Knowledge Base / Jellyfish Biology


Jellyfish have a unique life cycle that involves both sexual and asexual reproduction.

Males and females release sperm and eggs into the water, which join to make a microscopic swimming larva called a planula. The planula swims until it finds a hard surface to attach to, such as a rock or oyster shell. It transforms into a small polyp that looks like a tiny sea anemone. This polyp can clone itself many times over to make a large colony. The polyps remain dormant for several months until seasonal cues trigger them to elongate and segment, which is also called strobilation. Each segment separates as a free-swimming larva called an ephyra, which grows in size to become an adult jellyfish.

Many species can be bred in captivity, however it is an involved process because jellyfish have different tank, water and food requirements at each stage in their life cycle. It takes several months for an ephyra to grow into an adult medusa.

Here at Jellyfish Art we've expanded upon breeding methods originally developed by scientists at public aquariums to develop our own in-house breeding operation. This minimizes impact on the natural ecosystem and ensures a more reliable supply for customers throughout the year. Although it's very rare, sometimes customers will get baby jellyfish growing in their tanks. These can be collected and grown in separate vessels. You may see small white organisms crawling along the edge of the tank, but these are copepods, not baby jellyfish.

life cycle of jellyfish


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