In this article, we’ll answer the question:
“What do jellyfish eat?”
First, you’ll find a short summary of what jellyfish eat in nature, then get a list of a jellyfish’s favorite foods that make up a typical jellyfish diet. And finally, answers to common questions about jellyfish feeding habits and nutrition.
Jellyfish, also called sea jellies, are in the subphylum Medusozoa, which is a major part of the phylum Cnidaria. A jellyfish is a free-swimming marine animal with tentacle arms that contain stinging cells to capture prey.
What Do Jellyfish Eat?
Jellyfish eat small plants (phytoplankton), copepods (crustacean zooplankton), fish eggs, and small fish (larvae). Jellyfish also eat planktonic eggs and early stages of various marine animals. A jellyfish’s diet is determined by the availability of prey in its habitat.
Jellyfish Diet (Favorite Foods)
- Baby brine shrimp
- Fish eggs
- Fish larvae
- Marine animals
- Planktonic eggs
How Often Does a Jellyfish Eat?
A jellyfish often eats once a day but the feeding frequency depends on the species and size. A small jellyfish should be fed daily but a large jellyfish can eat once every couple of days. Jellyfish shrink in size based on the amount of food eaten.
How Much Do Jellyfish Eat Per Day?
Jellyfish eat approximately ¼ scoop of dry jelly food per day when kept in an aquarium. In the ocean, a jellyfish can eat more or less food depending on the size of the prey. Jellyfish are passive feeders that eat as much as they can catch in their tentacles.
How Long Can Jellyfish Live Without Food?
Jellyfish can live up to three days without food. Sometimes jellyfish can survive weeks without food if they are very large but they will shrink and use up their ball mass to heal.
In this BBC Earth article, it reports that when certain species of jellyfish die, such as Turritopsis dohrnii, their cells reaggregate into polyps that emerge as new jellyfish.
How Do Jellyfish Get Food?
Jellyfish get food by relying on the current of the water and the wind to push food toward their tentacles to trap prey and then move it into their mouth. Jellyfish have tiny stinging cells in their tentacles to stun or paralyze their prey before eating them.
Can a Jellyfish Eat a Human?
A jellyfish cannot eat a human because it cannot engulf a human into its mouth or digest a body. However, a jellyfish can attack a human with a deadly sting that can leave thousands of very tiny stingers called nematocysts in the skin.
What Do I Feed My Pet Jellyfish?
You should feed your pet jellyfish live baby brine shrimp, mysis, and rotifers. Live prey is better to feed jellyfish because it can capture floating prey as opposed to prey that’s lying on the tank floor.
What Animals Eat Jellyfish?
Jellyfish are prey to a number of different species.
You can visit our other guide on what animals eat jellyfish to find out which predators actively feed on these marine animals.
Jellyfish Eating Habits and Diet Summary
You now know what do jellyfish eat in the ocean as well as the typical food in a jellyfish diet.
As you discovered in this guide, jellyfish are passive feeders that prey on various species for nutrition with a jellyfish’s favorite food being things like phytoplankton, crustaceans, and larvae.
I’m the lead editor and writer for Animal Answer Guide. I enjoy sharing expert knowledge on the various characteristics of common species within the five distinct groups of animals: amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles.