What do jellyfish eat is one of the most commonly asked jellyfish facts. Jellyfish eat almost anything that is small enough for them to consume with a few variations in diets between species of jellyfish and their location.
Do you have a pet jellyfish? Then you may have to slightly change their diet from the regular prey. Read on to learn more about what a jellyfish may eat in the ocean and what to feed your pet jellyfish.
What Jellyfish Eat
What do jellyfish eat in the wild? In general, jellyfish are opportunistic predators which means that they eat whatever prey is convenient for them to eat at the time.
Many jellyfish enjoy a carnivorous menu (other sea animals) but some may also eat underwater plants.
Example of a jellyfish’s food menu:
- fish eggs
- brine shrimp
- smaller fish
The larger the jellyfish species, the bigger its prey. In other words, the smaller jellyfish will mostly eat plankton but larger jellyfish species can hunt and kill larger sea animals.
These opportunistic predators don’t just eat other water animals, they may even eat their own. Certain species, like comb jellies, will eat baby jellyfish because they live in waters with very little opportunity to feed.
What Jellyfish Eat Throughout Their Life Cycle
Some people mistakenly think that very small jellyfish are baby jellyfish. Actually, these are young medusa or young adults.
True jellyfish babies do not yet have a bell-shaped body. Before turning into an adult medusa, jellyfish grow from larvae to polyps and finally ephyra before developing into their adult bodies.
During the polyp and ephyra stages, they are reliant on zooplankton and larvae that float. They cannot trap any larger creatures because they don’t yet have the tentacle’s arms.
That is why you cannot feed them brine shrimp at this stage. This is also the reason why most pet stores do not yet sell jellyfish at this stage in their lifecycle.
What Do Pet Jellyfish Eat?
What do jellyfish eat when they are living in a jellyfish tank? Getting your hands on the regular foods in a jellyfish’s diet may be a little difficult.
However, more specialized pet stores and aquarium shops will stock appropriate food for jellyfish. The most common pet store food for jellyfish is brine shrimp.
What Do Box Jellyfish Eat?
Box jellyfish are not the biggest types of jellyfish but they like slightly larger meals. Their diet mostly consists of small fish, smaller crustaceans like shrimp or prawns and they also eat a large number of sea worms.
How Jellyfish Eat
Looking at the free shape of sea jellies, it is hard to imagine that these invertebrates are good hunters. Don’t be fooled by their mesmerizing look, they are very skilled predators.
Jellyfish use their tentacles to kill their prey. As you may already know, jellyfish sting and this is a strong advantage for finding food.
Despite living underwater, jellyfish are not very good swimmers. In fact, they are highly reliant on ocean currents to move them along which is why they cannot be too picky when it comes to food.
When jellyfish-like sea nettle float by a delicious meal, they wrap their tentacles around it sending out jolts of venom. Treating jellyfish stings is possible for humans but jellyfish prey are either stunned or instantly killed.
They then consume the animal whole since their mouths don’t have any teeth or jaws. The food stays floating around inside them until it is time to get rid of the waste materials.
Because jellyfish don’t have an anus, their waste products leave their bodies through their mouths. They swallow lots of seawater to flush out the contents of their body.
How do jellyfish eat and digest food?
Jellyfish eat their food whole, whether it is small fish, fish eggs, brine shrimp or anything else. They trap their food using their tentacles which immediately sends out a venom that either stuns or kills.
Once the marine animal can no longer move, the jellyfish swallows the food whole into their mouth where it goes into their digestion chamber. After digestion, the waste leaves their body through their mouth again.
Which Animals Eat Jellyfish?
There are several sea creatures that eat jellyfish. Sea turtles are a common example but also larger fish like spadefish and sunfish will eat jellyfish.
For many people in the world, jellyfish is considered a delicacy. This is especially true in some Asian countries. Animals lovers may feel more comfortable buying jellyfish gifts than eat them.
Can jellyfish eat humans?
Jellyfish cannot eat humans. Although they may sting you, this is an act of self-defense and not an attempt to eat people.
Do jellyfish eat crabs?
Yes, larger jellyfish species can eat larger crustaceans like crabs. They are also known to eat mollusks.