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I was going to need to add 1,000 baby brine shrimp to the spawning tank for an experiment. Okay, so how do I count 1,000 baby brine shrimp? I tried it. It's not easy. Then I got the idea that it would be easier to count the eggs. Since I know that 50 percent of the eggs hatch (my system is less than ideal) then all I have to do is count out 2,000 eggs and I should be in the ball park. This sounded easier than counting hatched shrimp but still not a walk in the park.

Then I get the brilliant thought that it should be easier to measure 2,000 eggs. I started with the count per teaspoon from the egg packaging and worked my way down through quarter and eighth teaspoons and kept dividing until I figured out that I need one-150th of a teaspoon. I accomplished this by using the same technique drug dealers use... or so I've heard. I spread a quarter teaspoon along the crease in a folded piece of paper and used a razor blade to divide the eggs in half. I repeated this halving until I had the number of eggs I needed. The only problem is that even this technique takes several minutes. There had to be a quicker, easier method... there was.

I simply took a blunt end of a bamboo skewer, dipped it in water, and used it to pick up the 2,000 eggs I'd measured out. Then I marked how high up on the stick the eggs came; it turned out to be 1/4 inch. Now when I need 2,000 eggs, I simple wet the end of the skewer, dip it into a jar of eggs up to the mark, and gently shake it so that I have a single layer. Two thousand eggs counted in two seconds!

I didn't quite make it to the mark so I'd estimate that there were 1,800 eggs on this skewer. Not bad for a few second's work!

Note: Salt Lake variety brine shrimp eggs are larger than the San Francisco variety I use and skewers vary in diameter so anyone wanting to use this technique should calibrate their counting system for themselves to make sure they're collecting the number of eggs they need.


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