Common name: Brine Shrimp
Scientific name: Artemia franciscana

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda  
Class: Branchiopoda 
Order: Anostraca
Family: Artemiidae
Genus: Artemia
Species: A. franciscana

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Do you know what Sea Monkeys are?  Well, they are actually a type of Brine Shrimp.  Brine Shrimp are often just thought of as fish food but they actually offer commercial, scientific and educational values.  My essay will inform you about the importance of Brine Shrimp.

The Brine Shrimp’s ability to tolerate varying levels of salinity help to protect it from predators because most fish and other animals can’t live in that water environment.  Brine Shrimp are found worldwide in inland saltwater lakes, but not oceans.  The global climate is changing and it is causing the water’s salinity levels to change which has affected the Brine Shrimp.  For example in Mono Lake, the Brine Shrimp are threatened because the salinity levels became too  high, even for this animal. So even though the Brine Shrimps ability to tolerate varying salinity levels has helped it survive, it is at risk of being threatened because of the changes in our environment.

Brine Shrimp are thought of as fish food, but more than just fish eat them.  In the food web, Brine Shrimp fill in a gap between the plankton and large filter feeders and the small fish and birds.  Brine Shrimp are smaller filter feeders who feed on detritus, (dead organisms and fecal matter) on the bottom of the water and when they move higher up in the water column they feed on algae and plankton.  The rhythmic beating of the limbs pumps food and water through the median gully, where the food is strained out by the limbs and retained in the food groove and later moved up to the mouth, broken into smaller pieces or discarded. Fish do eat Brine Shrimp in both their larval and adult stages, especially rainbow fish. Also, flamingos filter feed on Brine Shrimp and insect groups are also common predators of Brine Shrimp. Really, the only way Brine Shrimp are able to escape predation is that they live in areas where not many other animals can tolerate the high levels of salt. As you can see, Brine Shrimp are a lot more than just food for fish.

Brine Shrimp have commercial, educational, and scientific importance.  Commercially Brine Shrimp are sold as fish food to aquariums.  Also, salt producers use Brine Shrimp to increase salt production in brine pools. Because of their short life span and their ability to remain dormant for long periods of time, Brine Shrimp are often used in school science experiments as well as space experiments.  Clearly, Brine Shrimp are a lot more than Sea Monkeys but who can argue the importance of an instant pet that anyone can buy.


Author:  Julia W.
Date Published: 4/2013

Sources:
Brown, Jr. Frank A., Ed. Selected Invertebrate Types, New York, New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1960

http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/gsl/artemia

http://allthesea.com/Sea-Monkeys.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brine_shrimp