JellyFish Facts

Jellyfish Food

Jellyfish Food picture

Jellyfish Food

Jellyfish are structurally simple members of phylum Cnidaria. They are amongst the mobile members in this group; the stationary members include corals and sea anemones. Jellyfish depend on the wind and tides and currents of the ocean for horizontal movement. They are only capable of vertical motion which they manage by forcing water out from under them.

Jellyfish are very simple invertebrates. Their bodies do not have a brain or any specialized system for functional process like circulation, digestion, etc. Their bodies only contain a rudimentary nervous system. The nerve receptacles along their tentacles sense and react to any light, odor, pressure or any other external stimuli on their own.

Ingestion and expulsion of food is also a very rudimentary process. Jellyfish have a small digestive cavity with contains their gullet, stomach and intestine. The cavity has a mouth on one end and an anus on the other. Food goes in from one end and comes out another end of the same orifice. Gathering food is facilitated by oral arms near the mouth. Jellyfish have four to eight oral arms that help push the food into their mouth.

Jellyfish are also equipped with venom apparatus that helps them hunt their food. Jellyfish have long tentacles with a number of nematocysts inside the cnidoblast which have a trigger and a stinging apparatus. This stinging apparatus contains a hollow coiled thread with barbs lining its length. As the jellyfish floats through the ocean, its tentacles look for small fish and other creatures. When tentacles make contact with a creature, the nematocysts get activated and pressure on the nematocyst forces the stinging thread to rapidly uncoil. The thousands of nematocysts work like small harpoons and fire paralyzing toxins into their prey. When the prey is paralyzed, the tentacles and oral arms move together to push it into the mouth of the jellyfish.

Jellyfish are carnivorous animals. They usually prey on live plankton and small crustaceans. Some of the food they eat is microscopic and invisible to the human eye. However, larger jellyfish are also known to prey on small fish and other small creatures in the ocean. Some jellyfish are also known to eat jellyfish of other species! The size of the jellyfish is usually a huge determinant of what food they prey upon. Since, the size of the jellyfish can range from lesser than an inch to several feet in diameter, the food habits of jellyfish also vary dramatically from species to species. Also, there are more than 2000 species of jellyfish across the world, and while the basic diet is planktons and small crustaceans, it varies from place to place as well.

Jellyfish are difficult to keep in an aquarium, and until recently, it was not considered feasible. With new tank technologies, it is becoming more and more possible to breed jellyfish in captivity. Their food in captivity depends upon their age. When the jellyfish is very young, it is fed with rotifiers and as it grows larger, it can be fed desalted brine shrimps, even though they are a poor nutritional substitute to live plankton.

For more information on jellyfish food, check out our articles on Cyclopeeze or Brine Shrimp

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Learn more about Jellyfish, different Jellyfish Species, general Jellyfish Information, Jellyfish Pets and Jellyfish Safety

Written by and Sudarsana Sinha.

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