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(Frequently Asked Questions)

What if One or More of the Shrimp Die?

Answer:Since the age of each shrimp is not known, it is not unusual for some of the shrimp in the EcoSphere to perish. If the shrimp die all at once, this is a clear indication that the temperature limits were exceeded. If they die over a period of time, they are probably meeting their normal life expectancy. As long as there is one shrimp alive in the system, it is a functional ecosystem.

The pale translucent shrimp-like bodies you may see lying on the bottom now and then are not dead shrimp, but exoskeletons. Shrimp are crustaceans. This means that they have their skeletons on the outside rather than on the inside. As the shrimp grows, it replaces it from time to time. 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.

How Long will the EcoSphere Live?

Answer:The average life of an EcoSphere is between 2 and 3 years. 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. While we know that the life expectancy of these shrimp can exceed 5 years, we have no way of knowing how old each shrimp is as it is put in an EcoSphere. All things considered, an EcoSphere may last many years or not depending on the age of the shrimp and the environment in which it is kept.

Do the Animals and Plants Reproduce?

Answer:Reproduction of shrimp does occur in some EcoSpheres, but this is uncommon. The shrimp that are in the EcoSphere have purposely been chosen because they do not exhibit aggressive behavior towards each other. 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.

What is a Closed Ecosystem?

Answer:Closed ecological systems are ecosystems that do not rely on matter exchange with any part outside the system. Although the Earth itself fits this definition, the term is most often used to describe much smaller manmade ecosystems. Such systems are scientifically interesting and can potentially serve as a life support system during space flights, in space stations or space habitats. In a closed ecological system, any waste products produced by one species must be used by at least one other species.

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