Desktop jellyfish tank

One of my favorite projects in MAKE magazine is Alex Andon's pet jellyfish tank from Vol 27. It's not hard to make, but people who don't want to build a tank on their own should look into Alex's Desktop Jellyfish Tank. It's a Kickstarter project with a $3,000 goal, but so far almost $80,000 has been pledged. If you place $350 or more you get a desktop jellyfish tank and starter kit.

Desktop Jellyfish Tank


  1. I saw this guy’s setup (one of his big tanks) at Maker Faire… it’s so fantastic!  Very tempted to cough up the $350…

  2. Now this kind of stuff is why I keep an eye on BoingBoing :D

    Haven’t watched the video because I’m listening to jazz before going to sleep but it looks like an awesome idea. Already thinking about saving up money for it but want to make sure the jellyfish have a good time and are easy to look after properly –because who would want miserable jellyfish? :|

    1. “because who would want miserable jellyfish? :|”

      Jellyfish don’t have a brain or central nervous system. While the organism can be subject to stress like any organism, can such a creature be deemed any more “miserable” than, say, coral?

  3. This looks like a small, standard plastic fish tank…what’s so special about it that it’s worth investing $350 or more in it?…This is not snark…I really would like to know.

      1. In a regular fish tank the jellyfish would get sucked into the filtration intakes within a few minutes.  This tank keeps the jellyfish from any strong points of suction while creating water and air flow.  The design for a plankton tank (called a “kreisel” or “spinning top” in German) was conceived by a German oceanographer in the 1960s.
        – Alex (the jellyfish tank inventor)

    1. The special aeration circulation design keeps the jellyfish more or less centered in the tank and prevents them from being sucked up into the water pump intake.

    2. While I’m sure the other comments will explain, you could just watch the video. He does describe how a jellyfish tank differs from a standard fish tank.  Short version: Jellyfish get stuck in the corners of rectangle tanks.  Jellyfish require a current (not just standing water), and jellyfish can easily get stuck in the pump/filter/vent systems of “normal” fish tanks.

      A better question would be, does anyone else already make affordable tanks specifically for jellyfish?

  4. Reply to John de Largentaye (the reply function doesn’t seem to catch on my computer):
    I get your point but if I had coral I’d want the coral to be thriving, just as if I had flowers I would want them to be healthy and “happy”: alive is alive and if (big if) they’re not aware of it themselves then _we_ still are :)

    Now reading a bit I’ve realized this probably isn’t for me but it does seem to be a very good solution that cares for them properly and I’ll try to contribute to the Kickstarter project :)

  5. Here’s a crazy thought:

    Leave the jellyfish in the ocean and find some other way to amuse yourself.

    1. If the tables were turned, the jellyfish would have you in a tank for their amusement like that!

    2. That’s a critique that could be made towards the vast majority of types of pets. At least with jellyfish, they’re a very simple organism, especially the nervous system, which makes them one of the more “guilt-free” pets a person could own.  You can feel pretty certain that they’re not feeling any misery or sadness by being “locked up.”

      Plus, maybe they like being kept safe from predators!  In nature, they’re lifespans are measured in months either due to water temperature changes, disease, or predators. In a well-kept aquarium, they can live for years.

  6. The fact that you can feed them Sea Monkeys is worth the price. My inner disappointed child very much likes that idea.

  7. Hey, Alex, I really dig this! I know it may seem like a silly question, but are jellyfish actually included with this tank or do they need to be secured/purchased separately? 

    1. I believe it comes with 2 packets of instant jellyfish that you put in the microwave for … no wait, that’s popcorn. Nevermind.

  8. He says the magic word in the video: hypnosis. Jellyfish are mesmerising. I distinctly remember being paralysed with delight in front of a UV-lit tank of moon jellyfish at an aquarium as a child, and I have been waiting for the day of commercially-priced home jellyfish aquariums ever since. 

    I can only imagine that this is part of some cunning mind-control plot on the part of the jellyfish, who have been waiting for us to evolve sufficiently that they can begin to colonise our dry-land living environments and subliminally control our civilisation. I have no problems with this plot and will be requesting my desk-top mind-control tank for my birthday/Christmas gift this year.

  9. People have asked about cost and how long jellies live. The information is included on the Kickstarter page (there’s a FAQ at the bottom, all big and blue and question-y looking), but for the lazy folk (and because I really like this design), I’ll be kind & post here. (Disclaimer: I don’t know the designer, and I’m not involved with the product.)

    Website says $350 bid gets you the aquarium setup. Another $100 (which is $50/off regular price thanks to an intro Kickstarter coupon) gets you three live moon jellyfish, food (frozen plankton that you thaw and then feed using a dropper – included in the setup kit), and starter rocks to condition the tank. You make that order AFTER you receive the tank, and they do have a guaranteed live shipping contract set up. Total cost: $450. For a 60 gallon salt water tank with animals, it really isn’t an expensive price. 

    The jellyfish will live about a year and then you’ll need to replace them. Compare $150/year to the cost of dog/cat food + litter + vet, and if the system functions correctly with no die offs, you’ll be doing well monetarily.

    Also, the tank is designed to hold things other than jellies, and because it’s a salt tank, you could add a couple interesting buddies for your moon jellies to play with. All in all, I think it’s a great deal if you’ve got the desk space!

  10. It would be remarkable if the jellyfish even understood on the most basic level that they were in a tank.  I’d think of this as an organic lava lamp, and I’d get one if $450 wasn’t a bit rich for my blood. 

  11. Jellyfish are kind of tricky to keep and I don’t think they’ll live long in this tank at the hands of a novice.  Although the tank design is awesome, it’s being presented as “easy” to a beginner audience and imho salt water aquariums aren’t for beginners. Hopefully there’s a book of instructions in there that will stop folks from filling the thing up with tap water (chlorine will kill the bacteria and the jellyfish) adding the packet of included sea salt (which should be a pretty big “packet”) and include instructions about providing live phytoplankton, daily fresh water top ups, and a basic water testing kit. Not sure what species of JF are coming with it, but many require water much colder that room temperature (which is super tricky to pull off),

    All that being said, now that we’ve eaten most of the fish that eat Jellyfish there are a bazillion of them  swimming around and the aquarium trade is unlikely to make a dent in the population.

    PS. Even though I’m a bit critical of the marketing, I would be all over the tank itself without all the starter accessories.

  12. Seems like a lot of work and $$.  Go google “artificial jellyfish tank” and you get some pretty cool-looking options for around $30 to start.  I have actually seen some of the lower-end models in action and they are pretty cool.  Not as cool as the giant jellyfish tank at the Boston Aquarium but this fits on your desktop, no krill needed…

  13. The LEDs are a really great idea. I recognize the remote, I use that LED controller all the time, has a few fun pulsating modes:

    As far as the tank, I wonder how much maintenance it requires? From my 2nd hand experience with salt tanks, they’re not exactly plug and play. If he has a greatly simplified maintenance system in place for these, awesome.

Comments are closed.