Technically called “eversion,” it’s defined as the process of turning inside-out. In jellyfish, eversion is when the outer perimeter of the bell has flipped up and over the top of the bell, creating a saucer or cup-like body shape. The oral arms of the jellyfish also hang down and are not tucked up under the bell, as per a healthy jellyfish.
[Note: “eversion” is when the bell is flipped inward; “inversion” is when the bell is flipped outward. “Inversion” is commonly used instead to describe this process in jellyfish.]
Here are things that can cause jellyfish bell eversion:
Malnutrition leads to thin and weak jellyfish that are prone to flip
Flow rate is too high causing the jellyfish to spin like socks in a dryer
This prevents jellyfish from belling or swimming naturally, which means they also are not eating properly, ultimately leading to malnutrition
Flow rate is too low and the jellyfish are unable to bell properly due to the lack of “support” they get from the water movement
Belling problems always lead to eating problems—if they can’t bell properly, they can’t eat well, causing malnutrition (again) and creating thin, everted jellyfish
Physical damage that occurs when a jellyfish becomes stuck to the bottom or side of the tank for over an hour, damaging their bell
Luckily, these are all fixable issues!
Happy and healthy jellyfish should have rounded bells
Here’s how you can prevent eversion from happening:
Feed only nutritious, neutrally-buoyant foods on a daily basis to maintain proper cell growth and function
Adjust the flow rate just enough to keep the jellies off the bottom of the tank, but not so much that they are being propelled around the tank.
When trying to find the perfect flow, adjust your flow control valves and wait 20 mins between each adjustment to watch for a difference
Want to see an example of what proper flow looks like? Check out a few of our jellyfish aquarium videos on YouTube.
Maintain the proper flow rate and the jellies will not have the opportunity to get stuck for long periods of time
Read more about the physical differences between HAPPY (healthy) and SAD (unhealthy) moon jellyfish on our Jellyfish Troubleshooting page.
***At this time, we are suspending the “program” part of our Fish-less Cycling Program due to reduced staff availability. Signups will not be accepted until further notice. If you are setting up a new jellyfish aquarium, we still strongly recommend you still cycle it using the fish-less method before introducing your first jellyfish.***
Thanks for your interest in our Fish-less Cycling Program! This program was set up back in 2016 for two reasons: 1) to help new jellyfish owners have a successful start with their new aquariums, and 2) clear up misinformation floating around the internet about the cycling process and how long it takes to successfully cycle a new aquarium. Cycling a new aquarium takes time, patience, and attention to detail but it ensures your new aquarium is biologically stable and habitable for any saltwater animal; this is not jellyfish-specific issue! This blog post provides the essential information you need to know about what cycling is and how to cycle your new aquarium. At the bottom of this post (after you’ve read every bit of information and become a cycling expert, of course!), you’ll find the sign up form to participate in our Fish-less Cycling Program.
A “fish-less cycle” is the best and safest way to cycle an aquarium, as it doesn’t harm any fish or jellyfish. The goal of cycling a new tank is to establish a healthy and strong colony of beneficial bacteria in the filters to take care of waste that is created by feeding the animals (in this case, jellyfish!). The process of cycling a new aquarium is often overlooked and can create problem right from the get-go. New jellyfish owners who do not allow their tank to completely cycle before adding their first jellyfish sadly end up with unhealthy & deformed jellyfish and become confused about why they are not well. Since jellyfish are 96% water, they rely heavily on water chemistry (a.k.a. water quality) and therefore, need a biologically stable and “chemically clean” environment in order to thrive.
Cycling takes no less than 4 weeks. There is misinformation going around the Internet about how long cycling takes. Some websites claim “it only takes 10-14 days” or “two weeks.” This is wrong. The nitrogen cycle is straight forward biology and you can’t speed up biology. Even with the use of “bio-starters,” you must still cycle the aquarium and it will still take 4 weeks minimum.
Now, let’s get to what it actually means to cycle your new aquarium!
Cycling is turning a static, non-living environment (i.e. brand new tank/filters) into a biologically stable environment that’s safe for live animals.
What do we mean when we keep saying, “biologically stable environment”? Well, the filters (i.e. bioballs, rock media, etc.) of an aquarium need to have strong, healthy colonies of beneficial bacteria established within them. Beneficial bacteria = good bacteria! They take care of the waste created from daily feedings. Cycling allows these bacteria to establish themselves by multiplying and creating large colonies able to handle the waste created within your aquarium by the fish and the food being fed daily.
The Nitrogen Cycle: This is a three-step process converting ammonia (NH₃) into nitrite (NO₂) and finally into nitrate (NO₃)– all done through the bacteria. The “cycling process” is essentially the “nitrogen cycle”! All three of these compounds will be present at some point during cycling and since ammonia and nitrite are toxic to all saltwater animals (not just jellyfish), this is why cycling should be done “fish-less” and before introducing the first animals. Nitrate is a by-product of the nitrogen cycle that will always be present in your aquarium and is not toxic to moon jellyfish under 100 ppm; so, no need to worry about nitrate while cycling! It is always maintained through weekly water changes once cycling is done.
Fish-less cycling involves placing a nickel-sized (approx. ¾” x ¾”) piece of raw shrimp (add one nickel-sized shrimp piece for every 10g of water volume your aquarium can hold) into the filter box or compartment of your aquarium. The raw shrimp will begin to decompose and create ammonia to start the cycling process. At the same time, a starter bacteria culture is added to begin the colonization in the filters. After about two weeks, the ammonia level will rise to a peak (also known as “spiking”) and then start to decrease to zero. Once the ammonia is finished spiking, the nitrite level will begin to rise. After another two weeks, the ammonia will return to zero and the nitrite won’t be far behind. Once the ammonia and nitrite levels both return to zero, the aquarium is cycled!
Thermometer and hydrometer or refractometer – to test for temperature and salinity
Fish-less Cycling Program Guidelines – this is your weekly guide to see what the *expected* week-by-week changes in water quality (also a.k.a. the nitrogen cycle) for your tank [download the PDF below]
Let’s start cycling!
Once your new aquarium is set up and running with new saltwater (salinity should be 1.022-1.024 Specific Gravity or 31-33ppt), add the bacteria source and two nickel-sized pieces of shrimp at the same time.
Take your baseline water quality readings – this includes temperature, salinity, pH, ammonia, and nitrite.
Test for pH, ammonia, and nitrite every week to keep track of the fluctuations in levels that indicate where you are in the cycle. Record these on the PDF guideline water quality sheet (download below).
Once both ammonia and nitrite have returned to zero after subsequent spikes, your aquarium is ready for jellyfish! (Keep the piece of shrimp in your aquarium until the jellyfish arrive. It will continue to feed the newly established beneficial bacteria until you begin a daily feeding routine with jellyfish).
DO read this entire blog post and the Fish-less Cycling ProgramGuidelines to fully understand the cycling process and how to cycle your new jellyfish aquarium
DON’T skip any part of this blog as it contains all of the essential information you need to know about cycling!
DO use new saltwater with the following baseline water quality parameters:
Temperature = 65-78°F
Salinity = 31-33 ppt or 1.023-24 SG
pH = 8.0-8.1
DON’T add any buffers, conditioners, or additives to your aquarium water before or during the cycle – these can throw off the water quality and disrupt or inhibit the cycle from starting
DO use Instant Ocean Sea Salt mix for your saltwater as it has no buffers, conditioners, or additives [Purchase from Amazon here]
DON’T use any salt mix labeled as “reef salt,” “pH balanced,” “probiotic,” or “enriched” as these tends to have extra minerals, vitamins, and higher levels of pH specific for corals, anemones, etc. in reef tanks
DO make sure your pump is plugged in, turned on, and working properly
DON’T keep your tank near windows and/or in direct sunlight to keep algal growth at a minimum
DO use freshwater labeled only as “Distilled Water”
DON’T use freshwater jugs labeled “Spring Water,” “Purified Water,” or anything else to mix your saltwater or for topping off
DO add distilled/RO water to compensate for evaporation (evaporation causes salinity to rise; adding freshwater helps to bring it back down)
Evaporation is noticeable when the water level is lower than where it started
DON’T add distilled/RO water near the filters – this can completely wipe out your growing bacteria colonies
Only add freshwater to the main viewing area
DO record your weekly test vial readings via pictures with the color chart
DON’T use test strips as they often give unreliable readings
DO start the cycling process with a newly setup aquarium.
If your aquarium has been running with saltwater & the bio starter bacteria for longer than a week, you will need to dump the water and start over with all new saltwater & new bacteria.
DON’T perform any water or filter changes during cycling – this can disturb the growing bacteria and disrupt the cycle
DO keep an eye on the piece of shrimp in your tank – sometimes it can completely disintegrate before the cycle is over and will need to be replaced to keep the ammonia production up
DON’T freak out if your cycle isn’t exactly on track – every cycle is different and sometimes an aquarium needs an extra week to catch up
DON’T add a bubbler if you own a Cubic Orbit 20 jellyfish aquarium before or during the cycle – aeration can inhibit the cycle from starting
Things that can delay or disrupt the cycling process
Starting with a pH higher than 8.2 can inhibit the cycling process from starting by disturbing the bacteria. The pH of an aquarium will naturally drop during the cycle – which is normal! – and needs to be left alone to do its thing until the cycle is done.
Starting with salinity too high or too low can also inhibit the cycling process from starting by disturbing the bacteria. The optimal salinity range for moon jellyfish is 31-33 ppt or 1.023-24 SG, which is perfect for cycling.
Float the bagged jellies in your jellyfish tank until the temperature inside the bag matches your jellyfish tank water. This will take about 15-20 minutes, more or less. Rotate and turn the bag occasionally to keep the jellies stimulated and belling. This helps mix the water inside the bag and expedite the process.
Take the temperature of the bagged water and compare it with that of your tank water. They should match before moving on to the next step.
Water Chemistry Acclimation
Once the temperature has equalized between the bagged jellies and the tank water, you can begin to conduct small water changes inside the bag. This is called water chemistry acclimation.
Exchange water between the bag and your tank water. Open the bag and pour out (or scoop out using a small plastic cup) about 20% of the water in the bag. Then gently allow about 20% of your tank water into the bag, secure with the rubber band and allow it to float once again. You can leave some air in the bag as you band it up so it floats well. Still rotate and turn the bag to gently stimulate the jellies to bell and therefore move the newly introduced saltwater through their system. They must be actively moving the water through their system in order to properly acclimate and they need you to help them do it. Gently spin, turn & rotate the bag with each water change.
You will do 4 or 5 of these small water changes over an hour. Pour a little water out of the bag and then introduce a little water back into the bag—you are slowly and gently getting your jellies comfortable with their new watery environment. Do not rush this step. It is crucial to your jellies survival and development. Please complete it within 1-2 hours total time from temperature acclimation until introducing them into your tank. (i.e. don’t spend all day getting them acclimated… they do need to get out of the bag in a timely fashion).
Releasing the Jellies into your Tank
• Now that you have properly acclimated the jellies, you should see nice and even belling inside the bag. Now you can release them into the tank.
Do you love keeping fish and would also like to keep jellyfish? What to do?!
You can keep them both in our Eon Jellyfish System because we have a fully-functional wet/dry filter on the back of the tank! Once your system is cycled, you can safely add fish. They also love feeding on the jellyfish food …
We have been testing our Eon 2ube Jellyfish System with 3 Pajama Cardinal fish and a pair of Clownfish. Also hanging out in the tank are 15 moon jellies about 2″-3″ diameter.
Please note, this system is fully cycled and has a heater in it to maintain a constant temperature of 72-75ºF for these tropical fish.
Everyone has been getting along and thriving for the past six weeks and only being fed our jellyfish food. Next, we will add a sea anemone specifically for the clownfish, and see how that goes!
More to be revealed soon! But we are super excited to have a co-habitation situation happening between the fish and the jellyfish! The clownfish are extremely interactive with us and seem very happy. The pajama cardinals are super relaxed and love the jellyfish food!
There have been situations where folks started cycling their tanks and then the cycling process was interrupted for some reason. Perhaps you interrupted the cycle due to premature cleaning of the tank and/or changing of some filters or water? Or, you went out of town for a few days and the tank wasn’t receiving any food and therefore the beneficial bacteria starved and left you with a zero population? Whatever the reason, you now got back on track and finished cycling the tank. Yay! Now you finally have a zero reading for ammonia and nitrite! Great! So, you order some new jellyfish and they go bad after a few days? What is going on? You did what you were supposed to and cycled your tank. Why are your new jellyfish so sad? Read on….
If you have already interrupted the cycling process, then you need to do a few more steps before your system is safe for jellyfish. Your nitrate & phosphate levels have skyrocketed because you have prolonged the normal 4-6 week cycling process & no substantial water changes have taken place. (Remember, after your system cycles, you are supposed to do a 20% water change and then get on a weekly maintenance schedule where at least 10% of the water is being exchanged every 7 days) But, because your system didn’t cycle in a timely fashion, your nitrates and phosphates are very high–toxic. Again, although it is great that you no longer have any ammonia or nitrite in your system, your nitrates and phosphates are through the roof because you haven’t changed out any water! You may be experiencing cloudy water because of these high levels (cloudy water can also be caused by a bacterial bloom).
These high levels will cause your new jellyfish to shrink and/or fall apart. Nitrates can be removed by exchanging the old water out with new saltwater. There are some liquid drops available on the market now that will remove the phosphates, Ultralife and Phosphate Rx, but you still need to attend to those high nitrates. Best thing to do is to conduct a 20% water change every other day until your nitrates drop from 80+ppm to under 40ppm but only if your system is already fully cycled and your nitrates are over 80ppm. I know this seems extreme, but once it’s done, you’re good! Water chemistry is an art, but if you have a system that has a fully functional mechanical, chemical and biological filter in place, it will do the job for you over time once you get it balanced and eliminate those nitrate and phosphate levels that have built up over an extended period of time (over 8 weeks) while you were waiting for your system to biologically cycle.
So, to recap, if you had an extremely long period of cycling (over 8 weeks), then you need to test your nitrate and phosphate levels. If you are getting readings of 80+ppm for nitrate and/or 2.0+ppm for phosphate, you need to conduct several water changes over a week to bring them into range. You want to achieve levels of under 40ppm for nitrate and under 0.5ppm for phosphate.
If you need some assistance with this process, please email us @ email@example.com and we’ll help you through it. It’s just some water changes…no big deal, really. Hang in there…you’re almost home free! Once you correct the water chemistry, your jellies will instantly start repairing themselves and get back to a healthy state.
If they do, I’m sorry to hear that, but don’t despair just yet. Once you determine the problem & fix it, the jellies can bounce back and repair themselves in no time! Here are the top 5 reasons jellyfish will start to fall apart…
1. Improper filtration and/or incomplete cycling of your filters.
2. Ammonia spike.
3. Not Acclimating your Jellyfish Properly
4. Improperly making up your saltwater
5. Heavy metal contamination.
1. Improper filtration and/or incomplete cycling of your filters.
If you haven’t properly cycled your tank, then you most likely have toxic levels of ammonia and/or nitrite in your water. This can happen when you initially set up an aquarium and add jellyfish (or any life forms, for that matter…this is not a jellyfish specific issue, but a standard fish or coral tank issue. You must take the time to properly cycle your aquarium no matter what animals you choose to keep in it). Once jellyfish are added to the tank, they begin to produce ammonia. Once ammonia starts to build up, you need to have a way to eliminate it. This is why proper filtration is important. A properly filtered aquarium will have a biological filter in place, which will remove the toxic ammonia and nitrite by way of the beneficial bacteria that populate the filter media (i.e. bio balls). If you do not have beneficial bacteria actively removing the ammonia and nitrite, then the water becomes toxic and the jellyfish will soon begin (within 2 days) to disintegrate like the pictures demonstrate.
2. Ammonia spike.
Why are you having an ammonia spike even after you’ve already cycled your tank? An ammonia spike can occur if you stopped feeding your tank for any reason. Sometimes folks let the aquarium go down, or let it run without any animals in it for awhile like if they go on vacation or take some time away from keeping jellyfish, or they don’t have jellies in it for several days for whatever reason. This leads to an ammonia spike because your beneficial bacteria in you filter box didn’t receive any ammonia to eat—your system wasn’t creating any ammonia because you had no jellyfish in it & subsequently weren’t feeding any jellyfish. This means the beneficial bacteria went with out food (ammonia) and starved to death. So, if you then add jellyfish to the tank when you get back from vacation (or whatever), there is no beneficial bacteria available in the filter box to eliminate the toxic ammonia & you experience an ammonia spike and shredded jellyfish as the pictures show.
If you do go on vacation, or take more than 3 days away from having jellyfish in your tank, you can alway place a small, 1/4″ piece of raw fish or shrimp in the filter box to continue to decompose and create ammonia for the beneficial bacteria to feed on while you’re away. When you return, always take an ammonia reading and remove the piece of raw fish or shrimp before adding new jellyfish to the tank. Make sure your ammonia and nitrite levels are at zero before acclimating any new jellyfish into your tank.
An ammonia spike can also happen if you interrupted the cycling process by cleaning the tank, changing any mechanical or chemical filters, or conducted any water changes prior to the tank completely finishing its cycling process. Do not interrupt the cycling process. I know it’s tempting to want to get the sides & bottom of the tank clean. The algae growth can be unsightly, but remember, you are creating a living environment from a static one. Life can be messy! Let nature take it’s course and be patient– I know it’s hard, but it is necessary. You can clean the tank all you want after the cycling process is over! If you interrupt the cycle, it can take almost 3 times as long to get it back on track an in a non-toxic state. Be patient. It’s worth the wait!
3. Not Acclimating your Jellyfish Properly
You are receiving jellyfish that are coming from a pristine environment. When you receive a shipment of jellyfish, the water quality parameters are most likely different from yours. You must take the time to acclimate the jellyfish in the shipping bag to the temperature of your system. After 10-15 minutes of floating the bag so the temperatures equalize between the bag and your tank water, acclimate them to your water quality (pH, salinity), by conducting small water changes in the bag over 45 minutes to 1 hour. Don’t take all night doing this step. The jellies need to get out of the bag and into a moving environment. Acclimation shouldn’t take more than 1.5 hours from start to finish. If it is taking longer than that, then there is another problem at hand that needs to be addressed.
4. Improperly making up your saltwater
If you are making up your saltwater with tap water, your jellyfish will fall apart. Tap water has heavy metals in it that the jellyfish cannot tolerate. You must make up your saltwater with RO, RO/DI, or distilled water for it to be safe for jellyfish, much like a reef tank.
If you are not aerating your saltwater for at least 24 hours in a bucket with a small submersible pump, then you most likely are adding undissolved salts to your tank. The jellies don’t do well with undissolved salts. Please read our blog post that covers this topic in depth: “Problem with Your Jellyfish? Undissolved Salts Could be the Culprit”
5. Heavy metal contamination.
Do not use metal utensils or tools with your saltwater jellyfish aquarium. Only use plastic tools. Always wash your hands before dealing with your jellyfish or handling the jellyfish food. Zinc, brass, lead & petroleum products (sometimes found in soaps and lotions) will add heavy metals to your system. The jellyfish will fall apart if you introduce them into the water. Also, I should mention that aquarium heaters can get old– moreover, their seals can get old and crack. This can allow water to leak into them where the metal heating coil is located and other metal parts. If you have an old heater, check it for any visual signs of rust on the heating coil. If you see rust, throw it away and purchase a new one.
Send us your problem jellyfish pictures and we’ll diagnose the problem and tell you how to fix it. We’ll also write a new blog post about it so we can inform and help others that may be experiencing the same problem!
Send your pics to firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you had an unusually long cycling process? Are your new jellyfish shrinking fast even after the tank finally cycled?? Please read our blog post next week for answers.