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Best thing since sliced bread? Aquarium creates 'peanut butter and jellyfish'

Jellyfish are usually carnivores, but this crop was fed on nothing by peanut butter for almost three months.
Jellyfish are usually carnivores, but this crop was fed on nothing by peanut butter for almost three months.Zelda Montoya and Barrett Christie / Children's Aquarium at Fair Park, Dallas

American kids have long-respected the PB&J as the best thing between sliced bread. Inspired by the lunchbox staple, staff at the Children's Aquarium in Dallas have raised a brood of moon jellyfish on a daily diet of Walgreens peanut butter, diluted with salt water and squirted into their tank. The success of the impromptu experiment took the duo by surprise — sandwiches in the break room was the backup plan — but nearly three months in, the "peanut butter and jellies" are thriving, they tell NBC News.  

Back in November, Zelda Montoya, the aquarium's jellyfish breeder, found herself with a bumper crop of moon jelly babies on her hands. The aquarium supervisor, Barrett Christie, had read about shrimps being fed peanut-based protein supplement ... so decided to give the peanut butter diet a try. 

"It just occurred to me that maybe this would work — of course we never expected it to," Christie told NBC News. "I thought it was an interesting kind of a joke." 

The duo raised 250 moon jellyfish in a plastic tank on a diet of baby sea monkeys that had been fed peanut butter. (Sea monkeys are a kind of crustacean that makes up the regular jellyfish diet.) After a couple of days, the jellyfishes' meals were switched to diluted peanut butter, straight up. 

Two weeks later, the jellies were still alive, and growing. "That’s when it dawned on us that this was really working," Christie said. And that's when he thought, "I guess we’re gonna have peanut butter and jellyfish."

Owing to their "high degree of peanutbutterocity," the staffers report in the "Drum and Croaker," a circular for aquarists, the jellies have developed a slight brown tinge. Other than that and a slightly slower growth rate, Montoya said it's been business as usual. "I’ve upped the amount of peanut butter that I’ve put in the water just as I would the regular diet," she said. 

Some grown-up jellies have since joined other adults in the main aquarium exhibit, but several still remain in a Dallas Aquarium back room sucking down the delicious nutty dinner every day. 

The team doesn't yet have a PB&J exhibit planned, and no, the jellies won't show up on a menu any time in the near future. But Montoya and Christie hope to have "second generation peanut butter and jellyfish" soon. 

H/T: Deep Sea News

Nidhi Subbaraman writes about science and technology. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+.