Located in Utah's Great Basin the Great Salt Lake is home to an extremely
unique Ecological-system. The Wasatch and Unita Mountains supply water
to the Great Salt Lake providing nutrients and fresh water to the Eco-system.
With no water out flow the Great Salt Lake is considered a terminal lake
the result, is evaporation. The evaporation process increases the lake's
salinity by leaving behind minerals. The organisms that survive in this
fragile Eco-system live on nutrients provided by incoming fresh water and
those left behind by the evaporation process.
Artemia franciscana thrive in this unique Eco-system. Of great importance to the aquaculture industry artemia franciscana (brine shrimp) provide a living and high nutrient feed for the hatchery sector of the aquaculture farming community. Produced in the Great Salt Lake, artemia cysts (brine shrimp eggs) have the ability to adapt to the harsh winters
of Utah Great Basin.
Predators to the brine shrimp are few, consisting mainly of migratory birds.
Competition for phytoplankton (algae), the brine shrimp food source, is
almost non-existence. In such circumstances the brine shrimp flourish as
they graze the lake of the algae.
The growth of the Great Salt Lake artemia begins as the embryo leaves the cyst shell; called the umbrella stage. The embryo hangs beneath the cyst shell still enclosed in a hatching membrane. After this stage the nauplius develops into free-swimming nauplii and enters the "Instar 1 Naupulius stage." In the instar 1 naupulius stage the nauplii continues to filter feed and molt, growing and developing into an adult brine shrimp. This process takes 8-10 days, wherein the nauplii can molt up to fifteen times.
The artemia franciscana, brine shrimp, living in the Great Salt Lake consist of both male and female. Reproduction of artemia occurs in two ways. When conditions are ideal fertilized females produce eggs that hatch shortly after they are discharged from the oviparous sac. When conditions are less than ideal the female produces and discharges a hard-shelled egg (cyst). This hard shelled cyst floats independent of the female waiting for ideal conditions to hatch.
During the coldest part of Utah winter the artemia suffer a significant "die out". The production of hard-shelled cysts by the female is imperative to the continual survival of the species whose population is abundant during the milder spring and summer months.
The weatherablitity of the shell allows it to be cleaned, dried, packaged
and shipped to a controlled environment where it can be hatched. This makes
Great Salt Lake strain of artemia franciscana the ideal living and high nutrient feed for fish and other aquatic species.