Can I Keep Jellyfish as Pets?


Have you ever wondered if jellyfish make good pets? Maybe you’ve spent time watching their fascinating movements at the aquarium and wondered if you could keep them in your very own home?

The answer is yes! Jellyfish are unique creatures with some special considerations, but are relatively simple with the right planning and upkeep. Startup costs will be about 350$ for the jellyfish itself, a modest tank, food, and maintenance supplies.

Overall, there are a few factors to consider selecting your jellyfish and setting up an environment. If you are interested in these graceful creatures and want to know more about how you can help them thrive, keep reading.

Caring for a Jellyfish

To acquire and keep a jellyfish, you will need the following:

  • Jellyfish species (the most common are moon jellyfish)
  • A tank with no sharp edges
  • A filtration system that produces a gentle circular current
  • Powdered food or live brine shrimp
  • Regular maintenance to keep the water debris and bubble free

Selecting Your Jellyfish

When selecting your jellyfish, they may not be common in most pet stores, but can be found in specialty aquarium stores or multiple vendors online. Most jellyfish will live 1-2 years if cared for properly.

There are a few different species you can consider, with a range of price and difficulty in raising:

  • Moon Jellyfish (most common, cheapest and easiest to care for)
  • Lagoon Jellyfish (a little more expensive, some special care instructions)
  • Blubber Jellyfish (most expensive, also requires some special care)

There are more options if you look for them, but this should give you some idea of the most common and things to look for.

Moon jellyfish are extremely common, as they are a beautiful translucent white, shaped like little medallions, and are enjoyable to watch move across the tank. They come in different sizes and start at 30$ for smaller breeds. They are perfect for first time owners as they do not require significant effort and there are lots of resources available on caring for them. They do NOT depend on photosynthesis for nutrients, so their lights are purely cosmetic.

Lagoon jellyfish are an active species that is fun to watch. They are known for spinning around like a top and hunting around the tank. They are also known as spotted jellyfish, with white spots and range from pale pink, blue, green, orange and yellow.

Blubber jellyfish are similar in that they are very active and are also more opaque. However, both Lagoon and Blubber jellies require a bit more expertise as they require algae to be cultivated as a symbiotic companion to meet their nutritional needs. These breeds are also more expensive, starting at 60$ depending on size

Tank Considerations

Jellyfish’s natural environment is a large body of water with a constantly moving current in the ocean, so it is best if the tank mimics this environment.

Jellyfish need a constant, gentle current to keep them from sinking and allow them to freely move around. The water must be completely free of debris, such as rocks or plants, and bubbles so their delicate bodies are not damaged. The tank must be round with no sharp edges for them to get caught in. Sand and gravel may not be used, but glass beads are common to create a barrier from the filtration system, which could otherwise hurt the jellies.

There are specialty tanks created just for jellyfish and the easiest option would be to select a kit made especially for this purpose. However, an experienced aquatic pet owner or dedicated first timer could DIY it.

Moon jellyfish will not require light, but other breeds like the lagoon and blubber do as they rely on photosynthesis. Either way, most owners will opt for a light as this will illuminate the jellies, allowing you to fully appreciate their movements. Most specially designed jellyfish tanks will include lights.

Food For Your Jellyfish

In the wild, jellyfish are opportunistic, lazy eaters, catching their prey as they drift along in the ocean. As a pet, jellyfish enjoy baby brine shrimp which can be bought dry, frozen, or you can even choose to breed them yourself.

The dry food is introduced as a fine powder that the jellies can catch and digest. However, this will require additional cleaning as it will dirty the tank more quickly. Frozen is a good option, but can be more troublesome to purchase and store. A breeding kit for brine shrimp will have a greater success at keeping your jellies alive and keep the water more clear, but will take time to tend to the breeding and keeping a steady diet ready to feed your pet.

It is best to feed at least once a day, but 2-3 times a day would be the ideal to keep them in optimum condition. Jellies use food for growth, so they can even be put on a diet and fed every other day to have them shrink in size.

A fun fact about jellyfish, since they are transparent you can see when they have food in their bellies! Check on your jellyfish 45 minutes after feeding them and if they have full stomachs at least once a day, you know they are getting a good amount of nutrition.

Caring For Your Jellyfish

When caring for your jellyfish, it is important to remember, technically are not fish! Jellyfish have no brain, no central nervous system and are closer to plants. Their closest relatives include corals and anemones. So, like plants, they require a bit of nurturing and daily care, but do not have the emotional companionship needs of animals.

Regular preventative maintenance is the best option to keep your jellies in prime condition. Jellyfish are delicate and can be damaged easily if they encounter debris, bubbles, or the filtration system. In the event your jelly is damaged, do not be overly concerned as they do have an amazing ability to self-repair. If you have set up your tank and filtration system properly, they should not get caught. Clearing the tank from any debris and bubbles when they appear will further prevent any damage from occurring.

Most pet breeds do not sting, but it is never a good idea to touch your jellyfish, as this can damage them. Jellyfish are 95% water, so be cautious when transporting your jellies or introducing them to their tank for the first time. The best method is to submerge your jellies into the tank, as they are usually delivered in a bag. Then after the bag has sit for some time to acclimate to the temperature, the bag is removed to allow them to enter the tank without coming into contact with air or people.

Jellyfish live in salt water, so the water of the tank will need to be monitored and maintained. 10% of the water should be changed out once a week. A pipette or siphon can be used to remove the water, and then replace with water salted at SG 1.024-1.026, added to the back of the tank’s filtration system. Try to add the water slowly so it can be generally introduced to the existing water. An optimal pH for moon jellyfish is 8.0-8.2, which can be checked with a pH testing kit.

Do Jellyfish Make Good Pets?

After learning about their care instructions, you may be wondering, are jellyfish fun pets to keep?

While is is true they do not have the same personalities as dogs or cats, they have unique traits. They are breathtaking to look at, can provide stress relief, and bring an exotic, other worldly aspect to your home.

The care instructions may sound dense, but after the initial setup, just a little daily maintenance and you can enjoy your new pet without having to worry about things like fur, allergies, walks, or damage to your home. If you already have a pet, as long as your jellyfish stays in its own tank, you have no worries about them getting along.

All in all owning jellyfish can be a fun and rewarding experience if the proper planning and maintenance is taken care of.

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