Artemia salina

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Artemia salina
Artemia salina 2.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Branchiopoda
Order: Anostraca
Family: Artemiidae
Genus: Artemia
Species: A. salina
Binomial name
Artemia salina
(Linnaeus, 1758[1]

Artemia salina is a species of brine shrimp – aquatic crustaceans that are more closely related to Triops and cladocerans than to true shrimp. It is a very old species that does not appear to have changed in 100 million years.


Artemia salina have three eyes and 11 pairs of legs and can grow to about 15 millimetres (0.6 in) in size. Their blood contains the pigment haemoglobin, which is also found in vertebrates. Males differ from females by having the second antennae markedly enlarged, and modified into clasping organs used in mating.[2]

Life cycle[edit]

Cyst (egg)
Nauplius (larva)

Males have two reproductive organs. Prior to copulation the male clasps the female with his clasping organ, assuming a dorsal position. The claspers hold the female just anterior to the ovisac. Male and female may swim clasped together for a number of days. In this state, the movements of the swimming appendages of the pair beat in a co-ordinated fashion.[2] The females can produce eggs either as a result of mating or via parthenogenesis. There are two types of eggs: thin-shelled eggs that hatch immediately and thick-shelled eggs, which can remain in a dormant state. These cysts can last for a number of years, and will hatch when they are placed in saltwater. Thick-shelled eggs are produced when the body of water is drying out, food is scarce, and the salt concentration is rising. If the female dies, the eggs develop further. Eggs hatch into nauplii that are about 0.5 mm in length. They have one single simple eye that only senses the presence and direction of light. Nauplii swim towards the light but adult individuals swim away from it. Later, the two more capable eyes develop but the initial eye also stays, resulting in three-eyed creatures.[3]


In nature, they live in salt lakes. They are almost never found in an open sea, most likely because of the lack of food and relative defenselessness. However, Artemia have been observed in Elkhorn Slough, California, which is connected to the sea.[4] Unlike most aquatic species, Artemia swims upside down.[3]

Artemia can live in water having much more or much less salt content than normal seawater. They tolerate salt amounts as high as 50%,[3] which is nearly a saturated solution, and can live for several days in solutions very different from the sea water, such as potassium permanganate or silver nitrate,[4] while iodine—a frequent addition to edible salt—is harmful to them. The animal's colour depends on the salt concentration, with high concentrations giving them a slightly red appearance. In fresh water, Artemia salina dies after about an hour. It feeds mainly on green algae.[5]


The resilience of these creatures makes them ideal test samples in experiments. Artemia is one of the standard organisms for testing the toxicity of chemicals.[6] In addition, the eggs survive for years. Hence it is possible to buy eggs and also "Artemia growing kits" for children, containing eggs, salt, food and most necessary tools. These have been most popularly marketed under the name Sea-Monkeys. Children have the possibility to observe the life cycle of this interesting organism. Shops catering for aquarists also sell frozen Artemia as fish food. Artemia occurs in vast numbers in the Great Salt Lake where it is commercially important.[5] However, nowadays it is believed that this lake is inhabited by a second brine shrimp species, Artemia franciscana.[7]


Artemia salina was first described (as Cancer salinus) by Carl Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae in 1758. This was based on a report by a German called Schlosser, who had found Artemia at Lymington, England.[8] That population is now extinct, although specimens collected there are retained in zoological museums.[9]


  1. ^ WoRMS (2012). "Artemia salina (Linnaeus, 1758)". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Greta E. Tyson & Michael L. Sullivan (1980). "Scanning electron microscopy of the frontal knobs of the male brine shrimp". Transactions of the American Microscopical Society. 99 (2): 167–172. JSTOR 3225702. 
  3. ^ a b c Sara Emslie. "Artemia salina". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan. 
  4. ^ a b Eleanor Boone & L. G. M. Baas-Becking (1931). "Salt effects on eggs and nauplii of Artemia salina L" (PDF). Journal of General Physiology. 14 (6): 753–763. doi:10.1085/jgp.14.6.753. 
  5. ^ a b Science & Technology : brine shrimp on Encyclopædia Britannica
  6. ^ D. R. Ruebhart, I. E. Cock & G. R. Shaw (August 2008). "Brine shrimp bioassay: importance of correct taxonomic identification of Artemia (Anostraca) species". Environmental Toxicology. 23 (4): 555–560. doi:10.1002/tox.20358. PMID 18214884. 
  7. ^ Rafael Campos-Ramos; Alejandro M. Maeda-Martínez; Hortencia Obregón-Barboza; Gopal Murugan; Danitzia A. Guerrero-Tortolero; Pablo Monsalvo-Spencer (2003). "Mixture of parthenogenetic and zygogenetic brine shrimp Artemia (Branchiopoda: Anostraca) in commercial cyst lots from Great Salt Lake, UT, USA". Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 296 (2): 243–251. doi:10.1016/S0022-0981(03)00339-3. 
  8. ^ L. G. M. Baas-Becking (1931). "Historical notes on salt and salt-manufacture". The Scientific Monthly. 32 (5): 434–446. 
  9. ^ Graziella Mura (1990). "Artemia salina (Linnaeus, 1758) from Lymington, England: frontal knob morphology by scanning electron microscopy". Journal of Crustacean Biology. 10 (2): 364–368. doi:10.2307/1548493. JSTOR 1548493. 

External links[edit]