* Buster the triop

If you haven’t raised triops, you’re missing out. You’ve all probably heard about “sea monkeys,” which are type of brine shrimp. They’re probably the princes and princesses of instant pets. I consider triops, a similar crustacean with the appearance of a miniature horseshoe crab, a far superior instant pet. The kings and queens. And Buster was a great credit to his species.

I purchased a Discovery Prehistoric Sea Creatures Kit and was surprised that I needed so many extra items, like a lamp for heating the distilled water and a thermometer to make sure the water was 80 degrees. It was a bit of a hassle, and required some transportation, but the critters are adorable and worth the effort. Most online reviews of this kit are very negative; eggs not hatching, extra equipment, and water temperature being the primary issues.

Triops start off as tiny tadpole-like critters and then darken and grow significantly. They have three eyes and breathe through feathery gills on their legs. Like his sibs, Buster is a cannibal and will eat any smaller versions of himself. However, Buster made the ultimate sacrifice as he visited school and then passed away. Our efforts to isolate him for viewing purposes strained his little body. His larger sibs will also make the school journey and we hope to have better outcomes for them. Triops do have a short life span (3 months) but Buster only lived about a week. Sad but true.

A question to consider is how your students can handle the life and death of little critters like these. Older students may enjoy lively discussions on the ethics of raising triops. In our case, Buster has followed on the heels of tardigrades, so we are used to seeing miniature creatures disappear. Naming these guys does add an element of anthropomorphism and possible attachment. I wouldn’t grow them with younger kiddos, maybe because I am so sentimental about critters. Gosh, I even name my trees and have been told that’s not a wise thing.