The Jelly Jig, A Dance of Nerve Damage

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.

 

5 Things That Can Cause Your Jellyfish to Shrink

Large Moon Jellyfish
Large 10″ diameter Moon Jellyfish– This jellyfish has been raised in one of our customers tanks from 3″ diameter to 10″ diameter solely on our Frozen Jellyfish Food (feeding once a day).

Are your jellyfish shrinking, getting thin and flattening out???

Here are 5 reasons why that might be…..

1. Feeding Non-nutritious food

One of the most common problems when keeping jellyfish is keeping them properly fed. Without a consistent supply of nutritious food, they will become weak and thin. Malnutrition causes listlessness and infrequent belling or pulsing, leaving you with inactive jellyfish that just float around the tank like pieces of tissue paper.  Not pretty. Not elegant. Not fun! Your solution is to feed them jellyfish food that is nutritious & to feed them the proper amount.  There are a lot of feeds on the market for fish and corals and you may think that they will work for jellyfish.  Not the case.  Reef Nutrition has some amazing feeds for filter feeders and some of what they have to offer are good supplements for jellyfish, but not strictly meant for a main food source.

2. You Are Not feeding Enough Food (of the nutritious kind)

Jellyfish are not goldfish & you cannot simply sprinkle some food in every other day or so. They need to eat each day and they need to get a good amount into their systems with each feeding.  See our blog post Knowing How Much to Feed Your Jellyfish for guidelines & pictures of what a well fed jellyfish looks like. Without enough good food to eat each day, they will become thin and lazy.

3. Your Flow is too High—or Too Low.

If your jellyfish aquarium has adjustable flow, you may need to fine tune it.  If the flow is too high, the jellyfish may not be able to keep the food on their tentacles as they whiz around the tank and this means they are not ingesting the food. This leads to underfed jellyfish, which leads to lazy and shrinking jellyfish.  The same goes for low flow.  If the flow in your tank is  so low that the jellyfish cannot properly bell and keep themselves suspended, then they will not feed properly.  Again, this leads to malnutrition and shrinking jellyfish.  Jellyfish need to bell efficiently in order to move fluids and food into and throughout their system.

4. Your Jellyfish Aquarium is Not Cycled

If your aquarium is not biologically cycled then your water quality is toxic (you have ammonia and/or nitrite levels above zero) and the jellies will be stressed because of it.  Jellyfish are 96% water, so if your water quality is suffering, so are your jellyfish.  They will not eat much, if at all, and this leads to shrinking jellyfish.

5. Your Salinity is Too High

When your salinity is too high, the jellyfish will cease to eat.  Keep your salinity in check–everyday if necessary–so your jellyfish can feed properly without the stress of spiking salinity levels.  If you haven’t yet read our blog post about hydrometers and the inaccurate readings they can give….read it now.  The plastic hydrometers on the market tend to have variable readings.  Have your hydrometer tested at your local fish store to be certain that yours is giving you accurate readings.  Again, if your jellyfish are not getting enough food each day, they will shrink.


 And 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.

When Your Jellyfish Takes a “Personal Day”

plasticwrap2

As you populate your eon jellyfish tank with jellies, you may sometimes notice a jelly acting differently; belling oddly or sometimes infrequently.  Is that jelly sick?  Should you take some action to make it better?  Not necessarily.  First of all, jellies don’t get sick, per say; however, they can plateau in their development.

Take a look at your other jellies.  Are they behaving in the same fashion as the jelly in question?  Take some water quality readings and see if they are in range or not.  Correct any levels that are off and wait a day or two. The jellies are 96% water. So, if your water quality checks out A-OK, then your jelly in question could be taking a personal day—having personal issues.  This does not mean you need to take action on your whole system.  If your water parameters are in range, be patient and keeping observing.

We have noticed over the years that sometimes a jelly will sort of plateau and change behaviors for up to two weeks and then get back to normal.  Some jellies grow quick and fast and are always in action, but then their growth rate slows down and they can plateau.  Some don’t grow at first and then take off later in life. Be patient with your jellies as they settle into your system and with your maintenance practices.  It’s good to be on the ball observing their health and wellbeing; however, think about your tank as a system–an aquatic system. Don’t be quick to judge one or two “off” days with a jelly here or there.  And do not go the route of forcing more food into the equation thinking that is the answer.  Let nature do its thing and just maintain good water quality and maintenance practices.  These guys are resilient and given the chance, they can rebound nicely in a well-kept environment.

Another thing to consider is that you are observing animals in a closed system and natural selection is taking place in front of your eyes!   The stronger jellyfish will bell more, eat more food and grow faster and bigger.  While, at the same time,  the weaker jellies will grow more slowly and the very weak jellies will stay the same size as when you first introduced them, or will shrink.  This is completely normal.  We liken it to the “varsity”, “junior varsity”, and “bench warmers” of the jellyfish world. It is to be expected. In very rare cases will all the jellyfish remain the same size in a closed system.

P.s.

…in some cases they take a personal day for the rest of their lives and there isn’t anything to be done.  They can still eat and live and be just fine.  Embrace the existentialists!!!