What do jellyfish eat?

Jellyfish are carnivorous animals that feed on a variety of small aquatic organisms. Based on the provided search results, here are the main things that jellyfish eat:


  1. Zooplankton: Jellyfish primarily feed on tiny floating animals called zooplankton, which includes small crustaceans like krill, copepods, and larval forms of other marine creatures123.
  2. Small Crustaceans: In addition to zooplankton, jellyfish also consume small shrimp, crabs, and other small crustaceans that they encounter while drifting15.
  3. Small Fish: Some larger jellyfish species are capable of eating small fish that swim too close to their tentacles125.
  4. Other Jellyfish: Certain jellyfish species have been known to prey on smaller or weaker jellyfish as well1.

Feeding Mechanism

Jellyfish are passive feeders that capture prey using their tentacles lined with stinging cells called nematocysts2. These cells inject venom that paralyzes the prey, allowing the jellyfish to pull it into their central mouth opening using their oral arms2. Some jellyfish species have hundreds or thousands of tiny mouths along their oral arms, allowing them to consume multiple prey items simultaneously as they drift2. Jellyfish digest their food very quickly and expel waste from the same opening used for ingesting prey, as they lack separate openings for excretion25. In summary, jellyfish are opportunistic predators that primarily consume zooplankton, small crustaceans, and occasionally small fish, using their stinging tentacles and oral arms to capture and ingest prey1235.
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