Smithsonian Prehistoric Sea Monsters Kit Review – Part 1

Smithsonian Prehistoric Sea Monsters Kit Review – Part 1

Cost – 12.99
Species – Unknown, I’m guessing T. longicaudatus
Amazon reviews – 2 stars out of 5 (Mostly having to do with poor instructions, especially when it comes to temperature)


I bought the “Smithsonian Prehistoric Sea Monsters” triops kit at Micheals (a craft store) for $12.99 or so. I have not seen it in any other stores around here, but you can buy it on amazon. Micheals usually has a 40% off coupon, either after you buy something you get a coupon you can use next week, or try going to then click on see all coupons. You can find these kits in the “science” section, next to exploding volcanos, rock crystal candy kits, that kind of thing.

With the coupon that brings the cost down to 8 bucks or so. So what do you get?


You get a small plastic tank, a bag of triops / detritus, food, a bag of white sand, a huge instruction poster with a triops photo and fact sheet on the back, and a dinosaur poster that goes behind the tank. The dinosaur poster is pretty cool if you are 10 years old, which I’m guessing is the average age this kit is aimed at. Although personally I think more adults are intersted in triops then kids.

My first thought was that the tank is way too small to raise triops in, unless you really JUST LOVE doing water changes every 10 hours. I had a tank twice that size with six 2-week old triops and that water got foul on a daily basis. I have also read that with smaller tanks your triops don’t live as long. BUT we shall test it out and see how it goes!

The bag of sand is just enough to put a small layer on the bottom of the container. I’m not sure exactly how many triops eggs you get, I’ll try hatching 1/3 of them first just to see how they do.


They look nice…

The instructions are broken up into three sections – assembly, preparing your triops for hatching, and caring for your triops.

To assemble it says to rinse out the tank with distilled or filtered water, put the sand in the tank, tape the dino poster to the back, and fill the tank with distilled or filtered room temperature water.

I’ve covered this more in the water FAQ, but I think it’s funny how two different commercial kits reccomend different types of water even though I’m pretty sure they are the same species of triops.

Preparing your triops for hatching just says to put half the bag of triops / nutrients in the water. This is a note at the bottom about temperature which basically says the water has to be at least 72f but no more then 86f and that the triops need light. It says if you live in a warm climate to put them by a window, and if it’s cold to put them under a desk lamp.

Funny how they don’t include even a cheapo stick on thermometer, these kits are aimed at young kids but how are they supposed to guess what their water temp is? Especially since it’s so important for hatching.

You can buy a water thermometer at walmart or a petstore for 1-2 dollars. I have a feeling a lot of people going by the “put it in a window or under a lamp” instructions aren’t going to get any triops unless they can actually monitor their temperature…any from reading amazon reviews that looks like what happens. I know in my house if I just put them under a lamp at night the water will drop below 72f unless I put the lamp in really close at night and then pull it back in the afternoon.

The number one complaint on amazon about these kits is the instructions are too vauge. I agree completely, and yes I’m going to say it again, WHY DON’T THEY GIVE YOU A TEMPERATURE STRIP?

The last part of the instructions is about feeding. No where does it say to transfer the triops to a larger tank later on…but I’m going to reserve judgement and try it out and see how it goes. I’ll set everything up, and in part 2 let’s see if they hatch.

Replacement policy if your eggs don’t hatch

Unlike most ebay sellers and another kit I know of, the Smithsonian Prehistoric Sea Monsters kit does NOT have a replacement policy if your eggs don’t hatch.

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