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self-contained ecosystem

        I few years back, I went to a local amusement park (Sea World) and saw a
neat little ecosystem they have inside a little glass sphere for sale. They had
a few red salt water shrimps,  some gravel and a small piece of coral complete
sealed inside a glass sphere. Curious, I asked the lady standing next to this
display / sales desk a few questions. She said that these shrimps live by eating
the algae that grows inside the sphere, and, in turn, the algae grows on the
waste. Light is provided by normal room florescent. She also says that the
shrimps live from 5-10 years and by the time they die, they will have already
had many baby shrimps to replace them. I figured that the shrimp population in
this sphere is checked by the amount of food they have, which is dependent on
the amount of light. I still need more studies in chemistry and biology to
figure out the cycle of various nutrients such as carbon dioxide, nitrite,
potassium, so on and so forth. I question is, if a system can be worked out from
such a simple setup where there are only a 3-4 influential factors. I wonder if
it would work out as well as the lady advertised. If it does, I wouldn't mind
paying the $40 or so for it, because you only have to pay it once.
        But, as of now, I have come up with a challenge for myself. I would like
to create something similar to this. Probably use ghost shrimps, ricca, java
moss, small piece of drift wood, some aquarium gravel, and some aquarium water.
Maybe someone has tried this and can give me some pointers. Or maybe someone
would take up this challenge and we can correspond on our successes and failure
and learn together. Take care y'all!