Fish that Light Up

In Monterey, Christmas trees aren’t the only living thing needing to be lit up properly.

The jellyfish caretakers at Monterey Bay Aquarium may seek out the advice of Jellyfish Care Manual when they display these fascinating creatures of the deep that “have no head, heart, brain, bones, cartilage or real eyes, yet they’re among the major predators in the ocean,” according to scientists there.

Here are a couple things we learned by reading the 79-page guide:

1. Lighting is an easy way to enhance a display’s appearance and allow visitors a better view of an almost transparent animal.

Bell Jellyfish

2. Blue lighting on moon jellies gives people more of a feeling of being out in the ocean with them. Red light gives an ominous appearance.

3. With animals like ctenophores, narrow intense lights show off the comb rows.

Ctenophores, Photo Credit: Monterey Bay Aquarium
Ctenophores, Photo Credit: Monterey Bay Aquarium

4. Even though jellies that harbor zooxanthellae in their tissues are moving in the tank, think of them like a coral. The spectrum used should contain significant amounts of light in the wavelengths between 400–500 µm.


5. Although tropical jellies can deal with very warm waters, strong lighting can rapidly heat up water to dangerous levels.

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