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What Do Jellyfish Eat? Discover Their Favorite Diet

Jellyfish are one of the marine animals that most people do not know much about. These jelly creatures live and depend on food like any other living organism.

Despite sporting a fragile look, they prey on smaller marine animals and use every offensive tactic in their arsenal to win a fight. See what jellyfish eat and the favorite prey they survive on.

What Do Jellyfish Eat: Their Favorite Diet

Jellyfish have foods they enjoy. They typically feast on small organisms like phytoplankton, copepods (crustacean zooplankton), small fish, and fish eggs. They are cannibalistic and can feast on themselves during relative scarcity.

Jellyfish diet is determined by food availability in its area. However, most have their favorite food, and below is a list of them:

  • Copepods (crustacean zooplankton).
  • Fish eggs.
  • Phytoplankton.
  • Small Fish (Larvae).
  • Mysis.
  • Planktonic eggs.
  • Smaller jellyfish.
  • Rotifers.
  • Small crayfish.

How Do Jellyfish Get Their Food?

Jellyfish do not actively hunt for food. They float freely and will eat anything that comes their way. As long as the prey is small and can fit into their mouth, they will attack and swallow it. They eat shrimp, krill, larvae…

Are Jellyfish Herbivores, Carnivores, or Omnivores?

Jellyfish are carnivorous marine animals that eat smaller vulnerable organisms. They do not eat herbs, so they are not omnivorous.

Jellyfish with food

The major foods that jellyfish eat are Copepods (crustacean zooplankton), Fish eggs, Phytoplankton, Small Fish (Larvae), Mysis, Planktonic eggs, Smaller jellyfish, Rotifers, and Small crayfish.

How Often Does a Jellyfish Eat?

Jellyfish typically eat once a day. Some may eat twice a day as feeding frequency is highly determined by the jellyfish size and species.

Adult jellyfish tend to eat only once every three days. Without food, a jellyfish will shrink in size. But it will immediately become bigger the moment it eats again.

Also read: What Eats Jellyfish? All About Jellyfish Predators

How Much Do Jellyfish Eat Daily?

Jellyfish generally get satisfied with little food. At best, they will only eat ¼ of dry processed jellyfish food. This measurement confirms that jellyfish are not the biggest eaters, so they can live without eating for a few days.

How Long Can Jellyfish Survive Without Food?

A jellyfish can survive for up to a week without eating. It will significantly shrink in size and may become close to immobile. It will eventually die after the seventh day. However, jellyfish do not die of hunger in the ocean because there is always food to eat, even during scarcity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Jellyfish Eat Zooplankton?

Jellyfish like to eat zooplankton or crustacean zooplankton and enjoy it as one of their favorite foods in the ocean. They eat zooplankton alongside smaller marine organisms like planktonic eggs, baby fish, and fish eggs.

Do Jellyfish Have a Mouth?

Jellyfish do have a mouth, which is located under the bell. However, they do not directly use their mouth to catch prey. Among their many tentacles, a few have openings that link directly to their mouth.

These tentacles are oral arms that transport prey to the jellyfish’s mouth. Some jellyfish species have abandoned using their mouth altogether to eat prey. They have evolved to ingest food through the oral arm.

Can Jellyfish See?

Jellyfish have eyespots that they use to sense light changes and can determine prey. So when they attack prey, they see it and know they can subdue it. Jellyfish majorly attack and eat crustacean zooplankton, Fish eggs, Phytoplankton, Small Fish (Larvae), Mysis, Planktonic eggs, and Rotifers.

Do jellyfish Eat Seaweed?

Jellyfish are majorly carnivorous animals. However, when they are young, they may eat plants for survival, including Seaweed. Apart from Seaweed, they also eat phytoplankton and algae. They will abandon plant diets as they continue to grow and eat only small mammals.

Do Jellyfish Eat Crabs?

Huge and mature jellyfish eat crabs just like any crustaceans. They eat crabs, shrimps and very small fish. They catch the fish with their tentacles, inject it with venoms and move them through their oral tentacles straight into their mouth.

Do Jellyfish Eat Starfish?

Starfish are extremely difficult animals for jellyfish to kill and eat. There are not many records of jellyfish ever eating starfish. Instead, they will avoid confrontation with the more agile starfish and opt for easier prey. They eat fish eggs, larvae, and crustaceans.


  • Melvin
    Posted April 1, 2023 at 3:45 pm

    Pretty cool article, to tell the truth when I came across it on your site I had never really asked myself what do jellyfish eat… They actually are interesting animals! Thanks for sharing

    • Post Author
      Posted April 3, 2023 at 10:13 am

      Thanks for the comment Melvin, I am glad you discovered something new about jellyfish and that you enjoyed the article!


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