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EcoSphere Closed Aquatic Ecosystem, Small Sphere

Small Sphere EcoSphere. This fascinating enclosed world contains 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 conume the algae and micro-organisms and they, in turn, break down the shrimp waste. External light, either artifical or natural, keeps the algae growing. There is no feeding or water changes required. The average life span is between 2 and 3 years. Each EcoSphere comes with a replacement, recharge or upgrade policy.

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Product Description

The Inside Story of the EcoSphere

The Original EcoSphere is the world’s first totally enclosed ecosystem – a complete, self-contained and self-sustaining miniature world encased in glass. Be wary of inferior and lower quality imitations. Easy to care for, an EcoSphere is an incredible learning tool that can provide powerful insights about life on our own planet… and provide a glimpse of technology that’s shaping the future of space exploration.

Shrimp in EcoSphere

Shrimp in the EcoSphere

The Original EcoSphere is the world’s first totally enclosed ecosystem – a complete, self-contained and self-sustaining miniature world encased in glass. Be wary of inferior and lower quality imitations. Easy to care for, an EcoSphere is an incredible learning tool that can provide powerful insights about life on our own planet… and provide a glimpse of technology that’s shaping the future of space exploration.

Inside each EcoSphere are active micro-organisms, small shrimp, algae and bacteria, each existing in filtered sea water. Because the EcoSphere is a self-sustaining ecosystem, you never have to feed the life within. Simply provide your EcoSphere with a source of indirect natural or artificial light and enjoy this aesthetic blend of art and science, beauty and balance. Because the living organisms within the EcoSphere utilize their resources without overpopulating or contaminating their environment, the EcoSphere requires virtually no maintenance.

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 soothe any environment, including home, classroom or office. Our ecosystems demonstrate in a most simplistic way the interdependence of animal and plant life with Earth’s most precious element – water. The EcoSpheres have been called science projects, the world’s lowest maintenance pets, or closed aquariums. They are in fact developments of space age technology initiated by NASA.

Product Features
  • Hand blown glass
  • No maintenance required
  • Contains live marine shrimp
  • Requires no feeding or water changes
  • Average life span of 2 to 3 years
  • Small Sphere 4″ diameter, contains 3 to 4 shrimp, 6 month replacement policy
  • Small Pod 5.25″ tall, contains 3 to 4 shrimp, 6 month replacement policy
  • Small Water Drop 5.5″ tall, contains 3 to 4 shrimp, 6 month replacement policy
  • Medium Sphere 5.25″ diameter, contains 7 to 8 shrimp, 12 month replacement policy
  • Large Pod 7.5″ tall, contains 7 to 8 shrimp, 12 month replacement policy
  • Large Water Drop 7″ tall, contains 7 to 8 shrimp, 12 month replacement policy
  • Large Sphere 6.5″ diameter, contains 12 to 13 shrimp, 12 month replacement policy
  • Extra Large Sphere 9″ diameter, contains 30 to 35 shrimp, 12 month replacement policy
What is a Closed Ecosystem?

Closed ecological systems are ecosystems that do not rely on matter exchange with any part outside the system. Although the Earth itself fits this definition, the term is most often used to describe much smaller manmade ecosystems. Such systems are scientifically interesting and can potentially serve as a life support system during space flights, in space stations or space habitats. In a closed ecological system, any waste products produced by one species must be used by at least one other species.

How were EcoSpheres Invented?

The EcoSphere is the result of technology developed by two scientists, the late Dr. Joe Hansen and the late Dr. Clair Folsome at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. NASA was researching self-contained communities for space explorers to live in during long-term space flights. Out of this research came the EcoSphere. NASA had two programs that benefited from the discovery: Mission to Planet Earth, aimed at studying Earth’s environment, and the Space Program. If NASA could figure out how to sustain life in a closed environment, perhaps they could build space stations that would help in exploring our solar system… and perhaps one day, help us live somewhere other than Earth.

What is in the EcoSphere?

Along with shrimp, there is algae and filtered sea water. The EcoSphere also contains a sea fan (the non-living, branch like material), decorative shells, and lightweight gravel as a part of the working ecosystem. The sea fan and gravel provide surface areas for the algae and microorganisms to grow.

How do EcoSpheres Work?

The EcoSphere is a tiny working model of the Earth. It contains the same essential elements that are found on our planet- air, water, life (algae, microorganisms and shrimp) and land (gravel and sea fan). Life functions in the EcoSphere just as it does on Earth. The shrimp live by consuming the algae and breathing oxygen in the water. If you watch them closely, you will see them feeding on the algae and picking bacteria off the sea fan and lightweight gravel in the EcoSphere. The byproduct of which is shrimp waste and carbon dioxide to be broken down by bacteria and converted into nutrients for the algae. The algae survives by converting the carbon dioxide and light into useable oxygen which the shrimp will then breathe. The shrimp can also eat their own shed exoskeletons. Nothing in the EcoSphere goes to waste. Thus the EcoSphere is a perfect model of a balanced ecosystem where all inhabitants provide for each other to sustain a living environment.

Do the Animals and Plants Reproduce?

Reproduction of shrimp does occur in some EcoSpheres, but this is uncommon. The shrimp that are in the EcoSphere have purposely been chosen because they do not exhibit aggressive behavior towards each other. The algae and bacteria in the EcoSphere continuously reproduce. In fact, as time goes by, you can expect changes in the algae population in your EcoSphere.

Guidelines for EcoSphere Care

As you gaze into your new EcoSphere, please take notice of the amount of green algae. This initial quantity of algae is the innoculant for the system. Algae growth is expected, but it should not grow too quickly. Keep your EcoSphere at a consistent temperature between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (15C-25C). Temperatures above 85 degrees put excess stress on the shrimp, and temperatures below 60 slow down the metabolism of the shrimp. Do not let the temperature fluctuate erratically. Do not place your EcoSphere on televisions, stereo equipment, fireplace mantles, or near heating radiators and vents. The EcoSphere needs indirect light, from either an artificial source or sunlight, for 6-12 hours every day. DO NOT place your EcoSphere in direct sunlight. If you place your EcoSphere in a room where plants flourish, this will be too much light. These systems do very well with low light levels. Light causes the algae to grow rapidly, which will change the chemical balance of the sphere and the shrimp will perish. If the algae begins to grow considerably, lower the light by shading the sphere or putting it in a darker area. If you notice that the algae is greatly reduced, you can increase the light level. Do not shake, drop, or otherwise treat the EcoSphere roughly. Remember it is someone’s home.

Cleaning Your EcoSphere
EcoSphere Handbook

EcoSphere Handbook with outer cleaning magnet

From time to time you may wish to clean any film that may have formed on the inside of the glass. Some of the micro-organisms, which are of nutritional value to the shrimp, are capable of creating a thin film on the inside of the glass. This film is not harmful to the system. To make cleaning your Ecosphere easy, we have installed a magnet on the inside of the unit and supplied another attached to your EcoSphere handbook. To clean the EcoSphere, simply take the handbook magnet and bring it near the gravel at the bottom of the EcoSphere to attract the magnet on the inside of the EcoSphere. Once you have the magnets attracted to each other, proceed to drag the magnets across the surface of the Ecosphere in a light scrubbing motion to remove any excess film on the inside of the Ecosphere. It is not necessary to clean the entire surface at one time. If you lose your outside magnet, any refrigerator magnet will do. You will not harm the unit by moving it as you clean it.

How Long will the EcoSphere Live?

The average life of an EcoSphere is between 2 and 3 years. The life expectancy of these shrimp is known to exceed 5 years, and the oldest EcoSpheres are now over 10 years old and still going strong. While we know that the life expectancy of these shrimp can exceed 5 years, we have no way of knowing how old each shrimp is as it is put in an EcoSphere. All things considered, an EcoSphere may last many years or not depending on the age of the shrimp and the environment in which it is kept.

Why do I See Condensation Inside?

Condensation forms on the inside of the glass periodically. If it is warmer inside the EcoSphere than outside, water will condense on the cooler walls of the EcoSphere. Sometimes, excessive condensation can give the illusion of a change in the water level.

What if One or More of the Shrimp Die?

Since the age of each shrimp is not known, it is not unusual for some of the shrimp in the EcoSphere to perish. If the shrimp die all at once, this is a clear indication that the temperature limits were exceeded. If they die over a period of time, they are probably meeting their normal life expectancy. As long as there is one shrimp alive in the system, it is a functional ecosystem. The pale translucent shrimp-like bodies you may see lying on the bottom now and then are not dead shrimp, but exoskeletons. Shrimp are crustaceans. This means that they have their skeletons on the outside rather than on the inside. As the shrimp grows, it replaces it from time to time. After the old exoskeleton has been shed, the new one expands and hardens. It has been observed that a shrimp may molt once or twice a month in a normal environment. If a shrimp dies, the others will eat it, quickly returning the nutrients back to the system. The bacteria in the EcoSphere will also help decompose it within a day or so.

Replace, Recharge and Upgrade Policy

EcoSphere Replacement Policy

Each EcoSphere comes with a Replacement Policy. The replacement policy period will start from the original issue date of your original EcoSphere. No Replacement Policy exists on Replaced or Recharged EcoSpheres, or EcoSpheres that have been transported to international locations. Should all the shrimp die for any reason during the Replacement Policy period, Ecosphere Associates, Inc. will replace the unit promptly. The Small Sphere, Small Pod, and Small Water drop have a 6 month Replacement Policy. All larger EcoSpheres have a 12 month Replacement Policy. This Policy requires the customer to pay all shipping charges. EcoSphere Associates, Inc. agrees to replace your EcoSphere any time within the replacement policy period should less than one (1) shrimp remain alive. No warranty, implied or otherwise, shall exist on the EcoSphere. No replacement will be made where the glass is cracked or broken, or where the temperature or light limits have been exceeded. Each EcoSphere is housed in a hand-blown glass vessel and variations in clarity, smoothness, size, and shape are to be expected. EcoSphere Associates, Inc. will honor replacement only upon receipt of the unbroken and otherwise undamaged failed EcoSphere system.

EcoSphere Recharge Policy

If your EcoSphere has passed the Replacement Policy period and all the shrimp have perished, you can have your EcoSphere recharged. No Replacement Policy exists on Recharged EcoSpheres. Please return the old EcoSphere to our office along with the Recharge cost. EcoSphere Associates, Inc. will Recharge your EcoSphere only upon receipt of the failed system.

EcoSphere Upgrade Policy

You also have the option to upgrade your EcoSphere to a larger size.

EcoSphere History

EcoSphere Pod

EcoSphere Pod
July 15th, 1982

Joe Hanson of Jet Propulsions Labs in Pasadena holds a workshop for the newly created study of “Closed Ecosystems.” This is where the “EcoSphere” was created. Attending the workshop were several renowned ecologists and biologists who had for many years been running tests with closed biological ecosystems. As a new class of science Closed Ecosystem research created as many questions as it answered. It was Joe Hanson who, at the time was working on the first Space Shuttle program at JPL, realized the potential scientific implications of closed ecosystems to applications for human space exploration.

The history leading up to the development of the EcoSphere dates back to the mid ’60s. In the early ’80s scientists were looking into examples or corollaries where “open,” balanced ecological systems were similar to closed ecosystems. This led to the possibility that these studies where animal and plant life could be used to sustain humans in space exploration.

Pioneered by Clair Folsom of the University of Washington research in the ’60s and then jointly with Joe Hansen of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in the early ’80s, along with other top bio-scientists, it was discovered that diverse colonies of microbes, alga’s, and higher life forms (colonies) could persist apparently indefinitely in closed lab beakers. Hundreds of various closed “EcoSpheres” where made in laboratory flasks by Hanson, Folsom, and others; each became its own ecosystem for further study.

In 1983 Loren Acker, President of Engineering and Research Associates, Inc. (a small Arizona based medical research company and long associate with the U.S. space program was visiting a NASA official and noticed one of the flasks Joe Hansen had created. Interested in the idea, Acker obtained a NASA Spin-Off Technology license for the EcoSphere. Along with a young employee, Daniel Harmony, they developed the first pilot manufacturing facility for EcoSpheres where the public and educators could directly benefit from NASA’s works.

After the overwhelming success of a 1984 marketing campaign the EcoSphere was put into full production. The EcoSphere was marketed throughout the US in high-end national catalogs.

The original EcoSphere has been featured in many TV news articles, magazines, and even included in school textbooks. From kids to Presidents the EcoSphere has been a favorite gift for over 25 years and still being enjoyed today.

Today the EcoSphere is a family run company where Daniel, his wife Michel, and their family successfully operate Ecosphere Associates, Inc. in Tucson AZ. From the startup in a small office complex Ecosphere Associates, Inc. has grown to a highly successful global company with manufacturing partners worldwide.

Initially the handcrafted EcoSphere was produced in only one size. Over the years various other sizes were created and in 1987 even museum sized Exhibition EcoSpheres were added to the line.

Today, still handcrafted, the EcoSphere is offered from a 4 inch sphere up to the Exhibition sized 39 inch 500 liter! So far almost 1 million EcoSpheres have been sold worldwide.

Product Features

  • Hand blown glass
  • No maintenance required
  • Contains live marine shrimp
  • Average life span of 2 to 3 years

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  1. K. Justice says:

    With the right care, and it can last a looong time!

  2. Warn says:

    Aquatic Self Sustainable Ecosystem

  3. ReneeT. says:

    Best office pets! (No care needed)

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