be snapped up.
What Do Sea Monkeys Do?
Sea monkeys spend their days and nights happily swimming in their watery habitat. These tiny creatures never truly get any sleep because they will quickly sink to the bottom if they stop swimming.
If sea monkeys are well cared for, they mate frequently, and the female will give birth to live young. Male sea monkeys can often be observed clinging onto females while mating.
Surprisingly, even if there are no males in a tank, females can still reproduce. Even more surprising is that if a female sea monkey dies while carrying eggs, the eggs can still hatch.
Nature has ensured that sea monkeys have excellent chances of survival no matter what. The dehydrated eggs sold in sea monkey kits are viable because they undergo a process known as cryptobiosis. This means that even during periods of extreme drought, sea monkey eggs will survive in dehydrated form until conditions improve.
One of the best things about having sea monkeys as pets is that they don’t do anything except add some movement and life to a setting. There is no need to take them on walks or invest a lot of time in pampering them other than ensuring that their basic care conditions are met.
Can You Use Regular Tap Water for Sea Monkeys?
It is not recommended to use regular tap water when preparing the sea monkey habitat because it is often chlorinated, which can be harmful to the tiny creatures and may not hatch as readily. The best options are distilled or spring water.
Remember that sea monkeys are brine shrimp, so they need to live in a salty environment. Sea monkey eggs placed in freshwater water from a tap, even if it is unchlorinated, will not hatch.
Sea monkey kits come with a ‘water purifier’ that are the salts required to sustain sea monkey life. This sachet marked with a large number ‘1’ should be prepared a minimum of 24 hours before adding the eggs.
Regular table salt is not suitable to create a saltwater environment for sea monkeys. It contained additives like iodine and anti-caking agents.
If additional water is required for a sea monkey tank, aquarium salt can be obtained at any pet supply store. This marine salt can be mixed at a ratio of ½ a cup of salt to a gallon of distilled water to create a perfect sea monkey solution.
Do Sea Monkeys Need Light?
Sea monkeys thrive in light, but there is no need to leave a nightlight on for them at night. So long as they can move through the natural cycle of night and day and receive sufficient light during the day, they will do fine.
Although tiny sea monkeys swim continuously, they will be more active if there is a good light source. These photo-reactive creatures will, in fact, naturally swim toward any light source.
A fun activity involving light involves placing the tank in a dark spot and moving a small flashlight along the side. The tiny sea monkeys will appear to dance and play as they chase the light.
Do Sea Monkeys Need Sunlight?
Sea monkeys love sunlight but avoid placing the tank where it gets a lot of direct sunlight. The two reasons for this are heat and rapid algae growth.
Although the ideal temperature for a sea monkey habitat is around 80F, placing a tank in direct sunlight could cause the temperature of the water to shoot up unexpectedly. This could prove fatal for the inhabitants of the tank.
The second reason it is not good to put a sea monkey tank in the sun is
that algae growth in the tank may grow a little too vigorously. While a small amount of algae is a great food source for sea monkeys and provides additional oxygen, too much of a good thing will make the tank look grimy and unappealing.
A sea monkey tank with too much algae may start smelling bad, or the water may become cloudy. Algae will still develop if the sunlight received is indirect, but it won’t grow quite as quickly if it isn’t in direct sunlight.
Indirect sunlight is excellent, and sea monkeys will immediately seem more active if they have a high light environment.
Are Sea Monkeys Good Pets?
Sea monkeys are excellent pets for anyone who wants some life around but without the hassle of cleanup or vet bills. They can be fascinating to watch and make a cute addition to a setting.
The little bring shrimp are also good starter pets for kids. Children can learn about the responsibility of taking care of animals without the possible heartache of getting too attached to any particular individual if things go wrong.
Sea monkeys are also long-lasting pets. The maximum lifespan of an individual is no more than two years, but these tiny creatures breed readily, and once you have a healthy group, there will be a continuous stream of baby sea monkeys. If they are well cared for, a bowl of sea monkeys can last indefinitely.
Sea monkeys are light-sensitive, so they will readily follow a penlight or any other light source along the side of a tank. This interactive activity is highly entertaining as columns of sea monkeys will make patterns as they follow the movement of the light.
Like all pets, sea monkeys do need regular care and tank maintenance. They are tiny, but they are alive. Having a tank of wriggling, fun sea monkeys adds a bit of lively retro-fun to any environment.
How to Add Water to Sea Monkeys
Sea monkeys are pretty specific in their requirements when it comes to water salinity, so it is important to add new water carefully.
Over time, water will naturally evaporate from the tank. As the water level decreases, the salinity of the remaining water will naturally increase. Fortunately, sea monkeys are fairly adaptable and can tolerate the gradual change.
It is best to add water in small amounts regularly so that the water level in the tank remains the same without huge fluctuations. To top up the level, use distilled water at room temperature.
Add water slowly so that a sudden water column of freshwater doesn’t suddenly land inside the tank and unsettle the resident sea monkeys. The amount of water being added should only be in small amounts to top up the tank.
Occasionally a more thorough tank cleaning may be required, requiring a different approach. Replacement saltwater solution will need to be prepared to replenish the water being removed.
How to Change the Water in a Sea Monkey Tank
To clean a sea monkey tank, you will need the following:
- Aquarium salt
- Distilled or spring water
- Aquarium net
- Small plastic jug for scooping
- Plastic bucket
- Prepare replacement water in the plastic bucket. Do not use a metal bucket. The marine salt should be mixed into the distilled water at the ratio of half a cup of salt per gallon. Only mix as much as you need.
- Remove one-third of the water from the sea monkey tank using the jug. Pour each scoop of tank water through the marine net into a catchment container. If any wriggly sea monkeys are noted in the net, gently lower the net back into the tank to release them.
- During the process of removing water, use a plastic stirrer to gently agitate the water in the tank so that any debris that has settled on the bottom may get included in the scoops that are being removed.
- Once there is only one-third of the original water left in the tank, slowly start adding scoops of the saltwater preparation. It is critical that the water being added is the same temperature as the water in the tank to avoid the sea monkeys being stressed by the sudden change.
- This process can be repeated whenever the water in the tank becomes cloudy. However, if the sea monkeys are not overfed and the tank is positioned in a suitable place, it does not need to be done often.
How to Start Sea Monkeys
Sea monkey kits are a fun and exciting way to get sea monkeys. The buildup includes preparing the tank and the excited anticipation of waiting to see the first hatchlings appear.
The kits are also less work as all the measuring is done, and even the tank is supplied. It is just a case of adding the water purifier sachet to the correct amount of water, waiting for 24 hours, and then adding the contents of the second pouch, which contains the ‘Instant Live Eggs’
The closer the water temperature is to 80F, the faster the sea monkeys will hatch. Keep the water oxygenated using an air pump or a turkey baster, or you can even use a plastic straw to blow bubbles into the water gently.
Although most people start their sea monkeys using a kit, it is entirely possible to create your own tank and get a few grown ones from a friend or pet shop that has sea monkeys. The little creatures breed readily in the right conditions, and even if you only get a few individuals initially, sea monkeys will quickly get to work adding new members.
If you start using adults from another tank, you will need to purchase some aquarium salt from a pet store where they keep marine fish to create a mixture that will keep your new pets thriving. Use distilled water and mix one and a ¼ teaspoon of aquarium salt into each cup of distilled water needed.
The sea monkeys should only be added to the solution when it is at room temperature.
What Do Sea Monkeys Eat?
For the first five days after sea monkeys hatch, they should not be fed. That is because they are still using nutrients from their egg sack.
After five days, sea monkey food needs to be added to the tank so the little creatures can start actively growing. Only feed the directed amount as listed on the instructions on the packet.
Sea monkey bodies are transparent, so food in the digestive tract can be observed as a dark line running along the length of their bodies. Hold off on feeding if the line is visible because too much food in the tank can make the water cloudy.
Sea monkeys also eat the algae that develops on the inside of the tank. This is an excellent food for them, so never clean all the algae off the tank.
Sea monkeys should only be fed every five days. The kit-form sea monkey starter kits come with a packet of growth food that will last a long time.
Additional sea monkey food can be purchased from most pet stores, or they can also be fed spirulina or yeast. As long as algae is available in the tank, sea monkeys won’t starve.
Are Sea Monkeys Easy to Take Care Of?
Sea monkeys are extremely easy to take care of as they don’t have a lot of requirements to stay healthy. So long as they have the right kind of salty water, a suitable warm temperature, plenty of oxygen, and enough light, sea monkeys will thrive and continue swimming and playing happily in the tank.
Since they only need to be fed every five days, sea monkeys are excellent pets for anyone with a busy lifestyle who wants something low maintenance to take care of.
The two most important considerations for anyone thinking of getting sea monkeys are ensuring that the water remains oxygenated and warm. To thrive, the water temperature in the tank must remain between 70F-80F, and oxygen should be added to the water daily.
Even blowing through a straw into the bottom of the tank to form bubbles is effective so long as it is done often. Specific manual air pumps are available, but a small turkey baster also works well to add oxygen to a sea monkey tank.
A sea monkey tank is like a small bowl of happiness. If it is well taken care of, it can last for many years and add a lively, fun element to any setting. Caring for sea monkeys can be very rewarding as the tiny creatures will thrive with very little outlay.
Sea monkeys are living animals, so they need to have their basic requirements met. These include the correct water solution, temperature, food, oxygen, and light.
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.