Self Sustaining Ecosphere

Brand: EcoSphere
Manufacturer: Ecosphere Associates Inc.
Model: SS-504
EAN: 0833985005049
Category: #24516 in Misc. (Aquariums)
Price: $78.34  (127 customer reviews)
Dimension: 3.50 x 4.00 x 4.00 inches
Shipping Wt: 2.00 pounds. FREE Shipping (Details)
Availability: In Stock.
Average Rating: 3.8 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Small Sphere EcoSphere (4" diameter). 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.


  • No maintenance aquarium, a complete miniature world
  • World's first totally enclosed ecosystem utilizing NASA technology
  • Unique gift item, perfect blend of science and art

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Top Reviews

Donner Party: Shrimp Edition
by MJB (2 out of 5 stars)
February 25, 2018

My sphere came with 4 inhabitants: Kabob, Creole, Gumbo and one who died so early on that I can't even remember what we named it.

After the first one died, a month or so after purchase, the others took to eating what was left of him pretty instantaneously. And then there were three.

Around October another of the shrimp died. The remaining shrimp feasted on the carcass, I mean truly there was nothing left after a few days. And then there were two.

Last week I had to break it to my husband that we'd lost another one. Curiously, this little fella's remains stayed intact, so I can only assume that the last shrimp was a vegetarian.

Sadly, when I checked the sphere this morning, I found that my little herbivore friend has perished too. And then there were none.

This seemed like a cool concept, but in retrospect I wish I'd not purchased this in the first place. Maybe if the shrimp had stayed healthy and any of them had lasted for more than 8 months I might feel differently, but I really cannot recommend this product to anyone.

June 2017-February 2018. RIP Shrimps.
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Make Your Own Stand For FREE!
by Amazon Customer (5 out of 5 stars)
April 28, 2016

Fast shipping, cool product, IF YOUR HANDSY YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN STAND FOR FREE! I used the styrofoam it came with and carved out the size I wanted and used some paint I had laying around to make it look like a beautiful rock base.

UPDATE: 6/5/2019 - Have had this on my desk at work for 3 years now and still have 1 little guy kicking.
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Not too bad! I will say after reading some of your ...
by Golden Fawna (5 out of 5 stars)
May 9, 2018

I purchased this item (medium sphere) in November of 2015 as a Christmas gift for my mother. When I gave it to her a month and a half later (I took it out of the box during this time, don't worry!) I made sure to give her all the instructions so that she could care for these little guys without any issues. It has been almost three years and she has only lost one shrimp! She started off with 7. Not too bad! I will say after reading some of your reviews and seeing the photos I can clearly see why some people left bad reviews from their photos alone. If there is a bunch of green algae in your sphere it is getting TOO MUCH LIGHT! Move it away from the light source. This will throw the eco system off balance and your shrimp will die, which seems to be the common denominator in most of the poor reviews. Ideally you shouldn't really see much green algae if your sphere is healthy. My mother followed the instructions and her sphere is still sparkling and beautiful with 6 out of 7 shrimps still kicking after 3 years. My grandmother was gifted one the same Christmas and hers all died in a couple months because she put them too close to a window. Just follow the instructions and you'll love this beautiful little work of art for many years.
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by Adam Hamilton (1 out of 5 stars)
July 30, 2017

I have one shrimp going strong after 6 years, the others died in just under 2 years. It is an interesting idea BUT read what CEM16 and other's have to say about the shrimp trapped in their tiny EcoSphere prison. Now I just look at and feel depressed.
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Think Carefully Before You Buy
by Claire (1 out of 5 stars)
June 9, 2018

I've been waiting to post this review until I had a good idea of how my EcoSphere experience would go. Suffice to say, it has turned out to be extremely disappointing. I should start by saying that I am not an amateur. I have a degree in biology and have successfully raised many aquatic creatures, big and small. I understand that there is some contention about whether the lives of these shrimp are happy, or, as one reviewer put it, a "gulag" experience. I have to say I fall somewhere in between these two views. Yes, it is true, these shrimp are small, and to many people insignificant, and would probably end up as fish food if they didn't end up in your EcoSphere. But they are also living, breathing things, that should have the freedom to seek a better environment if required. Instead, they are trapped in a bubble, and forced to succumb to the whims of their EcoSphere owner. In 99% of cases these whims are full of good intentions. But in such a small environment, heat, cold, PH and so many other factors are impossible to control to satisfaction. To reiterate again, I have years of experience at keeping little aquatic critters like these shrimp alive, and yet I am three months in and two of them have died already. So, I ask you, the potential buyer, would you rather have a pet you care about, put time and energy into, and love properly, or a pet that requires minimal input but dies easily? Perhaps you are the latter, and that is okay, but consider-would you rather have your shrimp be a part of the natural food chain, or roast, freeze or suffocate to death because you couldn't find that perfect, medium spot for them to enjoy. And trust me, no matter how attentive you are, no matter how long your shrimp live, you will feel responsible in the end and you should know that you did not give them the opportunity to live a long life, or die quickly, that they would have had in the wild. I know it's morbid, I know this review is pretty awful, but I just can't condone this kind of business, and I feel truly, truly guilty for supporting it, in any small way. I'm not telling you not to buy this product, but I'm warning you, so you can make an educated decision, and decide if you want to take on the burden of responsibility that I now feel.
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Equilibrium is off, despite following instructions
by B B (1 out of 5 stars)
September 26, 2018

Having only had the sphere for a couple months, half of the shrimp creatures have died.

We followed the instructions, but the sphere had come with 4 and now there are 2. There is too much poop and algae and not enough energy/creatures to process it. We have the sphere climate controlled so it doesn't get too hot/cold, it sees regular light and little outside motion. It's really unfortunate and having now read the reviews, I wouldn't recommend you support this business.
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Do Your Research. (Just because something works for a little while...)
by CEM16 (1 out of 5 stars)
March 23, 2017

They started off happy and active, but slowly started to get pale and lethargic. Have since released the shrimp into a larger tank. All 4 shrimp have survived.

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.
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It's kind of sad to look at these days
by B (3 out of 5 stars)
June 19, 2017

Bought this about a year ago. Only one shrimp is still alive and he has to live with the bodies of the other two. Have kept it in an office with indirect natural sunlight and overhead office light. It's kind of sad to look at these days, to be honest.
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Aquatic Self Sustainable Ecosystem
by Warn (5 out of 5 stars)
July 18, 2015

10/10 +Shipping.

All shrimp made the journey out alive. The glass sphere made the journey all the way from Tucson, Arizona to Illinois in pristine condition.
10/10 +Coolness

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.
7/10 +Price

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 :(
10/10 +Maintenance

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
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Best Gift Ever
by Heather F. (5 out of 5 stars)
January 3, 2017

My Ecosphere arrived quickly and well packaged to prevent damage. I have the small round one, which is roughly the size of a magic 8 ball. There are 4 shrimp varying in size, rocks and a branch within the Ecosphere. I brought mine to work and I love it. The little guys swim around and hang on the branch all day...very entertaining. This product is awesome and I highly recommend it. This is a great gift for coworkers and teachers.

Only issue is that 2 people tried to pick it up because they thought it was a snowglobe. Luckily I caught them before they tried to shake it. I now have a sign in front of it that clearly states "LIVE ANIMALS DO NOT TOUCH"

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