Sea monkeys are a hybrid species of saltwater shrimp. They have no natural habitat because they were bred specifically for being raised in aquariums as an intriguing alternative to fish. They grow to be 1/2 to 3/4 inch in length, and are lively creatures with cute tails that earned them the whimsical title of sea monkeys.
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Sea monkeys reach maturity around 4 weeks of age and are usually quick to begin mating. Males are slightly smaller than females. The male attaches himself to the female, and they remain joined for days or even weeks, all the while wiggling around the aquarium.
Once the male and female sea monkeys detach, the female develops an egg sack that looks like a bead at the base of her tail. There is a deal of variation in the length of the gestation period. The female seems to have some control over how long she carries her young, allowing her to wait for opportune conditions before giving birth.
When the female is ready, she goes down to the bottom of the tank where she writhes around and gives birth to a litter of about 20 sea monkeys. If conditions in the aquarium are not conducive to baby sea monkeys, such as insufficient oxygen or inappropriate temperature, the female lays fertilised eggs instead of birthing live offspring. When conditions are right, the eggs hatch, sometimes decades later. These eggs are so well sealed that they are able to withstand being dried and reconstituted. Most beginning sea monkey farmers start their project with a packet of dry eggs.
If no male sea monkeys are available for mating, mature females are able to produce offspring through parthenogenesis. They fertilise their own eggs and carry out the rest of the process as normal. If a female sea monkey dies with eggs still in her sack, her body sometimes releases the eggs posthumously. The eggs are still viable and hatch when exposed to ideal conditions.
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