MyTriops - everything here is over 200 Million years old!
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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers - General
FAQ - General FAQ - Hatching FAQ - Caring FAQ - Food

What are Triops?

They are small freshwater shrimp that grow from tiny eggs that you can buy from most Pet or Toy shops. They are often called Tadpole or Shield Shrimp.

Scientific name is Triops longicaudatus (TRY-OPS LON-GA-CAW-DA-TUS), by far the most common species you'll find on sale in shops as they come from America. Triops cancriformis (TRY-OPS CAN-RIFF-FORM-IS) comes from Europe and grows larger and lives longest!


Q: What do they do?

A: They swim a lot, eat a lot, grow even more and lay eggs. They're fun to watch with their antics as they swim cartwheels looking for food. Some teachers even use them in the classroom to teach the science of life.
Other people use them as a 'beginners guide to raising fish' in an Aquarium. Because if you can look after a Triops for a few months then maybe you might like to look after fish in a big tank!


Q: How do they breath under water?

A: They are very ancient creatures and long ago evolved the ability to breath with their feet! Fish have gills in the sides of their head. Triops have their gills in their legs!


Q: Do they really have three eyes?

A: Yes, Triops have been around a long time and have evolved some strange things. One of their eyes sense light so it knows which way is 'up'. Whilst the other two eyes look out for predators or snacks.


Q: How old are they?

A: Very old! In fact Triops (Triops cancriformis) have been around for over 220 million years. So they've seen giant dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex and Stegosaurus come and go.
They were swimming in pools when giant mammals like the wooly mammoth roamed the Earth.
When our ancestors lived in trees, there the Triops were in their pool, swimming and eating.
Today they are known as the oldest living species of animal in the World. No wonder they're often called or living fossils!


Q: Where do they come from?

A: Whilst toy shops sell them, they actually grow naturally in the wild on virtually every country in the World. Scotland, Russia, USA, Africa, India, Iceland, Japan. You name it they are there!


Q: Are the eggs I buy taken from the wild?

A: All eggs you buy are collected from hand reared Triops in tanks and are not harvested from the wild. In some countries (like the UK) Triops are actually an endangered species so taking them from the wild would be very wrong.


Q: Are they easy to rear in my home?

A: Yes, they are very easy to raise. You just need some eggs, a couple of litres (pints) of water and a container of some kind.
You just add the water to the eggs, keep them at room temperature near a bright light source and watch them hatch out.
See our Container page for ideas.


Q: What about feeding them?

A: Most kits you can buy in the shops come with plenty Triops food. But you can feed them virtually anything plant related. See our Recipes page for some of the things Triops owners have thought up. You'll be surprised!


Q: Is it expensive to keep them?

A: Not at all. For around £4 pounds (US$7) you can buy the eggs. Then a glass or plastic container needn't cost more than another £4 (US$7) if you wanted to splash out and get one specifically for raising Triops. You don't need to spend more than another £2 (US$3.5) on bottled water. So for £10 (US$18) or less you've got a complete set up.

Of course you can spend more if you want to keep the Triops in the lap of luxury. Some people buy Aquarium tanks, air filters and special food to ensure their Triops live the high life!


Q: How long do Triops live for?

A: If you keep them in good health then they can live as long as 14 weeks. Though 8 weeks is typical. (Triops cancriformis lives the longest)


Q: Why so short a lifespan?

A: Because that's how they have evolved. In the wild they hatch out of their eggs within 24 hours of a pool of rain water forming over them. They then eat and grow and eat again to grow as quickly as possible before the pool of water evaporates. It's amazing watching how fast they grow. Within 7-10 days they're fully adult and can lay 10 eggs a day. They continue to grow in size every day.


Q: How big can Triops get?

A: Triops can grow pretty big. Some Triops have been measured at 11cm (4inches) in the wild (we don't include their long tails when measuring their length)!
Typically you can get them to grow 6-8cm (2-3inches) in length in a tank. Triops cancriformis species grows the biggest. Triops owners like taking pictures of their wee creatures.
See the Gallery section of pictures and movies of their pets.


Q: Can a Triops bite me?

A: No. Their mouth is very small and there is no chance of it even nipping you in the slightest.


Q: Can I hatch out the eggs they lay?

A: Yes you can. You just drain off the water, let the eggs dry out really thoroughly for a few days and then add some water again! You need never run out of eggs again!


Q: Are there different types of Triops?

A: Yes, quite a few.
Most commoningly sold in the shops is the American species called Triops longicaudatus which looks rather golden in colour. It grows up to 8cm (2 inches) and lives for up to 8 weeks.

Then there is the Triops cancriformis species which is found throughout Europe and can grow up to 11cm (4 inches) and lives for longer (14 weeks) than its American cousin and is more green-brown.

There is an Australian species called Triops australiensis which is rarely seen outside its country and is more copper-blue in colour.

There are about 10-15 different species in total. But the others species are hard to get hold off. See our Triops Species section for more detail.


Q: Ok, I've got a kit. But what's the best way to get started?

A: Best way is to read the Quick Setup page.
You'll be successfully hatching Triops in no time!



The end.