magical sea monkey kit

What Are Sea Monkeys? The Real Answer Will Astound You!

6 min read

What are sea monkeys you might be asking yourself? The real answer to this question will astound you! Sea monkeys are a hybrid brine shrimp (Artemia NYOS), so-called because of their long monkey-like tails.

Sea monkeys are not just your ordinary type of brine shrimp, although that is the vague description given to them by your ordinary online author who doesn’t do much research.

Instead of saying that sea monkeys are brine shrimp, we need to take the definition further.

Sea Monkeys

Sea monkeys were originally bred by inventor Harold Von Braunhut in collaboration with marine biologist Dr. Anthony D’Agostino. They were bred so the eggs could lie dormant as long as possible, hatch, and come to life when put in salt water.

The sea monkeys grow as big and live for as long as possible to improve the performance of the original novelty product.

Harold Von Braunhut teamed up with a marine biologist because his original sea monkeys were selling well but they were kind of a dud.

There were too many disappointed kiddos when they tossed their Sea Monkey eggs into the saltwater only to have nothing happen or only one or two of them would hatch.

Even though the original sea monkeys were selling well, Harold knew it would become a fad if he didn’t make his sea monkeys work better.

But, before we dive too deep into the history of sea monkeys, let’s explore more about what are sea monkeys.

Where Do Sea Monkeys Originate From?

Sea monkeys, which are brine shrimp, originated from lakes like the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

The salt lakes would grow through periods of drought so if the eggs of brine shrimp didn’t lie dormant they wouldn’t survive.

Later when rain or whatever created more saltwater over the eggs voila! Brine shrimp, aka sea monkeys, was hatched!

To say sea monkeys are a type of brine shrimp would be to sell them short. Sea monkeys are much more than that.

The History of Sea Monkeys

The best way to explain how these tiny brine shrimp became million-dollar novelty pets is to explore their history.

After World War 2 ended in 1945, there was a baby boom in the United States. This means there were a lot of kiddos running around and what are two things kids love?

Toys and pets.

Harold Von Braunhut, the inventor, found a way to combine both of these.

Since he was an inventor, he was always looking for ideas and he found his best idea one day in a store.

He was by some aquariums and happened to look down in a bucket that had brine shrimp to feed the fish. As he watched the brine shrimp swim around he liked their weird quirky appearance and decided he could market them as pets.

Harold had to figure out a good name for marketing that would appeal to children so after some thought he coined the name ‘Sea Monkeys’ since they had a long tail like a monkey and lived in saltwater although they lived in saltwater lakes and not the sea.

Harold knew about the cryptobiosis and could sell them as instant pets since the Sea Monkey eggs could lie dormant in a package and be added to saltwater later at the child’s home.

What is Cryptobiosis?

Cryptosis 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.

Oxford Languages

The Beginning of the Sea Monkey Kit

The Sea monkeys originally came with instructions and three small packets that supposedly contained the water purifier, eggs, and Sea Monkey food.

The product as a whole was deceiving but not in a bad way. The first packet contained the purifier, salt, and eggs while the second packet contained a blue dye that helped see the brine shrimp better.

It’s a bit much to explain briefly so more on the “hoax” part later.

The product sold well but it didn’t work the greatest at first because not enough of the eggs were hatching and a lot of the children were disappointed.

To ensure his product was successful, Harold Von Braunhut worked with a marine biologist to breed the hybrid form of brine shrimp eggs that could lay dormant longer, give birth to larger brine shrimp and the brine shrimp would live longer.

what are sea monkeys they are brine shrimp

Perhaps, it is the extra work that led to these hybrid brine shrimp eggs that are the reason that sea monkeys are still selling today.

Now that you know what sea monkeys are, we can explore more specifically what they are today by talking about the Sea Monkey kits that you can buy today.

What Are Sea Monkey Kits?

The Sea Monkey kit is usually called the ‘Ocean Zoo’ even though sea monkeys came from lakes and not the ocean.

The kit comes with instructions and everything you will need to get your sea monkeys up and running.

This is where the ‘hoax’ comes into play but it isn’t necessarily bad. I say it isn’t bad because your child gets the 24-hour anticipation of waiting to see the live sea monkeys.

sea monkey kit to learn what are sea monkeys

Sea Monkey Kit Instructions

To fully explain, let’s go through the instructions that come with the kit:

  1. Pour 12 ounces of water into the little plastic tank which comes in the kit. Try to use distilled water but it’s not necessary. Spring or tap water is fine.
  2. With the water at room temp, empty the contents of packet number one into the tank and stir. The packet is labeled water purifier.
  3. Keep the container out of the sun, excess heat, or cold for 24 hours.
  4. After 24 hours, open packet number 2 labeled: Instant Live Eggs, empty the contents into the tank and stir for one minute.
  5. Hold the container up to the light and you will be able to see the specks that are the sea monkeys swimming around. Supposedly, more will hatch in the coming days.
  6. Keep the aquarium in the shade, not in the dark, just out of direct sunlight.
  7. After 5-7 days use the feeding spoon to give a level scoop of food from the packet labeled “Growth Food” to the sea monkeys without stirring.
  8. Feed one level scoop once a week. Use the large cup to feed the sea monkeys when they become adults. If the water is cloudy, then you are overfeeding. Don’t feed again until the water is clear.
  9. Water will evaporate so add water when needed to keep the water level a half inch from the top of the aquarium.

The Big Hoax

What is the Big Hoax? The hoax is what is actually in the packets.

 sea monkeys are brine shrimp

Packet number one labeled water purifier actually has purifier, salt, and eggs. Harold knew they would hatch instantly but the sea monkeys wouldn’t be big enough for you to see them for 24 hours.

He also knew it would be way easier to see them with a blue dye so packet number two actually contains blue dye which helps you see the sea monkeys when you hold them up to the light.

The blue dye is water-soluble and something like vegetable oil so it is safe.

Children get the anticipation of waiting for what is ‘instant life’, so it’s not a lie. They just have to wait 24 hours before they can actually see them.


Wow! I hope we thoroughly explained and answered your question as to what sea monkeys are scientifically and gave you the commercial version of what they actually are as well.

It is a strange story, especially if you get into the history of their inventor.

Sea monkeys are still around today and they are great for kids, so give them a try!

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Pet Aquariums

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