As part of our Dinosaur theme studies I decided it would be fun to let the kids grow their own ‘living fossils’ that have been around since before the dawn of the dinosaurs. Triops are aquatic crustaceans that can be found all over the world … they are sometimes referred to as tadpole shrimp. You can read more about Triops here.
I bought this Triop Park set from Argos for £18.99. This set is quite large and comes with additional extras but you can get smaller and cheaper sets if you shop around on places such as Amazon and Ebay.
This set consists of a large plastic moulded tray which contains a separate section which serves as a nursery for hatching your triops and an L-shaped tray for growing your own ‘jungle’. An extra plastic fitting attaches to represent a volcano and the set includes lava stones which can be placed in the top of the volcano.
*** The instructions claim the lava stones glow in the dark … we found this not to be the case but anyway we used them as an addition to our Rocks, Minerals and Fossils studies and Samira, who is currently studying the Rock Cycle, enjoyed looking up about lava stones and how they are formed.***
The set also included a plastic ‘fossilised’ Triceratops replica which we decided to bury in compost and grow our jungle on top. By the way, the jungle is actually a packet of grass seeds.
Amina and Basma spooned the compost into the L-shaped tray, burying the Triceratops skeleton, added some water and then sprinkled some grass seeds on top and pressed them down with a spoon. We plan to ‘excavate and discover’ the Triceratops at a later date.
Everything mentioned above is supplied in the set including compost, seeds and spoon. The only thing you need to supply yourself is bottled/distilled water because the triops cannot survive in tap water because of the chlorine content.
The triop eggs come packed in a sealed foil pack. They are microscopic and are contained within the detritus. We filled up the nursery area with bottle spring water and shook half of the pack content into the water, saving the other half in case the first lot don’t hatch, or in the case of growing a second lot of triops.
The eggs can remain dormant for upto 15 years and become activated when they come in contact with water. In the right environment the triops hatch within 24 hours. We actually put a desk lamp over our nursery to provide extra light and heat (as recommended in the instructions) and we were surprised to find our hatchlings scooting around in less than 24 hours!
At first they are really hard to spot because they are mere white specks and we could only see them using a magnifying glass. We also found a couple of other creatures hatched out that had also been lying dormant in the detritus including a water flea and a fairy shrimp, but they didn’t last long … they became triop food!
For the first 3 days the hatchlings feed on the detritus in the water and then they are fed daily with the shrimp food supplied in the kit.
While we waited for the triops to grow and become more visible, Yusef and Samira began putting together their Triop Project Folder which contains details, pictures, drawings and observations about triops.
The kit recommends releasing the triops from the nursery into the main tank after 2 weeks. By Day 12 we were in fact down to one very large triop who appears to have eaten the other hatchlings. Originally we had around 8 triops.
We laid the gravel and sand provided in the bottom of the main tank and filled it with bottle spring water. I used the spoon to scoop the triop into the main tank and cleared out the remaining detritus from the nursery area and refilled it ready for the second lot of eggs.
We are now enjoying watching as our triop grows … it doubles in size almost daily and is fascinating to watch it swimming. The grass grew quickly and the triop actually bites and feeds on the strands that dangle in the water!
Yesterday we added the final batch of eggs to the nursery and we hope to have a few more triops to add to the main tank insha’Allah. Perhaps we will try adding them earlier to avoid them becoming cannibals!
We then hope to carry out some of the non-invasive experiments suggested in the instruction booklet including encouraging the triops to spawn and then perhaps we could start a second generation.