Webb, Jacqueline [faculty advisor, Department of Biological Sciences]
Artemia salina; caloric value; plankton culturing
In aquatic animal collections, such as those in the collection of Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration’s Fish & Invertebrate department, live food is an essential part of the diet of animals that are on display, used in education, and kept in reserve for exhibits. For Mystic Aquarium’s Fish & Invertebrate department, newly hatched Artemia salina, or brine shrimp, are fed to an assortment of fishes and invertebrates, including soft corals and jellyfish. Hatch brine is an important source of fatty acids, which are essential for proper growth and development. Hatch brine starts encapsulated in a cyst form and are decapsulated and finally hydrated to hatch the individual Artemia nauplii larvae. After hatching, the nauplii rely on their attached yolk sac for developmental nutrition. In using this yolk sac, the hatch brine lose nutritional value, identified in this experiment with caloric value. Preliminary experiments demonstrated that percent moisture and empty cysts/ unhatched nauplii in the collected sample skewed the resulting caloric value. These findings resulted in modified sample collecting techniques in the main experiment. The purpose of this experiment was to quantify the caloric value of hatch brine over six hour intervals between 24 and 48 hours post-hatch. Caloric value was determined by a sample’s percent moisture, percent ash, percent lipid, and percent protein. The results from this experiment showed a decrease in caloric value between approximately 30-50% between 24 and 48 hours. The standing procedure for the Fish & Invertebrate Department is that hatch brine are fed to collection animals 48 hours post-hatch. Therefore, in order to increase caloric and overall nutritional value from the live Artemia that are fed to collection animals, the brine shrimp should be fed out earlier than the standard 48 hours, preferably as soon as they are hatched.