Tip: Knowing How Much to Feed your Jellyfish

tripleblue_med2small copy

Hungry Jellyfish with Empty Stomachs

It’s hard to regulate just how much food to feed your fish sometimes.  You don’t want to over feed them or under feed them.  But, how do you know if your jellyfish are getting enough to eat each day????? If only you could see just how full they were.  Hard to do with fish, BUT….you have jellyfish!!! They’re transparent!

You can see right through them & see their stomachs!  This is the best way to know if you’re feeding enough each day to keep them healthy and growing.

One of the most common problems when keeping jellyfish as pets is keeping them nutritionally fulfilled. Most folks are not sure just how much to feed to keep their jellyfish healthy.  Jellies are passive feeders and need more food than you think. They quickly become lethargic and thin if they aren’t getting enough good food to eat. So, if you start out not feeding enough nutritional food, your jellyfish will start to wither and shrink.

The picture below represents moon jellyfish that are waiting for a meal. Empty stomachs!

TripleBlue

The picture below demonstrates what your jellyfish should look like about 45 minutes after feeding them.

3jz copy

Full Stomachs! Happy Jellyfish!

Their stomachs should be nice and full like this at least once a day, with nutritionally sound food for jellyfish.


A word about vacations, weekends & days off from feeding….

If your jellyfish are healthy and being fed normally and on a regular basis with nutritional jellyfish food, then you can safely get out of town for the weekend.  They will be fine given they have full stomachs 5 days out of 7

DIY: Build Your Own Extension Scrub Brush for the EON 2ube and 3ON

Jellyfish Tank

If you have the Eon 20 gallon Jellyfish System, you may have had difficulty cleaning the bottom of the tank.  It’s easy to clean the sides of the tank with an aquarium cleaning magnet, but how to clean the bottom & back?  There are some extension scrubber brushes out there (the black unit on the left in the picture), but in our experience these tend to be in adequate. They do extend nicely but…..

scrubrush1

The cleaning heads are minimal and after only 2 uses tends to fall apart.scrubrush2

You can easily and cheaply build your own scrub brush using a standard acrylic aquarium scrub brush purchased at any fish store & a couple 1/2″ PVC fittings, 1/2″ PVC pipe & electrical tape found at Home Depot, Lowes or any home improvement store.

scrubrush3

What you will need:

8″ long piece of  1/2″ diameter threaded grey rod

4″ long piece of 1/2″ diameter PVC pipe

1 PVC fitting: 1/2″ coupling Slip x Slip

1 PVC fitting: 1/2″ coupling Thread x Thread

electrical tape

First thing you want to do is secure the 1/2″ PVC Thread x Thread fitting to the scrub brush handle using electrical tape.  Place the PVC fitting just below the hook on the scrub brush & using the electrical tape (about a 9″ long piece) secure the fitting to the scrub brush.  Electrical tape stretches nicely, so stretch and then pull on the tape to join the two together & then continue wrapping the tape around the fitting and the scrub brush handle like the picture. Make it snug and tight!

scrubrush6

Now you can attach the  extension handles.  First, the threaded grey rod & then the white PVC pipe.

                scrubrush7

Lickety Split! Easy! And cheap!

Problem with Your Jellyfish? Undissolved Salts Could Be the Culprit

5174628.jpeg

Another common problem concerning salt levels in your jellyfish aquarium, besides inaccurate hydrometers giving a false reading, is how the saltwater is made.  Undissolved salts can also give you an inaccurate reading which is a problem since jellies are very sensitive to salinity changes & high salinity levels can also impede their movement, eating and overall cellular activity. It is important to know what your salinity is and how it changes over time.

 

The point I need to make here is about how you make up your saltwater with distilled or RO water.

Always prepare the saltwater at least 24 hours ahead of time.  Adding undissolved salts to your jellyfish aquarium will damage the jellies tissue and can cause them to be very still and not bell or pulse much…their bell can curl under and they will fully retract their tentacles and not eat because of the tentacle retraction. They will look and be sad….sad jellies.  Also a dusty film of white on the interior of your tank will form, which can make the tank look cloudy.

Properly aerating saltwater involves a small submersible pump called a powerhead,  and a bucket.  A simple “bubble wand” or “bubbler” will not degauss and dissolve the salts completely.  I know the words “aeration” and “bubbler” tend to go hand in hand, but in this case it’s just not the right tool for the job.  You need more mixing power in the water which a powerhead can give you.  Once you add the desired amount of salt, vigorously mix for a minute or two with your hand or 2 foot length of PVC pipe as a stir stick.  After that, you can let the powerhead pump ( in this scenario a Lifegard 800 is perfect!) do the rest.  See diagram above to see how to set this up in a 5 gallon bucket.  It could be any size bucket as long as you position the powerhead pump at the water level allowing it to pull in air as it mixes.  You want the water and air to be churning vigorously.

If you have some residual stuff still swirling around the bottom of the bucket after 24 hours don’t worry about it.  Just leave it there and don’t try and mix it into the water you will be using for a water change.  You can rinse that out and get rid of it before making another batch of saltwater.  It’s just undissolved minerals and is totally normal.

Important Side Note!! 

Never use tap water to make up your saltwater–not even if you use some sort of water conditioner that removes chlorine.  There are heavy metals, pesticides and ever more increasing levels of pharmaceuticals in city tap water supplies.  No sort of chemical conditioner will eliminate these things from the water. You must use distilled or RO (reverse osmosis) water.  Do not use “spring water” or “mineral water” or “drinking water” — it must say “Distilled” or if you are purchasing from a water store, it must be RO or RO/DI.

Problem with Your Jellyfish? First Order of Business… Salinity!

prd_7744246__198151

I recently had the opportunity to meet and speak at length with some new local customers who came in to learn how to keep jellyfish as pets.  Payam, Lauren and their little dog Ted came down to the lab to see just what is involved with keeping jellyfish and maintaining a jellyfish aquarium.  It was super to spend time with them and show them the ropes!  It was then that I realized that most of the questions they had are the same questions a lot of folks send my way via email. So, I will start to shoot quick blog posts every week that cover these questions– most of which are not jellyfish specific questions, but standard aquatics questions that can be answered fairly easily and quickly.  And, I will certainly get to the more specific jellyfish inquiries which will help you, as a jellyfish owner, begin to recognize and identify certain issues that can arise while caring for these beautiful animals and how to correct the problem right away.

Don’t bog your jellies down with high salinity levels in your jellyfish aquarium!

The first and biggest problem I see is maintaining water quality–specifically salinity.  The problem seems to be in the hydrometers that are generally purchased to measure the salinity. The plastic hydrometers that are on the market, and even the more costly refractometers need calibration.  Using either one of these instruments right out of the box will yield a variety of readings which is not good when you are trying to establish the salinity level of your aquarium.  Payam left with 20 gallons of my natural ocean water, salinity 33ppt, and when he got home and tested the water with his newly purchased Deep Six Hydrometer, it was reading over 40ppt!!  I knew this was incorrect.  Payam returned it to the store and bought another one.  Same problem.  Then he purchased yet another one! Finally–Getting closer! Third time’s a charm!

                         

Now, I know from personal experience because I have 2 of them myself and each one reads differently. The trick is to calibrate it with a known water source and then simply account for the difference each time you use it.  It’s no big problem to do.  The third one Payam purchased was a bit closer to an actual read and we agreed that he will bring it in for me to calibrate properly soon.  The point is, if you are continually having problems with your jellyfish eating, belling or pulsing, or just not thriving, you should first look to your salinity level.

Moon jellies perform better with a salinity level between 32-33ppt. Don’t worry if you go a bit below that because lower is better than higher. Just don’t alter the salinity level too much at one time but do it gradually over a few days.  And, never add distilled or RO water to your filter box as it will kill your beneficial bacteria, which are a marine (saltwater) species of bacteria and are also affected by salinity & pH.  Also, keep in mind:  depending on your geographic location and evaporation rate, you may need to check your salinity twice a week.

Here in Los Angeles we have very dry air and experience quite a lot of evaporation. But, again, it’s hard to know that if you have an instrument that is inaccurately reading your water.  Try taking your hydrometer to your local hi-end reef / fish store and see if they will calibrate it for you.  What you want to know is how many points off your hydrometer is – either too high or too low– and then just account for that each time you take a salinity reading.  For example, when using my plastic Deep Six hydrometer in a pinch, I know it reads 3 points too low, so I just add 3 points to whatever it is reading.  When I do have a chance to test it against my pricey refractometer, it is consistent with my adjusted plastic hydrometer read.

Keep Your Training Wheels on During Cycling of Your Jellyfish Aquarium!

5ff100b9-fb9b-4227-82b8-92aa71f2e862_1.cca45870e46c7c3d8d4ac673afedd5e0.jpeg

All hobbies start with overwhelming enthusiasm! We are so eager to learn all that we can about whatever it is, then buy all the necessary gear and equipment (most hobbies have the coolest gear and accessories to go along with them!) and dive right in with all the excitement of a 6 year old on Christmas morning!  These are the things that make hobbies so much fun!  They are generally new to us and open us up to all kinds of new ideas and people, places and things.  Your budding hobby has you jumping out of your shorts and you just don’t want to wait another minute to get it completely mastered.

Some hobbies, however, do require some patience – at least at the beginning stages.  Gardening is one of those hobbies.  You can’t plant your seeds or seedlings one day and then go out the next day or following week and dig them up to replant them because you think they are not growing fast enough.  This will surely inhibit their growth, if not kill them in the process.  Plants have roots that need to establish themselves in the soil before they can send nourishment to the plant for growth. The soil & roots need time to go through a nitrogen-fixing cycle, or nitrification cycle.  It is a natural activity in which nitrogen is processed by bacteria in the soil in order to make it available to the plant for nourishment. This cycling process is also necessary in marine environments in order to create a safe and non-toxic environment for your fish and /or invertebrates.  Without the nitrification process completed in your system, you will not be successful at keeping anything alive—it’s a fact.

Patience is needed to allow the beneficial bacteria to populate your biological filters.  Generally biological filters are a darkened area like a filter box where no light enters. Bacteria are inhibited by light so a filter box is best for housing the biological filter.  It is also an area that will not be disturbed during maintenance because we don’t want cause a bacterial bloom in the aquarium.  Once they are established, your biological filters are the foundation in which your hobby can begin.

So, remember these bacteria populations need a lot of food energy to grow so you don’t want to take away any of the ammonia producing elements in your system.  The dirty filters, the detritus on the bottom, the slightly cloudy water—these are food producing (ammonia producing) and are just what you want to get those bacteria populations growing!  Don’t do any water or filter changes (mechanical or chemical) during the cycling process. You will only be prolonging the cycle by diluting the food source for the bacteria.

This is not a jellyfish specific task.  This is what every aquarist—hobbyist or professional, has to deal with all the time.  But, once completed properly you can feel confident you have taken the necessary measures creating a safe and healthy home for your new pet jellyfish.