Triops : “Prehistoric” Tadpole Shrimp Care Sheet

Looking for some truly spectacular crustaceans for your aquarium? Triops are a family of prehistoric shrimp, also referred to as tadpole shrimp or shield shrimp, who can effectively be considered living fossils – some of these species have been around for over 300 million years! Freshwater Triops Longicaudatus, which are commonly sold as pets, have matching fossils from at least 70 million years and are one of the oldest animal species still existing.

Tadpole Shrimp (Triops Longicaudatus)

Triops Longicaudatus Caresheet

Difficulty:Easy
Size:1-1.5 inches (4-7 cm)
Color:Transparent
Behavior:They are extremely voracious, they will eat anything that crosses their path, and dig holes in the soil to bury their eggs
Aquarium:1+ gallons (5+ liters) cycled tank
Water:non-chlorinated spring water or distilled water
Temperature:68-78°F (20-25°C)

Triops main characteristics and behavior

Tadpole shrimp grow, live and reproduce very quickly. An adult is typically around 4-5cm long, up to 7 cm for some species. It takes only one to two weeks for a baby triops (triopslet?) to reach maturity – molting and doubling in size every day or so. Because of this, they need constant reserves of food and protein – molting issues (like shrimp’s white ring of death) can be deadly. Adults will feed twice a day, and lay eggs once or twice a day, burying them deep in the sand. That’s what they will keep doing for the rest of their short lives, with a life span of around 90 days. Because of their restlessness, they can be quite entertaining to keep as a pet.

Triops diet

Triops are omnivorous and will eat pretty much anything. You can feed them algae, bloodworms, par-boiled vegetables and kitchen scraps, earthworm and bloodworms. While these creatures are well-known for their cannibalistic tendencies, they are unlikely to eat each other unless other sources of food are scarce. That said, these animals are very voracious and will eat a lot very quickly in order to grow fast. If you purchase triops eggs, triops who develop faster may eat their smaller siblings, so make sure that there is always enough food floating around.

Keeping triops with other shrimp

You might wonder whether it is a good idea to keep triops in the same tank as other types of freshwater shrimp. Triops do feed on shrimp, especially Fairy Shrimp. That said, they do not really hunt and are unlikely to prey on adult freshwater shrimp that is not much smaller than them. Baby shrimplets and neocaridina shrimp are much more at risk of being eaten by triops, but you can minimize this risk by providing enough alternative food to satisfy the triops’ insatiable hunger.

What does triops mean?

Triops is the Greek word for “three eyes” or “three-eyed”. These creaturse have in fact a third eye in between the set of two “regular” eyes.

How did triops survive for millions of years?

While modern triops look not too dissimilar from their prehistoric remains, these creatures actually do evolve and adapt to the environment, which is a key factor in species preservation. As a matter of fact, the short life span of these creatures makes it so that DNA is passed through different generations quickly. Not only that, but eggs layed by triops are extremely hardy – there is proof that they can lay dormant for as long as 25 years (!) and still hatch when the right conditions appear. Eggs can be frozen, heated at high temperatures, eaten (and then espelled) by other fish, and even sent to outer space without losing their viability.

How to hatch triops eggs?

When you buy triops you will usually end up with a starter kit containing a few eggs and some food. In order for the eggs to hatch, it is important to soak them in water that is free from chlorine and other heavy minerals – your tap water won’t do the job. You should get your hands on some distilled water or spring water haged for 24 hours with limestones in it. In a matter of days, you should see some microscopic creatures (similar to sea monkeys) floating in your container… make sure that they have enough food because from now own they will grow almost by the hour!

Where to buy triops?

You have two options – you can buy a starter kit, which usually comes branded as an inexpensive children’s toy, alternatively you can purchase eggs directly from fish suppliers [Amazon], which may be convenient if you already have the necessary equipment for hatching and only intend to purchase a lot of eggs in bulk.

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