Updated September 16, 2014
If you are a fan of jellyfish, you may be under the impression that the only way to enjoy these creatures is to visit your local zoo aquarium. If this sounds like you, rejoice! New specialized aquariums make it possible for the average aquarium hobbyist to keep jellyfish as pets. Do not assume that keeping a pet jellyfish is as simple as throwing it in a desktop bowl and sprinkling in a bit of food once a day – caring for pet jellyfish can be challenging. If you love and appreciate these beautiful creatures, however, you may find that it is worth the effort. In this article you will learn the basics about keeping jellyfish as pets in the home aquarium.
Facts about Jellyfish
Jellyfish are a type of creature belonging to the phylum Cnidaria – they are described as a non-polyp, free-swimming marine animal. Jellyfish are easily identified by their umbrella-shaped bell at the top of their bodies from which numerous tentacles trail down. You can find jellyfish in every marine environment at a variety of depths – some jellyfish can even inhabit fresh water. These creatures range in size from one millimeter to more than 2 meters. It is hypothesized that the jellyfish is actually the oldest multi-organ animal still in existence, having existed on earth for more than 700 million years.
Some interesting facts about jellyfish include:
- Jellyfish can pulsate their bell to facilitate locomotion in addition to drifting on currents
- These creatures have no specialized respiratory, central nervous, digestive, or circulatory system
- The mouth of a jellyfish opens directly into a gastrovascular cavity where nutrients are absorbed and food digested
- Jellyfish don’t have eyes in the traditional sense, but they have ocelli which are light-sensitive, helping them to distinguish between up and down
- These creatures do not breathe – they absorb oxygen through their skin by means of diffusion
- The lifespan of a jellyfish ranges by species from several hours to several months in the wild
Difficulties in the Home Aquarium
Because there are many species of jellyfish that remain very small, you may be wondering why it has taken so long for them to become popular as aquarium pets. The truth of the matter is that jellyfish typically do not do well when they are confined. These creatures rely on the ocean’s currents to move them from one place to another and that is something that is often lacking in home aquariums. Thanks to the development of new aquariums that mimic the water flow of the ocean, however, it is now possible to keep jellyfish at home. These tanks are circular to prevent jellyfish from getting stuck in corners and to facilitate the flow of water throughout the tank. If you have ever dreamed of keeping pet jellyfish, it may now be as simple as ordering one of these tanks!
Caring for Jellyfish at Home
In order to keep your jellyfish healthy at home, you need to provide an environment that mimics the conditions of the ocean as closely as possible. By purchasing a specialized jellyfish tank, you can rest assured that the water flow in the tank will be ideal for your jellyfish. Traditional aquarium filters will not work because they do not produce the same type of current found in the ocean and your jellyfish are likely to get sucked up into the filter. In addition to proper water flow, you also need to consider salinity, pH, and water temperature. The ideal salinity for your jellyfish tank is between 30 and 34 ppt while the pH and water temperature may vary according to the type of jellyfish you choose to keep.
Before you bring your jellyfish home it is important that you set up the tank and have it ready. If you are ordering your jellyfish online, make sure you order the tank separately from the jellyfish so that the jellyfish do not have to wait while you set up the tank. Most reputable suppliers offer overnight shipping to minimize the stress for your jellyfish. You will also need to purchase special jellyfish food which consists of rotifers, planktonic eggs, brine shrimp, and other foods. You may also be able to culture your own foods at home once you get a feel for how feeding your jellyfish works.
If you are a lover of jellyfish, your days of waiting to keep these beautiful creatures as pets is finally over. With the development of specialized circular aquariums, it is now possible to keep jellyfish as pets in your very own home. With proper care and feeding, pet jellyfish are capable of living for several years. So what are you waiting for – your dream of keeping pet jellyfish can easily become a reality!