Buchanans Fairy Shrimp

Buchanans Fairy Shrimp. Illustration: Christopher Rogers

Scientific name

Branchinella buchananensis

Status in NSW



The Buchanans Fairy Shrimp has a long cylindrical body divided into a head, a thorax with many pairs of limbs and an abdomen. Like all crustaceans, it has two pairs of antennae on the head; however fairy shrimps are distinguished from other crustaceans by the lack of a carapace (hard exterior shell) and their leaflike shaped limbs.

Did you know?

The Buchanans Fairy Shrimp swims upside down!

Species similar in appearance

Brine shrimp.


2-3 cm in length.


They are known only from Lake Buchanan in southwest Queensland, and Gidgee and Burkanoko Lakes in the north-west of NSW (approximately 130 km north-west of Bourke).


Buchanans Fairy Shrimp live in the water of temporary (intermittently inundated) salt lakes, which have salinities between freshwater and seawater. The eggs can remain viable in completely dry lake beds for years or decades. They hatch as soon as conditions are suitable, the adult shrimps appearing soon after the lake fills. Buchanans Fairy Shrimp filter feed on planktonic algae. After a few weeks to months, as the lake dries and the water becomes more saline, they lay dormant eggs that fall to the bottom. The population then disappears and does not re-appear until the lake dries and then refills. The primary habitat for this aquatic species is thus dry for most of the year.

Why is the Buchanans Fairy Shrimp threatened?

  • The distribution of Buchanans Fairy Shrimp is limited to three inland lakes which cover a very small area. They have limited potential to survive local impacts.
  • Development activities such as mining for gypsum or other forms of mineral extraction could cause significant disturbance to the beds and hydrology of the lakes, including changes to the drying/filling cycle.

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