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How It Works

What is a Closed Ecosystem?
How were EcoSpheres Invented?
How EcoSpheres Work
Do the Animals and Plants Reproduce?
What do the Shrimp Eat?

About Your New EcoSphere
What is in the EcoSphere?
Guidelines for EcoSphere Care
Cleaning Your EcoSphere
How Long Will The EcoSphere Live?
Why do I See Condensation Inside?
What if One or More of the Shrimp Die?

What is a Closed Eco-System?

A closed eco-system is a sealed container which includes everything needed for life to last for many years- with no outside care.

How were EcoSpheres Invented?

The EcoSphere was originally discovered by two scientists, the late Dr. Joe Hanson and the late Dr. Clair Folsome.

NASA obtained the information from these two doctors to help them with their research. They had two programs that benefited from the discovery: Mission to Planet Earth, aimed at studying Earth’s environment, and the Space program. If NASA could figure out how to sustain life in a closed environment, perhaps they could build space stations that would help in exploring our solar system… and perhaps one day, help us live somewhere other than Earth!!


How EcoSpheres Work

The EcoSphere is a tiny working model of the Earth. It contains the same essential elements that are found on our planet- air, water, life (algae, microorganisms and shrimp) and land (gravel and gorgonia). Life functions in the EcoSphere just as it does on Earth. The shrimp produce carbon dioxide by “breathing”; the algae use the carbon dioxide and light to produce oxygen. Algae can only produce oxygen when there’s light. When it is dark, the shrimp and bacteria are consuming the oxygen while none is being made. The EcoSphere would die with too many plants and animals, because they would run out of oxygen at night.

Do the Animals and Plants Reproduce?

Reproduction of shrimp does occur in some systems, but this is uncommon. The shrimp that are in the EcoSphere have purposely been chosen because they do not reproduce excessively; the environment cannot support too many shrimp.

The algae and bacteria in the EcoSphere continuously reproduce. In fact, as time goes by, you can expect changes in the algae population in your EcoSphere. The oldest EcoSpheres have blue-green algae as the main type of organism.

What do the Shrimp Eat?

The shrimp eat algae and bacteria. If you watch them closely, you will see them feeding on the algae and picking bacteria off the walls of the sphere. They also eat their own shed exoskeletons. Nothing goes to waste!


What is in the EcoSphere?

Along with shrimp, there is algae and filtered sea water. The EcoSphere also contains gorgonia (the non-living, branch like material) and gravel as a part of the working ecosystem. The gorgonian and gravel are a hiding place for the microorganisms- a place where they can not be eaten by the shrimp. All other areas in the water are accessible by the animals. By having more surface area for the bacteria to grow on, the eco-system has the ability to break down more of the waste materials.

Guidelines for EcoSphere Care

As you open your new EcoSphere, please take notice of the amount of green algae. This initial quantity of algae is the amount you always want in your EcoSphere. Keep your EcoSphere at temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (15C-25C). Temperatures above 85 degrees put excess stress on the shrimp, and temperatures below 60 slow down the metabolism of the shrimp. Do not let the temperature fluctuate erratically. Do not place your EcoSphere on televisions, stereo equipment, fireplace mantles, or near heating radiators and vents.

The EcoSphere needs indirect light, from either an artificial source or sunlight, for 6-12 hours every day. DO NOT place your EcoSphere in direct sunlight. Light causes the algae to grow, which will change the chemical balance of the sphere and kill the shrimp. When the algae begins to grow, lower the light by shading the sphere or putting it in a darker area. If you notice that the algae is greatly reduced, you can increase the light level.

Do not shake, drop, or otherwise treat the EcoSphere roughly. Remember it is someone’s home.

Cleaning Your EcoSphere

From time to time you may wish to clean any film that may have formed on the inside of the glass. Some of the microorganisms, which are of nutritional value to the shrimp, are capable of creating a thin film on the inside of the glass.

There are two magnets included with your EcoSphere. We have placed a magnet inside your EcoSphere to aid in cleaning the inside glass of the sphere. We have also furnished you with a second outer magnet to attract the inside magnet. To get the magnets together, bring the outer magnet near the gravel at the bottom so it can attract the smaller inside magnet (It can look like a piece of gravel on the bottom). Once you have both magnets attracted to each other, proceed to move it on the surface of the glass. It is not necessary to clean the entire surface at one time. Cleaning the inside glass will allow the animals to eat the organisms and keep the glass quite clear.

If you lose your outside magnet, any refrigerator magnet will do. You will not harm the unit by moving it as you clean it.

How Long will the EcoSphere Live?

The average life of the small sphere and small pod is 2-3 years. The other units tend to last longer because they begin with more shrimp. The life expectancy of these shrimp is known to exceed 5 years, and the oldest EcoSpheres are now over 10 years old and still going strong. We do not know how long your EcoSphere will live due to different light and temperature conditions throughout the country, and we do not know the exact age of the shrimp when they are placed into the EcoSphere.

Why do I See Condensation Inside?

Condensation forms on the inside of the glass periodically. If it is warmer inside the EcoSphere than outside, water will condense on the cooler walls of the EcoSphere. It may appear as though you are losing water but enough condensation will give that illusion. If you think you are losing water, check the seal on the bottom of the unit. If there appears to be water or salt crystals forming, you probably have a leak. In this case, call our office for further assistance.

What if One or More of the Shrimp Die?

The age of each shrimp is not known; therefore it is not unusual for some of the shrimp in the EcoSphere to die. If you are losing shrimp in a short period of time, this usually indicates that your EcoSphere is receiving too much light or that it has been too hot or too cold. As long as there is one shrimp alive in the system, it is a functioning unit.

The pale translucent shrimp-like images you may see lying on the bottom now and then are not dead shrimp, but exoskeletons that have been shed. Shrimp are crustaceans that have their skeletons on the outside rather than on the inside. As the shrimp grows, it forms a new soft skeleton under its old one and then sheds, just as snakes and lizards shed their skins. After the old exoskeleton has been shed, the new one expands and hardens. It has been observed that a shrimp may molt once or twice a month in a normal environment. If a shrimp dies, the others will eat it, quickly returning the nutrients back to the system. The bacteria in the EcoSphere will also help decompose it within a day or so.


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2009 PPAI Supplier Achievement Award - Most Creative New Item for Business Gift Use and Promotional Product Use

 

ASI 51660   |   PPAI 271231   |   SAGE 67937   |   UPIC EcoSph