I grew up seeing these ads in magazines and comic books. I always wondered about them but never pulled the trigger and purchased one. It seems that Sea-Monkeys are brine shrimp (Artemia). They were developed in the United States in 1957 by Harold von Braunhut.
Following on the success of Ant Farms (which I did have) in 1956, Von Braunhut invented the brine shrimp product in 1957. He collaborated with marine biologist Dr. Anthony D’Agostino to create the proper mix of nutrients and chemicals in dry form that could be added to plain tap water to create an accommodating habitat for the shrimp to thrive.
He received his patent for this process on July 4, 1972. They were first called “Instant Life” and sold for 49 cents but he changed the name to “Sea-Monkeys” in 1962. The art work was drawn by comic-book illustrator Joe Orlando.
Since the comic ad showed alien like sea creatures many were disappointed in their purchase. They also had a very short life span. Von Braunhut said that be would buy something like 3.2 million pages of ads in comics a year.
Transcience Corporation still makes Sea-Monkeys today and was sued by Von Braunhut’s widow in 2013 saying they should be paying royalties. The case was dropped in 2017.
From Wikipedia: A colony is started by adding the contents of a packet labelled “Water Purifier” to a tank of water.
This packet contains salt, water conditioner, and some brine shrimp eggs. After 24 hours, this is augmented with the contents of a packet labeled “Instant Life Eggs,” containing more eggs, yeast, borax, soda, salt, some food and sometimes a dye. Shortly thereafter, Sea-Monkeys hatch from the eggs that were in the “Water Purifier” packet.
“Growth Food” containing yeast and spirulina is then added every few days. The best temperature for hatching is 75–81 °F. Extra and supplementary pouches can be purchased on the official website, though these are not required for the well-being of the shrimp.
They are sold as an artificial breed of Artemis which has not been proven. Apollo 16 and 17 took some Sea-Monkey eggs to the Moon and back. There, they were exposed to significant cosmic rays and only 10% of the returned eggs survived to adulthood.
Mutations were found such as deformations of the abdomen, swimming appendages and naupliar eye of the nauplius. Astronaut John Glenn took Sea-Monkey’s into space aboard the Space Shuttle (STS-95). They seemed unaffected by the 9 day trip into space. This kinda makes me wish I had gotten some. To see the current Sea-Monkey set-up instructions click here.
They were advertised that they could be trained. I was doubtful but what happens is that if you turn out the lights in the room and use a fine penlight they will come into the light. I’m not sure that this is training or just the fact that they are attracted to the light.