Owning an Ecosphere

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If you have read my first post then you’ll know this whole tank thing started because I saw an ecosphere on Amazon. I thought it was way too expensive and I could make one on my own. Didn’t really work out. I didn’t get the right shrimp, or substrate, or plants. So major fail on that front. Finally two years later I caved and bought one. I paid $47.99 on Amazon (size small). The prices fluctuate so be sure to keep checking back if the prices are high. I want to put in a disclaimer here. Many people are very opposed to ecospheres. They say that they are inhumane and you are in fact slowly starving the shrimps to death. There are some people whose spheres survive many years and others who only last a couple months. Honestly, I had wanted one for so long I didn’t really care. So I bought one. Please don’t go off in the comments about how awful these things are. If you care you can Google it and see both sides of the argument. Now on to the review:

So I purchased my small ecosphere on May 15, 2016. It is June 14, 2016 and everything has been fine. Granted I’ve only owned the sphere a month, but I will continue to update. I have really been enjoying my little sphere! Mine is the small size with a 4 inch diameter. You don’t realize how small 4 inches is until you see it sitting in front of you. It’s tiny! I love small things so this is just the cutest to me. The shrimp themselves are super tiny too to fit in the sphere! The biggest shrimp is still smaller then 1 cm! The smallest is going on 1/2 a centimeter. My sphere came with 4 shrimp. The small sphere comes with 3-4 shrimp so I got the maximum.

The sphere comes with a magnet on the inside and they provide you with a card with a matching magnet attached so you won’t lose it. You can use this magnet to adjust the decorations.

Conditions:

I keep my sphere in a room that ranges from 72-80 degrees F. This room has really bad air flow so it tends to get very warm. There is almost always condensation on the glass. The warmer your sphere the more active your shrimp, but the quicker they’ll die. I keep the sphere out of direct sunlight about 3 feet from a south facing window. The algae facing the window has grown, whereas the algae on the other side has long been eaten. The little shrimps eat the algae floating around the bottom and the algae growing on the sea fan. They are so cute! They eat together and swim around and are just really entertaining.

Interesting things:

So something really interesting is that when I turn the lights off the shrimp turn red. Then as soon as the blinds are opened they start going clear very quickly. Lamp light makes them start going red, but not the deep red they are when I open blinds in the morning. I’m not sure why this happens, but it does! In this photo you can see a red shrimp at the bottom eating, and right above him to the right a little a clear shrimp is sitting on the sea fan.

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Stand:

So the ecosphere sells a stand you can buy, but I wasn’t spending more money! They’re really expensive too. So instead I purchased a set of 4 cork coasters for $4.99. I only ended up using 3 of them to prop my little sphere up high enough for me to see my shrimps.

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Update 6/29/16:

So the almost unheard of has happened! My shrimps have had little babies! The shrimps themselves are already tiny, but the baby are almost microscopic! One of them happened to swim past the front of the sphere and catch my peripheral vision. Upon closer inspection I discovered tons of teeny tiny little baby shrimps! Now at first I was super excited because I’m really into genetics and biology and I love when anything has babies (we have a hamster incident a few years ago and I loved the tiny babies then too!). The only problem is that I realized the sphere isn’t really meant to have that many shrimp in it.

So now comes the sad side of this. The ecosphere is supposed to be a self-sustaining ecosystem. So for things to return to equilibrium things will go into flux. First the level of food will diminish quicker than it can be produced. The lack of food will eventually result in starvation. After shrimp die off, the amount of food being consumed will be reduced. This reduction of consumption will allow for production rate to increase. Eventually the amount of food being produced and consumed will balance out as enough shrimp die (and stop consuming). It is really sad to think about. I debated cracking it open and housing all the shrimp in an open tank, where I can regulate food, but at this point the baby shrimps are too small and would easily be crushed by the gravel. I also wouldn’t want to be messing with them at such a small size and maturity. Even disrupting them a little could kill them. So I’m just gonna let nature take its course and we’ll see how it goes. Through Google searches I’ve discovered that sometimes the baby shrimp will end up outliving their parents. I suppose this makes sense. When receiving your sphere you have no clue how old the shrimp are. You know that these baby shrimp (as long as they are kept in optimal conditions) should live for many, many years.

My only fear at this point is that all the shrimp survive. You might think that’s a weird thing to say, but if they do all survive that would result in extreme overcrowding, which is cruel. I guess if they all do survive I’d really have to remove them from the sphere which is a shame because I really like the sphere. If I have to, I bought a new marimo jar (I’ll update that page soon with pictures) and I can remove my marimo and put the shrimps in. Or leave the marimo and shrimp. I’ll have to research whether marimo can survive in salt water. I guess time will tell.

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