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EcoSphere Closed Aquatic Ecosystem, Sphere
- Hand blown glass
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CHOKING HAZARD -- WARNING: KEEP AWAY FROM ALL CHILDREN. Do not put in mouth or nose. This product contains small magnets. Swallowed magnets can stick together across intestines causing serious infections and death. Seek immediate medical attention if magnets are swallowed or inhaled.
CHOKING HAZARD -- Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.
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From the manufacturer
What is an EcoSphere?
The EcoSphere is a completely closed, balanced, glass ecosystem. Inside each EcoSphere are shrimp, algae, and microorganisms in salt water. Because the EcoSphere contains everything it needs to thrive, you never have to feed the life within, or change the water. All that is needed is a comfortable room temperature (between 65 and 80 F) and a source of light.
Each EcoSphere comes with a handbook detailing how to take care of the EcoSphere. Also included is an outer cleaning magnet that, when matched up with the magnet inside the EcoSphere, can be used to clean the inside of the EcoSphere.
Shrimp in the EcoSphere
The EcoSphere contains active marine shrimp that feed on the algae inside the EcoSphere. Each model of EcoSphere contains a certain number of shrimp based on the interior volume.
Early EcoSphere Production
Ecosphere Associates, Inc. is a family run business based in Tucson, Arizona. From startup in a small office complex Ecosphere Associates, Inc. has grown to a successful global company with manufacturing partners around the globe. To date, almost 1 million EcoSpheres have been manufactured.
Small Sphere EcoSphere. This fascinating enclosed world contains 3 to 4 marine shrimp, algae and micro-organisms. Made from hand blown glass, each EcoSphere is a completely enclosed, self-sustaining little world. The EcoSphere only needs indirect light and comfortable room temperature (between 60F and 80F.) The EcoSphere works on the basis that a closed system recycles its nutrients and does not produce excess waste. The shrimp consume the algae and micro-organisms and they, in turn, break down the shrimp waste. External light, either artificial or natural, keeps the algae growing. There is no feeding or water changes required. Each EcoSphere comes with a replacement, recharge or upgrade policy.
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Top customer reviews
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All shrimp made the journey out alive. The glass sphere made the journey all the way from Tucson, Arizona to Illinois in pristine condition.
My ecosphere came with 4 shrimp: 1 larger, reddish colored shrimp; 1 small, reddish colored shrimp; and 2 small, clear greyish colored shrimp. The larger shrimp is about 11mm large and the small ones are about 8mm large. This small ecosystem that you can keep on your desk does what it is intended to do. It is a pretty neat and unique item.
My purchase price was $43.27 plus $4.99 one day shipping for a total of $51.27 after tax. I must admit this is quite a lot of money for me to be spending on a desk decoration, but it is the coolest desk decoration out there... Also, no other aquatic sustainable ecosystem maker, if any, sells on Amazon, so I don't have any reference on what this thing should be priced.
0/10 -Teeth Clenching Action :(
It just sits there and you don't have to clean it. WOW
3/10 +Buyer's Remorse
I want to justify buying an over glorified paper weight but for $50, I could have bought something a little more useful. However, I don't know what else would bring me the one of a kind pleasure to have 4 little crustaceans running amok in a silly glass sphere. Well, at least I only had 3 remorse out of 10 remorse for buying this :D
These are the reasons I disliked this product:
Problem 1. These amazing little shrimp are called Opae Ula (typically pronounced OH-PAY-OOH-LAH), Hawaiian Red Shrimp, Volcano Shrimp, Supershrimp, and Micro Lobsters. Have you noticed that the EcoSphere website neglects to refer to these guys by any name other than "small shrimp?" The reason I mention this is because if you do ANY amount of research you will find breeders & people who observe Opae Ula in maintained environments saying that these shrimp have an estimated lifespan of 20+ years. The small EcoSheres have an estimated lifespan of 2-3 years. That is 10-15% of the animals' estimated lifespan. (Don't believe they live that long? EcoSphere happily boasts many success stories on their site where people have had one or more shrimp as many as 20 years. Check it out for yourself under About > Success Stories.) Yes, it is a closed ecosystem, and yes, it works for a while. If someone put cats in closed ecosystems in which they lived for 10-15% of their estimated natural lifespan, would you buy one? What about 50%? Of course not! The people responsible would be shut down immediately, and likely penalized. Unfortunately for Opae Ula (along with Hippo Tangs, Goldfish, & many other small creatures), human empathy and emotional attachment rarely extends beyond animals who can be affectionate to us in return. (What about the NASA research? Almost none of the NASA research links on the EcoSphere website lead to research about the spheres. There is a one page PDF in which the author states "no one is sure how long the shrimp may live, but their life spans could conceivably reach 10 years. In test spheres at JPL, shrimp were still thriving after four years." I'm not convinced that this science ever favored the shrimp.)
Problem 2. I'm not saying that the EcoSpheres don't have any educational value. What horrifies me is that these spheres are marketed to the masses as pets that require little to no care. On Amazon alone, the small sphere has just over 1,000 reviews (as of 3/23/17). 23% of these reviews are 3 stars or fewer, and the vast majority of these 1-3 star reviews are people complaining that all or most of their shrimp died within weeks or months of purchase. The smallest spheres have 4 shrimp, and with the price tag, I imagine this to be their most popular product. (Their largest sphere contains 30-35 shrimp.) On their site, EcoSphere claims to have sold "almost 1 million spheres." If approximately 23% of almost 1 million (we'll assume 900,000) people experience the death of at least 2 shrimp somewhere within 1 year of purchase, that's at least 414,000 Opae Ula that have died after living less than 5% of their estimated lifespan in someone's house/office. Alternatively, pretend that all 900,000 spheres sold were only the smallest size, and that a conservative 50% of them died off completely within 5 years (remember, the estimated lifespan of the small sphere is 2-3 years). That's 1.8 million tiny shrimp that have died after spending no more than 25% of their estimated lifespan in someone's house/office. That number is wildly underestimated because if we could accurately account for the fact that EcoSpheres come in multiple sizes, we would come to a far higher number, even with such conservative calculations. What a sad thought!
Long story short, if you want to own shrimp, I would encourage you to do what other shrimp enthusiasts do and learn how to maintain a healthy environment for them. Even if the EcoSphere lasts for you, the shrimp are far more interesting in a more natural habitat.