Mysid culture maintenance

Aug 2, 2004
Felipe and I (Jason) are two Masters students working under the supervision of Dr Squid O'Shea.

Next year we'll be culturing squid and octopuses as part of our thesis and need to feed them some quality mysids. Since Artemia (Sea Monkeys) has proved a terrible food item for both squid and octopuses (low nutrient value) , we decided to set up our own mysid culture to avoid going out to the field and collecting them every day.

We will try to make them reproduce and separate the babies from the adults to avoid cannibalism. From here the adults will be prey food for the squid and octopuses while we wait for our new generation to come by. If the culturing technique we have envisioned doesn't work, we always have the tank to keep a stock of mysids to feed our cephalopods without having to go out to the field and collect mysids every 2 or 3 days.

The tank set up is very simple. We used old piping and rubbish we found around in the wet lab at AUT. As you can see in the pictures we have a sump where we keep the protein skimmer, an air line, and a pump that returns the cleaned water to the plastic stock tank. The first picture the mess prior to the assembly of the tank . The second one is Felipe filling the tank with water collected from the Auckland Harbour, and the third one is our system up and running. The bonuses of this system are the cheap building cost, and the system is portable.

We hope this information will be useful for all of you out there that are trying to culture cephalopods from the paralarval stage and have found Artemia to be an inappropriate diet. More posts will be put out shortly with pictures of the mysids and letting you know what is happening here in our lab.

Cheers from NZ,

Felipe and Jason


Re: Mysid culture maintenance

squidviscious said:
Since Artemia (Sea Monkeys) has proved a terrible food item for both squid and octopuses (low nutrient value)

Such a shame :( Especially when you know that :oshea: absolutely luuuuuvs the lil sea monkeys.... :lol:

Hi Felipe and Jason,

This is something that I have had a lot of time to think about, one of my eventual goals will be to rear a paralarvae octopus to maturity.

I have a few ideas, comments etc in no particular order...

Newly hatched Artemia are fairly enriched with nutrients as they have just hatched and still have initial energy resource... I am using them just now for rearing larval newts. However, as soon as i can, i get them onto other crustaceans like daphnia. Perhaps Artemia can still be used as part of the initial feeding regime for a day or three?

I have also thought about breeding mysis etc. It surly will be as much of a project as the breeding of the cephalopods! One idea I did have would be to harvest gravid females of various crustacean species...
Since it is Spring down there for you guys there should be heaps of female crabs, lobsters etc all carrying eggs. Might it be easier to collect some gravid females, let their eggs hatch and rear them? Then you can let mum go (unless you have big octos too? :twisted: ) This would prevent having to provide an environment suitable for breeding...

Also, it might be worth noting that easy to keep and easy to buy shrimps like Lysmata cleaning shrimps religiously drop young uns every few weeks, all you need is a pair to breed them and both end up carrying eggs. I am using cleaning shrimps as an example but i am sure you could find another suitable species???

As your shrimp tank is open topped and has a lot of water movement you will be able to expect a fair amount of evaporation... worth keeping an eye on...

If your tank is empty and your skimmer is producing bubbles like that you will need to restrict the flow of air into the reaction chamber... it shouldnt produce skimmate in a newly set up tank.

Lastly, Are the bits and bobs you used for the tank safe in sea water? Some plastics will degrade and release various chemicals. Some from the plastic and some from the paints/dyes etc... I always reccomend that plastics used are of food grade quality... it may cause mysterious deaths

hope this helps a bit and please let us know how you get on

Colin said:
Since it is Spring down there for you guys there should be heaps of female crabs, lobsters etc all carrying eggs. Might it be easier to collect some gravid females, let their eggs hatch and rear them? Then you can let mum go (unless you have big octos too? :twisted: ) This would prevent having to provide an environment suitable for breeding...

Howdo C; ja, millions of brooding mysid at this time of the year. They're quite huge (and unfortunately I swamped the squid tank with them - prey became predator and I lost a ton of squid - weep!! - should have known better, did, but have been insane with other things - so-much-so that basics were forgotten).)

Re the Daphnia etc., this is something they've only just begun to explore (alternative food sources). At 1-3mm in size I'm looking for an alternative, perhaps Leptostraca, but it's a matter of searching local estuarine/brakish environs for something sufficiently abundant to either stock or culture. Only a week-or-so ago I gave the lecture on Crustacea, identifying a wealth of alternative taxa that might prove of value for culture. In the meantime I understand Jason went out and bought Artemia anyway! Bad lad that he is!!!! I really do think that this thing is of limited use in ceph culture, even when enriched - I've just had zero luck with it in the past (on squid I might add). Guys, please do heed Colin's advice on this - there are alternatives that you might find in the Zostera, or in brakish environs (Hobson bay, Tahuna Torea reserve etc) - brine shrimp are just readily available, but are certainly not the only thing available.

Both Jason and Felipe are preparing rather substantial reports on culture of cephs (lit reviews); ~ 8000 words a piece (x 2 separate reports). When I have these in my hot sweaty hands (are they late guys??), I'll have a good look through them, edit if necessary, and then get them to send them through to you for a possible article.

The plastics - hmmmm - this is a concern - but right now it's all about learning the ropes - a tank, plumbing, pumps and skimmers - without a budget.
Ta buckets
Here is a quick pic of my artemia hatching chamber....

basically it holds one litre and the bubbles enter the bottom of the chamber via a tap which also can be used to drain the solution out.

I use decapsulated Artemia, a brand by Aqua Medic called 'Life A' and feed the little bugers on 'Plancto' which is a plankton food with a size of only 25-200 µm...

Takes about 3 - 4 days at 18deg C to hatch and the chamber is big enough to rear them to adulthood...

a similar idea may work for other crustacean larvae?

The Mysid

Hello Everyone:

Colin, thanks for all your help. We would really want to keep other types of foods in our tank, but the problem is, we don't have enough tanks for every culture setup we want to build. We are thinking of collecting some gravid crab females and putting them in the tanks, and hope for the best. If we actually get crab zoea we might think of putting a separate aquarium we have laying around for the zoea. But the problem is Jason is thinking of starting an Artemia culture, so that leaves no tanks for appropriate food items. (I'm with Steve O'Shea on this one, you see)

Now, we are proud to present you the star of our show.



p.s. the protein skimmer was skimming because the water we added to the system came from a channel, and was kinda dirty.


Jason and Felipe
I do like that Artemia hatching chamber Colin!!! Is that part of a modified protein skimmer, or an off-the-shelf product? I've not seen anything quite like it before.

That's the ugliest mysid I've ever seen Felipe!!
Colin said:
hows the project going??? :)

Well as far as I can tell (I'm a passive observer here), there are many (Perhaps even dozens - Ok, I'm being mean, several dozens, Ok, lots) of mysids still alive, so everthing is progressing swimmingly.

We use newly hatched artemia (we decapsulate it ourselves) to feed to Seahorses, there are only the Hippocampus reidi that don't really do well on it but we have a lake packed with copeopods for them!

Hatching the artemia in Super Selco is a good way of getting fatty acids into them and DHA (? Sorry mite be wrong on that one) so it is much more nutritious.

If they are decapsulated anyway they are much higher in nutrients so maybe you could see a difference doing that?

AquaMedic are pretty expensive and you can make hatchery tubes pretty easy using a 2 litre drinks bottle with a small heater to bring it to around 30 degrees celcius and they will be hatched in 24 hours with around 95% success.

Jason has actually developed a new mysid culture here for the hoards of developing squid. I'll get him to repost original figures.

We've been working away on these mysids for the past month or so, trying to determine both the diversity of species and their habitat requirements, in order to locate appropriate habitat to find them.

Returning last evening after a survey in the Manukau Harbour (West Coast, Auckland), at one particular beach (Cornwallis) we were dismayed to find that 7 out of 9 freshwater/brackish tributaries present there had been filled in by bulldozer to allow vehicular transport to picnic areas. Accordingly, ~ 78% of suitable mysid habitat in this one PARK has been lost (for cosmetic and transportation reasons).

Mysids are pretty much at the bottom of the food chain, and are a critical link between organic input/leaf litterfall (and bacterial colonisation/enrichment), and juvenile fish (estuaries are universally accepted as nursery grounds for juvenile fish). Inputs into the water system further upstream, surrounded by urban development, farms, and subject to stormwater and land runoff (all that impermeable concrete and roof surface), have a cummulative effect on the tributary flowing into the sea. Is it any wonder that fish stocks are collapsing!

Our verdict. There's not much appropriate habitat left - and the only populations of mysid are relictual, and fragmented. These mysids manifest enormous fluctuations in abundance, likely a consequence of development, deforestation and associated siltation (they prefer sands with natural vegetative organic input). Basically, no vegetative cover, little water temperature control, and during the hot periods (summer) the mysids basically vanish. Not good if you're trying to culture cephalopods at this time; not good if you are a juvenile fish hatching in summer (as many do); not good if you are a migratory native fish that depends on mysids for any part of your life cycle!

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