Monday, January 16, 2012

Inverted jellyfish

So I've noticed, amongst myself and many other people that theres been some problems with inverted jellyfish. An inverted jellyfish looks like an umbrella when blown inside out. As you would imagine that can be quite a problem. Luckily there are a few things you can do. But you can't remedy the jellyfish unless you first find out what caused the problem.

Chances are you will run into this problem at least once when keeping a jellyfish. It happens to me even. I have several jellyfish suffering from this problem, and its hurting my business. So what causes this wretched problem? Well all sorts of things. One of the biggest problems are,

  • Temperature shock
  • Salinity shock
  • Bad water quality
  • Sharp or rough surfaces aggravating the jellyfish
  • multiple stress factors

Temperature shock is a common mistake. Sometimes heaters fail or chillers bust. A jellyfish will almost always invert if it stays in water that quickly excceds its comfort level. Warm water jellyfish are comfortable with a wide range of room temp to 77 degrees fahrenheit. However when the temperature jumps up very fast their bodies have a hard time adjusting. Their proteins and body structures freak out. As you may know, when things get warmer and colder they expand and contract, respectively. Well the same things happen with jellyfish. The heat can distort the proteins in their body. 

Salinity shock does the same. The jellyfish are put under a lot of stress and their body structures flips

Jellyfish may also invert if they are constantly bumping into sharp or abrasive objects. This also tears up their bells, so make sure their tank is safe! 

Now, lets say your jellyfish has inverted and your not sure what to do. Well as with any emergency situation, don't freak out! Find the cause of the inversion. However you don't want to just drop the temp or the salinity etc right away. Remember, the sudden change cause the damage to the jellyfish. Gradually fix the problem. If you fix the problem early enough, then the jellyfish may just revert back to its normal self. However they often wont. Jellyfish also have a hard time eating and swimming when they are inverted, so something must be done, and fast! 

If the jellyfish doesn't revert within a day or two, or begins to rapidly shrink, then action is required. Your going to have to manually flip the jellyfish back. This isn't as scary as it sounds, but I will be truthful here, I was horrified the first time I had to do it. 

So there are two basic ways of doing this. Either way your going to have to touch your jelly. Moon jellies don't sting enough to generally harm humans, but if your body tends to overreact to stings from bees and such, then feel free to wear gloves. The basic idea hear is to just flip it back to normal. One method of doing this is to force it to revert. This can be achieved by holding the jellyfish gently from its under side, and raising it up just above the water's surface. Jellyfish are primarily liquid so they collapse easily and this collapse will generally cause they to revert back to normal. This is a tad dangerous, you don't want to over handle your jellyfish to roughly or it may tear. But I've done it several times and had no problems. 

The second method is all underwater. With one hand, align a finger with the center of the jellyfish's tentacles on its underside. The with your other hand arrange your fingers as thought they were sort of a round claw. Then use the claw hand to gently push the jellyfish back into its right form. I don't like this method as much. I feel its actually more dangerous, and your risk, hurting or deforming your jellyfish more. It also doesn't work as well. But its really up to you. Your jellyfish should be set to go after its reverted. It will began pulsing fluently within an hour. It make shrink a little more but it should be alright if fed well and kept healthy. Occasionally the will invert again if you don't fix the cause of the first invert. 

I hope this will help with your inverted jellyfish! Sometimes jellyfish will just invert and die shortly after, with no apparent cause of death. Something microscopic could of happened or perhaps the jellyfish just was past its time. Just remember, I've had 14 jellyfish in the past year, it really does take some hands on learning to keep these beautiful creatures. Eventually you will get it, and I will be here to help at any point along the way. :)

Picture from,


  1. We've been fighting with this for the past week and there really aren't a lot of online resources. Cameron and Amelia from Jellyfish Art have been helpful. For a while we thought it was too much ammonia in the water. We were changing water every day to try to rectify this.

    In the end, I think the main cause was too low of a salinity level. After I raised the salinity to 1.026, they have been doing A LOT better.

    We were really scared for a while... The worst part is that the inverted jellyfish turn into suction cups and get stuck against the side of the tank.

  2. We just received 4 moon jellies in the mail -- they've been in their tank for 2.5 days now. One was inverted when it arrived. I've tried both techniques you've suggested above but neither have helped it revert back to its regular shape.

    Could salinity and temp be a factor? The other three jellyfish are fine.

    Or could the inverted jellyfish just need more time to acclimate?

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks so much!

    1. Try raising the salinity up a little bit. Im not sure why, but that always seems to flip them back. If they one was inverted when it arrived then it probably had problems beforehand. If you cant get it revert, then it will will likely die. As long as your aquarium is clean and set then it shouldn't have any other problems.

      No problem!

  3. I am getting jellies soon! Do they require a lot of care and maintenance? If so, what kind of maintenance? Thank you!

    1. They require some simple care. You just have to stay dedicated to them. Keep their water quality high and feed well.