Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giant Moon Jellyfish

I went on a jellyfish collecting trip recently. I was recommended to go to a dock on a river near where the ocean meets the sound. These places are good for comb jellies. I ended up finding two giant moon jellies in addition to several comb jellies.

The first moon jelly washed right up in one of the boat landings. I saw it and my jaw dropped. A second, and bigger one washed up about ten minutes later. Neither of them would fit into my five gallon bucket! I ended up getting them back to where we were staying in bags. We then put them in large plastic bins with extra water. The water was very cold that day, and their salinity was crazy. 1.018, which is very low. Moon Jellies are often seen out in the ocean, from my knowledge. This is the first time I have seen live Moon Jellies from the Atlantic Coast, in the wild, in years. 

I managed to get these jellies home and settled. They now reside in a 44 gallon pentagonal corner tank. As you may know, jellyfish don't generally do well in faceted tanks or ones with edges. These guys are so massive that they don't seem to care! I'm glad, because I don't have any other tank for them right now. I measured them and one is 14 inches and the other 10 inches across the bell. There are some bigger jellies out there, but these are giant, for what I have dealt with. 

They both look like female, because their oral arms are dotted with what look like planula. Moon jellyfish have their eggs fertilized, and then hold on to them until they develop into planula. Some other jellies do this, whereas some species let their eggs loose, to be fertilized in open water. The tank water is now full of these tiny specs (visible to the naked eye!). I took some and checked them out under. Y microscope. They definitely appear to be planula! There are tons of them too! I hope that they settle so I can have some polyps. I do have moon jelly polyps already, but I don't believe I have Atlantic Moon Jellyfish Polyps. Moon Jellies in the lower Atlantic are generally Aurelia marginallis.

This time of year is when Moon Jellies are in season. It appears that most of them show up pretty big though. I suppose late summer they will be smaller, but harder to find. Lion's Mane jellies are also making appearances, but I have seen none so far. 

Trying to Raise Lagoon Jellyfish Round II

So I'm giving a second try at raising Lagoon Jelly babies. They aren't hard to keep from juveniles to adults, the newborn ephyra are what are tricky. My problem was that the ephyra would not grow, and would just die after a few days. 

I talked to some jelly keepers and came up with some new methods of keeping the ephyra.

Method 1 ( failed method) 
I used a 500 ml glass graduated cylinder. This cylinder had a bubble tube circulating the water. Lighting came from a desk lamp with a compact fluorescent bulb in it. Water temp was at ambient, room temp likely. 

Method 2 (current try)
I'm using the same graduated cylinder. This time I have a 12" strip of 20,000 kelvin white LED lights attached to the top and sides. The cylinder is set in another aquarium which is at 80 degrees F. I change the water every day. The cylinder is sitting in a 44 gallon corner tank, which I later plan on putting cuttlefish in. A canister filter and 150 gallon protein skimmer is running. I just exchange water between the tank and the cylinder daily. My hope is that the heavy filtration removes the negatives, but allows the benefits of a cycling tank. It may simulate an ocean more closely than 500 ml of water.

The major things I was told to change were lighting and temp. I've kept Upside Down Jellyfish at room temp. and seen so adverse effects. For proper zooxanthellae growth, a temp of 80 F or above is preferred. Lagoon Jellyfish ephyra are born very small compared to Upside Down Jellyfish, so algae food is the most important, as they may be unable to catch Brine Shrimp efficiently. A desk lamp probably won't do it, but I figured I could improve on lighting when they got older. Now I've decided to go ahead an get the improved lighting. There is debate about whether LEDs can match good old fashion metal halide lighting. I think LEDs will do the job. I certainly hope so, as they are much more energy efficient, space efficient, and cooler. If this works out, I plan on buying longer strips of lighting. If not, I probably need to try metal halides. 
My current set up. The bright cylinder is where the lagoon ephyra are kept (3 of them right now). The plastic bottle is a brine shrimp hatchery. It's too cold in the garage for them to hatch in ambient temperature. The protein skimmer is also pictured. White light is coming from the LEDs and orange  light from the desk lamp. 

Results: the second set up has worked. The good temp, light and daily water changes seem to do it. I've raised two batches of lagoon jellies so far. The first batch of jellies tipped over though (oops! :p). The second batch is being raised now. I have 15 total ephyra. I'm hoping these will go to adults! More progress soon :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Lagoon Jellyfish

I received some Lagoon Jellyfish polyps in the mail, recently. Thy are for a little research project I'm working on. It's all a secret for now, but when we are done, details can be shared. :)

Well before I could start the experimenting, the polyps started to strobilate. The first batch of ephyra were pretty pitiful, and they all died a few days later. I think the polyps were stressed from their trip, and didn't produce healthy ephyra. A second wave of ephyra is being released now, which  are healthier. I've noticed many have mutations, though. I'm not sure if these will grow or not. I guess we will find out. I'm really excited to have some Lagoon Jellyfish, however. I've never kept or even seen any in person before. 
These aren't mine, obviously, but mine should look quite similar in a few weeks to months if they grow properly. They need full spectrum lighting. I think that's good, because they don't eat well when first born. They are very small, and catching brine shrimp seems to be a laborious task for them. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I'm Selling Jellyfish Again

As some of you know, I used to sell jellyfish through the company ThinkJellyfish. We disbanded for a while, and there was a period where I wasn't selling anything. I am back in business again, though! I've created a new company and website known as The Jellyfish Warehouse. We have a Facebook page as well.

My goal here is to break barriers in jellyfish keeping. As a hobbyist myself, I know how hard it is to find jellyfish. The average jellyfish keeper is limited to Moon Jellyfish or Upside Down Jellyfish. My plan is to offer as many species as possible. This means most of the species I breed, and any extras I find on my various jellyfish collecting trips. Right now we have two tanks as well as Moon Jellyfish and Upside Down Jellyfish. That's not much, but we have only begun. 

I'm hoping to offer species such as,

Atlantic Sea Nettles
Lagoon Jellyfish
Lion's mane jellyfish
Australian Spotted Jellyfish
Pacific Sea nettles 
Comb jellies 
And more! 

I hope to offer a variety of tanks as well. :) 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Box jellyfish Eyes

One quirk of the box jellyfish is that they have eyes. These eyes aren't quite like ours, but they are more advanced than you would think. 

It is not understood how box jellyfish have eyes, and yet they have no brain. They don't have anything to process or make sense of the images they are receiving. In fact, scientists questioned whether or not these eyes were even functional for some time. But recent tests have suggested they do in fact work. These tests include setting poles of various colors and transparencies into a tank of box jellyfish. In tanks with clear or light colored poles, the jellyfish ran strait into them. In tanks with black, solid colored poles, the jellyfish actually avoided them! This really brings out the mystery of how these jellyfish work. Perhaps they are smarter than we think! 

The reason I bring this up is because a small box jelly medusa was created a few days ago, in one of my polyp cultures of Carybdea rastoni. I decided to examine this one under a microscope. From there, I was able to really examine these eye structures. The jellyfish happened to be positioned so these eyes were "looking" right up at me. Shivers went up my back, even though I doubt it will be greeting me any time soon.

Above are two photos of the box jelly. The first is an overall shot of the jelly. At the time, it was a little balled up. The bottom of it is facing up, though. The second image is a close up of the eye structure. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What Makes Polyps Strobilate?

A few months ago I posted a few posts on some cold water Moon Jellyfish polyps I found. And I also posted how I lost all of my warm water polyps. Well, I have been making due with the cold water polyps since then. I've done a good bit of experimenting with the polyps. I find that they don't mind war, water at all. In fact, they seem to be fine with going from our ambient temperature (nearly 70 F to 55 F!) I have been really trying to figure out what gets these polyps to strobilate. There are a few things you should do when you have polyps and can't get them to strobilate. 

The first thing you want to do is figure out if them polyps have every strobilated in your care before. If they did, what conditions were they under. In my case, these polyps strobilated on their own three times last winter. 

Now you start to experiment. If you have seen them strobilate before, try to replicate the conditions they were in. If not, try some of the common methods of strobilation induction. Common methods include,

1) Bringing the temperature down for two weeks and then bringing them temperature back up to simulate winter and spring.

2) Doing the reverse and simply bringing the temperature down and holding it until they strobilate. 

3) Adding Lugol's Iodine to the polyp water. For this method, turn the flow off if there is some, and add 3-5 drops. Iodine levels increase in spring, and the polyps recognize this. 

4) Your own experimentation. There are other methods of strobilation induction. Some include shaking the polyps for several days (on a shaker table, no need to wear out your hands), exposing them to light for a time and then darkness, or reverse (particularly hydroids). 

In my case, I tried all but the light period method. I started out not having a chiller, so I couldn't drop the temperature. I was afraid I would kill my polyps if I brought the temperature up anymore. So I decided to try iodine. I did this several times in varying amounts, and it never seemed to work. I took some polyps and set them in a small bottle. I put this bottle on top of an air pump so it would shake the polyps constantly. This had no success either. Finally I got a chiller, so I decided to lower the temperature and bring it back up. That method is one that works on almost all Moon Jellyfish. I lowered the water temp to 60 for a week and then shut off the chiller. No strobila. I gave the polyps some time to rest and then decided I would chill them at 55 for two weeks. So my chiller isn't very powerful, and it is about 80 outside here, so my chiller fluctuates between 55 and 60. Right at two weeks I began to notice the polyps were elongating. So I left the chiller on. Within a week, they began to form full strobila. And then the onslaught of ephyra began. I have never seen so many ephyra in my life! I must have 1000-2000 right now! My polyps really paid me back for holding off all spring and summer. Now I need to build more tanks for all the ephyra.
Only the beginning!

So to wrap up, I believe the chilling induces strobilation in this strain of Moon Jellyfish. I can't be certain until I try again, though. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Carybdea Rastoni Box Jelly Polyps

I've been wanting to get a hold of some Caybdea Rastoni polyps for quite a long time (>1 year!). Well I finally got a hold of some. 

Carybdea rastoni are a variety of smaller Box jellyfish with four tentacles, and which range in the Pacific Oceans from Japan to Hawaii. In the places where they are found, the jellies can be seen in pretty large smacks. Carybdea rastoni are very proliferate and can actually be invasive. Their sting is painful, but not lethal. I don't plan on handling these with my bare hands like I do with see nettles! 

The polyps of carybdea rastoni are a little surprising. From research, I understood that they were small, but I was surprised at just how small these polyps really were. They are better viewed under slight magnification. I would say each polyp is about the size of a newly hatched Brine Shrimp. Interestingly, these polyps can open their mouths extremely large, and shove a whole baby brine shrimp inside! For that very reason, I am simply feeding them Brine Shrimp for now.

I haven't gotten any good pictures of these polyps because they are so small! Here is one off the web, from Jellyclub.

A few juvenile medusa came with the polyps. They were very interesting to look at. At around just a few mm they have the beginnings of 4 tentacles. As the pulse around erratically, they kinda become cute... in a dangerous way. One of the reasons you don't see these guys on display is because they are very hard to culture. It isn't entirely clear as to what they eat in their earlier stages. The Two Ocean Aquarium in South Africa has managed to raise wild juveniles up to adults on public display. They feed live Mysids to them. That appears to work really well. Unfortunately, the juveniles are far too small to eat them. They need some other food to feed on. I'm going to try feeding Rotifers to them, as brine shrimp seem too big to deliver much nutrition. I ordered a live rotifer kit (we will see how this goes) and I will start culturing Rotifers. 
I also want to experiment with making a gelatinous food for them, and other jellies. Apparently agar and gelatin have been used to feed jellyfish before. Perhaps I can create a very nutrient dense gel for jellies.

Sorry, but these polyps and jellies will not be for sale or trade. I know they aren't lethal, but they are dangerous and also very invasive. If a public aquarium or research institute of some sort wants these, something could be arranged. 

I'm going jellyfish collecting this Thursday. I'm hoping to find some more Sea Nettles (both of mine are male) and possibly some Chiropsalmus box jellies and Cannonballs. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pet Box Jellyfish

The title explains only one of three cool finds I made in South Carolina recently.

I took a normal beach trip in SC. I wasn't expecting to find much where I was. I ended up finding quite a lot more than I expected.

Box Jellyfish- This will probably be the most popular of my finds. I found two Box Jellies (Chiropsalmus quadrumanus) washed up on the beach. The first one I found was gravely injured and torn up pretty badly. I preserved it in alcohol. The second one I found had washed up just seconds before, and was very much alive. I bagged that one up immediately. Atlantic Box Jellies are fairly rare, and this was a big deal to me. I've never seen any live box jellyfish before. These have to be the most beautiful jellyfish I have ever experienced. They are an actual blueish color. The pulse strongly, and have these arms of tentacles at each of their four points. I got the jellyfish back home, alive. It died about 2 days after I caught it. This isn't an un-normal thing for box jellyfish to do. They don't often do well in captivity. The jelly began to stop moving and eventually sank. It began to fall part at this point. I saved some of its gonadal tissue to examine. It was in fact female. I intend on catching more eventually, and figuring out what they need to survive in captivity. It may have been that I found an old or death-bound specimen. I left the tank it was in running. Im hoping that maybe there are some polyps in there somewhere. After all, it was female...

Box Jelly eggs. 

Cannonball Jellyfish Juveniles

As you may know, Cannonball jellyfish are very common in the Atlantic Ocean. What isn't common are Juveniles of these jellies. You often see specimens that are tennis ball sized or greater. Well, while I was at the beach, hundreds of baby Cannonballs were washing up. Some were the size of quarters. This is unheard of to me. I have seen one image online of Cannonballs that were around the size of a 50 cent piece.

Most of the jellies were very badly beaten up. Some were cut in half or had fourths taken out of them. Surprisingly, the majority were still alive though. I kept three specimens that seemed to be doing well. One appears to be the smallest wild cannonball ever seen before. It is about 1/2 an inch long and was smaller when I found it. This one is doing really well. It pulses around the tank actively. The other two were damaged and they seem to be going downhill slowly.

Atlantic Sea Nettles

There were also a number of Sea Nettles present. Many got beat up in the surf, but a few lived. They seemed to be stinging people in the water towards the end of my trip. At one point I was even stung while I was simply swimming. I was stung many times afterwards when handling live specimens. Right against the area where water and sand meet, I found one live Sea Nettle. This thing is a monster! I wasn't even aware that Atlantic Sea Nettle could get this big in the wild. I moved it into a bag with my hands and paid the price. I have been stung by Sea Nettles many times before. This sting topped it all. Perhaps it was the size, but it got me good!

I ended up moving my two Sea Nettles into my 20 gallon DIY kreisel tank. They seem to be doing well there. The smaller one is doing especially well. They keep shedding tentacles, however. I worry that the tank is just a hair too small for the larger one.

The Cannonballs got put into the cylinder tank I made reccently. They are doing well in that right now.

I have a surprise that should be arriving next tuesday. :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jellyfish Collecting in Florida

Just a few weeks ago, I took a trip to Florida. I drove this time, and came prepared to catch any jellyfish I saw. Florida is warmer and sunnier, and therefore it
contains more jellyfish naturally. The amount of jellyfish diversity I saw was quite surprising, though.

On the beach I found two Atlantic Sea Nettles. One was washed up and dead. The other was pretty beat up, but alive. I kept that one.

The dead Atlantic Sea Nettle I found. 

There were comb jellies present too. Mnemiopsis macrydi was found mostly. Beroe ovata was also seen in the waters. The comb jellyfish Beroe ovata is one that I have never seen before. They are much larger than the average mnemiopsis comb. Most of the Beroe combs were beaten up or cut. I tried to keep some, but they dissolved over night. I didn't want to kill any more, so I refrained from collecting any more. On the last day of the trip, I tried to collect some comb jellies, but the tide had carried them all away.
One older Beroe comb, and one young Beroe comb. On the bottom right is a full sized Mnemiopsis comb. 

On the beach I found some very tiny Bell jellies,  Nemopsis bachei. These were found when Sea Nettles were absent. 

On a beach near an inlet, I found thousands of blobs of jelly. They were all dead. I have no clue as to what they were. I believe they may have been some sort of salp or hydrozoan jelly. I also found one dead Clytia sp. jelly. 

Washed up on the side of a saltwater river was the remains of what looked like an Australian Spotted jellyfish. There was only a fragment of tissue left, but it had unmistakable white spots on it. No live specimens were seen. 

I waded through some mangrove trees, looking for Upside Down jellyfish. I found none, however. I do already have Floridian Upside Down jellyfish, but it is always cool to see jellyfish in their natural habitat. Plus, I've read that their polyps can be seen growing on mangrove leaves in the area. That would be very cool to see and document. 

Overall, the trip was awesome. In the end, I was only able to bring back one Sea Nettle. I saw so many jellies, and got a lot of experience, however. 

The Sea Nettle has made a near full recovery. I put it in the cylinder tank I built reccently. It has been doing really well, and has begun to grow back its oral arms. I've slowly moved it from the ocean's salinity (1.026) down to a mid brackish water. (1.021). I figure this will be healthier, as Atlantic Sea Nettles arise from brackish waters. I didn't bring the water down too low, as this one was found in the ocean. It seems to be doing just fine, however. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

New DIY Jellyfish Tank

While shopping in a petstore the other day, I noticed they were offering a cool cylindrical aquarium. A black tower is partially attached to the tank, which allows you to hide a traditional hang-on-the-back style filter. LED lights in white and blue were included with the tank as well.

The price was really good ($69) so I picked it up. Once I got it home, I immediately began to dissect the tank and figure out how I could make it jelly safe. The hang on power filter couldn't be used, at least not if the intake was put directly inside the aquarium. I also noticed the black back tower was attached to the aquarium by setting it into the stand. It was by no means water tight, however. I thought I would start by siliconing the back tower onto the tank. I could make it into a filter chamber.

A few problems came up though. The cables that power the lights and filter ran through the tower. At the base of the tower is a master switch that controls everything. I would need to glue a piece of plastic over these components, so they aren't submerged or exposed to water at all. Secondly, I would need to drill holes into the back of the actual tank so that water can flow into the new filter chamber. Thirdly, I noticed the filter was hardwired into the lights. The AC power adapter first connects to the filter, then the wire runs out of the filter and can be plugged into the lights.

The first issue was easy enough to solve. The tank comes with a little black panel that you are supposed to attach to the tower so it can cover up the filter for aesthetically reasons. This little panel has two grooves on either side that allow it to slide up the tower. If you cut these grooves off, the panel fits snug inside the tower. I chose a spot about 2.5 inches above the switch and glued the panel in with silicone. A rubber band around the entire tower helps to keep everything in place. I also used super glue to make sure the weight of the water wouldn't cause the silicone to fail.

The part of the tank where you attach the back tower is flattened. This made it very easy to drill holes in. I made 8 columns of 5 rows of holes. Sizing of the holes really depends on the size of the jellyfish you intend to keep. Bigger holes allow for less suction, but smaller jellies may slip into these holes. After that, I set the back tower into the base of the aquarium. The tower is naturally set fairly close to the aquarium. That made it easy to silicone in. I made sure to use plenty of silicone to ensure no leaking.

I decided at this point, I had no use for the filter. I cut its two wires off. If you are good with electronics you can strip an old AC adapter and save the filter. You should be left with a stripped AC adapter and a wire with a LED connector at one end. Strip both wires and merge them. Use heat shrink tubing or electrical tape to cover the exposed wires, and you should be good to go. I drilled a small hole in the tower near the switch so I could feed the internal wires out. Then you can attach the two LED wires from the lid down to the wires that were fed through the tower. Plug the adapter into the input wire. This should have allowed you to successfully omit the filter.

At this point, I had the tank drilled out, and the back cover glued in permanently. The holes allow water to pass freely into the tower chamber. I plan on putting a Tetra Whisper Filter in this chamber. It will draw water in and then overflow it into the tank. Using some paper towel shreds as test jellyfish, I noted that the flow on the holes didn't seem to be high at all. That's good, as the jellies shouldn't get caught on the holes.

This modification was a little bit of work, and kind of redundant, but it produced a nice tank. The advantage of a tank like this is that it has actual filtration. Other cylindrical jellyfish tanks generally use air powered under gravel filtration. That works, but isn't terribly efficient. This filtration system will allow a better efficiency. I'm thinking the tank can hold Moon jellyfish, Blubber jellyfish, Lagoon jellyfish, Upside Down jellyfish, small Sea Nettles etc. I will probably test it with Moon jellyfish soon.

I was planning on originally selling this tank. I decided it might not be worth it to sell this tank on a large scale. The quality of it really is DIY. That's why I decided to explain how I built the system. Now you can go out and build your own if you want. I would be happy to build some and sell them for those who want the tank but don't like to build.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How to Keep Upside Down Jellyfish

Care for Upside Down jellyfish
Cassiopeia Sp.


Temperature preference: Always tropical
True Jellyfish: Yes
Food Preference: Upside Down jellyfish require strong lighting. They have zooxanthellae algae living inside their tentacles. This supplies a major source of food for them. As the algae photosynthesizes, it produces food that the jellyfish can utilize. Upside Down jellyfish should also be fed normal jellyfish foods, such as live brine shrimp or rotifers. I find that they will also eat decapsulated non hatching brine shrimp eggs. Upside Down jellyfish don't move often, so live food is best. That ensures that they get the food, and it doesn't settle next to them.

*For Lighting, I just use a shop lamp with a compact fluorescent bulb inside. Similar lighting set ups will work.

Tank Preferences: Upside Down Jellyfish actually prefer tanks other than the traditional kreisels. Since, they generally sit upside down on the bottom of their tank, they prefer flat tanks. Sand is generally not used in jellyfish tanks, but it can be used in Upside Down jellyfish tanks. A good tank set up is to take a 10 gallon glass or acrylic aquarium. Screen off a section of the tank for a filter or find a way to cover the intake of the filter really well. Add some sand or go with a bare bottom. Add some lighting, and its done. You could also screen off a section and then have a drain to a sump. The possibilities for Upside Down jellyfish tanks are very open. Feel free to add macro algae or mangrove plants. Upside Down Jellyfish live in swampy environments so having tanks that are more like a refugium is good. Water quality is still important, but the tank definitely doesn't need to be spotless.

Life Cycle: Embryo-planula-polyp-strobila-ephyra-metaphyra-juvenile-adult

Life Span: 1 year on to several more.

Description: As said above, Upside Down Jellyfish are generally found laying upside down on sand flats. They stick their tentacles up in the water facing the sun. Their tentacles often resemble algae or little island forests. I imagine this is to allow for camouflage and increased surface area for algae to grow. These jellyfish come in all sorts of colors, such as: Olive green, to various camo colors, blues, greys and yellows. Some have white spots on them. Some also possess longer and flat oral arm tentacles that emerge from the lower bushier tentacles. These are often colored solid green or blue.

Breeding: Upside Down jellyfish have been known to breed on their own in captivity. They actively form polyps. These polyps tend to be very invasive and proliferate.

Planula: Planula are fairly similar to Moon jellyfish planula. They tend to be of a larger size, however.

Polyps: Polyps are very large. They exist as fairly large buds on a long skinny stem. Compared to Moon jellyfish polyps, Upside Down polyps are alien. If disturbed, the polyps may twitch or move. The polyps reproduce by budding off. These buds are actively mobile and can be seen by the naked eye, moving on surfaces or in open water. The polyps like to hang from where they are attached. They also seem to be fine standing on their own as well. Hanging the polyps upside down or at and angle better mimics their natural environment and keeps them clean.

Strobila: Strobila produce one ephyra per event. Strobilation will occur in waves. The best way to cause this is too adjust the temperature in the tank and bring it up. This will mimic spring time, which causes them to strobilate. Strobilations can yield a fair amount of ephyra, as most polyps will strobilate simultaneously. Manual strobilation can occur about once a month. This will avoid over working the polyps.

Ephyra: Ephyra come off the strobila at a very large size. They don't require quite the care that Moon jellyfish ephyra require. A good setup for raising Upside Down ephyra is to get a dish or container and place them inside. I generally use a 8” culture dish. They can grow in there with standing water. Feed daily with live baby brine shrimp and change the water daily or every other day or so.

*I tried to grow ephyra in a 10 gallon tank. I assumed the larger volume would allow more jellies and faster growth. Unfortunately, they seemed to have issues finding brine shrimp in the large volume. I found growing the upside downs a little in dishes or smaller tanks will help them grow more successfully. They can be transferred to a bigger tank after they grow a little.

Juveniles and Adults: Juveniles and adults can coexist in the same tanks. Once the Upside Down infants reach about 1” they are set to be moved into their permanent home as juveniles. Adults can get fairly large at 10-14”. They generally stick around 4-5” in home aquariums. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

How to Keep Moon Jellyfish

Care for Moon Jellies
Aurelia aurita


Temperature preferences: Tropical-temperate-coldwater
True jellyfish- yes

Food preferences- Moon jellyfish can live in captivity with a main diet of baby brine shrimp (Artemia nauplii). Live food is best, but they can eat high quality frozen or preserved baby brine shrimp. Cyclopeze or other red copepods are harmful towards their health and will cause the jellyfish to decline in size. Moon jellyfish can also eat regular live copepods, blended krill and shrimps, rotifers, amphipods some very fine powder foods. Large adult moon jellies can also be fed small krill.
Tank preferences: Moon jellies will do okay in almost anything with proper flow. They need to stay totally suspended in the water. Some sort of flow is necessary for them to do this. I have kept moon jellies in cylinder tanks, pseudokreisels, and flow through style breeding systems. They should also do well in tumbler tanks, kreisels, stretch kreisels, modified tanks etc.

Life cycle: Embryo-planula-polyp-strobila-ephyra-metaphyra-juvenile-adult

Life span-About 1 year.

Description: Moon jellyfish are a fairly clear jellyfish. They are round and semi flat. Four oral arms exist in the center and thousands of hair like fringe tentacles exist at the edge of their bells. They have four gonads and stomach in the center of their bells. Moon jellyfish are fairly easy to keep and common. They also breed well. Because of these factors, they are the most commonly kept jellyfish. They were also my first jellyfish. I would say that they are the easiest jellyfish to keep that swims actively and looks fairly impressive.

Breeding: Breeding Moon jellyfish isn't particularly difficult. It can be challenging at first, but it becomes routine with practice.

Planula: Planula are fairly tiny and arent particularly visible to the naked eye. Moon jellyfish also brood planula on their tentacles before they are released.

Polyps: Polyps of moon jellyfish are fairly small. Some species bear smaller polyps than others. Polyps grow near by one another in nature and in captivity. Moon jellyfish polyps tend to reproduce and clone very fast. Large colonies can be formed in reasonable distances of time. These polyps seem to prefer to be left alone, where as some jellyfish polyps like to have a well cleaned surface to grow on. Polyps can be reared in dishes and containers with standing water for long periods of time. The healthiest polyps are ones in tanks of flowing water, with the containers flipped upside down so the polyps hang.

Strobila: The strobila often form on their own every few months. Some warm water polyp colonies will produce strobila weekly. In my personal experience, the faster polyps created ephyra that were a lot harder to raise than the ones that were slower. Colder water moon polyps will produce strobila at a slower rate at about once a month or even once or twice a year. It is fairly common to see anywhere from 12-24 ephyra per strobila. Less than that could be a sign of low health. Strobila of warm water polyps that are placed in colder climates will begin to fall apart.

Ephyra and Metaphyra: Ephyra can be raised in 8” dishes of saltwater (changed daily) or raised in flow through breeding systems. I find that the species of warm water moon jellyfish that produces ephyra weekly prefer a very clean environment. In this instance, keeping them in low batches in dishes will be suitable. In most other cases, large batch flow-through systems seem to be optimal. Ephyra can be raised entirely off of baby brine shrimp. Rotifers can also be used as a food source. This will keep the tanks cleaner.

Juveniles and Adults: Juveniles should be moved to larger tanks. It is best to move them once they have the beginnings of 4 oral arms. You may be able to also see some fringe tentacles. Adults should also be put in tanks that are appropriate for their size. Moon jellyfish tend to grow and fit their environments well. Left in a large enough tank and they can reach a max size of 12-14 inches across the bell. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Jellyfish Care Instructions

Recently I have come to realize that I have cared for a lot of species of jellyfish. I post about every one of them, but I haven't really given any very detailed posts on their care. So I will do just that. A post will be made for every species that I have kept successfully. That way I can share what methods I have used to keep them.

Let's take a review of what I  have kept so far.

Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia Aurita)

  • Coldwater
  • Warm water
Cannonball Jellyfish (Stomolophus mealagris)
  • Brown spotted variety
  • Totally white variety
Comb Jellies
  • Mnemiopsis species
  • Sea gooseberry species 
Upside Down Jellyfish
  • Multiple species
Atlantic Sea Nettles (chrysaora quinquecirrha)
  • I've only had mixed success with these. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

New Jellyfish From Florida

So just recently, I got some new jellyfish that were obtained from the Florida coast. They are a variety of Upside Down Jellyfish. I do already have a species of Upside Down Jellyfish, but I have no clue as to their origin. The ones that were shipped to me are most definitely a Florida species. Currently the Upside Down Jellyfish that is provided at are the same as these jellies.

I find Upside Down Jellyfish to be a rather interesting jellyfish. They seem to be islands with little forests on them; all of which is underwater. 

Interestingly, the darker oral arms of this jelly look like swiss cheese.  As you can see, there are these holes in the tissue on the inside. I imagine this could be space for algae to grow, or perhaps it's just a mark or age. 

My goal with these jellies is to successfully breed them in vitro style. I've tried it in the past, but haven't found any success. I feel that may be due to the fact that I've only tried it on species of jellies that wont breed in captivity naturally. To perfect the technique, I will try it with these guys. I simply have to draw some reproductive tissue from a male and female jellyfish. Then you combine the tissues in a dish of clean water. The eggs should become fertilized and develop into planula. These are located and collected. The planula are put into a new dish and left to settle into polyps. If this method works, I should be able to use it on much more difficult species, such as Cannonballs and blubbers. Neither of these species have been bred in captivity for a sustainable amount of time.

Filtration in this system is quite a bit different from the norm for jellyfish. I took a plastic cup (that once held a large frozen drink) and drilled several holes in it. I filled the cup up about a fourth with small pieces of ceramic rock. Then I put in a tall, standing filter and filled the extra space with more rock. This way, the filter is shielded by the cup. The more holes you drill in the cup, the less flow on each hole. The rocks will also provide an opportunity for bacteria to grow.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Growing Out Moon Jellyfish

My juvenile cold water Moon Jellies have been growing steadily over the past few weeks. Recently they have become large enough that they have stopped growing. I imagine I have about 50 currently. They are all inside my breeding system at the moment, though. They likely need a larger tank to grow out in. So I filled up the 20 gallon pseudokreisel tank. That should be plenty of room for the jellies until they can be sold.

In other news, I am waiting on a shipment of 5 Upside Down Jellyfish from Florida. I am going to try and use a method of in vitro fertilization to produce polyps. I will have more on that later. If it does work, I should be able to obtain polyps from more complex species.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Trip to the Florida Coast

A few weekends ago I took a trip to Florida. I flew this time, so I couldn't bring any live jellies back. I did see some pretty interesting things, however.

One day they were flying the flag signaling dangerous marine life. I saw no jellies that day, so I question what danger they were referencing. Perhaps sharks. That being said, there was also a whale migration moving through at the time. I didn't see any whales, however.

In fact, I didn't see much of anything for most of the trip. It was pretty cold for the first few days. Towards the ends of the trip it warmed up. As I was walking down a beach I came across a dead Portuguese Man of War. This was my first time encountering one in nature. Many people call them dead, when really they are just beached. They don't move much, and its easy to confuse their status. This one was clearly dead, however. It was dried all the way through. Its also worth mentioning that it was only about 1 1/2 inches in size. That is very small for a Man of War. I have heard tales of people putting them in seawater, and watching them "come back to life". Brine shrimp pull a similar trick, so I figured, why not? Unfortunately, no such trick occurred. It really didn't start to decay either, though.

Some of the Man of War's float was deflated. But overall, it was in good shape. 

Walking down a different beach, I saw yet another new-to-me jellyfish. It was a Mushroom Jellyfish or Rhopilema verilli. I spotted it from pretty far away. I attribute that to its size of around 15". That blows the Moon Jellyfish I found in Charleston (9") out of the water. I took a good look at it. Most of the jellyfish was still intact. Im fairly certain it was fully dead, however. I've noticed some deformed and beached cannonballs will still twitch muscles, for quite a while. This jellyfish showed no signs of this twitching. I found it interesting that its gonad tissues were located right under the bell. In all of the jellies I've encountered, the gonad tissue was always well protected within the bell. Cannonballs showed to be the most protective of their gonads, with the tissue being located dead center within their overly thick bells. The reason I keep mentioning Cannonballs is because they are fairly close to the Mushroom jellyfish. I originally thought that the gonads sat within the bell to receive all of the nutrition first, and to be the last thing to die. That way the jellyfish could have all the more chance in continuing its species. Perhaps with the mushroom jellyfish, it let the tissues rest so close to the outside that it could spread its gametes constantly, and have a good chance of reproducing that way.

Unfortunately, my camera died half an hour before I saw the Mushroom jellyfish. I didn't have my cellphone on me either. I guess somethings have to be told and not shown. :)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

How To Build a Complete Jellyfish Breeding System

It is long overdue for me to present a guide on building a jellyfish breeding system. I've mentioned my own several times in past posts. For the longest time I could not figure out how to build one properly. After a few tries/failures and help from other jelly keepers, I got it down.

The whole system is fairly simple in parts. I will go more into depth on the parts throughout the guide. I used,

(2) Plastic storage bins with lids. 3-5 gallons
(1) Large and low storage bin.
(1) Three cabinet plastic organizer shelf.
5ft of 1 inch PVC piping
5ft of flexible tubing that will fit your powerhead of choice.
(4) 90 degree PVC connectors
(2) 1 inch bulkheads
(1) 150 micron nylon screen mesh (Aquatic Eco Systems)
(1) Powerhead pump (the variety depends on how far away your sump is from your tanks, more on that later)
(1) Stand or surface to put your tanks on, with room under to add the sump.
A few bottles of aquarium safe silicone.
Lots of filter media with high surface area (Bio balls, plastic pot scrubbers, etc)
(1) Filter floss pad
(1) Valve for powerhead. (I used a 1/2 CPVC valve and two sections of CPVC tubing to hook it up directly to the flexible tubing. You can also buy various other valves and appropriate fittings that better fit your set up.

Additional filter

Key components of the system

  • Polyp Tank- This is the first tank in the system. Polyps are grown and kept in this tank. Water comes in from one side of the tank and drains into the ephyra tank on the other end. Ephyra that are created by the polyps will drain away into the ephyra tank, automatically. 
  • Ephyra Tank- This is the second tank, and receives water from the polyp tank. Ephyra drain off into the tank when they are produced. Water from the polyp tank produces the flow necessary to keep your ephyra up and moving around. A screen is glued in the ephyra tank so that the ephyra stay in their tank. Past the screen is a drain that leads to the filter and sump. 
  • Filter/sump area- Water will drain from the ephyra tank, and is then allowed to drain over a wet dry filter. The filter sits directly in the sump, or tank under the main system, and water will drain right into it. The sump is there to hold all of the pumps, heaters, chillers or other filters desired. A powerhead will pump water back up to the polyp tank. 
Below is a rough schematic of the system. The polyp tank is first, then drains into the ephyra tank. The ephyra tank then drains below into the wet dry filter and sump. Note the fact that the polyp tank is slightly raised so it is able to overflow. The return pump in the sump is also not pictured here. 
*I must give credit to Wyatt Patry, who works with jellyfish husbandry at the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, for presenting a blog article on how to make an ephyra catch tank.

Step 1- Assemble the polyp tank. Take one plastic container and drill a hole at one end with and appropriate size for your bulkhead. The containers are generally rectangular. I find that your bulkhead goes best at the short ends that are long ways down from one another. The location of your bulkhead is key, as it marks your water level in the tank. Mine was placed about an inch to and inch and a half from the top. Put the bulkhead in. The side with the rubber seal goes inside. Tighten the bulkhead snug, but not too tight. This should definitely be water tight, but some silicone never hurt. Your polyp tank is done, for now. 

Step 2- Assemble the ephyra tank. Start off by doing the same process as you did with your polyp tank. You want a bulkhead drilled at one end, same height as the one in the polyp tank. Now you will need to glue in your screen. The nylon screen purchased, generally comes in a much larger quantity than needed, so you will need to cut a section off. Ideally, you want your screen to go from one side of your tank to the other, and have a slight curve to it, with the curve pointing towards the drain. The curve helps increase surface area, and causes less suction on the screen. Once you have measured out and cut your section of screen, you will want to silicone the tank. Run a line of silicone up both sides of where your screen will be glued. Take a piece or ice or dip your finger in water and run it along the silicone line to flatten it. Set the screen in place so that the bottom of the screen touches the bottom of the tank. Push the screen along the flattened silicone. Now run a second line of silicone along top the screen, following your first line. Repeat the flattening process. Let your silicone dry for an hour or two, and come back to silicone the bottom. Place lines of silicone along the bottom until you have sealed up the bottom perfectly. It is generally a good idea to smooth the bottom silicone out as well. 

Step 3- Build the wet-dry trickle filter. WDT filters sound more complex than they really are. Take your plastic storage cabinet and pull the shelves out. You are going to drill several holes in the bottom of each shelf. The amount of holes and the size is something you really have to play with. You want water to "rain" from each shelf so that all of your bio media in the filter is well covered in water. Start with many small holes. Try testing the shelves in your sink (don't get soap in them!). If you notice several inches of water collecting in the bottom of your shelves, drill more holes or try slightly larger ones. Make sure all three shelves are drilled and drain properly. Take some of your filter pad and cut it so it fits into one of your shelves. This will be your first shelf. The first shelf is there to filter out larger particles. Take some of your bio media and place it into the other two shelves. It doesn't really matter what kind of bio media you get, as long as it has lots of surface area. Aquarium "bio balls" are very expensive. You can simply buy those colorful plastic pot scrubbers from the dollar store. They are cheap and have tons of surface area. Put your shelves back into your plastic cabinet. 

Step 4- Assemble your sump. The sump is the area or reservoir that goes under your tank or in this case- system. The sump holds your filter and any other unsightly or dangerous components. For my sump, I used a large flat plastic storage bin. You want to make sure it will hold all your components, and hold as much water as what drains from your system. You want to also make sure the sump isn't so shallow your powerhead cant run. Five gallons or more is generally ideal. Set your WDT filter in the sump. 

Step 5- Hook up the powerhead. As I said above, the kind of powerhead you buy really depends on how far up it will need to pump to reach your polyp tank from your sump. Take your flexible tubing and fit it up to your powerhead. I used a plastic zip tie to ensure that the tubing never comes loose. The tubing should then run back up to your polyp tank. I personally cut a small hole in my polyp tank lid, and pushed the tube in. You can clamp it or attach in using any other method of choice. Attach a valve somewhere before the flexible tube reaches the polyp tank. 

Step 6- Plumb the Polyp tank. Measure out how far your bulkhead is from your ephyra tank. Cut that length of PVC. That PVC tube should fit snugly inside the bulkhead. Again, more silicone couldn't hurt here. Take one of your 90 degree connectors and put it on the end of your PVC pipe (leading into the Ephyra tank). The 90 degree should be turned so it is facing one side of the ephyra tank. The idea here is to position this piece so that the water drain and creates a flow that runs parallel to the screen, not perpendicular. This is known as a gyre.  

Step 7- Plump the ephyra tank. The lengths of PVC here are largely dependent on how much space is between your ephyra tank and the edge of your stand as well as the height between your ephyra tank and the WDT filter. First measure how much space is between your ephyra tank bulkhead and the edge of your stand. Cut that length in PVC. Stick the PVC into the bulkhead snugly. Take a 90 degree and put it on the edge of your PVC tube. Have the 90 stick straight down. Attach another length of PVC tubing to the 90 degree. Fit on another 90 degree so it is facing forwards, and will run parallel to the ground. Add a length of PVC tubing that will carry your drain to the center of your WDT filter. Add your last 90 degree so it faces directly down into your WDT filter. If there is a lid to your WDT filter, cut a hole that will fit the drain. I find adding a short tube of PVC to the 90 degree will prevent splashing. 

Silicone all of your PVC connections after you have cut and test fitted them. Wait 24 hours for everything to dry. You can then fill it up with fresh water and test it. I would use tap water to test and rinse all component and tanks in the system. You can the dry it and fill it up with saltwater. If you have jellyfish tanks already running with the species you intend on breeding, then feel free to add some bacteria from that tank to seed your WDT filter in the new system. Otherwise, I would wait a while for bacteria to naturally find their way into your system. Then you can add polyps to their tank. 

Play with the valve and see what levels fit the system best. Slower flow is generally better. You don't want polyps being uprooted off their dishes or surfaces, but you also don't want it so slow that your ephyra aren't staying suspended in the water. 

That is how you build a jellyfish breeding system. This particular system is good for growing moon jellyfish and Sea Nettles. It has the potential to grow many other species as well!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Substrates That are Safe for Jellyfish

Some jellyfish aquariums are built to have absolutely no substrates in them. Kreisels are a fantastic example of these. Some substrates are beneficial to saltwater aquariums, and can be used in jellyfish aqauriums. It's not commonly discussed as to what you should use. I have found a few good varieties over time.

  • Fine sand- I have found that using a very fine and soft sand in many jellyfish aquariums is good. Rougher sands such as crushed coral can pose a threat, as the jellyfish may scrape into it from time to time. Rougher sands also have more space to build up decaying food. That will need to be siphoned out, which can be a risk to jellyfish. Beach sand often works well, but many pet stores sell bags of fine white beach sand as well. I wouldn't use sands that aren't from the ocean. Sand is good in aquariums for Upside Down jellyfish, Lagoon jellyfish, and Cannonball jellyfish. Kreisels and sand don't mix as the flow in kreisels will stir up the sand and it will never settle. That would be the equivalent of a sandstorm to your jellyfish. 

  • Glass pebbles with or without rock- Glass pebbles can add a cool colors to your tank, and make the bottoms look a little less bare. Rock can often go under the pebbles to help with biological filtration. This combo works well in cylindrical jellyfish aquariums. I have found that moons seem to be okay with this the most. Upside down jellyfish can tolerate it, but must be a few times larger that the pebbles or they will get sucked under or stuck between the gaps in pebbles. I tried small Atlantic Sea Nettles and had some success as well. Unfortunately the large gaps do allow for build up of decaying material. It is good to remove the jellyfish and do a major siphoning every few months. 

  • Bubble wrap?- A very interesting article by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, explained that they were able to rear Crown Jellies(Cephea cephea) by using bubble wrap. The article explains that the jellyfish were making contact with the edges of their kreisel tanks often, and perishing because of it. At some point in time they discovered that the jellyfish were repelled by bubble wrap. After coating the edges of the tank, the issue was resolved.

Picture credits,_Cephea_cephea_at_Marsa_Shouna,_Red_Sea,_Egypt_SCUBA.jpg