The information below comes from the EcoSphere web site.
The EcoSphere (built by Ecosphere & Associates) is a complete miniature world. It is self-contained, self-renewing and biologically balanced. It resembles the earth itself and the space colonies that mankind will soon inhabit. It is, in effect, a model of the Earth's own ecosystem when provided by an outside energy source, light.
Within the glass globe are micro-organisms, bright red shrimp, algae, and snails, all in a clear "soup" of filtered sea water - a closed ecosystem in which plant and animal life are mutually sustaining. The shrimp and snails (the animals) are the only animals known to live in these tiny worlds. They are masters of utilizing their resources, without overpopulating, or contaminating their environment.
The EcoSphere is permanently sealed. It requires no feeding, cleaning, or care.
Putting an EcoSphere under fluorescent or indirect light is all that is needed. The living organisms then convert light into other forms of energy. The natural daily cycle of light and darkness provides all the energy necessary for the system to sustain and renew itself.
The algae bask in the light and produce oxygen as they grow. Light together with carbon dioxide in the water, enable the algae to produce the oxygen by photosynthesis. The shrimp and the snails breathe the oxygen while nibbling on the algae and bacteria. The bacteria break down the shrimp waste into nutrients, which the algae utilize. The algae and microorganisms are constantly growing, dying and being eaten by the animals. The shrimp, snails, and bacteria also give off carbon dioxide, which the algae, again, use to produce oxygen. And so the cycle renews itself.
The life expectancy of the shrimp is known to exceed five years, and in many spheres, shrimp are still thriving after 7 years.
A true example of space-age science, the first EcoSphere was developed by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. NASA was researching self-contained communities for space explorers to live in during long-term flight. A scientist developed a balanced system capable of sustaining plant and animal life. This was the first step, to design and build small working models of sealed, ecologically perfect communities: EcoSpheres.
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