Posted: May 22nd, 2023

The first larval stage thrives entirely on its yolk

The initial larval stage is 400-500µm long, brownish-orange in color, with a red-eye in the head area and three couples of appendages with distinct functions. The first antennae perform the sensory function, the second filter-feeding plus locomotory function, and the third appendage is the mandibles is used for food uptake. A large labrum ventrally situated performs food uptake from the filtering setae into the mouth.

The first larval stage thrives entirely on its yolk since its digestive tract is not yet fully developed. The second larvae stage can ingest substrates such as detritus, algal cells, and bacteria, ranging from 1-50µm. The larva develops through approximately 15 molts during which a pair of lobular attachments develop in the trunk region differentiating into thoracopods. Optimally the sea monkey can attain maturity in just 8 days and achieve a reproduction rate of up to 300 nauplii (cyst) after every 4 days with a lifespan of several months, (Browne 949).

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