Aquasaurs! The Terrifying Dinosaur Shrimp

When I was a child there was an advertisement in every comic book for “Sea Monkeys” with colorful depictions of happy little beige mer-people wearing crowns, carrying tridents, and building castles. Just add tap water to the handy dandy included plastic aquarium, treat it with this little package of powder, pour in the eggs, and prepare for hours of fun watching your new pets. You were supposed to be able to view said pets through little circles of magnification built thriftily into the walls of the habitat. So simple, right? What’s not to love?

7809_sea_monkeys

Only, Sea Monkeys don’t exist. They’re really brine shrimp and they don’t look even a little bit like mer-people. Brine shrimp don’t wear crowns, or build castles. They just swim around microscopically and exist. Then after a couple of weeks you just have a lovely crop of algae and nothing to show for it. Endlessly disappointing, and yet we continued to try to grow them. I think my mom had one of those silly habitats on her kitchen window sill for two years.

Enter the new generation. They are being marketed a similar product that Milton has dubbed “Aquasaurs”.

buy-live-aquasaurs-kit__84324_zoom

Just add bottled spring water to the colorful and cheaply made, non-rigid plastic habitat, pour in the package of eggs mixed with organic matter, and in just one day watch your new pets come to life. I was prepared for the disappointment. After all, Sea Monkeys were a joke. I planned how I was going to sooth my son’s sorrow over not being able to hatch a dinosaur fish. It was a great mothering moment in the making. I was practically chomping at the bit while I waited for the proof of failure.

The next day we had microscopic little swimmy things. OK, I thought, they’re basically sea monkeys. I can work with this. With just a little patience, there was still a great parenting moment in my future. I was practically giddy with anticipation. However, my plan was crushed when a week later we had 10 one inch long crustaceans that looked like this:

triops

These things are so very, very grotesque. The picture makes them look cute, but it’s basically like growing an extremely ugly bug. And we have 10 of them! They are lively, and eat voraciously, and are reproducing. I think I am doomed to have these monsters and their poorly made habitat on my breakfast table indefinitely. Ugh, Ugh, Ugh!!!!!!

Yes, they really are sort of a prehistoric creature. Officially, they are called Triops Longicaudatus, named so for their three-eyed configuration. Their physiology has remained virtually unchanged in the last 70 million years, exactly matching their ancient fossils, making them one of the oldest animal species still in existence. It’s a type of tadpole shrimp that can get up to 3 inches in length. These guys look like they might make it to that size, although they are ugly enough already at 1 inch.

I have one saving throw. They only live up to 90 days, or until the water temperature drops below 72 degrees. Twenty one days down, 69 to go, with winter on its way. Fortunately, the tank water is now so dirty, I can only see the terrifying creatures when they get near the walls. I suppose it’s time to clean the tank again. This is not the glorious parenting moment I was hoping for. Making my kid happy is good too, but I really didn’t want any more pets to take care of. Looks like I learned a lesson instead of getting to teach one.

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