Last week, we received an email from a long-time customer asking what we thought about a brand of frozen baby brine shrimp she came across and how it’s different than our Frozen Jellyfish Food. So, we thought we’d write a blog post about it!
San Francisco Bay Brand makes great frozen food for fish! However, typical frozen brine shrimp is not the perfect meal for jellyfish. Here’s why:
The two foods on the right, “Frozen Brine Shrimp” and “Omega Brine Shrimp,” are adult brine shrimp—not baby. They will be way too big for jellies to ingest and can ultimately cause water quality issues since the jellies won’t be able to fully consume them. Adult brine shrimp are on average 8 mm in total body length, whereas baby brine shrimp (a.k.a. “nauplii”) are less than 0.4 mm — that’s 20x larger! Way too big for the moon jellies in your aquarium.
The food on the left, “Baby Brine Shrimp,” is the most optimal of the three since it’s actually BABY brine shrimp, but here’s why it shouldn’t be the only food you feed your jellies. It is straight baby brine shrimp. It’s not enriched, so there are no additional vitamins or nutrients that jellyfish need to be happy and healthy. They only have the nutritional value of 24 hour hatched nauplii, in which most of the nutrition comes from the egg sac. Moon jellyfish need more than the nauplii to grow and keep a strong, healthy bell shape. Therefore, we don’t recommend using this brand of frozen baby brine shrimp as a sole alternative to our Frozen Jellyfish Food, but it would be fine to use in a pinch!
How is our food different?
We use a specific enrichment formula that provides all of the necessary vitamins and nutrients for jellyfish. We’ve spent many years perfecting this formula and figuring out what jellies absolutely cannot live without in order to grow larger and stronger. We’re confident our Frozen Jellyfish Food is the best jellyfish food available today because it’s the same food we feed our generations of lab-raised jellyfish and it’s still used by many public zoos and aquariums across the country. It’s also one of the cleanest jellyfish foods. By “clean” we mean it does not turn your water cloudy or opaque when fed out. This is essential for jellyfish aquariums because since jellyfish are 96% water, you don’t want to feed anything that will foul your water quality.
Another key aspect to all jellyfish food is buoyancy. Jellyfish food should be neutrally buoyant, allowing it to stay in the water column as long as possible. Our Frozen Jellyfish Food is neutrally buoyant. This allows the jellyfish more time to grab the food and eat more of it before it either sinks to the bottom (negatively buoyant) or floats to the top and out the drain (positively buoyant).
Once a week, you will change 1 gallon of saltwater and the mechanical filter. You will also clean the interior surfaces with a small acrylic cleaning magnet (Time: 15 minutes).
Every other week, you will also exchange one of the three carbon filters (Time: an additional 5 minutes).
Every three months, you will clean out the spray bar holes and the drain screen, along with the pump and check valve (Time: an additional 15 minutes).
The built in wet/dry filter will maintain your chemical & biological filtration and therefore, water quality and clarity on a daily basis. Such a stable environment is exactly what the jellies need to thrive.
In aquariums, jellies will grow according to the superiority of the animals. When keeping several jellies in a closed system, like an aquarium, the strongest jellies will emerge in the first two months and begin to get larger, while the others may grow more slowly or even start to get smaller. It doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong in keeping them, it is simply a normal result of natural selection. Therefore, purchasing jellies that are significantly different in size makes for an uneven playing field when it comes to feeding. The larger animals you purchased will immediately outcompete the smaller ones, even though the smaller ones were originally just as strong.
Jellyfish in captivity, when maintained properly, will have a normal life expectancy of one year from start to finish. That being said, if you have a jelly that is 2” in diameter, it is already about 3 months old, so you will be able to enjoy it for about 9 more months. A jelly that is 3” in diameter is about 4 months old, and you will enjoy it for about 8 months, and so on. One year is one year—from the time of strobilation (the event where a jelly is “born”) to the time that it grows old and dies. So if you received it in January, let’s say, it is already 3 or 4 months old and will only live for another 8 or 9 months until September or October—not until the following January.
We always recommend initially purchasing jellies that are about the same size—within 1″ in diameter of each other. When jellies are more than 1″ apart in size, these competition problems can start to affect the smaller jellies.
If you start to notice a few of your jellies are shrinking, do not overfeed in an attempt to get them growing again. Feeding them more may seem like a solution, but it is not. The strongest animals will still win out over the weaker ones: the only thing you will be doing is compromising your water quality and the overall health of your setup. Please read more on our blog post about feeding and see some good examples of how much to feed. The best thing to do is simply let nature take its course and enjoy your jellies. Even though the strongest ones get bigger, the smaller ones will be just fine and simply exist “as is” in your system and give your tank some size diversity over time.
By now you’re probably well acquainted with the silty material that accumulates at the bottom of your jellyfish tank. It often comes from uneaten jellyfish food, dust, algae or other particulate matter that might find its way into your system. This build up is perfectly normal and not harmful in small amounts, but it doesn’t make for pleasant decor! And you don’t want it to pile up too high, or you could run the risk of affecting your water quality.
The easiest way to deal with unwanted tank crud is to just suck it up! So here we’ll show you how to make a simple, narrow siphon tube specifically for tidying up your jellyfish tank. Most siphon tubes on the market are for gravel vacuuming and have a 2″+ diameter. That is much too big for jellyfish care! You need a narrow siphon tube in order to work slowly around the jellyfish. You can find most of these parts at your local fish store or home improvement store.
What You’ll Need
– 1/4″-3/8″ (outer diameter) rigid plastic tubing (at least 2 feet for 10g EON, 3 feet for 20g 2UBE)
– flexible plastic tubing (at least 4 feet, maybe longer depending on how high off the ground your tank sits) to fit whichever size rigid tubing you find
– electrical tape (any color you like)
Join your rigid tubing to your flexible tubing to make the body of the siphon tube.
Step 2 (optional):
If you’re working with a larger or taller tank, add an extra length of rigid tubing to the end of your siphon using a spare chunk of flexible tubing as a joint.
Wrap a couple inches of electrical tape around the very end of your rigid tubing so you can clearly see the end of the tube when you’re working. You don’t want to suck up your little jelly pals by mistake!
And voila! A siphon tube of your very own. Use it responsibly!
HINT: Once you have the siphon working, you can control the rate at which it removes water from the aquarium by simply pinching the flexible tubing. You can also completely stop the flow of water in the same manner—just pinch or bend the flexible tubing.
If you’ve got one of our beloved EON jellyfish tanks, then you’re probably familiar with the color-changing LED lights we outfitted for you. They help make your little jelly friends easier to see when they don’t have food in their stomachs, and they give you the opportunity to throw yourself a jellyfish disco party. However, like everything else, they can also cause problems when you use them too much.
Problem 1- Algae
If your tank has been set up for more than a week or two, you’ve probably noticed some green or brown algae starting to appear on the walls or floor of your tank. That’s perfectly normal—actually impossible to avoid—but it does need to be scrubbed off before it builds up too much. What’s the point of having pet jellyfish if you can’t even see them through all the algae, right? It can also have harmful effects on the water quality when it gets too thick.
Algae is photosynthetic, like plants, so it needs light to grow and the more light you give it, the more it will grow. You’ll probably notice one of the first places it starts to really build up is just over the light strips on the floor of your tank. So while you can’t stop it from showing up and growing, controlling the amount of time you keep your lights on will keep algae growth somewhat in check.
Problem 2- Your Jellies Themselves!
While jellyfish don’t have brains or eyes, they can perceive the difference between light and dark using small light-sensing organs called rhopalia, which are located around the perimeter of their bells.
As such, like many animals, some of their internal functions are based around daily light cycles. It is important to your jellies’ health that you replicate these light-dark cycles with your tank’s LEDs.
The Solution- A Simple Timer!
Rather than trying to force yourself to remember turn the lights off in your tank every night, you can just buy a timer and set it so your light will go on and off automatically. They’re cheap (many effective models are less than $10) and available online or at pretty much any hardware store. Just plug the timer into your electrical outlet, then plug the lights into your timer, and set it for your desired time.
We recommend 12 hours light, 12 hours dark, but it’s up to you which specific times of day you choose.
Here’s a quick list of things to do or check for once you have your new EON in your hands to ensure your jellies live a happy and healthy life!
Before Adding Jellyfish
Cycle Your Aquarium
We can’t say this enough: cycling is the most important step in setting up a new aquarium and keeping animals healthy. This isn’t a jellyfish-specific task and is required for all new saltwater aquariums. New aquariums need to be “seasoned” with beneficial bacteria that handle the organic waste created from daily feedings. An aquarium can quickly become toxic once animals and food are introduced without cycling it.
The drip tray is the top layer of the filter box that collects drain water and evenly disperses it across the filters. This even dispersment of water is essential to achieve optimal filtration and to keep your EON in a biologically stable state (i.e. properly cycled). If the drip tray is unevenly collecting water and moving it through only a small area of the filters, the rest of the filter box will be dry and beneficial bacteria won’t grow there during cycling. This has now created a weak biological filter because there aren’t as many beneficial bacteria established as possible—meaning, there’s a higher chance of an ammonia spike and the entire aquarium cycling all over again.
To prevent this from happening, make sure your drip tray is pushed all the way towards the drain, flush underneath it. Then watch to see how more evenly it collects water.
Bleed Air From The Spray Bar Lines
When first filling your EON with water, air is going to be stuck throughout the plumbing lines (the clear tubing) and spray bars. After it’s filled and the pump is turned on, you will see some air being pushed out, creating bubbles, but it won’t all exit the lines. So, you have to manually do it using the two green spray bar valves in the sump. “Bleeding the air” refers to repeatedly opening and closing these valves to force the air outward.
When looking into the sump, the furthest valve moves water to the bottom spray bar and the valve closest to you moves it to the top spray bar. Close one valve 100% and open the other 100%. You will see more air coming out of the open spray bar. Then do the opposite to get air moving out of the other valve. Do this repeatedly, back and forth, until there are no more bubbles flying out of the spray bars. This helps ensure that air bubbles won’t exit into the main exhibit area while you have jellyfish in there — PSA: jellyfish + bubbles = no fun!
Double Checking Your Water Quality
Before introducing your first jellyfish, you should double check that the water quality is optimal after cycling has finished. Here’s what we recommend your water quality be for moon jellyfish:
Temperature = 62-78°F
Salinity = 31-33 ppt (1.022-1.024 Specific Gravity)
Ammonia = 0 ppm
Nitrite = 0 ppm
Nitrate = <40 ppm
After Adding Jellyfish
Watch Your Jellyfish
After you’ve acclimated your new jellyfish, watch and observe them for a bit as they move about their new home. They should be belling evenly with their tentacles out and untangled. Check out the video below to see how open and active your jellies should be after proper acclimation.
Fine Tune The Flow
Now that your jellies are in their new home, you need to fine tune the flow rate to accommodate their needs. Your EON will most likely be at 100% open when it’s done cycling, but depending on the quantity and size of your jellies, you may need to turn it slightly up or down to keep them happy.
Your jellies shouldn’t be moving around like a washing machine, but they also shouldn’t be floating in the same spot for too long. You want the flow to gently sweep them from spray bar to spray bar, as you can see in the video above.
If the flow is too low, the jellies won’t be motivated to bell causing irregularities in their body shape and how they eat, ultimately leading to weak and shrinking jellies. This can also lead to other issues like tentacle balls on the jellies and slow filtration, affecting water quality. If the flow is too high, they won’t be able to properly capture food and will also lead to weak and thin jellies.
Keep An Eye On Water Quality
It’s always good practice to keep an eye on ammonia and nitrite for a few days after adding the first jellyfish. Your biological filters are still fresh from cycling, so the newly established beneficial bacteria in those filters can be sensitive — meaning if the introductory bio load (the combination of anything that creates waste: food + animals) is too much from the get-go, the beneficial bacteria can go into shock. The bacteria can no longer handle the ammonia produced from the excess bio load and this causes an ammonia spike.
Feeding your new jellyfish on the lighter side for 1-2 days after cycling can help prevent an ammonia spike. This allows your beneficial bacteria to slowly ease into the new bio load. Once comfortable (when there hasn’t been an ammonia spike for 2-3 days after), then you can bump the feeding up to regular doses.
One question we commonly receive from aspiring jellyfish owners is something along the lines of, “Do I need a circular tank for jellies, or can I just keep them in my reef tank with my other saltwater critters?” There are a couple different elements to consider in that question, but the answer would ultimately be a no to both.
Though it seems that jellies can get along just fine with most saltwater aquarium species, the tanks themselves pose major problems. Reef tanks have numerous features that can seriously harm jellyfish: sand can scratch or get stuck in their bells, aerator bubbles can be trapped in their bells and cause them to float at the surface and prevent them from eating, and sharp corals can snag on jellies them and tear them to pieces. However, even without any treacherous decorations, a normal fish tank is no place to keep most jellies.
Jellyfish are categorized as plankton, which means they cannot swim against a current, and therefore they’ve adapted to simply drift wherever the sea takes them. Though that may sound like an appealing zen philosophy, it doesn’t translate well to life in the static environment of nano reef systems. Without a constant current in their tank, jellies sink to the bottom almost immediately, and nothing good happens from there.
The traditional tank style for jellyfish culturing is the plankton kreisel (above), which provides one source of current flow that is transferred across a circular space to keep planktonic species suspended in the middle. Though it has been the standard of aquaculture for decades, it doesn’t always make for the nicest of displays. That’s why we created the EON Jellyfish System!
Though the EON has a square shape, the flow pattern created by the dual spray bars is circular, and keeps your jellies suspended the same way a kreisel would, with the added bonus of a stylish display that can fit seamlessly into any interior decor scheme. The width of the spray bars is such that your jellies won’t get stuck in the corners, and the hidden valves make it possible to adjust the flow depending on the size and quantity of jellies you’re keeping. It also has a self-contained sump and a highly efficient multi-stage drip filtration system that make it much easier to maintain a healthy and stable aquatic environment without all the bulky external pieces that a kreisel requires.
So the moral of the story is: The tank doesn’t necessarily have to be circular, but to keep your jellies alive there must be a constant circular flow of water in their tank.
By now we all should know that the true key to keeping your jellies happy and healthy is maintaining stability in your tank. Stability is achieved after fully cycling your tank for 4-6 weeks. Once cycled, water changes are a good weekly maintenance practice because pH will gradually decrease and harmful chemicals like phosphates and nitrates can build up naturally over time, even in healthy systems. Beneficial bacteria and carbon filters in your filter box take care of a good portion of keeping your tank stable, but it’s important for you to assist in maintaining the water quality by performing water changes on a weekly basis. Be aware though, changing water is not a fix-all and when done in excess can actually harmful.
You should NEVER change more than 20% of your tank’s water volume at one time… here is why:
The ammonia level will spike after a large water change due to the beneficial bacteria dying off. This can leave you with hurt and shredded jellies. The bacteria die off because they are marine organisms, too, and when you change a large portion of their aquatic environment with that big water change, they get shocked and die. Therefore, no bacteria = ammonia spike = shredded jellies.
We recommend you change only 10% – 20% of your water once a week—no more!
It’s also good to check the parameters of your new water so you are aware of exactly what you are adding to your tank.
The point we’re making here is that water changes, although helpful, can be harmful if done in excess… like most things! 🙂
You may notice your jellies starting to curl up and move their bells in an erratic, clockwise or counter-clockwise rippling fashion instead of a normal pulse. We like to call this symptom “the Jellyfish Jig” and it indicates trouble in your tank.
The cause is linked to nerve damage in your jelly, which can arise is several ways.
-Your tank pH spiked suddenly: If you’re having pH problems in your tank, you have to adjust the chemistry slowly. If you add a ton of buffer or change too much carbon all at once, it may bring your pH up too quickly. Jellies always need to be acclimated to new conditions, even within the same system, so even though your goal is a pH of 8.0-8.2, you don’t want to get it there in a few minutes.
-Your jellies experienced sudden temperature change: If you took your jellies out of your tank for a major cleaning and dumped them right back in, or if you did your weekly change with some water from your refrigerator, that can have serious consequences for your jellies. Again, they require stable conditions to be happy and healthy. Always be mindful of temperature when your jellies are going to experience changes in their water.
-Your jellies’ food is too acidic: If you use shelf-stable jellyfish food, or you allow your frozen or refrigerated food to spoil, it can be highly toxic to your jellies. Live food is always best, frozen enriched food is a close second, but using anything below that in quality poses the risk of poisoning your system.
-Your jellies were stuck to the bottom or side of your tank for too long: If your tank flow is dialed down too low or your jellies are getting too big for their system, you may see them start to get stuck to the walls of their space like a suction cup. When this happens, they can no longer exchange nutrients and gases with their environment, so they will start to degrade. Not to mention, they will continue attempting to bell, which can lead to them pulling out their own oral arms. If you see them stuck to the sides or bottom, gently squirt some water at them with a clean turkey baster from a diagonal position to try and lift them off (be sure not to squirt all the water out because that can create problematic air bubbles). If that won’t work, gently nudge the edge of their bell with the end of the baster or another clean, rounded object.
In most cases, your jellies won’t be able to recover from this condition, but you can at least prevent it from happening to future jellies or any survivors.
Relocating? Need some help figuring out how & when to move the jellyfish?
First, there’s a couple things to keep in mind.
Time is of the essence. As you know, your jellies need a constant current of water, so it’s not good to keep them out of their tank for more than a day. For the same reason, it’s crucial that your tank has access to electricity to keep the pump running, so you can’t leave it in your new place before the utilities are sorted out. This process needs to happen as quickly as possible to ensure the safety of your jellies, so it’s probably a good idea to save the jellyfish tank for the last day of your move.
Your filter media needs to remain submerged and in the dark the entire time. You spent a whole month cycling your tank’s bacteria, but it only takes a couple hours to kill them off again if you let your filter media dry out or expose it to sunlight for too long. Make sure you have something to accommodate your bio balls and carbon filters, for example a large, sealable ziploc bag or watertight tupperware container, and something to keep them shaded, like a drawstring bag or even just a towel to wrap them in.
Once you set the tank up, it’s hard to move. Make sure you already have the location picked out for your tank in the new house so you only have to set it up once. You may want to review this guide to choose the right place for your tank.
And here’s a list of the supplies you’ll need:
Buckets or tubs, one or two big enough to hold the water in your tank, plus another bucket for a few gallons of extra new saltwater
2-3 gallons of newly mixed/purchased saltwater to add to your system while you’re setting it back up
Large trash bags to line the bucket(s)
Zip ties to cinch the trash bags closed so the water doesn’t spill
Large ziploc bag or tupperware to store your bio filter media
Towels to keep you from ruining your new or old floors
Small cup for transferring jellies in and out of your tank
Level to make sure your tank is level in your new home
Alright, you’ve gathered your supplies, now you’re ready for the breakdown.
Step 1: Prepare the jellyfish transition container. Line a bucket or plastic tub with a trash bag, and begin to fill the bag with a few gallons of water from your tank.
Step 2: Transfer your jellies out of the tank. Unplug your tank, and gently move the jellies from your tank to your bucket using a small cup.
Step 3: Take the filter media out of the tank. Take the bio balls and carbon filters (and micron pad if you have one) out of your filter box and place them in a large ziploc bag or tupperware container. Fill the container with tank water and seal it for transportation, then wrap it in a towel or put it in a drawstring bag to keep it out of the sunlight.
Step 4: Get the rest of the water out of your tank. Fill the jellyfish bucket the rest of the way up with water, then fill another bag-lined bucket with the remaining water until your tank is empty. Now cinch your bags closed with zip ties, making sure to get ALL the air out of the bags. This way they don’t slosh around or spill in your vehicle, and your jellies won’t be harmed by air bubbles.
Step 5: Dry the inside of your tank. Give the interior a good wipe down with a towel to make sure it won’t get the inside of your vehicle wet. You may want to leave a towel in the display area and a towel in the sump just to soak up any extra water on the drive.
Step 6: Pack it up. Keep the drip tray, soffet, and lid separate from the tank so they don’t rattle around and scratch the acrylic. You may want to wrap the tank in a moving blanket to prevent scratching or other damage.
Now you’re at the new place, so it’s time to set it all back up.
Step 1: Place your tank in its new spot. Make sure it’s level before you add water, but keep in mind it may shift with the added weight of the water. If it’s not level, wedge a shim underneath it in the right places until it is. Keeping your tank level is essential.
Step 2: Add water and filter media to the tank. Take the water out of your no-jelly bucket and put it back in the tank, then keep filling it as close to the top as you can while keeping at least a couple gallons of water in the jelly bucket. Add your filter media back to the filter box, preferably using a clean mechanical filter to catch any gunk that may come out of your spray bars when you turn the pump on. Now fill the remainder of the tank with the few gallons of new saltwater you brought, keeping an eye on the sump level so as not to cause an overflow.
Step 3: Turn the pump on and wait. Now your tank is ready to be up and running again, so plug the pump back in and let the water cycle through for at least an hour before you add your jellies back. There will probably be some loose gunk from the plumbing or the biological filters floating in the system, which you can simply allow the mechanical filters to catch over time, or remove yourself with a turkey baster.
Step 4: “Burp” the air out of your tubing. As you add water back, air bubbles will start to form in your tubing and in your spray bars, which can harm your jellies if they make their way into the display area of your tank later. Give your tubing a gentle shake to loosen some bubbles, then give it a gentle squeeze to help push the bubbles out. Now move your finger under the top spray bar and push the bubbles out from underneath, and repeat the process until they’re gone.
Step 4: Acclimate your jellies. Even though your tank has mostly the same water as before, the new salt water you added may create a slight change in water temperature and/or chemistry that could potentially harm your jellies if you just dump them straight in. So just to be safe, perform 3-4 small water changes [roughly a cup (8oz)] over the course of half an hour once the water in your tank starts to clear up. Then you can gently add them back to your tank one by one with the cup you used earlier.
Step 5: Welcome your jellies to their new home! Sharing cake and balloons with loved ones is encouraged, but not necessary.