Sea Monkeys: Everything About This Magical Pet

I don’t know about you, but I grew up in the 80s and I remember seeing Sea-Monkeys advertised for sale in comic books.

There is a reason for that. It was the intention of the inventor, Harold von Braunhut.

He created a genius product that is still around today.

What Are Sea-Monkeys?

If you ask someone who has heard of Sea-Monkeys, but not a lot, they might say, ” Sea-Monkeys are just brine shrimp”. But this statement wouldn’t do them justice.

Sea-Monkeys are a hybrid type of brine shrimp(known as artemia nyos), invented specifically to improve the quality of the sea monkey product, which usually comes in a kit. Their eggs lay dormant longer than normal brine shrimp eggs(known as artemia salina), the hatched sea monkeys live longer and grow bigger. Most or some of the eggs hatch into instant sea monkeys as soon as they enter saltwater.

Sea-Monkeys can grow from 1/2 inch to 3/4 inches with the occasional Sea-Monkeys growing as big as an inch. However, since they breed, their colony can last up to five years.

This sounds simple enough, but to completely understand Sea-Monkey kits, we must start at the very beginning…

History of Sea-Monkeys

After world war 2 ended in 1945, there was a baby boom, maybe because everyone felt safe and optimistic for the future.

Where there are kids, there are also a lot of toys and pets.

Harold von Braunhut was able to combine both of these into one for his greatest invention ever: Sea-Monkeys.

Harold was in the store one day and looked into a bucket of brine shrimp. He was quite amused at their appearance and noticed they had a long tail like a monkey.

He instantly thought that kids would be interested in these little creatures as pets.

In addition to the long monkey-like tail, Harold knew that brine shrimp went through something called cryptobiosis which is the ability of the brine shrimp eggs to lie dormant during long periods of drought but hatch and come to life when they come into contact with water again.

Harold figured kids would be excited to add the brine shrimp eggs, which are about the size of a grain of sand, to water and watch them instantly come to life. He coined the phrase ‘instant life’ which he would use in his advertising campaign.

Harold packaged everything into a kit that comes with a tiny plastic aquarium, brine shrimp eggs, a water purifier, and food so kids could watch the ‘instant life’ take place.

After Harold had everything together, he just needed to come up with a name other than brine shrimp to market his product to kids. He used the long tail of the brine shrimp to coin the term ‘Sea-Monkeys’ which would later lead to their own cartoon and a cult following.

Back then, all the toy companies were mainly marketing their toys on T.V. so Harold got the idea to buy ads in comic books because they were read by kids. He hired a professional artist to create some sea monkeys and wrote the ad copy himself.

Sea-Monkey kits have always sold great but at first, the product wasn’t the greatest because some of the brine shrimp eggs were practically duds.

Harold wanted to perfect his product so he enlisted the services of Anthony D’Agostino, a marine biologist who was practically a brine shrimp expert. They formed a hybrid brine shrimp egg that would lay dormant longer, grow bigger sea monkeys that would live longer.

Harold also got a patent for his invention that even gave the details of his ‘illusion’.

The Sea-Monkey kit comes with directions that tell you to add water, then the purifier with salt, and then wait 24 hours before you add the Sea-Monkey eggs that instantly hatch.

However, the Sea-Monkey eggs are also in the packet with the water purifier. Harold knew they wouldn’t be big enough for kids to see them for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, you are actually adding blue dye that is labeled as eggs. The dye doesn’t harm the Sea-Monkeys but enables the kids to see them so they think the Sea-Monkeys are coming to life in an instant.

In essence, Harold took the concept of cryptobiosis and turned it from something a little interesting into a grand illusion of ‘instant life’ for Sea-Monkeys rather than brine shrimp that kids still marvel at today.

Sea-Monkey Kits

Sea-Monkey kits are essentially the same today as they were back in the ’50s and ’60s that is after the hybrid brine shrimp were invented to improve the quality of the sea monkey experience. Sea monkeys were re-engineered again in 1970 and guaranteed to live for two years.

The kit is called the Sea-Monkey ocean zoo. It comes with everything you see above:

  • The aquarium
  • Feeding spoon
  • Water purifier
  • Instant live eggs
  • Growth food

Here are the steps when you get your sea aquarium:

Pour 10 oz of distilled water into the aquarium that comes in the kit. The water should be at room temperature 70 -76°F. You can use tap water or spring water but distilled water is recommended.

  1. Add the water purifier in packet 1 and stir for one minute.
  2. Place the aquarium in a well-lit place but not in direct sunlight, cold, or heat. Let the aquarium sit for 24 hours.
  3. After 24 hours you can empty the eggs from packet number 2 into the aquarium and slowly stir them for one minute.
  4. After five more days you can our the contents of packet number 3 which is the food into your sea monkey tank.

Voila! You will see some of them hatch instantly!

What is actually in these packets though? Didn’t I just tell you?


As described above packet number one actually contains the eggs, water purifier, and salt since Sea-Monkeys are from saltwater lakes.

Packet number 2 contains a blue dye that covers the already hatched Sea-Monkeys so that you can actually see them.

Click Here for the actual patent

Again, this is something Harold von Braunhut knew needed to take place to give children the anticipation of waiting 24 hours to see the ‘instant life’ he was advertising.

There are several different Sea-Monkey kits and products you can buy today here at amazon.

DIY Sea-Monkeys Tank

You will need a glass or plastic container for your Sea-Monkeys, although many Sea-Monkey keepers swear by plastic.

If you get a tank with any enough size to it you can get a mini aquarium heater.

Here are the conditions you need in a Sea-Monkeys tank that will last:

Aquarium Temp70-80°F
Temp For Hatching80°F
pH Level6.0 – 9.0
Salinity Level30 – 35 ppt

Sea monkeys will die in freshwater, so you will have to prepare some saltwater for your aquarium. It is easiest to just add 2 tablespoons of non-iodized salt for every quarter gallon of water – which would be 8 tablespoons for a gallon.

To keep the water clean, you will have to change 25 percent of the water each month.

You can feed powdered algae to your Sea-Monkeys, which is actually spirulina and yeast, every 5-7 days.

Buying Sea Monkeys

It is important to know that Sea-Monkeys are a hybrid type of brine shrimp known as artemia nyos that grow bigger and live up to a year whereas normal brine shrimp known as artemia salina grow smaller and live for an average of 3 months.

You can actually buy live brine shrimp that are already hatched, but it would be hard to tell how long they have been alive which can be a problem since they only live for an average of 3 months. The best part is you just add them to your tank and don’t have to worry about them hatching. On the downside, they might have trouble acclimatizing to a new tank.

If you buy the infamous Sea-Monkey eggs, you can buy the hybrid ones from or Amazon.

Most pet stores have brine shrimp eggs for sale just not with all the Sea-Monkey jazz. They are much cheaper but not the patented hybrid Sea-Monkey you can get from sea

Add Them To Your Tank

Since you already have your saltwater tank ready and heated at the proper temperature, you can simply add your Sea-Monkey eggs or live brine shrimp to your tank.

Fun Facts About Sea-Monkeys

  • The hybrid shrimp(artemia nyos) called Sea-Monkeys were created by crossbreeding.
  • Harold von Braunhut settled on the name because of their long tails and trying to appeal to children.
  • Harold von Braunhut got his inspiration for Sea-Monkeys from flea circuses that he saw as a kid.
  • Sea-Monkeys can live for a long time once they are started since they are constantly breeding.
  • Sea-Monkeys are attracted to light so if you shine a penlight in their tank, they will follow it around.
  • Sea-Monkeys used to have their own saturday morning cartoon.
  • John Glenn took Sea-Monkeys into space in 1998.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sea-Monkeys

Are Sea-Monkeys Actually Alive?

This can be confusing for some people, especially when they read that Sea-Monkeys are ‘artificial’ shrimp but Sea-Monkeys are very much alive, so much so that they grow bigger and live longer than the ‘natural’ brine shrimp that Sea-Monkeys are bred from.

How Long Do Sea-Monkeys Live For?

Not to be confused with the artemia salina brine shrimp which only live for up to three months, Sea-Monkeys, known as the artemia nyos brine shrimp can live up to a year with some people even claiming that they have had Sea-Monkeys live for up to two years.

Sea-Monkey colonies can live up to 5 years because Sea-Monkeys breed a lot so they are survived by their offspring, as long as you continue to move the dead Sea-Monkeys from the tank. Some people claim that a Sea-Monkey colony can live forever, which seems feasible but there is not enough scientific proof.

Are Sea-Monkeys Harmful?

Sea-Monkeys may be harmful to other Sea-Monkeys since the males are known to fight to the death over a female but they pose little to no risk to humans. Sea-Monkeys are too small to bite a person and they don’t survive for very long out of the water.

How Big Do Sea-Monkeys Get?

Sea-Monkeys can grow 1/2 – 3/4 of an inch. Some people have claimed that their Sea-Monkey grew to an inch but this is rare. Sea-Monkeys are a hybrid form of brine shrimp known as artemia nyos so they grow bigger than normal brine shrimp known as artemia salina which can only grow up to 1.3 centimeters(8 mm).

How Do Sea-Monkeys Work?

Sea-Monkeys work by instantly hatching and coming to life as soon as they enter saltwater. They do this by cryptobiosis which is defined as:

a physiological state in which metabolic activity is reduced to an undetectable level without disappearing altogether. It is known in certain plant and animal groups adapted to survive periods of extremely dry conditions.

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