Although cartoon images in ads make these aquatic pets look like mermaids and mermen, Sea-Monkeys belong to the same shrimp family as brine shrimp and fairy shrimp. The trademarked hybrids are marketed as "instant pets." They're interesting and trouble-free creatures to raise at home and can live for months. Their official name is Artemia NYOS. NYOS stands for New York Ocean Science Laboratory, where they originated.
NASA sent Sea-Monkeys to space, including on three space shuttles and as residents of the Mir space station, the NASA Astrobiology website reports. Sea-Monkey eggs exposed to solar radiation outside a space vessel still hatch. In addition to their entertaining way of swimming singly or in clumps, these hybrid shrimp offer educational and research opportunities. Their ability to survive extreme conditions may give scientists insights into how life could exist on other planets. They breathe through their feet and adults have three eyes.
If two connected Sea-Monkeys both have whiskers under their chins, they're males and they're fighting. Male Sea-Monkeys fight over females. They may appear to be stuck together during the fight, and sometimes more than two are engaged. Sea-Monkey tanks that come with built-in magnifying lenses can help you tell males and females apart. Alternatively, keep a high-powered magnifying glass near their home. It's fine to raise them in a large, clean jar or fishbowl.
If Sea-Monkeys are stuck together and one of them doesn't have whiskers, you're seeing Sea-Monkeys mating. They can remain stuck together for many days. This is natural for them and won't harm them. Even if their mating motions seem rough, don't attempt to separate them. Trying to pull them apart can injure them. The male fertilizes the female's eggs. This is one of the ways they reproduce.
Like female seahorses, female Sea-Monkeys can fertilize their own eggs, a process called parthenogenesis. Even though some of your pets will become stuck together for prolonged periods, females don't have to mate to become pregnant. Females develop a sac in the front when they're pregnant. The female gives birth to multiple babies. The babies need more air than adults, so they come to the top of the water often. When they mature, you'll have a new generation of Sea-Monkeys and some of them will in turn become stuck together.
Gryphon Adams began publishing in 1985. He contributed to the "San Francisco Chronicle" and "Dark Voices." Adams writes about a variety of topics, including teaching, floral design, landscaping and home furnishings. Adams is a certified health educator and a massage practitioner. He received his Master of Fine Arts at San Francisco State University.