How to keep a box jellyfish

Discussion in 'Invertebrates' started by Midnight Reefer, 19 Feb 2014.

  1. Midnight Reefer

    Midnight Reefer

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    I am waiting for a pizza so decided to provide this thread from my experience and general stupidity as a jellyfish keeper and culture.....'technician'.

    If you ever wanted to keep cold water box jellyfish (a.k.a Cubozoa, box shaped jellyfish), yes those jellies swimming around the waters of cape town everyone loves touching ;)

    If you want to keep them, give this a quick read. But they are easy+safe to keep don't worry :) lol

    They are not those 'irikanji' or whatever in Australia-land, but rather a unrelated, but a similarly box shaped cnidarian with 4 tentacles.
    They won't kill you with a single sting, neither will you need to keep any special medicines like panados :). Just some vinegar and whiskey for the sting and 'mood' respectively.




    I keep jellyfish for public display in Cape town. Amongst the 3 jellyfish species currently on exhibit, 'boxies', are one of them, they will always be. The Carybdea robsoni to be exact.

    Whats amazing about cubozoa or box jellyfish?


    They are utterly and truly the formula one Ferrari engine of jellyfish. Swimming as fast as a fat person in a life jacket.
    For a jellyfish, this is light speed.

    Thus, they do not require intense or delicate current to make them happy....umm, if happiness is a harbour.....they like doing all the swimming.

    If they have food in their tissues, they will do the thing they are best at.......and actually all they do all day :p 'pulse', like a xenia but propelling themselves around aimlessly towards a better future, somewhere.

    They have eyes!
    or sort of anyways, some kind of photo receptor? they can sense light, moving objects and divers (which they attack mercilessly and sting their lips and face for pleasure). Pure predator though, hunting and killing prey by overwhelming hiding spots with its long tentacles


    What ethical considerations are there to keeping box jellyfish?


    well.. none, they're a pest mostly, I guess you should always make sure you don't let people get stung?? I dunno? give them to turtles when possible to be 'green', umm...and blue bottles are not jellyfish! so don't keep them, they suck.


    Are they rare and difficult to import because of international shipping laws?


    Well no, I catch them in the harbours of Cape town....well, a small platform outside our workplace. At least 1 a day, small or big, swimming like they are going for gold but absolutely no purpose in life but to 'pulse' around and sting things.

    As long as you are in South Africa, these are considered local animals which occur in the waters here so no invasive species worries.


    Are they difficult to keep?


    No. They kill and eat absolutely everything though. Even other aggressive anemones and pests that invade cold-water systems. It's almost like keeping the mother of all pests.


    Whats needed?


    None of those kreisel things, or even acceptable water quality with a complicated flow design. Gloves are wise though......

    They can, and in fact do, live in disgusting water like harbours, alongside boats where I catch them bobbing around like.....well, jellyfish.

    A temp of 14-17 degrees with a chiller or whatever is needed to keep them alive, probably most expensive part.

    All flow required is to keep them off the bottom of the aquarium during the day and to circulate cool water, perhaps food aswell.

    But they are jellyfish, so no direct blasting with a power head, think of them as pieces of tissue paper, they will break apart with too much direct water motion. Spraybars are old-school but work quite well.

    They rest at night aswell so a timer would make them more comfortable, even though they are used to....well. ;)

    No special lighting. Just a light above them so they know what direction is up.

    Feeding wise, not much they won't[/B] eat....anything meaty, squid, mussel, mullet, silversides, fish and mysid to name a few. Live or dead.

    Their tentacles are loaded with super uber nematocysts on crack. Which is why the sting leaves a scar for a long time sometimes. Not deadly, but not a positive experience.

    When feeding
    Gently let them pass by and attach the food to their tentacles. This results in them pulling it in and sinking to the bottom to 'chew'. They can go into turbo mode if they feel 'threatened' retracting their tentacles for a couple of mins.

    After the food is in the bell, off they go again. They will accept anything that will fit in their bell, small fish, pieces of squid and even pieces of mussel. I feed live mysid cus they're also in the harbour at times and act as an auto-feeder....cus they're stupid.

    They can survive around a week without food and regenerate quickly when there is. When tissue degradation sets in.
    But this is cruel and unusual, especially unusual :). But when tissue degradation sets in, you will best need a replacement.

    I don't know if catching local jellyfish and keeping requires a permit like the fish, but I doubt anyone would care....


    When 'catching them', do not feel bad about lifting out of the water, they won't survive 2 minutes but won't immediately die. Use a normal fishnet and a glove to 'transfer' them.

    Note about jellyfish keeping however!
    Air bubbles + jellyfish = dead jellyfish over the long term.

    Boxies can get huge bubbles in the bell, just use a glove and invert them to release the bubble. But it's not an emergency like with comb or compass jellyfish.

    Box jellyfish are tough as shit

    Keep reefing, pizza time for me.
     
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  3. LCornelius

    LCornelius Moderator

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    Absolute fantastic article!

    Thanks for posting!

    Will read it in more detail tomorrow!
     
  4. irie ivan

    irie ivan MASA Contributor

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    Lovely writeup...
     
  5. Zandy

    Zandy

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    Good article....so how would one keep them from the bottom of a tank??? would us reefers be able to keep them with our current setups? How fast do they grow?
     
  6. Evo R

    Evo R

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    Good article!

    What's the expected life span of these jellies?
     
  7. Tattoomarius

    Tattoomarius

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    Wow !! And I was wondering what to do eith my spare tank and box of extra hardware laying in the garage ;)
     
  8. MistaOrange

    MistaOrange

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    Awesome write up Wouter...
     
  9. Midnight Reefer

    Midnight Reefer Thread Starter

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    Thanks dudes, appreciate the thanks. I hope this sheds some light on the mighty box jellyfish.
    @Zandy, its alot easier than one thinks, box jellies swim quite frantically so all you need is a tiny powerhead or something to keep the water circulated if at all. I just nheed a bit of flow cus I have a meter high cylinder tank.

    Wil they work in our systems? of course, just need to be kept cold and away from water inlets/outlets. Their growth rate is mind blowing, the more you feed, the faster they grow. I have seen the tentacles, which reach about 3 meters, grow a whole meter in a day. They are eating machines
    @Evo R I don't know the lifespan the box jellies, they have been kept alive here for 6 months or more here with great success.

    I think I'm gonna pop to the harbour and actually catch some now :)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
  10. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    ja ja... if you feel stabs in your back, its me cursing you. Sitting here frustrated in the office somewhere in Gauteng.
     
  11. Zandy

    Zandy

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    Photo's or it never happened !!! lol:tt2:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 20 Feb 2014
  12. Midnight Reefer

    Midnight Reefer Thread Starter

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    Tomorrow for definite :) Got 5 monsters today, theyre absolutely huge, one as big as my head! but a bit deformed.

    Will take pics tomorrow and show you my cylinder and jelliquariums (Kreisels). I still need to fill the big one which is about a meter in diameter :)

    Also if you like, some pics of what I do in my 'jelly lab' half the day. Feeding my polyps and baby jellyfish.

    Locking up tonight and need to feed cultures when lights go out at 6 so gonna type up some acquired knowledge and share it, because technically that's part of my job now.

    I started at this workplace knowing nothing about jellyfish but a coral junkie. I have found they are just cnidarians like our coral, except have a free-swimming part of their life cycle after the polyp.


    I exhibit moon jellies in my one kreisel, which are pretty easy to care for and culture with no 'stings' attatched....get it? no :(, they don't sting at all.

    They are really tough as far as water quality goes. Have put them into 14 degree water from 24, no acclimating at all, they just pulsed around after a minute or so and its been 2 weeks still going strong lol. The polyps came from uShaka or somewhere else, I dunno but as soon as you have polyps, that's a potential endless supply of awesome jellyfish, if you know what they need etc.

    Comb jellies or Beroe's are in my double sided jelliquarium at the moment. Awesome rugby ball shaped balls of goo that have 4 lines of cilia, these light up like a UFO under white light, very cool! But fragile as hell. Collected from boat coming into the harbour of cape town after kelp collecting.

    Technically not true jellies as they aren't even cnidarians but ctenophores, silent 'c'.
    Only going to last another week as its difficult getting them to eat in captivity. If you wanna see something bloody weird looking.....
    Their diet is mainly other jellyfish but trying zoo planktonics giving lots of brineshrimp and a bit of rotifer but they don't seem to ingest it, gonna try box jellyfish tomorrow and cutting the kreisel flow off.

    Only way I have heard how to feed them is giving baby moon jellyfish which I will only have a steady supply of in a month or so. Strong swimmers though and really really strange animals!
     
  13. Criggy

    Criggy

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    So what happened to these pics?
     
  14. jono

    jono MASA Contributor

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    I have always wanted jellys. could you show me the best tank design as I would love something in my baby to be's nursery as the theme is jellies and stars.

    thanks in advance
     
  15. TaahirS

    TaahirS MASA Contributor

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    Great read!
    What size tank do they need?
     
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