What Do Jellyfish Eat?

Published: 17th August 2010
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Jellyfish are structurally simple invertebrates, with no specialized system for processes such as circulation or digestion. Therefore, the process of consuming food must be relatively simple. Jellyfish have a small digestive cavity that contains their gullet, stomach, and intestine. Jellyfish use their tentacles to catch prey, and they take in food from one end of the cavity and expel waste from the other. But what do jellyfish eat, exactly?

Jellyfish are carnivorous creatures and feed on whatever they can catch with their tentacles in the ocean. For the most part, jellyfish in the wild feed on plankton, which is made up of thousands of microscopic species of swimming animals. Some species of jellyfish, such as the Upside Down Jelly, host symbiotic algae within their oral arms. This algae provides extra nutrition to the jellyfish by producing organic material through photosynthesis. Many species of jellyfish feed on other species of jellyfish. For example, the sea nettles feed on Moon Jellyfish.

In captivity, jellyfish are fed frozen food specially formulated for jellyfish. Jellyfish can also be fed live food, although this is very time consuming and messy. Public aquariums have a full time staff, so they often hatch their own Artemia (brine shrimp) to feed to jellyfish. Freeze-dried Artemia eggs can be hatched by bubbling them in salt water for 24 hours. The larvae must be separated from the cysts (egg shells) before feeding them to the jellyfish. Sometimes this food is enriched with vitamin. Depending on the species of jellyfish, sometimes public aquariums feed the jellyfish rotifers, blended krill, chopped fish, and other foods. Public aquariums rely on these time-consuming foods because they often keep exotic species, breed jellyfish and run experiments. However, hobbyists can use the frozen jellyfish food for their needs.

Jellyfish need to be fed the proper amount of high-quality food in order to ensure that they stay healthy. Be sure to follow the proper instructions when feeding your jellyfish! Here are some tips regarding how to feed your jellyfish:

Jellyfish should be fed once a day, although they can last a weekend without food. If you can feed them twice a day or more, the jellies will be even more active. If you have to skip feeding for a day or two, be sure to feed the jellies a little extra both before and after.

1. Dissolve the chunk of food in a dish of tank water. Instead of breaking off a small chunk, you can stir one end of a large chunk in the dish. That end will defrost into the dish.

2. Squirt the mixture directly at the underside of each jellyfish. You will see them trap the food in their tentacles.

3. Over the next half hour, you can watch the jellyfish move the food towards their stomach in the center of their bell. After a few hours, you will see food fill the radial canals, which branch out from the center to the edges of the bell.


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