Friday, November 27, 2009

The Truth about Frog-O-Sphere and Ecosphere (with some sea monkeys)

I'm sure many of you have been to the Brookstone store at either the regular store or the mall. This year their hottest item seems to be the Frog-O-Sphere. The Frog-O-Sphere comes with some gravel, a couple rocks, 2 frogs, a snail, and some bamboo.

Here's a look at Brookstone's Frog-O-Sphere:

I admit that I was fascinated by these little frogs that were supposed to be in a self-contained ecosystem. The truth, however, was much different.  Not only were these frogs overpriced, at $40 for the whole set, but they were placed into a situation where they were starving and mistreated. PETA exaggerates the whole thing quite a bit...which can be seen here. Yes, the frogs were cruelly replaced, but the tank was more than big enough for the 2 frogs. The real problem is that African Dwarf frogs are carnivores, that automatically means that this ecosystem cannot be self-sustaining. If the frogs it hungry enough, they will eat the snail. The snail cannot handle the build-up that is accumulating in the tank, by itself. The tanks needs to be cleaned once a week, at least. Furthermore, do not follow the directions about feeding that come with the Frog-O-Sphere (2 pellets every week). These frogs need to be feed every other day! Also, you are better off feeding these frogs blood worms than pellets. The frogs require clean unchlorinated water, so before placing the frogs into a tank of any kind it's important to wait 48 hours so that the chlorine evaporates from the water.

For more information about African Dwarf Frogs please visit:
Frog World

These frogs are low maintenance and can be purchased at your local pet store (Petsmart, Petco, etc.) for only $4. Parents, if you are thinking that this is a pet that you will not need to help you child take care of, that is not true. This is a pet like any other, before purchasing make sure you know what is required to take care of it. If you are still determined to purchase the Frog-O-Sphere, instead of visiting your local pet store, please note that Learning Express sells these same frogs for only $25 and lets you pick out the gravel, bamboo, etc.

A couple years ago, Brookstone was selling something called Ecosphere. Priced at $60 and developed by NASA it contained shrimp, algae, and a branch. Red shrimp or Halocaridina rubra are non-aggressive towards each other and eat algae. They can survive in extreme conditions and live for up to 3 years in this sphere. The ecosphere is supposed to be self-sustaining, this however is not the case. The problem with the ecosphere is that it is enclosed and to due to causes the shrimp to eventually die due to oxygen starvation. These shrimp need to be able to breath, just like any other animal and have to have some way to obtain more oxygen. They should be placed in an open air tank and need to be provided with much more algae than what is in that tiny ecosphere (brackish water). Water changes are not necessary, however.

For more information visit:
More about the development of the ecoshpere:
Abundant Earth

So what does an ecosphere look like?

Sea Monkeys
I actually used to own these when I was little. Today, sea monkeys are better known as brine shrimp. Brine shrimp only hatch when they are encased in water, as long as they remain dry the eggs will not hatch. You may notice that when they first hatch you are unable to see anything. Take my word for it, they are still there and you still need to feed them if you want them to survive.The directions are pretty accurate this time and they are still a very popular pet. They can be purchased at Toys R Us for as little as $9 and compared to what used to be available for these shrimp there are now a wide variety of tanks for you to choose from, such as a city or Mars.

For more examples and an explanation of how it works see:

To see some up close:

How to care for them:
Fact Sheet

Some things you may not know:
1. Algae in the tank is actually good.
2. You need to wait 24 hours and purify the water before placing the sea monkeys in it.
3. You won't be able to see them for the first 4-6 weeks without a microscope.
4. Yes you can make them turn colors, buy vitamins here.
5. Other things you may not know here.

Whatever you do DON'T overfeed them and more importantly have fun!!!!!


  1. Wow, I had Sea Monkeys as a kid (ordered from the back of a comic book), I knew about the Ecosphere but I didn't know about the Frog-O-Sphere! Thanks for posting this great blog post. Yes, it's been almost 3 years but I just found it via google search :p

  2. My question is, can the two shrimp described in this article live in the same eco system?

    1. Good question. Based on their different environments in the wild, I would say that they cannot live together. Brine shrimp usually live in saltwater lakes (they prefer about 30% salinity but live in as high as 60% usually) and red shrimp in anchialine pools in Hawaii (30% and under, their cousins are actually freshwater). Plus, the brine shrimp are much more aggressive than the red shrimp. Brine shrimp can also tolerate higher levels of salt than red shrimp can. In addition to that red shrimp live for 20 years while brine shrimp only live a year.

  3. I've had my ecosphere for 14 years... I kid you not!!! I started out with two shrimp but lost the first one around year 4. The second one, Shrimpy, has been alive and well the whole time! I do absolutely nothing. I'm wondering if he may be an alien : 0

  4. Had my ecosphere for 11 years and 7 of them were still alive! The last one sadly just passed away. But I highly doubt this was of "oxygen starvation," just old age.

    1. The lifespan of this particular species is 20 years if they are well cared for. They don't require a lot of work. So the shrimp likely didn't die of old age, but a lack of oxygen.