Jelly Fact Check: Don’t Use Your Hands to Move Jellyfish

There are various sources around the internet advising fellow jellykeepers that it’s okay to use their hands to remove jellyfish from their tanks… Please don’t do this. Use a ladle or small plastic cup.


Jellyfish must be completely submerged in water at all times. No matter what.


You shouldn’t do this for a couple of reasons:

  1. When scooping jellyfish out of water with your hands, you can’t stop the water from escaping through your fingers. This leaves your jellyfish completely exposed to air. Exposing jellyfish to air will allow air bubbles to become trapped inside their mouths and stomachs. Yes, moon jellyfish are considered “hardier” than most jellyfish species, but air bubbles are trouble to all jellyfish. Yes, you can surely burp these bubbles out of them, but again, this causes more trouble to your jellyfish doing this over and over. If a bubble travels too far into a jellyfish’s stomach, it can cause them to float towards the top and will eventually make it’s way out even if it means breaking through the jelly’s bell.
  2. You will also cause damage to their body shape immediately. Since jellyfish are 96% water and have no bones or internal structure, they rely on the water around them to support their body. Once they are taken out of water, their mesoglea (a.k.a. the “jelly” to jellyfish) becomes heavy water weight with gravity pulling their bodies down. This will cause small tears and rips internally to their nerves and tissue while also be detrimental to their bell shape.
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Simple depiction of how the forces of water support a jellyfish’s body shape.

When moving jellyfish from out of your tank or from one body of water to another, please always use a ladle, cup, or bowl to keep your jellies submerged under water the entire time. Although their sting is not strong enough to penetrate through human skin, it’s simply not wise to use your hands as a transportation device and to take any marine animal out of the water.

There are a number of different sized ladles and cups available online today, so finding one to perfectly fit the opening of your tank or the size of your jellies should be easy!

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TIP: We recommend the use of small 6-8 oz yogurt cups. We have a small collection that we use here in the lab and find them very helpful for small situations!

Watch our video below to see how you can move your jellies (while keeping them fully submerged) using a ladle or a small cup/bowl.

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