EcoSphere Self-Contained Saltwater
Ecosystem is a complete, self-contained and
self-sustaining miniature world!
The Original EcoSphere is the most advanced
saltwater microcosmic world, harboring shrimp, algae and bacteria in a
symbiotic environment. Requiring no feeding, The Original EcoSphere is
care for, and serves as an incredible learning tool that can provide
insights about life on our own planet... and provide a glimpse of the
sustaining technology that may shape the way we design and restore
ecosystems. But, an Ecosphere is much more than a scientific breakthrough.
It is a work of
art, a living treasure to own or give to someone special. Each EcoSphere is
carefully crafted to achieve an aesthetic, meditative beauty that can
environment including home, classroom or office.
The Inside Story:
Inside each EcoSphere are active micro-organisms, bright
red shrimp and
algae, each existing in a clear "soup" of filtered sea water. Because
the EcoSphere is a self-sustaining ecosystem, you never have to feed
within. Simply provide your EcoSphere with a source of indirect natural
artificial light and enjoy this aesthetic blend of art and science,
Because the living resources within the EcoSphere utilize
without overpopulating or contaminating their environment, the
requires no cleaning and only minimal care. EcoSpheres have an average
life expectancy of two years. However, it is not
uncommon for shrimp populations to be thriving in systems as old as 7
Older units can be "recharged." EcoSpheres are available in either pod
or spherical shapes, in a range of sizes.
Into the Future:
EcoSphere is the result of technology developed by scientists at NASA's
Propulsion Laboratory. NASA was researching self-contained communities
explorers to live in during long-term space flights. Out of this
the EcoSphere - an ecosystem of animal and plant life in perfect balance.
About Your New EcoSphere:
Please notice the amount of green algae in your EcoSphere.
quantity is the inoculant required to produce sufficient oxygen for the
Do not allow the algae to grow more than this or the chemical balance
change. You can control the growth of algae by controlling the light
the algae begins to grow, more than the initial amount as when you
first received your Ecosphere, lower the light by shading it or putting
in a darker area. Never put the EcoSphere in front of a
window. In the
notice the algae level is greatly reduced you can grow more by
light level. However, make sure your sphere is NEVER
placed in direct
take approximately one or two months for more algae to form, and it is
to the system to lose its visible algae. Keep in mind that the
EcoSphere is not
a plant and should not be given high light levels to keep it green. A
EcoSphere is not necessarily a healthy one.
How Your EcoSphere Works:
The EcoSphere is a display of a working ecological system.
While it is
beautiful to view, it also demonstrates the delicate balance of a
ecosystem like the Earth. Contained within the completely sealed glass
small variety of shrimp, algae, and microorganisms living in a filtered
The EcoSphere contains some
of the same essential elements that are found on
our planet. The Earth is represented by the gravel at the bottom with
filling two-thirds of the system while air fills the balance of the
is the light, which streams in each day. Finally, life: the algae,
microbes that float and swim in the water.
The EcoSphere's biological cycle represents a simple version
of Earth's' own
ecosystem. Light together with carbon dioxide in the water enable the
produce oxygen by photosynthesis. The shrimp breathe the oxygen in the
while nibbling on the algae and bacteria. The bacteria break down the
waste into nutrients, which the algae utilize. The shrimp and bacteria also give off carbon dioxide, which
the algae again
use to produce oxygen. And so the cycle renews itself.
is in the EcoSphere?
Along with the shrimp there are algae and filtered sea water.
also contains gorgonia and gravel as a part of the working ecosystem.
the non-living branch like material, and the gravel are surface area in
ecosystem. The gorgonia and gravel are also a hiding place for
a place where they can not be eaten by the shrimp. All other areas in
are accessible by the animals. By having more surface area for the
grow on the eco-system has the ability to break down more of the waste
What is a Closed Eco-System?
A closed eco-system is a
group of organisms placed in any sealed container
along with nutrients to sustain and regenerate life. Water is the most
item in the system, for without it nothing lives. There are numerous
microorganisms inside that keep reproducing and dying, each time they
and take in oxygen and carbon dioxide. The key component is energy in
of light. With light energy, chemicals are changed into nutrients and
available to the higher organisms.
The nature of all closed ecosystems is to wind down.
Eventually the major
chemical building blocks get "locked up" and are no longer available
to the microorganisms. There is no weather inside the EcoSphere to pull
chemicals apart from each other. However, on Earth this action takes
the oceans and on land continuously. Replenishing is done by the
mixing and returning nutrients back by the actions of wind and rain.
Guidelines for EcoSphere Care:
The EcoSphere requires almost no care. However, here are few
Cleaning Your EcoSphere:
- DO notice how much algae is in the
EcoSphere when you receive it.
The health of the animals inside the sphere is dependent on the water
This chemistry is affected by algae and microorganism growth. If you
than this amount of algae to grow you will raise the pH of the water.
higher pH will kill the shrimp. If you are not providing enough light
also harm the system. That is why you should look closely at the amount
fiber algae. This is a good gauge as to how much visible algae should
be in the
- DO keep your EcoSphere at temperatures
between 60 degrees Fahrenheit
(15C) and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (25C). Temperatures above 85 degrees
stress on the shrimp in the EcoSphere. Temperatures below 60 degrees
the metabolism of the shrimp. Do not let the temperatures flux
60 degrees to 85 degrees. The temperature needs to be consistent.
can affect the life of the system.
- DO provide artificial light or indirect
sunlight for your EcoSphere
for at least 6 to 12 hours per day. The intensity can be suitable for
needing low levels of light. One of the following sources is
- Ceiling mounted fluorescent lamps
- Indirect window sunlight
- DO NOT let your EcoSphere get too hot or too cold. We may think
the temperature is fine but an Ecosphere can warm up and cool down as easily
as a glass of water. So a rule of thumb, be aware of the temperature of the
- DO NOT handle the EcoSphere excessively,
the sphere will pick up
heat from your body.
- DO NOT leave the EcoSphere in direct
sunlight. It is a tiny
greenhouse and direct sunlight can overheat it regardless of room
- DO NOT let it go for more than 60 hours
without light (if algae
growth looks fine). This is a rule of thumb. If your EcoSphere has
light for several days, it will be well "charged" with oxygen and may
be able to survive longer without light, but why take chances? If you
algae bloom (the algae grows at a rapid rate) it may be necessary to
unit in a dark area, such as a cupboard or closet. The unit can be left
for extended periods: sometimes as long as 3 weeks. If you need to do
on the unit daily to see if the algae growth has seceded. Over a period
like 3-5 months, there will be some growth but it should not harm the
- DO NOT shake it, drop it, or otherwise
treat it roughly.
Remember it is someone's home.
- DO NOT place your EcoSphere on televisions,
fireplace mantles, or near heating radiators and vents.
From time to time you may
wish to clean any organic film that may have formed
on the inside of the glass due to too high light levels. Some of the
microorganisms, which are of nutritional value to the shrimp, are
creating a thin film on the inside of the glass.
NOTE: THERE ARE TWO MAGNETS WITH YOUR
ECOSPHERE. We have
included a cleaner
magnet INSIDE YOUR ECOSPHERE to clean the INSIDE glass of the sphere.
also furnished you with a second OUTER magnet to attract the cleaner
the inside bottom of your EcoSphere. To get both magnets together
the outer magnet near the gravel at the bottom so it can attract the
inside magnet. It can look like a piece of gravel on the bottom. Once
both magnets attracted to each other you can proceed to move it on the
of the glass, it is not necessary to clean the entire surface at one
Cleaning the inside glass will allow the animals to eat the organisms
the glass quite clear.
The inside magnet has two sides; black and off-white. The
off-white side has
an abrasive texture to assist in cleaning the glass. The off-white side
face the glass for best results. If you lose your magnet any
will do. You will not harm the unit by moving it as you clean it.
How Long Will They Live?
The average life of the small sphere and small pod is 2-3
years. The other
units tend to last longer because they have more shrimp. The life
these shrimp is known to exceed 5 years. We do not know how long your
will live due to different light and temperature conditions throughout
country; and we do not know the exact age of the shrimp when we make an
EcoSphere. The oldest EcoSphere we know of is now over 14 years old and
remaining shrimp still going strong. Some systems without shrimp are
living even after 25 years. As long as there is one shrimp alive in the
EcoSphere, it is a functioning unit.
Do the Animals and Plants Reproduce?
Until the Spring of 1985, no
one was able to verify reproduction by the
shrimp in the EcoSphere. Reproduction has occurred in some systems,
this is very rare. The purpose of the unit is not
is how to sustain life in a balanced ecosystem. The shrimp
that if they reproduce, they will over-populate their environment.
The algae and the bacteria in the EcoSphere reproduce
continuously! In fact,
as time goes by, you can expect changes in the algae population in your
The oldest EcoSpheres sooner or later end up with blue-green
algae as the
main type of organism. By this time, the green algae has used up
nutrients in the salt water and remaining nutrients have been
other chemicals and cannot be used further by the green algae. The
algae can exist quite well on the remaining chemical compounds and
produce enough oxygen for the shrimp. In this way, the EcoSphere goes
transitions. They may start out quite clear, change to a slightly
and then become quite clear again.
The Gas Cycle:
The plants make oxygen only when there is light. When it is
animals, the bacteria and the plants all consume oxygen while none is
produced. Oxygen is stored in the EcoSphere in the air and in the water
the day. There must be enough air and water to store the oxygen.
would not work to put too many plants and animals in the EcoSphere
would run out of oxygen at night. If you compare the ratio of living
air and water in the EcoSphere with Earth's ratio, you will see that,
consider the vast sizes of Earth's oceans and atmosphere, the
in the EcoSphere is very high.
What if One or
More of the Shrimp
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
of time, this usually indicates that your EcoSphere is receiving too
or that it has been too hot or cold (exposure to dramatic temperature
As long as there is one shrimp alive in the system, it is a functioning
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.
crustaceans that have their skeletons on the outside rather than on the
As the shrimp grows, it forms a new soft skeleton under its old one and
sheds the old one, just as snakes and lizards shed their skins. After
exoskeleton has been shed, the new one expands and hardens. It has been
that a shrimp may molt once or twice a month in a normal environment.
shrimp dies, the others will eat it, quickly returning the nutrients
back to the
system. The bacteria in the EcoSphere will also decompose it within a
day or so.
What do the Shrimp Eat?
The shrimp eat the algae and bacteria. If you watch them
closely, you will
see them feeding on the algae, picking algae and bacteria off the walls
sphere. Even if the green algae is no longer visible to you, there are
plenty of other algae and bacteria which are not visible to the naked
the shrimp to eat. The shrimp also eat the shed exoskeletons. Nothing
waste in the EcoSphere.
What to Look For in Your EcoSphere:
The algae is constantly growing, dying and being eaten by the
bacteria. As time goes on, it is likely that you will notice gradual
the composition of the algae. It may appear darker after a period of
time. This is one of the changes. IF
YOU NOTICE THE ALGAE GROWING RAPIDLY, YOU HAVE YOUR ECOSPHERE IN AN
THE LIGHT IS TOO BRIGHT. THIS WILL RAISE THE pH AND CAUSE THE SHRIMP TO
PERISH. Some of the older EcoSpheres in our laboratory have
algae. These systems have lived for years because they contain heavy
of single-celled algae, which can't be seen by the naked eye.
Why Do I See Condensation Inside?
For the same reason that
condensation forms on the outside of a cold drink.
If it is warmer inside the EcoSphere than outside, water will condense
cooler walls of the EcoSphere. Condensation forms on the inside of the glass periodically. It
that you are losing water but enough condensation will give that
effect. If you
think you are losing water, check the seal on the bottom of the unit.
appears to be water or salt crystals forming you probably have a leak.
case call our office for further assistance.
How Were EcoSpheres Discovered?
The EcoSphere was originally discovered by two scientists, the
late Dr. Joe
Hanson and the late Dr. Clair Folsome. NASA became interested in these
systems during the early 1980s. First, this tiny model of the Earth
could add information to NASA's
Mission to Planet Earth program aimed at studying Earth's biosphere.
it could help NASA's research on human life support systems directed
construction of space stations for exploring our solar system.
EcoSpheres have been produced for many years now, and although atypical, we have had people contact us with EcoSpheres that have survived over 25 years and are still going strong! Today, the EcoSphere is sold world-wide and is still one of
greatest ecological teaching tools created by NASA technology.
Shapes and Sizes:
Sizes Available and Average Number
* Small ~
4.0" diameter ~ 2 to 4 Shrimp
~ 5.25" diameter ~ 6 to 9 Shrimp
* Large ~
6.5" diameter ~ 10 to 13 Shrimp
* Extra Large
~ 9.0" diameter ~ 28 to
* Small ~
5.25" tall ~ 2 to 4 Shrimp
* Large ~
7.5"tall ~ 6 to 9 Shrimp
* Small ~
4.0" diameter x 6.0" tall ~ 2 to 4 Shrimp
* Large ~
5.25" diameter x
7.25"tall ~ 6 to 9 Shrimp
If you plan on ordering 3 or more EcoSpheres going to the same
address on the same date, be sure to contact us about a shipping discount.
Please call us at 1-888-513-2784 for a quotation.
VERY IMPORTANT Delivery Instructions:
- Your EcoSphere
MUST ship to an address where
someone will absolutely be available from 8am to 6pm to receive and sign for the
item. EcoSpheres cannot be left at the door!
- Ecospheres are only delivered on
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
must be available 8am to 6pm to receive the EcoSphere. For this reason,
folks choose to have their EcoSpheres shipped to a business
orders will be held
if the weather does not permit the safe shipment of your live Ecosphere. To select your delivery date, simply click on the
"Add to Cart" button below and choose a specific date from the dates offered. If
you do not see a date earlier than those listed then that specific date is no
longer available. While we cannot make any guarantees, we will do our best to
accommodate. Unfortunately, we cannot arrange for an exact time for the
EcoSphere to arrive.
shipping to Alaska/Hawaii. 35% restocking fee
on returns within 30 days. Shipping/Handling is not