SF man selling jellyfish as household pets

August 30, 2010 5:13:41 PM PDT
A San Francisco man is finding riches in the high seas not from sunken treasure, but from selling jellyfish. Now this guy is riding the pet jellyfish craze to big bucks.

What may look like a jellyfish to you and me is much more to San Francisco's Alex Andon. He sees a new kind of living art, a source of life and light that becomes the focal point of any space and he sees a way to make a good living. Andon says the pet jellyfish craze began about 10 years ago when the Monterey Bay Aquarium introduced its jellyfish exhibit.

"They really caught on, people were absolutely captivated by them, but no one had figured out how to let people have their own pet jellyfish at home, because they need special tanks and special food. So I just started experimenting and figured out a tank and a food that worked," said Andon.

It was a solution spawned by misery, when Andon's biotech job in the East Bay, you could say, went down the tubes.

"We were analyzing feces samples in a lab and extracting cholesterol from them," said Andon.

Suddenly, jellyfish never looked better. Andon designed a filtration system just for jellyfish which would keep them afloat and away from standard fish tank filters which can liquefy them. He found retailers around the world who sold jellyfish. So now you can go to jellyfishart.com and order a couple jellyfish, a specially designed desk top tank and filter and some high-nutrient plankton for about $400 -- or Andon can build you a more elaborate tank.

"We will do big tanks that, you know, cover a whole wall in a restaurant or in someone's home, or something like that," said Andon.

Despite the recent surge in popularity of jellyfish, most of the people ABC7 News stopped on the streets of San Francisco said they had really never given it any thought.

"Never gave any thought to having a jellyfish as a pet. I'm kind of a furry animal guy - dogs and cats and what not," said Hunter Hoffman.

"In all my years it never entered my mind," said SF resident Gordon Winiemko.

But after finding out the moon jellyfish don't sting, don't need any exotic care and are so abundant they're considered a nuisance species, our interviewees were able to wrap their tentacles around the notion of a pet jellyfish.

"Sounds pretty cool, I'd be down with that," said Hoffman.

"It's Gordon's birthday, time for the jellyfish gift," said Winiemko.

"They've kind of got this soothing hypnotic movement -- I mean that must be it. People still, you know, 10-15 years later go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and they want to see the jellyfish," said Andon.

They also want to buy it.


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