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Re-building the National Aquarium in Baltimore

Discussion in 'Speculative Zoo Design and Planning' started by biggiesmalls, 25 Mar 2020.

  1. biggiesmalls

    biggiesmalls Well-Known Member

    25 Mar 2020
    North Carolina
    Growing up as a kid, I lived in Maryland and went to NAiB at least twice a year. I still try to go up as much as possible, but it's been tough recently. I got to thinking, what if I owned the place? What would be different? So, I've decided to build a fantasy aquarium based on the general structure of the aquarium. I have just one portion of the build completed, although it is definitely the largest to plan and design. Expect posts to be laid out in the following order, once they are posted:

    1. Rebuild of "Australia: Wild Extremes" to "Conserving Oceania"
      • This new two-level build will focus on displaying rarely seen and threatened reptiles, fish, birds, and mammals of Australia, New Guinea, and the surrounding islands
    2. Rebuild of "Pier 4 (Dolphin Discovery and Jellies Invasion)" to "Everglades Outpost and Manatee Center"
      • The revamp of Pier 4 will remove the Jellies Invasion exhibit, replacing the entire building with an indoor lagoon centering around conservation of Florida and the Caribbean's manatees, seabirds, turtles, and gamefish
    3. Enhancement and additional details added to "Blacktip Reef"
      • I would consider this to be one of the greatest aquarium exhibits in the world, and I've still yet to even see it in person
      • As such, all I will be doing to this exhibit is providing a more full species list
    4. Enhancement, additional details, and new species added to "Shark Alley"
      • The new Shark Alley will feature an expanded tank, allowing the new system to feature larger species, representing a sandy caye in the Bahamas
    5. Enhancement and additional details added to "Atlantic Coral Reef"
      • Another great exhibit, all I will be doing is providing a more full species list
    6. Rebuild of "Maryland: Mountains to the Sea" to "Florida: Panhandle to the Keys"
      • This new exhibit focuses on the state of Florida, taking visitors from a pine forest in the panhandle, to a coastal plain in central Florida, the Everglades in south Florida, a beach typical of the whole state, and a reef off of the Florida Keys
      • Two "copies" of each exhibit will be on display - one with several native species representative of the habitat, and one with a single invasive species of the region, showing the devastation these animals can cause
    7. Rebuild of "Level 3 (Surviving Through Adaptation and Living Seashore)" to "Benthic Lagoon"
      • The new third level of the main aquarium structure focuses on smaller shark and ray species, which are often overlooked for conservation purposes in favor of the larger species
      • Touch tanks, egg cases, and other interactive displays will be found here
    8. Rebuild of "Level 4 (Sea Cliffs, Kelp Forests, Pacific Coral Reef, and Amazon River Forest)" to "Level 4 (Coldwater Climates, Pacific Coral Reef, and Amazon River Forest)"
      • The new Coldwater Climates exhibit will feature animals found off the Pacific United States coast, ranging from seabirds to sharks, smaller fish, and invertebrates, culminating in a large live kelp forest tank
      • The Pacific Coral Reef exhibit will feature one large live reef tank, as opposed to several smaller tanks; this will be the largest and one of the only live reef tanks in the aquarium, at the current date
      • The Amazon River Forest will remain mostly untouched, just with more full species lists and exhibit descriptions
    9. Enhancement, additional details, and new species added to "Upland Tropical Rainforest" and "Hidden Life"
      • The Upland Tropical Rainforest will receive a new species list, focusing in on endangered species of mammals, lizards, turtles and tortoises, and birds in an even more natural environment
      • The Hidden Life gallery will switch to featuring just dart frogs, talking about the effects of deforestation, pesticides, and Chytrid fungus on frog populations and what humans can do to preserve them
    The new Aquarium will be focused largely on conservation, with each gallery sending a message about a different region and a different issue. I hope you enjoy the read, please expect this to take multiple weeks to finish entirely.

    Last edited: 25 Mar 2020
  2. biggiesmalls

    biggiesmalls Well-Known Member

    25 Mar 2020
    North Carolina
    Conserving Oceania


    Entrance Area

    At the entrance, before crossing a bridge into the main glass building, there are a set of four medium size display enclosures, three for terrestrial reptiles and one for freshwater shrimp. Our displays will showcase a variety of lizard species, each from different regions of New Guinea and Australia.

    The first will represent Australia, housing one of the most iconic lizards of Australia, the blue tongue skink. There are a total of six blue tongue species found in Australia, of which five are known in the United States. The Shingleback (Tiliqua rugosa) will be the species of choice, as they are the best candidate for cohabitation. Other blue tongues come together only to mate, and even then it can be dangerous for both animals involved. Shinglebacks, however, are monogamous, and will pair and mate with one another for life. This will allow us to keep a pair in this enclosure without many issues. There are four known subspecies of these lizards - the eastern, Rottnest Island, Shark Bay, and common shingleback. The common shingleback is the largest, and the most easily obtained, so this is likely the subspecies that will be housed here.

    The enclosure will be mid-sized by zoo standards - something 8 feet long, 4 feet wide, and at least 6 feet high will do well. While the shinglebacks will not use the additional height, this will allow us to plant native Australian trees and shrubs, and gives us the possibility to introduce a more arboreal species into the enclosure as well. Artificial rockwork will make up an earthen background, with caves situated into the bottom for the skinks to shelter inside of if they choose to do so. Patches of grass will break up the natural substrate, a mix of crushed stone dust, silty soil, pure sand, and dried grasses. No water feature will be present in this enclosure, as shinglebacks require a very low humidity, and rarely, if ever, drink from still water sources in nature.

    The next enclosure will be used to represent Papua New Guinea. Since this is a far more tropical climate than much of Australia, the display will reflect this. An artificial background consisting of tree trunks, grouted so that the inhabitants can climb on it, will be included. Artificial vines, and larger branches, will stem out of the background giving a more natural rainforest feel to the enclosure. Epiphytes growing along the background, vines climbing up it, and a variety of plants including miniature palms and ferns growing throughout the enclosure will give the enclosure a very overgrown feel, and provide shelter for the inhabitants. No water source will be necessary, but regular mistings and simulated rainstorms will provide water to the lizards and plants. The substrate will be a common vivarium mixture, consisting of a variety of ingredients including tree fern fiber, coconut fiber, peat moss, orchid bark, and charcoal. Visible substrate will be topped with leaf litter, to give the enclosure a very established feel. This enclosure would be sized the same as the shingleback enclosure - approximately 8 feet long, 4 feet wide, and at least 6 feet high (these dimensions allow standard construction materials to be used, as plywood comes in 8 foot by 4 foot sheets, and glass typically comes in sheets of up to 8 feet by 6 feet).

    Species housed in the second enclosure will be a pair of tree monitors, one of the nine known species from the prasinus complex. Of the nine species, seven are known in captivity around the world, and six in the United States. Of those, only one is found on the island of New Guinea, with five of the other species being distributed on islands within several miles of the main island. Based on this, the Green Tree Monitor (Varanus prasinus) would appear to be the species of choice, however consideration would also be given to the Blue Tree Monitor (Varanus macraei), which is perhaps the most threatened of the tree monitor species.

    The third enclosure of the gallery will be of the same dimensions as the aforementioned two, and set up to mimic an Australian forest. A background with a mix of rockwork and tree trunks will give the inhabitants spaces to climb, and bases of dead trees will be positioned vertically in the enclosure for climbing spots. Water will be provided in the form of a small, private watering hole near the back of the enclosure, and plant matter will consist of tall grasses, and perhaps a few shrubs and small live trees. This enclosure will house the Australian race of the Frilled Lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii), which is larger and has a more vibrant coloration than the New Guinean race (though both are considered the same species at the time). While visitors will not be able to see these lizards perform their signature threat display, monitors on either side of the enclosure will show videos of the frilling abilities of these lizards.

    The final enclosure will be a take on a New Guinean village, with the background and foreground incorporating a scaled down portion of a typical house, made from wooden poles, bamboo stalks, and thatch roofing. The same tropical substrate from the tree monitor exhibit will be utilized, but this will be covered in a layer of matted-down grass, made to simulate heavy wear and tear. Plant life will include small-growing palms, and grasses made to simulate rice crops, set throughout the enclosure accordingly. This enclosure will be used to house a small reproducing group of Tokay Geckos (Gekko gecko), which finds the easternmost part of their range in Indonesian-controlled New Guinea. One of the largest gecko species, the tokay is named for its alert call, which is said to sound as though it is saying ‘to-kay!’. These lizards are commonly found in villages and towns, and are welcomed by locals as they control common household pests, such as roaches and spiders. With so many exhibits around the world (including in this facility) explaining the conflicts between humans and animals, this is an opportunity to share an example of successful cohabitation between humans and wild animals, and the signage on this enclosure will reflect that.

    After visiting these four enclosures, and reading extensive signage on the animals’ biology and conservation statuses, they will cross a bridge that gives a wide view of the entire two-story Oceania building, including all of the free flight birds and mammals. Once they have crossed the bridge, one final reptile enclosure awaits them.

    The final reptile enclosure will be the largest of the five enclosures in the entranceway. Something in the range of 10 to 12 feet long, 5 to 6 feet wide, and at least 6 feet high, this enclosure will feature a large artificial rock background, similar to the others, but with a working waterfall. This waterfall will cascade into a stream, feeding throughout the enclosure, draining out into one of the aquariums behind it, who’s filtration system then feeds water back into the enclosure via the waterfall. Large fallen trees will litter the enclosure, with moss growing heavily over as much of the interior as possible. A mound of substrate at the back, worked around a fallen tree stump, will provide the snakes inside with a nesting site, should breeding be successful. Largely overgrown vines and ferns will litter the enclosure, as will small temperate trees, removed once they grow too large. The species housed in here is a little-known species endemic to the New Guinean highlands, the Boelen’s Python (Simalia boeleni). This is a large species, and one of the most impressive snakes on the planet. Very little is known about their biology, and captive breeding is incredibly rare. The goal with this exhibit is to show visitors a rather unknown species, and inspire them to discover and protect other species which aren’t “mainstream” in the conservation world. This enclosure would house a pair of these snakes, who would hopefully breed given the proper conditions.

    Main Trail

    As visitors continue past the boelen’s python exhibit, they will continue on a winding trail, which gradually brings them to the second floor of the building. Along the trail, a number of exhibits, both terrestrial and aquatic, will be visible.

    The first will be the largest aquarium of the building, designed to mimic a river mouth in southern New Guinea. This will house the largest fish of this section of the aquarium, and as such it will be, by a rough estimate, 65 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 6 feet deep, for a total of around 90,000 gallons. The tank will feature several windows, running down the length of the tank, allowing visitors to see the tank and inhabitants from several angles, including through the mangrove roots. It will be an open top tank, with approximately 4 feet above the ground and 2 feet below. The same artificial rockwork featured in the previous reptile enclosures will surround this build, giving a rock wall with several cascading waterfalls along the back wall, and artificial mangrove trees being built in, with their roots coming down into the water to provide the fish within spaces to hide. The inside of the tank will be rather open, with a dark sandy substrate and a few large rocks and sunken logs to break up territories between the fish within. The water will be kept slightly brackish, as the river mouths in the area would naturally be.

    Fish species housed within would represent a few species very rarely seen in both public and private aquariums, the Papuan Black Bass (Lutjanus goldei) and the Papuan Spottail Bass (Lutjanus fuscescens). These species, which are actually snappers and not bass, are prized by anglers around the world, and are known as the strongest freshwater fish to exist. They are found in both fresh and brackish water, and can reach sizes of around 4 feet and 50 pounds. They will coexist with other medium to large game species found in the river mouths, including Barramundi (Lates calcarifer), Giant Trevally (Caranx ignobilis), Mangrove Jack (Lutjanus argentimaculatus), and Fingermark Snapper (Lutjanus johnii). Other interesting fish species housed in this tank include Wolf Herring (Chirocentrus nudus), a slender silvery fish with an impressive set of teeth, Indo-Pacific Tarpon (Megalops cyprinoides), a much smaller relative to the Atlantic tarpon, White-Spotted Grouper (Epinephelus polystigma), a small species of grouper popular in the estuaries of New Guinea, and Black Bream (Acanthopagrus pacificus), a popular eating fish in the area. Rounding off this tank will be a large, rare species of turtle found in New Guinea, the New Guinea Giant Softshell Turtle (Pelochelys bibroni). This species is one of the largest freshwater turtles in the world, reaching over 3 feet in carapace length and over 200 pounds in weight, and is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. A pair of these turtles would be kept here, in hopes that they would breed to increase captive, and eventually wild, populations.

    While the species mentioned previously are larger, they are not large enough to warrant such a massive aquarium. The largest inhabitants of this enclosure will be one of the only species of true freshwater shark, of the genus Glyphis. Two species would be appropriate here, selected based upon availability at the time of construction - the Northern River Shark (Glyphis garricki), or the Speartooth Shark (Glyphis glyphis). Both species are endangered, with no more than a few thousand individuals existing between the rivers of Australia and New Guinea. To date, no shark of the genus Glyphis has been displayed in an American facility. In absence of, or possibly in addition to, two individuals of these sharks, could be a small group of two to three Knifetooth Sawfish (Anonxypristis cuspidata), one of the smaller sawfish species found around rivermouths in New Guinea. These species would make for an exciting display, being found nowhere else in the Americas, and extremely rare elsewhere. Signage would indicate the rarity of these fish, and the importance of protecting them.

    After passing by the large New Guinea rivermouth tank, visitors would see a small tank home to one of Australia’s rarest turtle species, the Western Swamp Turtle (Pseudemydura umbrina). This critically endangered species is also one of Australia’s smallest turtles, reaching just 6 inches in carapace length. Found only in patches of Western Australia, this turtle is threatened mostly by habitat loss, as more and more areas are being developed for human use. A small breeding group would be housed in a tank here, featuring a large circular pool (with about a third of it visible from an acrylic viewing panel), and artificial rockwork giving the turtles an area to haul out and bask, and an area with sandy soil hidden from view from visitors for the females to lay their eggs. Sunken tree trunks would provide a way for the turtles to enter and leave the pool, which is planted with native aquatic plant species such as eelgrass and water ferns, and is shared by small schooling fish. This area would be covered with a fine mesh, to prevent any free-flying species from eating any of the small fish species in this pool. Fish species housed in this tank will include Threadfin Rainbowfish (Iriatherina werneri), Macleay’s Glassfish (Ambassis macleayi), Fly-Specked Hardyhead (Craterocephalus stercusmuscarum), Pacific Blue-Eye (Pseudomugil signifer), Honey Blue-Eye (Pseudomugil mellis), Empire Gudgeon (Hypseleotris compressa), and Purple-Spotted Gudgeon (Mogurnda adspersa).

    As visitors continue along the trail, learning about freshwater fish and threatened turtles of Oceania, they will come across a large exhibit, this time fully fronted with glass, rather than being open-topped. The full enclosure will be slightly smaller than the New Guinea rivermouth tank, approximately 36 feet long, 12 feet wide, and spanning at least 8 feet from floor to ceiling. The main feature of the enclosure will be the pool, spanning close to 24 feet long, nearly the full 12 foot width of the enclosure, and sitting just over 4 feet deep for a total of about 8,500 gallons. A large riverbank structure will be present off to the left side of the enclosure, left with open sandy soil substrate and a few low-growing palms or willows draping over the water, while a smaller version of this will be situated on the right. Of course, the artificial rockwork would extend around this tank, featuring planters, mocked up as tree trunks, holding more palm trees and willows to drape over the water, providing a source of shade from the intense light above. The water will feature a deep, light sandy substrate for the inhabitants to dig into, and a few sunken logs for easy access to the land area.

    This enclosure will be focused on holding some of Oceania’s larger threatened turtle species. These include the endangered Pritchet’s Snake-Necked Turtle (Chelodina pritchardi) from central New Guinea, the White-Throated Snapping Turtle (Elseya albagula), a large species native to southeastern Queensland, the Mary River Turtle (Elusor macrurus), another large southeastern Queensland native, and the critically endangered Roti Island Snake-Necked Turtle (Chelodina mccordi), a mid-sized turtle found on just one island of Indonesia. Each of these four species will be represented by a group consisting of at least one male and three females, in hopes of breeding them for reintroduction or further breeding at other facilities. The reason for such a large enclosure is the trio of Freshwater Crocodiles (Crocodylus johnstoni), one of two Australian crocodile species, and a species very rarely found in American facilities due to Australia’s export laws. For more activity within the water column, Banded Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia trifasciata), Crimson-Spotted Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia duboulayi), and Eastern Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia splendida splendida) would all be included.

    As the path starts to head upwards, the first fully terrestrial exhibit past the entrance can be seen. This enclosure is similar in size to the boelen’s python enclosure, being about 10 to 12 feet in length, 5 or 6 feet in width, and at least 6 to 8 feet in height. The enclosure features a similar substrate mix to the shingleback enclosure, with natural sand, rock dust, sandy soil, and dried grass and leaf litter. The artificial background is simple, doing little more than setting the scene for the enclosure itself, without providing much to the animal within. A few large bones, perhaps leg bones of a kangaroo, are scattered in the substrate and will be visible to the attentive eye. The highlight of the enclosure is the large dead tree, scorched by bushfires and covered with dead leaves, its base surrounded in them. A few other large logs scattered on the floor of the exhibit provide hiding places and enrichment for its inhabitant, one of the largest snakes of Australia. Plants will be scarce - just patches of tan grass found throughout the scrublands of Australia, surrounding a small natural mud-based watering hole. The snake in this enclosure is a lone female Australian Scrub Python (Simalia kinghorni). The lights would be kept dim, and it would be a bit of a challenge for the visitors to find the snake perfectly camouflaged within its habitat. This exhibit’s signage would make mention of other large Oceania species, including the more common amethystine python, the papuan python, the olive python, and the rarer oenpelli python.

    Continuing with the terrestrial theme, a large exhibit will immediately capture the eyes of guests who walk past it. Standing 24 feet long, 12 feet wide, and a full 16 feet high, featuring full sized palm trees. Branches will be secured horizontally through the palm trees with well-hidden fasteners, allowing the lizards inside to freely move about their jungle gym off the ground. Water will be provided with a fast-flowing waterfall, flowing into a stream that flows out of the enclosure and cascades down into the New Guinea rivermouth tank down below it. The background will be a large-scale version of the one used for the tree monitors, with simulated tree trunks, and room for thin vines, creeping plants, and epiphytes for an overgrown look. Moss will be allowed to take over the enclosure, leaf litter will cover the substrate below, and large patches of ferns, smaller palms, and mosses will grow throughout the enclosure’s bottom, and along the waterfall. Because of the height of this enclosure, visitors will be able to follow the main path and view it from the front, or take a detour, and go up a staircase along the side to view it from approximately 10 feet above the ground. This enclosure will house a large male Crocodile Monitor (Varanus salvadorii), and this specimen will be at least 8 feet in length. This is the second largest lizard on the planet, and the largest in terms of length. They are almost entirely arboreal, and are one of the apex predators on New Guinea. These animals bring back a feeling of prehistory, and for good reason - the velociraptors in Jurassic Park were actually modeled after a crocodile monitor, and their eyes are recordings of the actual eyes of a crocodile monitor. This large male would have a mate, however she would only be introduced for breeding purposes, as large crocodile monitors tend to be territorial, and a big male could kill a female with ease if he viewed her as a threat. She would be kept in an off-display area, not open to the public.

    If sufficient arrangements for obtaining the animals could be made, it would be possible to shorten the height of the enclosure, and entirely rebuild it to house another rare, large monitor species - the Perentie (Varanus giganteus). However, this would mean that the Oceania building has an over-representation of Australian species, and I feel that the crocodile monitor, being a New Guinean species, does a good job of balancing things out.

    As the path continues, visitors can begin to see the exit into the rest of the aquarium. Before they leave, though, there is one final open-topped aquarium, in between the size of the other two. It is round, about 12 feet in diameter and 4 feet high, for a total of about 3,000 gallons. There is again a light, sandy substrate, and the back of the tank is shrouded with dead tree trunks for structure; the front of the tank remains open for viewing. The rock wall behind the tank is seemingly overflowing with plant life, many of them growing over or into the water. This tank is built to house a group of Australian Lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri), one of the longest-lived and most prehistoric freshwater fish on the planet. These inactive fish reach lengths of 5 feet and 100 pounds over their lifetime, which can be nearly a hundred years long. This group would be housed with an experimental pair of Fly River Turtles (Carettochelys insculpta). This species is the only freshwater turtle with flippers similar to a sea turtle, and they also have a leathery shell, similar to a softshell turtle. Their snout gives them another nickname, the pig-nosed turtle. They are known to be extremely aggressive to others of their own kind, so if a pair proved itself to not work, the smaller of the two could be removed and housed temporarily or permanently in a pool in an off-exhibit holding area. To bring more life to this relatively slow-moving exhibit, four species of rainbowfish would be added - the Black-Banded Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia nigrans), the Checkered Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia splendida inornata), the Western Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia australis), and the Ornate Rainbowfish (Rhadinocentrus ornatus).

    After viewing this final exhibit, visitors would follow the remaining stretch of path from the second floor of the Oceania building, into the main aquarium building, offering them two directions to go. Those sections, the manatee sanctuary and the main aquarium, will be covered in future posts. But, our review of this section is not complete without mentioning the following free-flying species, which can be viewed at any point in time throughout the building.

    Free-Flying Species

    While the title of this section would indicate that it details species able to freely move throughout the building, there is one notable exception. These animals will be able to rotate between a few large artificial trees worked into the building each day, where guests can see them, and keepers can field questions about them. These animals would be a pair of either Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroos (Dendrolagus goodfellowi) or Matschie’s Tree Kangaroos (Dendrolagus matschiei). Both species are endangered in the wild, and either would make an excellent pair of ambassador animals, to teach guests about a type of marsupial the general population has scarcely heard of. During non-operating hours, the pair would be moved into an off-display enclosure; as such, they are not technically free ranging in the building.

    The bird collection in this building would focus largely on rarely seen or threatened birds of Oceania, with signage explaining the biology of each species and the conservation efforts being done to protect each species.

    Representatives from the Passerine order include one species of bowerbird from the New Guinea highlands, either Archbold’s Bowerbird (Archboldia papuensis) or the Fire-Maned Bowerbird (Sericulus bakeri); a choice for which species will be made based upon availability. Representing the honeybird family is the Regent Honeybird (Anthochaera phrygia), a critically endangered species from southeastern Australia. Finally, four species of Estrildid finches will be present in the aviary, those being the Gouldian Finch (Erythrura gouldiae), the Star Finch (Neochmia ruficauda), the Black-Rumped Finch (Poephila cincta cincta), and the White-Bellied Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton evangelinae).

    About a half dozen species represent the non-Passerine birds, excluding parrots. To include the iconic bird of Australia, the Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) will be displayed alongside the Blue-Winged Kookaburra (Dacelo leachii). This will allow visitors to distinguish between the two, and learn that the kookaburra actually consists of five species, rather than just the popular laughing variety. Representing pigeons and doves from the area are four species - the Southern Squatter Pigeon (Geophaps scripta scripta), the Micronesian Imperial Pigeon (Ducula oceanica), the endangered Mariana Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus roseicapilla), and the Christmas Island Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica natalis). Finally, representing the plovers is the Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles).

    Finally, a number of threatened parrot species inhabit the building. The largest of these is a pair of Glossy Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus lathami), alongside two other cockatoo species, the Muir’s Corella (Cacatua pastinator pastinator) and the Blue-Eyed Cockatoo (Cacatua ophthalmica). Two endangered Australian species will be held in groups, those being the Golden-Shouldered Parrot (Psephotellus chrysopterygius) and the rarely-seen Coxen’s Fig Parrot (Cyclopsitta diophthalma coxeni). An additional two critically endangered Australian species will be held in small, hopefully breeding, groups, the Orange-Bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) and the Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor). Representing New Guinea, a mid-sized mixed flock of Duchess Lorikeets (Charmosyna margarethae) and Striated Lorikeets (Charmosyna multistriata) will flock around the aviary, meeting at stations where guests who pay an additional fee can feed them a blend of nectars, fruits, and flowers. Finally, a large flock of Princess Parrots (Polytelis alexandrae) will flock around the building, showing visitors the beauty of a group of freely-flying parrots.

    All bird species housed in the building will be free-flying, with access to all areas except the inside of all terrestrial reptile exhibits, the freshwater crocodile exhibit, and the western swamp turtle exhibit. Double catch systems with revolving doors will be implemented at all entrances and exits, to ensure that birds are not able to escape this building. Both artificial and live trees and shrubs will be provided for all species, in a variety of sizes to suit the needs of the variety of birds housed here. For aquatic species like the masked lapwings, small areas will be situated around each open-topped aquarium for the birds to rest near the water, if they so choose. Positive reinforcement in the form of enrichment and treats will be provided to the kookaburras, to entice them to stay on a perching system down lower, where visitors can see both species side by side, and watch them exhibit their interesting natural behaviors. Finally, private areas and raw nesting materials will be provided for all birds, and these spaces monitored by keepers to encourage and monitor breeding behavior.
    Last edited by a moderator: 27 Mar 2020
  3. biggiesmalls

    biggiesmalls Well-Known Member

    25 Mar 2020
    North Carolina
    Everglades Outpost


    After leaving the two-story glass building discussing conservation efforts in Australia and New Guinea, visitors will travel through a hallway of murals depicting the Florida Everglades. Signage will explain conservation issues here, such as water pollution and overfishing on fish, boat activity on manatees, human waste on turtles, and pesticide usage on birds native to the Everglades. Red tides, algal blooms that cover the surface of the water, killing nearly everything underneath, will be discussed here as well. Finally, after reaching the end of the hallway, visitors enter a double catch, used to keep birds in, and head into a large glass-roofed structure designed to simulate the Florida Everglades.

    As visitors enter, they find themselves walking on a wooden pathway, built from the typical weathered wood found on recreational docks. On either side, they can look over and into the vast lagoon surrounding them, at the species housed within. Vast patches of seagrass will cover the sandy bottom, providing natural forage for many of the aquatic species housed in the exhibit. Above the water, a mix of live and artificial mangrove and cypress trees will provide roosting birds a place to rest, and remnants of broken-down docks off in the distance will do the same. Small sandy islands and patches of artificial beaches along the edges will give shorebirds a place to rest, forage, and nest. Star and sedge grasses will provide cover for smaller animals, and food for some of the smaller bird species in the exhibit. Visitors will continue along the path, realizing that it is slowly sloping downwards, into a room beneath the lagoon. What one may have thought was shallow water proves itself to be over 6 feet deep, viewed from a large semicircular acrylic window within the room. All is dark, except for the blue light coming off of this underwater view at the lagoon, and lighting coming off of signage for the species housed within. After visitors have viewed this area, they continue along another wooden path, heading up for a final view of the habitat, before going back into the main aquarium building.

    This enclosure will be perhaps the largest in the aquarium, covering some 94,000 square feet in what is best described as a “curved trapezoidal” shape. Ranging from 3 feet deep in the shallowest flats to nearly 7 feet in the deepest edges, the water volume of this exhibit is approximately 3.5 million gallons, making it one of the largest indoor aquatic exhibits with underwater viewing by volume, and perhaps the largest by square footage. This would also be one of the largest manatee enclosures, if not the largest, outside of Florida. The glass dome-like structure above the walls of the exhibit, allowing in natural sunlight and designed to allow birds to easily see it, will allow the exhibit to reach 14 feet above the waterline at the edges, and nearly 28 feet at the uppermost levels near the center.

    The highlights of this enclosure will be a rescued group of West Indian Manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris), taken in from sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers in the state of Florida. The adult group will consist of close to a dozen adult manatees, deemed to be unreleasable in the wild due to some form of handicap, be it injuries, captive bred status, or any number of other reasons. This group of adults will be selected as animals that are able to foster baby and juvenile manatees, and the exhibit will allow the adults to teach the young animals natural behaviors such as grazing for food. This will put the aquarium as a whole in the position to rehabilitate injured or handicapped young manatees, for eventual release back into the wild.

    Reptiles represented in this enclosure will primarily be rescued Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and critically endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), both species known to nest along the Florida coastline. Animals of varying sizes will be taken in from rescue facilities around the country, with the presumption that they cannot be released to the wild due to some form of handicap. A small population of four to five turtles in total will inhabit this enclosure, giving the animals plenty of room to graze on the fast-growing seagrass amongst the manatees.

    Other reptile and amphibian species will be minor by nature, but play an important role in this exhibit. Small native species will be established in the exhibit, breeding and feeding on insects which are also established in pockets of the exhibit (discussed further down). These animals will live in self-sustaining populations, providing natural forage opportunities to many of the bird species within the enclosure, such as the herons and egrets. Species will include the Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis), the Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus), and two species of frog, the Green Treefrog (Dryophytes cinereus) and Squirrel Treefrog (Dryophytes squirrellus) being the most appropriate. These species are all small, harmless to guests, and prolific breeders, making them excellent candidates for their role in this mini ecosystem. In addition to being food sources, they will enhance the natural feel of the exhibit, with the frogs sounding off to one another across the building, and the anoles scampering across the trail as visitors pass by them.

    Several species of invertebrate will be housed in this enclosure, providing a multitude of natural food sources to the smaller reptiles and amphibians, as well as many of the birds. A variety of crabs will live in both terrestrial and aquatic niches within the exhibit, breeding and allowing even the fish to have a natural prey source. Several species would be appropriate, and it is likely that all of them could be incorporated, as they inhabit different environments within the ecosystem. Species could include the Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus), Fiddler Crab (Uca sp.), and Marsh Crab (Sesarma sp.). Another vitally important food source for life in the Everglades is the shrimp - populations of Shrimp (Penaeus sp.) would be established before adding any predatory animals to the enclosure, allowing them to prolifically breed and provide a stable food source for nearly every animal within the exhibit. Aquatic molluscs will fill two roles within this ecosystem - a food source for many of the shorebirds, and a natural source of water filtration. Signage near large, visible colonies of molluscs would explain the vital role that they play in maintaining water quality in coastal environments, such as oysters which can each filter upwards of 50 gallons of water in a single day. Species housed in here could include Eastern Oysters (Crassostrea virginica), Ribbed Mussels (Geukensia demissa), Coquina Clams (Donax variabilis), Venus Clams (Chione cancellata), and Keyhole Limpets (Diodora cayenensis). Of course, these species are just examples of molluscs commonly found in coastal Florida environments, and other species could be selected. One other vitally important species of the Everglades is the Apple Snail (Pomacea paludosa), which provides a food source to several animals, including small predatory mammals, turtles, alligators, and specialist bird species. Populations of these snails would remain amongst the tree roots and docks, providing exciting natural feeding displays for visitors to watch.

    Terrestrial invertebrates must not be understated either, as they provide yet another vital food source to many birds and small reptiles that will be housed in this exhibit. Several native grasshopper species of the genus Melanoplus, including the Grizzly Locust (Melanoplus punctulatus), Red-Legged Grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum), Spur-Throated Grasshopper (Melanoplus ponderosus), and Two-Striped Grasshopper (Melanoplus bivittatus) would all be appropriate food sources, as would the Field Cricket (Gryllus sp.). Various species of Moths and Beetles could also be included, the numbers of which are too high to list any appropriate species here. Finally, some 25 species of Dragonflies are native to Florida, across several genera. Many of these species will be included in the exhibit, darting around performing colorful mating displays, preying on small flying insects, and occasionally being preyed upon by some of the faster species of birds. Signage in the exhibit would explain the important role that dragonflies play in the ecosystem, managing populations of common pest insects such as mosquitoes. Additional signage would explain the interesting life cycle of the dragonfly, starting out as a fully aquatic larvae, preying on everything in sight, moving on to a fully flighted, colorful aerial predator.

    The birds housed in this enclosure will largely be birds under some kind of threat in the state of Florida. Representing the Passerines include the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus), an endangered subspecies of the grasshopper sparrow found only in south-central Florida. Another representative is the Florida Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), a large songbird endemic to Florida, that is under threat from fire suppression, which limits open spaces for these birds to store their food reserves.

    Representing the waders and shorebirds, five species reside in the exhibit. The first is the American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus), a shorebird that migrates to Florida every year in the thousands. These birds are very easily disturbed while nesting, and the popularity of Florida’s beaches is resulting in decreased egg-laying in the state. The Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger), a specialized relative of the terns, is also under threat due to habitat disruption. Their eggs are laid just above the high tide line, meaning that more and more frequent storms and additional human activity destroys nests and eggs. Least Terns (Sternula antillarum) are another sensitive migratory species that is seeing increased difficulty in finding appropriate nesting sites as Florida becomes more and more developed. Finally, both the Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus) and the Wilson’s Plover (Charadrius wilsonia) are small year-round residents of Florida, having difficulty finding nesting spots as beachfront structures block the beaches from naturally receding as sea levels gradually rise. Signage will explain the plight of these birds, and explain proper etiquette around nesting birds along the beaches.

    Three smaller species of herons and egrets - the Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea), the Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens), and the Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) - will be represented in this exhibit. Signage along the paths will explain that these birds were once hunted for their feathers, nearly to extinction. Although plume hunting for these species no longer exists, they are struggling to rebound from their native wetlands being altered by a changing climate and more land development throughout the state. Continuing with the Pelecaniformes, the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is a classic Floridian bird, and a group of rescued, permanently captive individuals will be housed in this building. Feeding and informational shows off one of the broken down docks will be performed daily, explaining the animals’ biology and the story behind successfully bringing back populations after DDT nearly wiped them out. Another iconic wetland species, the Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) will also be featured, discussing their rebound from near-extinction for the plume trade, and their current state in Florida due to wetland development and prey populations. The final waterbird in this exhibit will be the Wood Stork (Mycteria americana), a federally threatened species and the only species of stork commonly found in the United States. While adult wood storks are under little threat, changing wetland environments have caused food storages, that are leading chicks to starve, and the species is in need of protection at the national level. Signage from the Audubon Society will explain conservation efforts in place for Wood Storks, as well as several other species found in the exhibit.

    One final species of bird housed in the building will be a pair of Everglades Snail Kites (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), a small bird of prey that feeds exclusively on native and exotic apple snails. This endangered species is often used as a key indicator of the overall health of the Everglades - when water quality is poor and water levels fluctuate too greatly, the kite population declines. When these numbers get back to ideal conditions, the kite population once again increases. The resident pair of kites will naturally feed on the population of apple snails in the exhibit, providing visitors with an interesting look at the unique feeding behaviors of these vitally important and unique birds.

    As with the large Oceania building, all bird species will be provided with raw materials and private areas, accessible and visible only to keepers, to encourage natural nesting and breeding behaviors.

    In the brackish waters of the lagoon, a variety of native fish species will be kept. Florida is one of the top destinations for fishing in the United States, with anglers from around the country often making annual pilgrimages to fish the fertile waters. As such, the focus will be on educating visitors about the common species of gamefish, as well as their threats, and what recreational anglers can do to ensure that the state’s waters stay productive and healthy for years to come. Three species stick out as the premier sportfish of Florida’s inshore waters - the Snook (Centropomus undecimalis), Bonefish (Albula vulpes), and the Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus). These three species bring perhaps more anglers to the state than any other, and will be the main focus of this exhibit. Snook grow to be approximately 4 feet in length and nearly 50 pounds, and a large group of them will be able to live their lives out in this exhibit, while the tarpon reach lengths of nearly 8 feet and can grow to over 300 pounds. Since tarpon start out quite small, juvenile fish to about 3 or 4 feet in length will be kept in this exhibit; once they grow larger, they can be moved to another facility, discussed in a later update. Bonefish typically stay under 3 feet in length, and a large school of them will do just fine in this exhibit. Signage on these three species will focus on the conservation efforts in place in Florida, including strict harvest limits of one or fewer fish per person, and work being done by groups such as the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust globally.

    Two species of small coastal shark will be represented in this habitat, the first being the ever-common Bonnethead Shark (Sphyrna tiburo). This being one of the smaller species of hammerhead (three species have a smaller maximum size), it is extremely popular in public aquaria, and even makes its way into the private hobby at times. These are the only known omnivorous sharks, preying on fish, crustaceans, and seagrass. They are also the only hammerhead species known to display sexual dimorphism in the shape and size of their head, making them a rather unique representative of the family. A sizable group of these sharks can be displayed in this several million-gallon exhibit, alongside another species. The Atlantic Sharpnose Shark (Rhizoprionodon terraenovae) is one of the smallest obligate ram ventilator sharks in the world, reaching a size of just over three feet. These schooling sharks have a tendency to not adapt well to public aquaria, easily spooked and often ramming hard into the walls of their tank. However, given the size of this exhibit, an experimental population of at least a dozen of these sharks will be housed here.

    Other species of smaller gamefish will also be represented in the lagoon, including the Gulf Flounder (Paralichthys albigutta). This is one of the primary species of flounder found in the state of Florida, and is one of the most popular food fish throughout the country. These fish, along with Florida Pompano (Trachinotus carolinus), a round silvery fish often found sifting the sandbed for crustaceans, Tripletail (Lobotes surinamensis), a rather odd fish that camouflages perfectly in fallen mangrove leaves, and Sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus), a black and white fish known for its human-like teeth, will be represented to discuss commercial fishing in Florida, as all four species are popular food fish. Signage will indicate current commercial regulations, as well as ways to improve them, and suggestions to increase positive relations between recreational and commercial anglers.

    While the aforementioned pompano will form large schools, moving gracefully yet quickly through the water, other schooling fish species will be added. These include the Lookdown (Selene vomer), a public aquarium staple due to their tightly-packing nature and their shimmering silver coloration, the Spadefish (Chaetodipterus faber), a heavier-bodied fish that feeds almost exclusively on jellyfish in the wild, and the Bar Jack (Caranx ruber), a very commonly seen schooling species amongst the grass flats. Special signage will be given to the lookdowns, as their unique form of camouflage has led them to be studied by the U.S. Navy, as a new form of submarine camouflage.

    A select few species of reef fish will be chosen, to explain the relationship between the nearshore and offshore reefs and the Everglades. Many species of fish found in the reefs and wrecks several miles offshore start their lives out in mangrove swamps, such as the edges of the Everglades. Species chosen will be the Rock Hind (Epinephelus adscensionis), a small colorful species of grouper popular with bottom fishermen, and the Foureyed Butterflyfish (Chaetodon capistratus), a small species popular with divers and aquarists alike. Due to the shallow water in the lagoon, no larger grouper species will be considered, as there are more appropriate habitats for them throughout the main aquarium.

    In order to promote natural foraging of both the seabirds and the larger fish species in the exhibit, expansive schools of smaller fish species will need to be added to the lagoon. Appropriate species will be prolific breeders, easily fed by keepers, and shoaling or schooling in nature to promote natural feeding responses from predatory fish. Staples should include Mullet (Mugil curema), Pigfish (Orthopristis chrysoptera), and Pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides), all primary prey species for snook, tarpon, and larger waterbirds. Smaller species will need to be done by trial, to see which species will handle the transition to an artificial lagoon environment well. Suitable species may include the Scaled Sardine (Harengula jaguana), Bay Anchovy (Anchoa mitchilli), and/or Silversides (Menidia peninsulae). Signage will detail the current state of baitfish stocks in Florida, and the impact that baitfish have on the economy and environment of the state.

    After viewing this extensive habitat, and learning about conservation efforts in the Florida Everglades, visitors will travel out in a hallway adjacent to the one they came in on, into the main aquarium building. From there, they can travel through the five levels of the building, each with a focus on conserving different ecosystems throughout the world.
    Last edited by a moderator: 27 Mar 2020
  4. biggiesmalls

    biggiesmalls Well-Known Member

    25 Mar 2020
    North Carolina
    Blacktip Reef


    The original concept behind the Blacktip Reef exhibit is, in my opinion, one of the best-executed aquarium exhibits to be found anywhere in the world. As such, I will not be making any major changes to its design, but rather providing a description of the exhibit for sake of thoroughness. I will also include an original full species list, with descriptions for each species as with the other updates. This update will also discuss future plans for the exhibit, and conservation aspects of the exhibit.

    The Blacktip Reef exhibit can be viewed by three means - the shallow portion of the exhibit can be viewed from above from several different angles, offering a birds-eye view of the school of blacktip reef sharks and other Elasmobranch species housed within. The deeper reef portion of the exhibit can be viewed by an expansive acrylic window, approximately 25 feet long and nearly 20 feet in height. Finally, for guests who wish to pay an extra fee, the animals and realistic scenery within the exhibit can be viewed up-close and personal, by means of snorkeling in the shallow reef flats, scuba diving in the deep reef, or a combination of both.

    The tank’s shallow reef flats will have a wall made of semi-artificial rockwork at the back edges, hidden from visitor’s view. Viewing ledges will extend over these portions, meaning all that visitors are able to see is the open sandy flat beneath them. This rock structure will have millions of square feet of small crevices for beneficial bacteria to colonize, breaking down fish waste naturally and promoting adequate water quality. As this area will not be seen by guests, no corals, live or artificial, will be placed here. Several bommies of rock, made from the same mixture of cement, crushed oceanic rock, and a sandy aggregate recipe, will be placed throughout the sand flats. Overhead, intense spotlights will focus their energy on these bommies, providing a nice space for corals to grow. As the exhibit starts out, life-like plaster replicas of live corals will be used alongside fragments of live corals. As the live corals grow over the years, the replicas will be removed, and utilized elsewhere within the aquarium, or moved out to other facilities. This same technique will be used to grow a living reef throughout the entire exhibit. Sand in this region of the enclosure will be a very fine grain, light colored sand, typical of a tropical Indian or Pacific coral flat. Signage around aerial viewing platforms for the exhibit will discuss the mass schooling behavior of blacktip reef sharks along the Pacific Islands, as well as the recent success story of China, and several other Asian countries, banning the sale of shark fin soup, and what that means for shark populations worldwide.

    At the reef dropoff, a large semi-artificial rock wall will drop vertically down, over 20 feet into the depths of the tank. As the water gets deeper, the light will turn from a shimmering, natural white color, to a more deep actinic blue, allowing the colors of the corals to become even more intense. Bommies of coral will not be present in this deeper portion of the reef - instead, rockwork will all be connected to the curved reef wall, including caves, and small pieces of a simulated wooden shipwreck that has been broken down to scraps over time. The sand in this portion of the exhibit will be a larger grain, darker sand, to simulate a continuing dropoff further out. The room visitors use to view this portion of the exhibit will contain signage detailing what kind of life exists in these deeper reefs, including differences in fish and coral life when compared to shallow reefs.

    Multiple daily feedings in this tank will occur, at times separate from those that visitors are inside of the exhibit. The resident sea turtles will be fed at one end of the reef flat, while the blacktip reef sharks will be fed at the opposite. Meanwhile, the smaller reef fish will be broadcast fed over the deep reef section, providing a frenzy of activity between dozens of species for visitors to view on the over 600 square foot viewing window. Guests doing after-hours tours will get to witness broadcast feeding of the live corals, where many of them will open up their polyps to capture plankton, marine snow, and bacteria broadcasted throughout the water while many of the fish species sleep.

    This exhibit will cover nearly 6,000 square feet, with about 90% of the area being the expansive 6 foot deep reef flat, and the rest being the deep reef area. The deep reef will, more or less, be a circular shape approximately 30 feet in diameter, 20 feet deeper than the surrounding reef flat. The reef flat will be semicircular, broken up by the rockwork, viewing ledges, keeper access, and equipment rooms. Total gallonage in this exhibit will be approximately 375,000, which is about 40% larger than the previous exhibit.

    The highlights of this tank will of course be the Blacktip Reef Sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus), of which a large school of nearly two dozen will be present. As the sharks grow, their graceful swimming patterns will captivate guests, amazed by their quite peaceful nature. Blacktip reef sharks are a rather shy species, with wild examples usually fleeing from divers on sight. While they are predatory, they often take on medium sized reef fish, and will not attempt to take down prey close to their size. With multiple daily feedings, any species of smaller reef fish housed in this tank will, for the most part, be safe from predation. Of course, with sharks, things do happen occasionally, but in such a large enclosure, and with annual restockings, this will hardly be noticeable.

    Another highlight shark species in this exhibit is the Zebra Shark (Stegostoma fasciatum), a large, endangered benthic species from the Indo-Pacific. These gentle giants will be popular with guests and divers alike, and a group of one male and two to three females will be kept here for breeding purposes. Different stages of the zebra shark’s life cycle can be seen on the third level of the aquarium, from egg cases up to their drastic pattern change (discussed in a future update). These sharks will be especially popular with snorkelers and divers in the tank, as captive individuals have been known to seek out human interaction when divers enter the water.

    This exhibit will be limited to the aforementioned two species of sharks. Other candidates that were considered include grey reef sharks, which are a bit more flighty, not as schooling in nature as the blacktip reef sharks, and a bit more aggressive, various species of wobbegong shark, which will be too hard for visitors to view, and whitetip reef sharks, which are nocturnal and known to be far more predatory than the blacktip reef sharks.

    Three species of threatened rays will be housed in this exhibit, the first being a sexed pair or trio of Round Ribbontail Rays (Taeniurops meyeni). This deepwater Pacific species is threatened by habitat loss as reefs become more and more degraded, coupled with its slow reproductive habits. These little-known rays reach a massive size, often hitting 6 feet in diameter, over 10 feet in length, and nearly 300 pounds in weight. The aquarium will be working to breed these rays, and distribute them amongst other facilities.

    The next species of ray is one of three Himantura species, also known as the whiprays. All three species are threatened for the same reasons as the ribbontail ray, and are larger growing species reaching 4 to 6 feet across, and over 10 feet in length. All three species have similar leopard-like patternings, and are native to shallow reef flats in the Indo-Pacific. Species under consideration, to be chosen upon availability, include the Honeycomb Whipray (Himantura undulata), the Reticulate Whipray (Himantura uarnak), and the Leopard Whipray (Himantura leoparda). For breeding purposes, only one species would be selected for this exhibit, to prevent inter-genus hybridization.

    The final species of ray in this exhibit will be a pair of any of the large, critically endangered wedgefish species. The major species of interest is the Bowmouth Guitarfish (Rhina ancylostoma), however if obtaining these rare animals proves to be an issue, a suitable alternative can be found in the White-Spotted Guitarfish (Rhynchobatus australiae). Both are extremely large species, typically reaching lengths over 8 feet in aquariums. Both species are found in the tropical Indo-Pacific, and are known to establish well in captivity, most notably the Newport Aquarium for bowmouth guitarfish and the Shedd Aquarium for the white-spotted guitarfish. Either species would be suitable for a captive breeding program, and as an ambassador for the large guitarfish species, nearly all of which are critically endangered.

    Just one species of large, threatened reef fish will be housed in this exhibit, the first being the iconic Napoleon Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus). A lone male will be housed in this tank, with hopes of eventually finding a mate for him and becoming one of, if not the, first aquariums in the world to successfully reproduce this species in captivity. These fish are under threat due to the destruction of coral reefs, as well as being a prized food fish in some areas. These massive turquoise-colored wrasses are known to be exceptionally inquisitive, often coming close to see divers and aquarium goers alike, and our large male will be a stunning addition to the exhibit.

    Reef fish selected for this tank need to fulfil a number of requirements. As the tank is to be eventually switched over to a living reef, the fish need to be considered to be at least somewhat reef-safe, meaning they won’t cause any significant damage to corals. The size of this tank allows for the selection of many species that, to home aquarists, are not considered to be reef-safe. Fish also need to be either larger solitary or shoaling fish, or smaller schooling fish in order to be visible to guests. Many small species such as gobies, blennies, and clownfish will not be included in the exhibit plan, as they will not be visible to visitors. Based on these requirements, a variety of tangs, angelfish, large wrasses, small schooling species, and a select few other species will be included in the tank.

    The bulk of the reef fish in this exhibit will be tangs, also known as surgeonfish. These fish are somewhat peaceful, don’t nip at coral polyps, tend to school well, and are available in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and sizes making them a great candidate. Representing the tangs are fourteen species, including the Achilles Tang (Acanthurus achilles), a gorgeous medium-sized species found around Hawaii, the Powder Brown Tang (Acanthurus japonicus), a medium species found around the Philippines, the Powder Blue Tang (Acanthurus leucosternon), an aggressive medium species found throughout the Indian Ocean, the Clown Tang (Acanthurus lineatus), a larger species found throughout the Pacific islands, the Orangeshoulder Tang (Acanthurus olivaceus), a large peaceful species found in Indonesia and several Pacific Islands, the Sohal Tang (Acanthurus sohal), a large aggressive species found in the Red Sea, the Convict Tang (Acanthurus triostegus), a prolific species found throughout most of Oceania, the Kole Tang (Ctenochaetus strigosus), a small but aggressive species found around Hawaii, the Blue Unicorn Tang (Naso brevirostris), a very large species found throughout the Indo-Pacific, the Naso Tang (Naso lituratus), a common species from throughout the Indo-Pacific, the Bluespine Unicorn Tang (Naso unicornis), a large species found in Southeast Asia, the Vlamingii Tang (Naso vlamingii), a very large species from Indonesia, the Blue Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus), an iconic Indo-Pacific species made famous by a pair of Disney movies, the Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens), a small bright yellow species from Hawaii, and the Scopas Tang (Zebrasoma scopas), a color-changing species from Southeast Asia. Of particular interest are the blue tangs and yellow tangs, as these species tend to school extremely well, and schools of well over 100 blue tangs and approaching a thousand yellow tangs could be implemented. Other species will be implemented in groups of a few dozen at most, with the particularly aggressive species being limited to one shoal in the single digits.

    Another largely represented group of species in this exhibit will be the angelfish, which are not commonly regarded as reef-safe. In small aquaria this may be the case, but in large, established reef aquaria, angelfish can do little damage by picking on polyps. As with the tangs, a variety of species are available, in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. The smaller varieties of angelfish will be represented by small groups of 20 to 50 individuals, which will perform large spawning events at night, visible to guests on after-hours tours. Species representing this group include the Half Black Angelfish (Centropyge vroliki), an Indonesian species, the Potter’s Angelfish (Centropyge potteri), a brightly-colored deepwater Hawaiian species, the Golden Angelfish (Centropyge aurantia), a shy species from Vanuatu, the Coral Beauty Angelfish (Centropyge bispinosa), a stunningly colored species from Fiji and Indonesia, the Bicolor Angelfish (Centropyge bicolor), a two-tone blue and yellow species from throughout the Indo-Pacific, the Flame Angelfish (Centropyge loricula), a popular bright orange aquarium fish from the islands of the South Pacific, and the Lemonpeel Angelfish (Centropyge flavissima), a bright yellow angelfish from New Caledonia.

    Representing the mid-size angelfish are four species from throughout the Indo-Pacific, including the Regal Angelfish (Pygoplites diacanthus), with several races from the Red Sea, South Pacific, and Indian Ocean, the Goldflake Angelfish (Apolemichthys xanthopunctatus), a golden-colored species from Christmas Island, the Cream Angelfish (Apolemichthys xanthurus), a black and pale yellow Sri Lankan species, and the Lamarck’s Angelfish (Genicanthus lamarck), one of the few sexually dimorphic angelfish species. These four species are best kept in mid size groups, and will likely form pairs or small harems throughout the exhibit.

    Finally, representing the large angelfish are a group of six species. Of the angelfish, these six will pose the most threat to live corals, and can be removed if need be. These angelfish will remain solitary or form pairs, depending on the individual. They are best introduced in very small groups, and allowed to either roam the reef alone or pair up if they so choose. Species include the Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator), an iconic reef species from throughout the Indo-Pacific, the Majestic Angelfish (Pomacanthus navarchus), a relatively peaceful species from throughout the Indo-Pacific, the Blueface Angelfish (Pomacanthus xanthometopon), a species with bright blue facial markings from Indonesia and Sumatra, the Passer Angelfish (Holacanthus passer), an aggressive species found in Pacific Central America, the Annularis Angelfish (Pomacanthus annularis), a common species from Southeast Asia, and the Koran Angelfish (Pomacanthus semicirculatus), a rather impressive blue and brown species from the Indian Ocean.

    A number of butterflyfish will be exhibited in this display, as they make for interesting residents, usually forming small groups and traveling about the reefs looking for food. This is another group that’s typically not considered to be reef-safe, although in a large enough tank, they will be able to cause little damage to established coral colonies. Species will include the Black and White Butterflyfish (Heniochus acuminata), a look alike of the moorish idol, the Double Saddle Butterflyfish (Chaetodon ulietensis), a species named for its two vertical black bands, the Teardrop Butterflyfish (Chaetodon unimaculatus), a widespread species with a large central spot on its back, the Vagabond Butterflyfish (Chaetodon vagabundus), a prolific white butterflyfish, the Copperband Butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus), a common aquarium fish from Australia, the Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish (Forcipiger flavissimus), an instantly recognizable species from throughout the Indo-Pacific, the Sunset Butterflyfish (Chaetodon pelewensis), a light orange colored species from the South Pacific, the Lemon Butterflyfish (Chaetodon miliaris), a pale yellow Hawaiian species, the Mertensii Butterflyfish (Chaetodon mertensii), a widespread white and yellow species, the Spotband Butterflyfish (Chaetodon punctatofasciatus), a very similar species to the sunset butterflyfish from Indonesia, the Latticed Butterflyfish (Chaetodon rafflesi), a bright yellow species with a lattice-like scale pattern, the Auriga Butterflyfish (Chaetodon auriga), a larger species with a trailing dorsal fin, the Pakistan Butterflyfish (Chaetodon collare), a stunning dark brown and red species from Indonesia and Sri Lanka, the Indian Vagabond Butterflyfish (Chaetodon decussatus), a pale yellow species found around Sri Lanka, the Orange Butterflyfish (Chaetodon kleini), a small pale orange species from New Caledonia, the Saddleback Butterflyfish (Chaetodon ephippium), a pale yellow species with a large black saddle-like marking on its rear, the Raccoon Butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunula), a species named for the black marking over its eye, the Black Back Butterflyfish (Chaetodon melannotus), a rarer species found throughout the Indo-Pacific, the Golden Butterflyfish (Chaetodon semilarvatus), a coveted aquarium fish with a beautiful blue marking over its eye, and the Black Pyramid Butterflyfish (Hemitaurichthys zoster), a black and white banded species from Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

    A variety of smaller wrasse species will be kept in this tank, and will be expected to remain individuals and not perform any shoaling behavior. Their slender build, inquisitive nature, and fast maneuvering skills will make them interesting denizens of the reef for visitors to watch. Signage will represent the plight of the largest species of wrasse, the napoleon wrasse, as well as explain the sleeping habits of the smaller wrasse species, many of which cocoon themselves up in a coat of mucus and sleep under the sandbed, tucked behind a rock. Species housed in the exhibit include the Bird Wrasse (Gomphosus varius), a bright green species named for its long beak-like snout, the Red Breast Wrasse (Cheilinus fasciatus), a smaller cousin of the giant napoleon wrasse, the Banana Wrasse (Thalassoma lutescens), a bright yellow-colored fish from Fiji and New Caledonia, the Lyretail Wrasse (Thalassoma lunare), a brilliant dark green fish from around the Indo-Pacific, the Blunthead Wrasse (Thalassoma amblycephalum), a kaleidoscope-patterned slender wrasse species from the Maldives, and the Saddle Wrasse (Thalassoma duperrey), a common reef dweller in Hawaii, where it will often swim right up to divers and snorkelers.

    A number of odd-shaped fish, including pufferfish and triggerfish, will be included in this tank. These species tend to pick on benthic sharks and rays, even to the point of blinding them. However, with the large species of sharks and rays housed here, the substantial tank size, and a selection of peaceful fish, this can be easily avoided. The pufferfish in this tank will likely be lone specimens of three larger species, as conspecifics can become aggressive towards one another. Species will include the Arothron Puffer (Arothron meleagris), a very widespread species coming in both a golden and a black and white color form, the Stars and Stripes Puffer (Arothron hispidus), another wide ranging species covered in various spots and stripes, and the Dogface Puffer (Arothron nigropunctatus), a playful-looking species from the Solomon Islands. These puffers, even in such a large aquarium, will likely spend most of their time near the exhibit glass, watching viewers down low. These are a very curious fish, and will certainly entertain divers within the tank. A total of five triggerfish species will be housed in this tank, a few introduced in small numbers expected to remain as individuals, and a few expected to form either loose shoals or even tightly-packed schools. The iconic Clown Triggerfish (Balistoides conspicillum) and the Undulate Triggerfish (Balistapus undulatus) are both known to be very aggressive species, and will be introduced in small numbers to curb this tendency. Two Hawaiian species, the Picasso Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus) and the Rectangle Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus rectangulus), are known to loosely shoal around reef flats, swarming the bommies when food is introduced. These two species will be introduced as a single group, allowing the two species to intermix and investigate the reefs as they please. The final species is a tight schooling species from Hawaii, the Black Triggerfish (Melichthys niger). This species will be introduced in a large group, and will likely patrol the upper regions of the deep reef in search of food.

    While they do carry venomous dorsal spines, the family of rabbitfish plays a vital role in the reef ecosystem. They consume nuisance algae more so than any other reef dweller, and as such schools of multiple species will be introduced into the exhibit. The smaller Foxface Rabbitfish (Siganus vulpinus) will swim around both the deep and shallow reef, removing algae from small crevices, while the larger Scribbled Rabbitfish (Siganus doliatus) and the Yellow Blotch Rabbitfish (Siganus guttatus) will swim in smaller groups, handling larger visible algae amongst the major rock outcrops.

    In the bottom of the deep reef, especially around the shipwreck’s remains, schools of soldierfish will wait patiently for a meal to drop down. These bright red, mid-sized fish hover over, in, or under structure almost motionless, until food comes their way. Their bright coloration mixed with their massive eyes for locating prey in dark water makes them an iconic character, a must-have in a deep reef tank. This exhibit will house four Indo-Pacific species - the Brick Soldierfish (Myripristis amaena), the Pinecone Soldierfish (Myripristis murdjan), the Crowned Squirrelfish (Sargocentron diadema), and the Samurai Squirrelfish (Sargocentron ittodai).

    Two species of anthias, the Bartlett’s Anthias (Pseudanthias bartlettorum) and the Lyretail Anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis), will form schools a thousand strong, patrolling mostly the deeper reef, occasionally moving up to the reef flat in search of more food. These bright pink and orange fish, while small, will have a large presence in such a massive, mixed species school. These fish are incredibly active, feeding on small plankton and mysis shrimp at least five times per day, entertaining visitors with frequent daily feedings. Other schooling fish include two species of chromis, the Black Axil Chromis (Chromis atripectoralis) and the Blue-Green Reef Chromis (Chromis viridis), which will form similar size and structured schools to the anthias, providing a contrast in color with their bright turquoise sheen. Moving up in size, a school of Mono Argentus (Monodactylus argenteus), a mid sized silvery fish from Thailand, will gracefully swim around the shallow reef flats, in a school of roughly 200 fish. Finally, a school of several dozen Orbicular Batfish (Platax orbicularis) will move slowly throughout the upper reaches of the deep reef, looking similar in build to an angelfish but each dwarfing any angel found in the tank. Especially interesting will be the inter-species schooling seen in this exhibit; anthias mixing with batfish, monos mixing with chromis, and potentially even further than that. These schooling fish, while generally small and uneventful on their own, provide an important component of the reef that provides a natural feel to visitors and inhabitants alike.

    Life on the reef doesn’t end with the fish. Invertebrates throughout the reef remove fish waste, algae, and parasites, while live corals provide splashes of color and structure for life to flourish, and marine turtles glide gracefully throughout both the flats and the deep pockets of the reefs. Due to the size of this tank, it is suitable for one of the largest sea turtle species on the planet, the Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta). The individual in this tank, similar to the original aquarium’s late Calypso, will be a large, handicapped adult animal that has been deemed unsuitable to return to life in the wild.

    While the loggerhead patrols the tank, undoubtedly considered by him to be his domain, tens of thousands of small invertebrates will move throughout the reef below. Snails will cover the rocks and sand beds taking up algae, while hermit crabs scurry through the rockwork gathering up any leftover food, and shrimp set up cleaning stations on their preferred coral to clean fish of parasites. Thousands of each species will be added at a time, allowing some to naturally outcompete others and take over as the main caretaker of this underwater ecosystem. A mix of Nassarius Snails (Nassarius distortus), Nerite Snails (Nerita sp.), Astraea Snails (Astraea tecta), Cerith Snails (Cerithium sp.), Banded Trochus Snails (Trochus sp.), Turban Snails (Tectus fenestratus), Mexican Turbo Snails (Turbo fluctuosa), Zebra Turbo Snails (Turbo sp.), Queen Conchs (Strombus sp.), and Fighting Conchs (Strombus sp.) will be added to stir the sand bed and remove unwanted algae, while Scarlet Hermit Crabs (Paguristes cadenati), Left-Handed Hermit Crabs (Calcinus laerimanus), and Blue-Legged Hermit Crabs (Clibanarius tricolor) will clamber around the rocks picking up leftover food from the frequent feedings. Amongst the corals, Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni), Coral Banded Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus), and Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) will set up their respective stations, cleaning the mouths and sides of the various fish species, removing any dead skin or parasites from them in exchange for food.

    Corals added into this exhibit will be too numerous to list, and many lack common names. However, corals can be split up into four main types - Small-Polyped Stony Corals (including the likes of Acropora, Montipora, Pavona, Pachyseris, Heliopora, Hydnophora, Pocillopora, Seriatopora, Stylophora, and Porites), Large-Polyped Stony Corals (including the likes of Euphyllia, Turbinaria, Caulastrea, Favia, Platygyra, Herpolitha, Fungia, Merulina, Symphillia, Cynarina, Lobophyllia, Galaxea, and Trachyphyllia), Soft Corals (including the likes of Cladiella, Klyxum, Sarcophyton, Sinularia, Briarium, Clavularia, Rhodactis, Lobophytum, Xenia, and Zoanthus), and Gorgonians (including the likes of Erythropodium and Rumphella). A variety of colors, shapes, and sizes of coral colonies will be introduced, over time, to create a living reef with a naturally-formed appearance.

    After spending some time viewing this exhibit, visitors can take stairs, escalators, or elevators to the second level of the aquarium, where they can view another Florida-themed exhibit, highlighting the many habitats that Florida has to offer, as well as the problems that invasive species are causing in the state.
  5. biggiesmalls

    biggiesmalls Well-Known Member

    25 Mar 2020
    North Carolina
    Florida: Panhandle to the Keys


    As visitors head up to the second level of the aquarium, they are greeted with an entranceway shrouded in palmettos and various native Floridian species of vines, inviting them to head into the next gallery of the aquarium, Florida: Panhandle to The Keys.

    As guests enter, they will walk down a hallway with exhibits in the wall to both their left and right. As they continue further, they will turn a curve, heading in the opposite direction and seeing the same style of gallery, with exhibits on both their left and right. This relatively simple build style pays homage to the original National Aquarium, in Washington D.C., which was closed in late 2013. As guests view the exhibits to either side of them, they will notice that each exhibit appears exactly the same on their left and right, with the exception of the species housed within. To their left, visitors will look back in time, at an example of what Florida looked like before the introduction of several invasive species. To their right, visitors will look into the future, at what Florida may look like in time, after invasives take over the rich habitats the state has to offer. Visitors will be educated on prominent invasive species, and what can be done to stop them, throughout their time in this gallery.

    After walking into the gallery, visitors will see an enclosure approximately 10 feet long, 5 or 6 feet wide, and 6 feet high on their left. There will be a sandy soil covering the bottom, barely visible underneath thick layers of pine straw, with the occasional littered pinecone or small twig. Sections of pine tree trunks will be scattered throughout the exhibit, with the background incorporating these as well. Dwarf palmettos and other bushy, low-growing palms will be scattered throughout the enclosure, with a small private watering hole located at the back, just barely visible creeping out through the palms. Frequent mistings will leave the substrates moist, even with large visible puddles in some areas. Hanging from overhead will be live sections of pine trees, with their rich green needles hanging into the enclosure. Sphagnum moss will hang from branches placed carefully within the enclosure to mimic fallen trees, perhaps from a tropical storm. The first inhabitant of this enclosure will be the longest snake species native to the United States, the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi). This jet-black snake, with its red and orange underside, reaching lengths of up to 9 feet, will be an impressive display animal. The second inhabitants will be a pair of Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus), a threatened species throughout the United States, native largely to the pine forest of Florida. Signage in front of the enclosure will detail threats to these reptiles, including habitat loss and threats by invasive species.

    Turning to their right, visitors will see the exact same enclosure, with one altered detail in foliage - the Brazilian pepper plant will be overgrowing throughout it. This invasive species poses a major threat to native wildlife, as it can quickly outcompete native species for space and resources. As a result of the additional plant growth, the enclosure has gotten darker, simulating additional shade. In addition to this, the enclosure will hold several permanent puddles of water throughout the substrate, with the pine straw trampled and buried within. The main inhabitants of this enclosure will be Cane Toads (Rhinella marina), the largest species of toad in the world, native to Central America. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, these toads were introduced to control pests on sugarcane farms, and quickly took off. As indigo snakes are far more opportunistic than most other snake species, a cane toad is not out of reach for them. However, ingesting the toxins produced by glands behind the toad’s head will quickly kill the snake, allowing the toad to break free. The toads are so toxic that they have even been able to kill crocodiles in Australia, where they have also been introduced. Sharing the enclosure with the toads will be a colony of Giant African Land Snails (Achatina fulica). These large snails can wreak havoc on native plant species and crops, can transmit pathogens between both plants and humans, and have been known to eat away at building foundations for a source of calcium. Signage will explain how the toads and snails got here, the damage that they are causing in Florida, and what can be done to stop them.

    Continuing down the hallway, guests will come across an aquarium on their left, mimicking a lake in central Florida. Several native fish and plant species will be present within, with a muddy substrate on the bottom capped with plenty of leaf litter and rotting logs. Algae will be allowed to take over all but the front glass, with thicker macroalgae growing along the logs, short-stemmed plants growing from the substrate, taller plants growing from the back, and native floating plants growing on the surface, with their roots dangling into the water below. Hundreds of native Mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) will constantly eat small microorganisms at the water’s surface, while Brown Bullheads (Ameiurus nebulosus) swim around the bottom of the tank, which holds over 1,000 gallons. Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) and Redear Sunfish (Lepomis microlophus) will scatter themselves throughout the tank, with a small group of Florida Gar (Lepisosteus platyrhincus) floating just above them. This is a perfect example of what a lake in Florida should look like, without the introduction of non-native species.

    Looking to their right, guests will see the same aquarium, with entirely different fish species. Rather than lots of stemmed plants growing at various heights, very fine-stemmed macroalgae has been allowed to take over the tank, growing in large clumps throughout. As a result, the lighting has dimmed, due to the algae at the surface taking up most of the sunlight. Mosquitofish have been replaced by hundreds of Pike Killifish (Belonesox belizanus), which eat the mosquitofish at an alarming rate, allowing mosquito populations to grow to unprecedented levels. Native sunfish, which spawn somewhat slowly, have been replaced with much faster-spawning Black Acara (Cichlasoma bimaculatum) and Mayan Cichlids (Cichlasoma urophthalmus), which can easily outcompete native sunfish, including the coveted largemouth bass. The bullheads are gone, and in their place are a few decent-sized Walking Catfish (Clarias batrachus), which can decimate a body of water then leave, traveling a short distance over land to reach a new water source. Gone are the Florida gars, replaced by a three foot long Asian Swamp Eel (Monopterus albus), as thick around as a soda can. Like the walking catfish, these fish can travel short distances over land, and can survive watering holes being dried up during droughts unlike native species. Signage here will explain the species of invasive freshwater fish, their impact on the environment, and what can be done to stop them.

    Taking the curve to travel another direction, visitors pass by signage for some larger species of invasive animals, which aren’t present within the aquarium. These include feral hogs, argentine tegus, and nile monitors. On the opposite wall, signage talks about the critically endangered Florida panther, and the threats it faces due to invasive species, diseases between its very limited population, vehicle collisions, and pesticides.

    Continuing around the bend, visitors are faced with a large enclosure on their left, with a pool at the front and a large bank at the back, filled with an open sandy soil. Live and artificial mangrove, cypress, and other native trees fill the back of the enclosure, giving the birds within perches to rest on. The 20 foot long enclosure is fully fronted in glass, with the water level reaching about 30 inches off the floor - an additional 30 inches of depth is visible by standing close to the enclosure and looking down into it. The water is clear, and still, with minimal obstructions within it and a sandy bottom. Floating plants litter the top, with vines creeping down from the top walls of the enclosure, along the rocky background, littered with artificial tree trunks. The animal inside, a lone female American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), was selected as it will not outgrow the enclosure, while a male certainly would. This female alligator will not be a wild-patterned animal; rather, it will be some form of color morph, decided upon availability. In alligators, albinism, melanism, piebaldism, hypomelanism, and leucism are all known genetic morphs and would be up for consideration. Gliding in short bursts around the enclosure would be a colony of American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), alongside a few surplus Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea ajaja) from the Everglades Outpost exhibit. Sharing the water with the alligator will be breeding groups of Barbour’s Map Turtles (Graptemys barbouri) and Diamondback Terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin), both of which are some of the most threatened turtle species found in Florida. Finally, sharing the pool, is a shoal of Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides), perhaps the most popular gamefish in the United States. This enclosure represents the iconic Everglades scene, with a wide variety of animals from throughout the region. Signage would discuss genetic morphs in alligators, and biodiversity throughout the Everglades.

    To the right, all species will be gone, replaced with invasives. The alligator will be replaced with a trio of female Burmese Pythons (Python bivittatus). Perhaps the most infamous invasive species in Florida, these massive snakes have wreaked havoc on the Florida ecosystem, eating everything from mammals to alligators. The ibises and spoonbills are gone, replaced with a large group of juvenile Green Iguanas (Iguana iguana), another of Florida’s famous invasives. The bass, map turtles, and terrapins have been replaced with the more drab Red-Eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans), Yellow-Bellied Sliders (Trachemys scripta scripta), Mozambique Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus), and Spotted Tilapia (Tilapia mariae). While the turtle species are native to Florida, they have undoubtedly experienced a population increase due to people dumping them as pets. Sliders, tilapia, burmese pythons, and iguanas are all extremely prolific breeders, allowing them to take over the Everglades at alarming rates, especially in the absence of major predators. The native trees will be replaced with non-native melaleuca trees, and native climbing plants replaced with the old world climbing fern. Signage here will reflect these somber changes, discussing these eight invasives, and what can be done to stop them.

    The final exhibit in the gallery represents the Florida Keys, in a natural reef tank. The inhabitants of this reef will be small, inviting guests to gather around and focus on the natural behaviors of fish that snorkelers and divers tend to miss out on. This tank will focus on gorgonians, rather than typical corals, as they are far more prolific in the Keys than any other type of coral.

    Fish species housed inside include a large harem of Royal Grammas (Gramma loreto), an iconic two-toned purple and yellow aquarium fish. These fish have interesting behavioral displays, such as gaping their mouths at one another in a display of dominance. Joining these fish will be a group of Chalk Basslets (Serranus tortugarum), a pale blue and purple fish with an orange dorsal side. These small species have a personality that far outweighs their size, darting around sections of the rockwork claiming it as their own. Finally, a small group of Cherub Angelfish (Centropyge argi) will be included, which will slowly and methodically float around the rockwork, picking at algae and sponges hidden within it. No fish in this tank is likely to exceed three inches in length - but the tank will captivate visitors, nonetheless.

    Invertebrate life in this tank will focus on the smaller reef denizens as well, including a pair of Coral Banded Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus) which will clean even the smallest of fish, such as the species housed in this mini reef. Emerald Crabs (Mithrax sculptus) will scurry through the rockwork alongside Blue-Legged Hermit Crabs (Clibanarius tricolor), picking out detritus and uneaten food. Meanwhile, Astraea Snails (Astraea tecta) and Chestnut Turbo Snails (Turbo castanea) will take care of algae and nuisance bacteria throughout the tank.

    Sessile invertebrates will primarily be composed of Photosynthetic Gorgonians, mostly of the genera Pseudopterogorgia, Muriceopsis, Diodogorgia, Pterogorgia, Plexaura, Muricea, Eunicea, Swiftia, and Briareum. These gorgonians function very similarly to typical corals, feeding off of both sunlight and plankton in the water column. Several Rock Flower Anemones (from the genera Epicystis, Condylactis, and Bartholomea) will live amongst the rockwork, as will large colonies of Mushroom Corals (Ricordea sp.). During after-hours tours, this tank will come alive, with the corals, invertebrates, and fish all coming out into the open in a mad dash to eat.

    As visitors pan to their right, they will see the same tank, without most of the life. The original rockwork will still be in place, while the corals have all died off, leaving just skeletons behind. The anemones and mushroom corals have been replaced with Pacific Acorn Barnacles (Megabalanus coccopoma). The original reef fish, crabs, snails, and shrimp are gone, eaten by the tank’s new inhabitants - Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans). These apex predators were introduced to Florida’s reefs in the 1980’s, and have flourished since. These large-mouthed fish eat as much small marine life as they can get to, and their venomous spines prevent any native predators from eating them, even killing those that attempt it. Signage in front of the exhibit will elaborate on Florida’s lionfish problem, and explain the effect it has on coral reef ecosystems and fisheries.

    After viewing the final tank in this gallery, visitors will again ascend to another floor of the main aquarium, featuring Benthic Lagoon, a gallery dedicated to small, primarily benthic shark and ray species.
    Last edited: 26 Mar 2020
  6. biggiesmalls

    biggiesmalls Well-Known Member

    25 Mar 2020
    North Carolina
    Benthic Lagoon


    The Benthic Lagoon exhibit will focus on smaller benthic species of shark, which are often overlooked from a conservation standpoint in favor of the larger shark species. This gallery will bring light to the plight of these smaller coastal species, and bring in several species of Elasmobranch that few people have ever had the chance to lay eyes on.

    This gallery will feature eight display tanks along the walls, each showcasing a pair or small breeding group of one or multiple shark species from around the world. Regions represented will include Madagascar, Indonesia, New Guinea, Japan, and Australia.

    When visitors first approach the gallery, their ears are first filled with the sounds of slowly roaring waves, and the faint calls of seabirds. The air will smell of salt, and they may even catch a light freshwater misting as they walk into the entrance of the building. Small palms litter the entrance, which is a rocky outcropping that looks to come straight out of a tropical island from a movie. As guests enter the gallery itself, they will see a black room, with lighting focused solely on the tanks and lagoons housed within. Seven line the walls, while an open-topped pool sits dead center in the room.

    As visitors head to their left, they see their first tank - a rather large one, 20 feet long and 8 feet wide, holding nearly 5,000 gallons. This tank features dim blue lighting, and a gray sandy bottom, making visitors feel as though they’ve gone deep into the waters off of southern Japan. Rocks placed densely throughout the tank provide the inhabitants with a number of caves, crevices, and ledges to rest on, while a variety of dull-colored Sponges, of which there are too many species to properly identify any single one, slowly encrust the rockwork. The background behind the rock is painted a deep, dark blue, giving the illusion that the tank continues far past the rocks in the foreground. The tank houses four species of small coldwater sharks, the first being a pair of Blotchy Swellsharks (Cephaloscyllium umbratile). These voracious predators are common in Japan’s deeper waters, and often take down very large prey items for their size. They are one of the few predators of the hagfish, and one of the few benthic species that eats other sharks and rays - when well-fed in aquaria, this will hardly be an issue. While not considered threatened, these sharks allow visitors a look at an under-represented species in captivity. The next species is a little-known catshark from a small Japanese peninsula, the Izu Catshark (Scyliorhinus tokubee). These small, magnificent-patterned sharks reach a length of just 16 inches, and as such a small group of four to five of these sharks would be suitable for the aquarium, including two males. Being such a small species, they rarely take down fish, preferring shrimp and smaller cephalopods. Two species of medium-sized catshark, the Cloudy Catshark (Scyliorhinus torazame) and the Graceful Catshark (Proscyllium habereri), will be kept in small groups of two or three each. Both these species grow to lengths of just under two feet, preying mostly on small benthic fish and occasional crustaceans and cephalopods. The cloudy catshark is a darker colored species, another common resident of deep Japanese waters, and is not considered threatened. Meanwhile, the Graceful Catshark remains a little-known species, covered in an array of dark spots upon a light banded background. This species is one of the finback catsharks, a small family of catsharks with dorsal fins, similar to many of the smooth-hounds and dogfish. Other fish species represented in this tank will include the Chub Mackerel (Scomber japonicus), the Japanese Sardine (Sardinops sagax melanostictus), the Japanese Hakeling (Physiculus japonicus), a small bottom fish species related to cod, and the Black Filefish (Thamnaconus modestus), a disk-shaped fish that preys on small invertebrates. Signage will indicate the marine biodiversity of the Japanese coastline, from large to small.

    Moving down the room, a smaller tank, roughly 8 feet long and holding just shy of 1,000 gallons, holds a small breeding trio of a critically endangered species, the Short-Tailed Nurse Shark (Pseudoginglymostoma brevicaudatum). These cousins to the more common Atlantic nurse shark reach just 30 inches in length, being the smallest of the four species of nurse shark by far. Native to East Africa and Madagascar, this species is under threat due to its slow reproductive habits, and the destruction of reefs and fisheries due to the prevalence of dynamite fishing along its range. Signage will explain the destructive habits of dynamite fishing, the plight of the short-tailed nurse shark, and brief details of its three relatives, the larger Atlantic, Pacific, and tawny nurse sharks. The tank will be set up as a reef tank, with a variety of Small-Polyped Stony Corals and Large-Polyped Stony Corals from the area, as well as a basic set of invertebrates including Cerith Snails (Cerithium sp.) and Nassarius Snails (Nassarius distortus). Also represented in this Madagascan reef biotope will be two larger species of anemone, the Bubble-Tip Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor) and the Carpet Anemone (Stichodactyla mertensii). One or several of these anemones will host a pair of Madagascan Clownfish (Amphiprion latifasciatus), a large, recently-described species of clownfish found only in Madagascar and the Comoros. A pair of the rare Tiger Angelfish (Apolemichthys kingi), a medium-sized species from East Africa, will grace the reef, picking away at sponges living within the rockwork. Another rare species of angelfish, the Mauritius Angelfish (Centropyge debelius), will slowly hover in and out of the rockwork in a small breeding group. A small but impressive group of Gem Tangs (Zebrasoma gemmatum) will dart back and forth over the reef, as well. These tangs are one of the most coveted marine aquarium fish, fetching prices in the thousands of dollars with private hobbyists. A larger population than perhaps anywhere else in the world of these tangs is found off the coast of Madagascar. Finally, a large group of nearly a dozen Half-Banded Flasher Wrasses (Paracheilinus hemitaeniatus), a rare but colorful wrasse species from throughout Madagascar and South Africa.

    Carrying on and turning a corner, a row of three 10 foot aquariums, holding just over 1,000 gallons a piece, will be displayed. Each will represent shark species from a region of Australia and New Guinea, beginning with a tank representing southern New Guinea. In a small pocket of the Gulf of Papua, travelers can find a threatened species of epaulette, the Papuan Epaulette Shark (Hemiscyllium hallstromi). Coastal habitat degradation and overfishing practices are leading to the decline of this species, which would be reflected in the signage. The tank will feature the mangrove habitat these sharks are typically found in, with a mixture of artificial roots coming from the background, and live trees being planted on ledges within the background of the tank. As the live plants grow, albeit rather slowly, they will replace the artificial root structures in the tank. The fine sandy substrate will provide a habitat for several species of fish and invertebrates, including a colony of sand-sifting Fighting Conchs (Strombus sp.), which will help to keep the sandbed clean and free of trapped nitrogen gases. Positioned along the mangrove roots and minimal rockwork will be several colonies of Hammer Coral (Euphyllia ancora) and Duncan Coral (Duncanopsammia axifuga), both large-polyped stony corals commonly found in shallow reef lagoons. A large Bubble-Tip Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor) will host a pair of the New Guinean form of the Maroon Clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus) known as the morse code clownfish, which is a rich red species with a number of aberrant white markings. These are one of the largest species of clownfish, known to be quite aggressive when kept in small aquaria. Darting throughout the root structures will be two species of damselfish, the blue and black Tufi Damselfish (Chrysiptera niger) and the bright yellow Milne Bay Damselfish (Chromis howsoni). Dominating the upper waters of the tank will be a large Vanderloos Angelfish (Chaetodontoplus vanderloosi), one of the newest-described angelfish species in recent years. Finally, representing the wrasses will be two small groups of fairy wrasses, showcasing the Walindi Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus walindi) and the Sailfin Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus marinda), alongside a pair of colorful and slightly larger Argus Wrasse (Halichoeres argus). While discussing the threats to Papuan epaulette sharks, the signage will also indicate the importance of coastal mangrove forests such as the one represented here.

    Continuing along the second wall of exhibits, guests will see a rather bare tank representing a harbor in Southern Australia. A few large rocks will litter the sandy substrate, with various species of macroalgae growing atop them. A simulated wooden dock, abandoned years ago due to severe weathering, will jut down into the water, providing a shady spot for the inhabitants to live. The sharks within will consist of two small species of wobbegong - the Cobbler Wobbegong (Sutorectus tentaculatus) and the Dwarf Spotted Wobbegong (Orectolobus parvimaculatus). While these species are not under any current threats, overfishing and destruction of reefs may soon take its toll on these unusual sharks, which are rarely represented in aquaria. This tank will allow these sharks to be properly viewed by visitors, resting motionless in the sand, patiently waiting for their next meal to drop down. Both these species reach lengths of slightly under three feet, making them smaller members of the wobbegong family. As wobbegongs are known to eat nearly any species that wanders in front of their mouth, no matter the size, additional species will need to be top-dwelling fish. The choice for this tank will be a shoal of Southern Needlefish (Hyporhamphus melanochir), a common sport fish reaching a length of about 20 inches. Signage on this exhibit will detail the marine life of Southern Australia, including its several species of coldwater wobbegongs.

    The final tank along this wall will move to representing Northern Australia, in a typical coral reef environment. A fine sandy substrate, elaborate live rock structures, and bright, shimmering lights will set the tone for a natural, under-represented reef biotope. Corals will be too great to list, but will include a selection of Small-Polyped Stony Corals (including Acropora, Stylophora, Seriatopora, and Montipora), Large-Polyped Stony Corals (including Acanthastrea, Echinophyllia, Favia, and Lobophyllia), and a number of Zoanthids (Zoanthus sp.), all native to Australian reefs. Littered in the rockwork will be a number of Maxima Clams (Tridacna maxima), a smaller-growing relative of the infamous giant clam. A mix of Trochus Snails (Trochus sp.), Nassarius Snails (Nassarius distortus), Scarlet Hermit Crabs (Paguristes cadenati), and Blue-Legged Hermit Crabs (Clibanarius tricolor) will keep the tank tidy, while a small colony of Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis) will set up cleaning stations for the sharks and various bony fish kept in the tank.

    Three shark species will be housed in this tank, beginning with a lone Northern Wobbegong (Orectolobus wardi). This small species reaches just two feet long, making it an excellent candidate to further represent the wobbegongs in a reef environment. A trio of Banded Sand Catsharks (Atelomycterus fasciatus), a deeper reef species, will represent the catsharks in this display. These species reach just 18 inches long, and their slender, flexible build will allow them to easily use space around and within the rockwork. Finally, a pair of Speckled Epaulette Sharks (Hemiscyllium trispeculare) will live within this tank. Being a slightly larger species reaching about 30 inches, these sharks will mostly utilize the open space along the bottom of the exhibit, often sitting on the sand up against the glass for visitors to easily see. These are one of the most attractive benthic shark species, with a rich tan base color and thousands of fine black spots marking their body amongst several larger spots near the head.

    Other fish species in this exhibit will begin with the tangs, represented by the Chocolate Tang (Acanthurus pyroferus). As juveniles, these small tangs are a bright yellow coloration, mimicking several species of dwarf angelfish. As they continue to grow to their adult size of roughly 8 inches, the yellow on the edges fades into a rich brown color, with the center of their body becoming a light orange. A small shoal of these tangs will add constant activity to the tank. Representing the angelfish are a trio of Watanabei Angelfish (Genicanthus watanabei), another of the largely plankton-eating angelfish species. Also represented will be a pair of Yellow Angelfish (Centropyge heraldi), a one of the small, bright yellow species that the chocolate tang mimics as a juvenile. Wrasses will be represented by a pair of Earmuff Wrasse (Halichoeres melasmapomus), a small but bright pink species, and a small colony of Labout’s Fairy Wrasses (Cirrhilabrus laboutei), a purple species with outlines that almost make it appear as if they are a cartoon drawn on paper. A lone Midas Blenny (Ecsenius midas) will dart throughout the upper and middle water columns of the tank, entertaining guests with its antics. Smaller species darting throughout the rockwork will include small groups of Stark’s Damselfish (Chrysiptera starcki) and Oblique-Lined Dottyback (Cypho purpurascens), both colorful species representing the shallower regions of the reef. Rounding out the bony fish selection would be a mixed school of two anthias species, the Lyretail Anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis) and the Painted Anthias (Pseudanthias pictilis), both commonly found in large schools amongst the reef drop-offs. Signage on this exhibit will explain the plights of Australia’s lesser known reefs, as well as the infamous Great Barrier Reef.

    Turning another corner, visitors see two more displays, with the first being another 8 foot tank, slightly under 1,000 gallons in volume. This display will house a species representing Western Australia, in a darker cave-like setting. Rocks will crowd the upper levels of the tank, with a few carefully-positioned holes allowing light to shimmer down into corners of the cave. The substrate will remain mostly open, with various pieces of live rock scattered throughout. A breeding group of up to four Network Wobbegongs (Orectolobus reticulatus) will be housed here, representing what is believed to be the smallest species of wobbegong, reaching just 20 inches in length. Sightings previous to 2008 were believed to be juvenile northern wobbegongs, until scientists described the network as a new species. Very little is known about this species, and signage on the exhibit will show efforts being done to research and protect wobbegongs in Australia. The other species housed in this display will be the John Dory (Zeus faber), a rarely-displayed species coming under threat due to its frequency as bycatch from commercial fisherman. Due to its unique shape, very little can be done to commercial fishing nets to stop these fish from being taken in, leading to eventual overharvest.

    The final display along this wall is another nearly 5,000 gallon exhibit, representing species from Eastern Australia. The tank will represent a seagrass lagoon, with a sandy bottom barely visible beneath thick patches of grass. Rock structures will remain mostly bare, save for a few incidental Sponges that will slowly encrust them, given enough time. These will be designed with caves and crevices, allowing the sharks to hide, and allowing for enrichment as food is placed within small nooks of the structures. This will provide an entertaining display for visitors, watching how benthic sharks feed in the wild, picking crustaceans out from in between rockworks. Three species of shark will be represented here, the largest being a trio of Blind Sharks (Brachaelurus waddi). These species are one of only two in their family, related to only the bluegrey carpetshark. These sharks are a bluish gray color, speckled with white spots, and their adult size of nearly four feet makes them a great display species. A group of roughly a half dozen Collared Carpetsharks (Parascyllium collare) will swim quickly throughout the grass stalks, hiding within and occasionally leaving in search of food. These unique benthic species are relatively plain-looking, being tan in color, save for a single thick black band across their gills. Finally, a slightly smaller group of Orange-Spotted Catsharks (Asymbolus rubiginosus) will round out the shark collection housed in this exhibit. These are one of the smallest catsharks, reaching just 15 inches in length. The genus Asymbolus is constantly receiving updates, as scientists discover new species almost annually. Signage for this exhibit will describe new shark findings to visitors, explaining that new species of benthic shark from a number of genera are discovered every year. Bony fish in this display will comprise just one species, the Sunburst Butterflyfish (Chaetodon kleinii). A large group of 40 to 50 of these fish will swarm through the upper water column, providing a nice contrast to the sharks below. Very little invertebrate life will be housed here, limited to Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni), Fighting Conchs (Strombus sp.) and a small colony of Chocolate Chip Starfish (Protoreaster nodosus).

    After viewing the seven displays kept along the walls of the gallery, visitors will end their tour of this level by viewing the aquarium’s single touch tank, representing a lagoon in Bali, Indonesia. An artificial rock structure will outline the approximately 4,000 gallon pool, with both live and artificial mangrove trees worked into the water’s edges. Towards the center, artificial bommies will provide a space to grow various soft corals, including Clove Polyps (Clavularia sp.), Mushroom Corals (Actinodiscus sp.), Tree Corals (Nephthea sp.), Star Polyps (Briareum sp.), Toadstool Corals (Sarcophyton sp.), and Zoanthids (Zoanthus sp.), out of reach of guests. This exhibit structure will allow guests the unique opportunity to view expansive soft coral colonies from above, as opposed to underwater through a glass or acrylic window. Because of the interactive nature of this exhibit, no bony fish or mobile invertebrate species will be housed. Shark species housed here will be the ever-popular White-Spotted Bamboo Shark (Chiloscyllium plagiosum), a staple of public aquaria, known for their moderate size, even temperament, and slow, docile nature. Two species of catshark will be represented, a recently-described species known as the Spotted-Belly Catshark (Atelomycterus erdmanni), a close relative to the popular coral catshark, and one of the smallest species housed in aquaria, the Bali Catshark (Atelomycterus baliensis), another recently described species reaching just 18 inches in length. The Bali catshark, and possibly the spotted-belly catshark, is a threatened species, listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. Destruction of native reefs and lagoons in Indonesia, paired with a limited range of the species, are leading to these sharks’ downturn. In addition to the three mentioned species, juvenile Zebra Sharks (Stegostoma fasciatum) will be housed here, bred in the Blacktip Reef exhibit on the first level. When in season, guests will get the rare opportunity to interact with babies of this endangered species. Signage will represent conservation needs for the Indonesian catshark species, as well as conservation for the endangered zebra sharks, while keepers will staff the exhibit and teach guests the proper etiquette for handling sharks.

    After viewing this gallery, guests will again choose their means of travel upwards to the fourth level of the aquarium, including three separate galleries, detailing life in the cool waters off the American Pacific coastline, the warm reefs of the Indo-Pacific, and the rivers of the Amazon Rainforest.
  7. biggiesmalls

    biggiesmalls Well-Known Member

    25 Mar 2020
    North Carolina
    Level Four


    The fourth level of the aquarium will be the largest by viewable exhibit space, featuring three individual galleries situated around a center entrance room. While the two previous levels feature smaller galleries, allowing much of the floor space to be used for equipment and surplus animal storage, this level will feature minimal maintenance spaces, with spaces holding only what is absolutely necessary for the included exhibits. Guests will be advised to travel through both the Coldwater Climates gallery and the Pacific Coral Reef gallery before viewing the Amazon River Forest, as this gallery holds the only route up to the top level of the aquarium, the Upland Tropical Rainforest, featuring the Fanning Hidden Life gallery.

    Coldwater Climates

    Both the Coldwater Climates gallery and the Pacific Coral Reef Gallery will be laid out in a similar manner to the Benthic Lagoon gallery, except in a continuous curved manner. Relatively thin walls will separate the three tanks along the circular walls of the gallery, while a large central exhibit greets visitors as soon as they enter.

    The central exhibit is large, taking up over 800 square feet and viewable from three sides. Two thirds of its somewhat ovalline shape is fronted in glass from the floor to the ceiling, with artificial rockwork at the top and base and artificial mosses and fine grasses growing in the occasional crevice. Lighting from overhead is strong, allowing clear visibility in the water below. The waterline extends to a height of nearly 4 feet above the floor, and an additional foot or so beneath this. The nearly 20,000 gallons of water are empty, save for artificial rockwork coming in at the edges of the exhibits, and the rock wall at the back end of the exhibit. The back of the exhibit features a sandy seashore at the water’s edge, held in place by more rockwork, with large driftwood perches reaching out over the water’s surface. Beach grass species native to the coastlines of Washington and Oregon grow here in small patches, furthering the resemblance to a northern Pacific coastline. As the exhibit goes further back, the sand will slowly transition to gravel, leading up to a moss-covered cliff, standing almost 10 feet high at its peaks. The rockwork here will give seabirds a place to roost, and natural nesting materials will be provided to encourage breeding.

    The aquatic portion of this exhibit will house a small group of Pacific Angelsharks (Squatina californica), one of the more moderately sized angelshark species. At first glance, these rarely-displayed sharks may appear to look like a species of ray, but upon further inspection, their large jaws indicate to visitors that these are indeed a species of shark. Before their banning, commercial gillnets often entangled these fish along with halibut, leading to their decline. However, after banning gillnets in the 1990s, these sharks’ numbers have steadily increased back to normal levels. Signage on the exhibit will explain the success story in restoring angelshark populations. Two species of small, schooling fish will be present in the enclosure, alongside the sharks - Northern Anchovies (Engraulis mordax) and Pacific Sardines (Sardinops sagax). These will provide a sense of flourishing life within the water column, and will provide seabirds with natural feeding opportunities, visible to guests.

    Invertebrate life within the exhibit will consist of Strawberry Anemones (Corynactis californica), a small red and pink species that can quickly carpet itself over rock structures, as well as a variety of sea stars native to the Pacific Northwest. These species will include the Giant Spined Sea Star (Pisaster giganteus), a large species growing up to two feet in diameter, the Pink Sea Star (Pisaster brevispinus), typically a medium-growing species that has been known to grow up to a massive three feet in diameter, and the Bat Star (Patiria miniata), one of the most common sea star species throughout the northern Pacific.

    Seabird species throughout this exhibit will be a combination of those found along the cliffs and those found along the beaches. Filling the beaches of this enclosure will be a small flock of Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani), the resident oystercatcher species of the Pacific Northwest. These species are of high interest to conservationists throughout the area, as their overall population health is a good indicator of the health of the entire intertidal ecosystem. Representing the true seabirds are two species of puffin, both the Horned Puffin (Fratercula corniculata) and the Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata). Both species are common along the coastlines of this area, with the horned puffin having numbers slowly climbing to the millions. A small group of murrelets will accompany the puffins, represented by one of three endangered species found in the region. Any one of either the Guadalupe Murrelet (Synthliboramphus hypoleucus), the Scripps’s Murrelet (Synthliboramphus scrippsi), or the Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) would be appropriate for this exhibit, and chosen based upon availability. All three species are threatened by loss of nesting sites due to logging, as well as increased predation and rising sea levels, and these threats would be outlined in the signage for the exhibit. Two other species, the Pigeon Guillemot (Cepphus columba) and the threatened Cassin’s Auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus aleuticus) would be displayed as the final species. This wide variety of seabirds and shorebirds will provide a natural, varied display to visitors, educating them on the plight of seabirds in the Pacific Northwest.

    The back of the sea cliff will include signage for threatened marine mammals of the region, including sea otters, sei whales, and north Pacific right whales. These signs will detail the biology of each species, threats to their populations in the wild, and what is being done in the Pacific Northwest to help conserve and restore these populations.

    Beginning on the left side of the circular wall of aquariums, the first of three nearly 20,000 gallon aquariums can be seen. This tank houses a collection of fish and invertebrates from Alaska, with signage indicating the high levels of biodiversity found in Alaskan waters, as many visitors will not understand the richness of Alaska’s seas. This tank will be shrouded in dim blue lighting, with a very fine, dark substrate. Rock piles will cover each side wall, inching towards the back, painted a deep dark blue to give the illusion that the tank travels much further back than it does in reality. This large display will extend from the floor to the ceiling, giving visitors a view of both benthic and free-swimming species found throughout Alaska’s waters.

    The largest residents of this aquarium will be several large Pacific Halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis), a vitally important food and sport fish in the area. These fish are rarely displayed at their full size, which can be over 8 feet long and 500 pounds in weight. As sharks and rays are somewhat less common in this region, large halibut will make an exciting alternative to visitors. Peering carefully into the rockwork, within a few abandoned traps for king crabs, visitors may see one of several large Wolf Eels (Anarrhichthys ocellatus), another large predatory species that is an eel only by name, and is only a very distant relative to the moray eels often seen in aquaria. Nestled on ledges within the rocks will be a multitude of Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus), as well as several species of rockfish, such as the Quillback Rockfish (Sebastes maliger), Silvergray Rockfish (Sebastes brevispinis), Copper Rockfish (Sebastes caurinus), Tiger Rockfish (Sebastes nigrocinctus), Yelloweye Rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus), and China Rockfish (Sebastes nebulosus). These species are all colorful coldwater relatives of the tropical groupers, most reaching about two feet in length. Rockfish are one of the longest-lived fish species on the planet, with many species averaging lifespans of over 100 years. They are another important food fish in Alaska, and recreational fishing impacts will be discussed in the signage for the exhibit.

    A variety of coldwater invertebrates will share the tank with these fish, including the White Sea Cucumber (Eupentacta quinquesemita). Guests will be educated on the habits of sea cucumbers, which can spill out their internal organs to deter predators from eating them. The largest species of chiton, the Gumboot Chiton (Cryptochiton stelleri), will be displayed in this tank as well. These are a little-considered type of mollusc which can grow to over a foot long and weigh several pounds. Representing the crustaceans is a colony of Northern Kelp Crabs (Pugettia producta), a common prey species found along the entire North American Pacific coastline. Two species of algae-eating sea urchin will be represented, the Red Sea Urchin (Mesocentrotus franciscanus) and the Green Sea Urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis). A number of anemones will be displayed, including the Fish Eating Anemone (Urticina piscivora), the Giant Green Anemone (Anthopleura xanthogrammica), the Painted Anemone (Urticina crassicornis), and the Brooding Anemone (Halianthella annularis). Finally, a number of sea stars will be on display, including the Bat Star (Patiria miniata), the Pink Sea Star (Pisaster brevispinus), the Leather Sea Star (Dermasterias imbricata), the Ochre Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceus), the Vermillion Sea Star (Mediaster aequalis), and the Rough Six-Armed Sea Star (Leptasterias aequalis). Significant notes bringing home the importance of Alaska’s diverse invertebrate species will be included in signage for the exhibit.

    Traveling along the wall, visitors will encounter the second of these large tanks, designed after a California kelp forest. This tank will extend back further than the other two, giving it a volume closer to 30,000 gallons. The full 14 foot height of this tank will allow growing bull kelp to be possible, with frequent trimmings which can be fed to species throughout the aquarium. Rock structures throughout the tank will provide caves for cover to various species, and structure for various sessile invertebrates to latch onto. A large-grained sandy substrate will cover the bottom, camouflaging a few benthic inhabitants. Flow throughout the tank will make the live kelp dance throughout the water column, occasionally stirring up some of the less active fish species for visitors to notice.

    Large fauna in this exhibit will include both the Leopard Shark (Triakis semifasciata) and the Soupfin Shark (Galeorhinus galeus). These species are found more commonly in kelp forests than in perhaps any other environment, and a small mixed shoal of both species will prove to be the main attractions of the exhibit for visitors. Looking down, visitors can see a group of three or four Shovelnose Guitarfish (Rhinobatos productus), a mid-sized species of guitarfish found along California’s beaches and kelp forests. Other large species of interest include a mating pair of California Sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher), a threatened species known for their curiosity with divers and aquarium visitors alike, a small shoal of California Yellowtail (Seriola dorsalis), one of the most common sportfish in California’s waters, and a group of three California Moray Eels (Gymnothorax mordax), a mid-sized species of moray growing to about 5 feet in length.

    Smaller species found in shoals and larger schools throughout the exhibit include Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus), a large orange damselfish and an iconic resident of kelp forests, Senorita Wrasses (Oxyjulis californica), a medium-sized species of cleaner wrasse found in coldwater reefs and kelp forests, Pacific Mackerel (Scomber australasicus), a small-growing mackerel species that will bring life to the top of the exhibit, the Ocean Whitefish (Caulolatilus princeps), a species of tilefish highly sought after as a food fish, the Giant Kelpfish (Heterostichus rostratus), a medium sized fish reaching about two feet in length and one of the largest species of blennies, the Halfmoon (Medialuna californiensis), a medium-growing species of chub also highly prized as a food fish, the Calico Bass (Paralabrax clathratus), a species of coldwater grouper endemic to the Californian kelp forests, both the Kelp Greenling (Hexagrammos decagrammus) and the Rock Greenling (Hexagrammos lagocephalus), colorful bottom fish species, the Yelloweye Rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus), Bronzespotted Rockfish (Sebastes gilli), and Cowcod (Sebastes levis), three species of protected rockfish in California waters, and the Redtail Surfperch (Amphistichus rhodoterus), one of the larger-growing species of surfperch in the state.

    Invertebrate life is not to be overlooked in this exhibit either, with a small selection of sea stars and anemones present, including the Ochre Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceus), the massive Sunflower Sea Star (Pycnopodia helianthoides), the ever-common Bat Star (Patiria miniata), and anemones being represented by two large species, the White Plumed Anemone (Metridium farcimen) and the Giant Green Anemone (Anthopleura xanthogrammica). Signage for this extensive exhibit will focus on the biological importance of the kelp forests, with a special dedication to explaining the largely unknown predatory habits of the various starfish species.

    The final exhibit in this gallery will be another of roughly 20,000 gallons, making it one of the largest displays for the species housed within. Rockwork will fill the tank, with portions being easily rearranged as a form of enrichment for the inhabitant. Small patches of artificial kelp will be present, as live kelp will hardly thrive under the dim purplish-blue lighting. Similar to the Alaskan exhibit, the substrate will be a very dark, fine-grained sand, allowing the animal housed within to dig through it for prey items. Caves, outcrops, ledges, and crevices will fill the rock structures of the tank, giving the inhabitant plenty of space to explore its surroundings. Covering the walls will be a large collection of anemone species, including the White Plumed Anemone (Metridium farcimen), the Strawberry Anemone (Corynactis californica), the Tube Anemone (Pachycerianthus fimbriatus), the Fish Eating Anemone (Urticina piscivora), and the Painted Anemone (Urticina crassicornis). These species will provide little interference to the main inhabitant of the display, as most sea stars, crustaceans, and fish would. The sole mobile inhabitant of this enclosure will be a Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini), the largest and longest-lived of the octopus species. Several forms of enrichment will be provided to this animal and visible to guests, including an assortment of toys, live feedings, and human interactions. Signage for the exhibit will focus on the intelligence, life cycle, and predatory habits of octopuses as a whole, with some significant notes on the giant Pacific octopus.

    After completing a lap of the room, perhaps viewing the seabird enclosure one final time, guests will leave this gallery, crossing the main hall into its sister gallery, the Pacific Coral Reef.

    Pacific Coral Reef

    The Pacific Coral Reef gallery’s shape is best described as octagonal, with three sides being devoted to a single large exhibit. The entrance takes up one side of the shape, while four mid-sized tanks fill the other walls. Upon entering the gallery, visitors walk through a small circular tunnel, filled with Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita). This species is the staple of jellyfish exhibits throughout the world, and the large group floating slowly throughout this tank will change hues throughout the day, as lighting on the tank changes from blues, to greens, purples, and reds.

    After walking through the jellyfish tunnel, visitors will be greeted by another room, illuminated brightly by the lighting on each display. A large column tank will grace the center, while guests are free to view tanks along each wall of the room. At the back of the room will be a massive live reef tank, viewed from floor to ceiling, as fish swim overhead.

    The large column tank, 18 feet in diameter and holding over 25,000 gallons, will have a soft sandy bottom and a large insert throughout the center. Realistic false corals will be used in this display, as live corals would prove to require extraordinary amounts of maintenance in such a setup. This tank will highlight the predators of the Indo-Pacific coral reefs, highlighted by a group of Whitetip Reef Sharks (Triaenodon obesus). These are one of the few species of requiem shark that are not considered to be obligate ram ventilators, meaning they have the ability to rest motionlessly on the bottom, or perched on a rock outcrop. These fish will largely remain on the bottom of the aquarium, with one or two of the shoal taking a quick lap of the tank at a time. The unfortunate nature of these species is that they are highly predatory, and keeping any fish in with them is a challenge. As such, other fish selections will need to be either large enough to not be bothered by the sharks, too quick to be captured, or easy enough to replace, serving as no more than attractive feeders.

    Other large species highlighted in this tank will include a pair of Blue and Yellow Groupers (Epinephelus flavocaeruleus), perhaps the most attractive of all the grouper species. These fish have a sky-blue body, with a yellow outline, and grow to an impressive size of nearly three feet in length. In addition to these marine predators will be a rarely-exhibited species, the Giant Moray Eel (Gymnothorax javanicus), the largest species of moray, known to grow to nearly 10 feet. These morays have been known to take down juvenile reef sharks when fully grown, so introductions of this species and the sharks must be carefully timed. Such a large eel slowly snaking its way through the artificial coral and rockwork will provide an interesting display to guests. A lone Titan Triggerfish (Balistoides viridescens) will patrol the entire tank, interacting with guests through its seemingly threatening displays of dominance. These large triggers reach lengths of 30 inches, making them the largest species in the Indo-Pacific, and the second largest worldwide. They truly fit the description of a reef predator, being known to even chase down and harass snorkelers and divers.

    The common Mono Argentus (Monodactylus argenteus), a broad, silvery schooling fish, will make an excellent candidate for filling the upper water column of the exhibit. While they are not particularly fast, they are easily obtainable, meaning that should their numbers dwindle within the exhibit, they can be quickly replenished. Due to their relatively small size, several dozen of these fish can be housed together. Joining them will be a group of nearly a dozen attractive Bluefin Trevally (Caranx melampygus), mixed with a small group of Golden Trevally (Gnathanodon speciosus). These two species are common as sportfish along the reefs, prized for their fighting ability relative to their size. Feedings on this tank will be exciting, due to the extremely food-motivated nature of these fish. Several pairs of Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator), Yellowbar Angelfish (Pomacanthus maculosus), and Scribbled Angelfish (Chaetodontoplus duboulayi) will grace the reefs, providing some slower, more peaceful action amongst the swarms of schooling fish and predators. A large mixed school of Blue Tangs (Paracanthurus hepatus), large Blue Unicorn Tangs (Naso brevirostris), Vlamingii Tangs (Naso vlamingii), Yellow Tangs (Zebrasoma flavescens), Kole Tangs (Ctenochaetus strigosus), Naso Tangs (Naso lituratus), Orangeshoulder Tangs (Acanthurus olivaceus), and Achilles Tangs (Acanthurus achilles) will grace the reef, seemingly dancing back and forth between the coral. Mixed in with the tangs will be a group of Black and White Butterflyfish (Heniochus acuminata), mimicking the much more sensitive moorish idol, which would unfortunately not thrive in such an enclosure. Also included in the school will be the Raccoon Butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunula) and the Pakistan Butterflyfish (Chaetodon collare). A variety of wrasses will be housed here, including the Lyretail Wrasse (Thalassoma lunare), the colorful Klunzinger’s Wrasse (Thalassoma rueppellii), the blue and yellow Jansen’s Wrasse (Thalassoma jansenii), the large Broomtail Wrasse (Cheilinus lunulatus), which is a smaller relative of the napoleon wrasse, and the Australian Harlequin Tusk (Choerodon fasciatus), a more brightly colored race of a typically duller Indonesian species. Finally, along with the titan triggerfish, four smaller shoaling species will be represented, those being the Blue Throat Triggerfish (Xanthichthys auromarginatus), the Crosshatch Triggerfish (Xanthichthys mento), the Niger Triggerfish (Odonus niger), and the Picasso Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus), thus rounding out the fish selection for this exhibit. Signage on the tank will focus on the predatory habits of different reef species, including reef sharks, moray eels, groupers, triggerfish, and trevallies.

    Along the left walls of the gallery will be two tanks, a hair over 1,000 gallons a piece. The first will have the typical medium blue sheen of a reef tank, although very little rockwork will be visible. It will be largely covered by Bubble-Tip Anemones (Entacmaea quadricolor), hosting a large harem of Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris). A number of varieties of ocellaris clownfish have been selectively produced over the years, in a variety of black, white, and orange patterns. Special consideration would be given to the harem being made up of these morphs, although the typical orange and white banded form would make an equally interesting display. Signage on this display will teach visitors about symbiosis along the reefs, featuring the relationship between clownfish and anemones, as well as examples such as octopuses and tropical groupers, sea cucumbers and pearlfish, and cleaner wrasses and various megafauna.

    The other display along this wall will be a mangrove forest setup, with a mix of artificial and live roots coming from the rocky background. Medium white lighting will fill the tank, covering the open patches of sandbed and providing light to the live seagrasses housed within. Two species of coral will form colonies over the scattered rockwork, Toadstool Corals (Sarcophyton sp.) and Pom Pom Corals (Xenia sp.). These soft coral species will quickly cover the rockwork, providing even more shelter to the tank’s inhabitants, a group of any one of a number of cuttlefish species. In such a large tank, a sizable species such as the Giant Cuttlefish (Sepia apama) would be preferred, but a number of other species would also be suitable. These color-changing cephalopods would be provided with a number of different colors of macroalgae throughout their exhibit, in order to show guests the abilities of these animals. Signage would reflect this, adding in the fact that even though cuttlefish have the most developed chromatophores on the planet, they are actually colorblind, and can’t see any of the colors or patterns they are matching. Other details on signage would indicate their intelligence, which ranks close to that of octopuses.

    Along the right wall of the gallery, two more equally sized tanks will be on display. The first will be a medium-lit, slow moving tank filled with a variety of macroalgaes over a light sandy bottom, littered with small rocks. These marine plants come in an extraordinary variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, and provide an excellent medium for small copepods and amphipods to reproduce in - primary prey items for both the Weedy Sea Dragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) and the Leafy Sea Dragon (Phycodurus eques). Groups of roughly a half-dozen of each species will be appropriate for this size aquarium, with signage representing the differences between both species. Conservation issues will also be reflected for these incredibly vulnerable fish, as they have no natural defenses save for camouflage, which is easily exploited by humans.

    The final wall tank in this gallery will be dimly lit, with a rocky background and large formations within the tank simulating an underwater cave. The substrate on the bottom will be a much larger grain, closer to gravel than anything one might consider sand. Small rocks will be littered throughout, with the larger structures providing smaller caves and crevices for the inhabitants. No fish or invertebrate species will be represented here, as they would be quickly consumed by the small group of sea snakes within. Species under consideration include the Yellow-Lipped Sea Snake (Laticauda colubrina), the Blue-Lipped Sea Snake (Laticauda laticauda), and the Golden Sea Snake (Aipysurus laevis). It is possible that two or all three of these species could be displayed, and choices would be main upon availability. Signage would indicate the diversity of sea snake species, as well as their extreme toxicity, as they are among the most venomous species of snake. One species, the Dubois’ sea snake, is considered to be the second most venomous species in the world, behind only the inland taipan of Australia.

    Finally, covering three walls of the gallery, as well as the ceiling surrounding these areas, is the live reef tank. This large system is filled with nearly 60,000 gallons of warm saltwater, filled with thousands of fish, coral, and invertebrates. Visitors can walk up to the main acrylic window of the exhibit, looking throughout the extensive reef structure of the inside, or they can look overhead and view fish swimming just above their heads, likely some of the larger tangs. Species housed in this reef will be native to the waters of Hawaii, with corals represented from Indonesian waters as coral collection in Hawaii is not legal, and ethically-farmed alternatives are available in Indonesia. Corals represented in this tank will include a variety of Small-Polyped Stony Corals (including the likes of Acropora, Montipora, Pavona, Pachyseris, Heliopora, Hydnophora, Pocillopora, Seriatopora, Stylophora, and Porites), Large-Polyped Stony Corals (including the likes of Euphyllia, Turbinaria, Caulastrea, Favia, Platygyra, Herpolitha, Fungia, Merulina, Symphillia, Cynarina, Lobophyllia, Galaxea, and Trachyphyllia), Soft Corals (including the likes of Cladiella, Klyxum, Sarcophyton, Sinularia, Briarium, Clavularia, Rhodactis, Lobophytum, Xenia, and Zoanthus), and Gorgonians (including the likes of Erythropodium and Rumphella). This species list is very similar, if not identical, to the list seen in the Blacktip Reef exhibit - coral fragments located in that exhibit will be taken from this exhibit within the Pacific Coral Reef gallery. In addition, attentive guests will be able to see the same variety of mobile invertebrate species as the Blacktip Reef exhibit, including Nassarius Snails (Nassarius distortus), Nerite Snails (Nerita sp.), Astraea Snails (Astraea tecta), Cerith Snails (Cerithium sp.), Banded Trochus Snails (Trochus sp.), Turban Snails (Tectus fenestratus), Mexican Turbo Snails (Turbo fluctuosa), Zebra Turbo Snails (Turbo sp.), Queen Conchs (Strombus sp.), Fighting Conchs (Strombus sp.), Scarlet Hermit Crabs (Paguristes cadenati), Left-Handed Hermit Crabs (Calcinus laerimanus), Blue-Legged Hermit Crabs (Clibanarius tricolor), Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni), Coral Banded Shrimp (Stenopus hispidus), and Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis). Invertebrate life will be rich throughout this tank, allowed to flourish as fish kept here will all be considered reef-safe, in that they do not eat coral polyps or mobile invertebrates within an aquarium setting.

    A variety of tang species will be present in this exhibit, including a massive mixed school of Yellow Tangs (Zebrasoma flavescens) and Convict Tangs (Acanthurus triostegus), whose numbers could hit several hundred in such a large system. Smaller groups of tangs will be made up of Kole Tangs (Ctenochaetus strigosus), Chevron Tangs (Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis), Orangeshoulder Tangs (Acanthurus olivaceus), Achilles Tangs (Acanthurus achilles), Naso Tangs (Naso lituratus), Bluespine Unicorn Tangs (Naso brevirostris), Bluelined Tangs (Acanthurus nigroris), Lavender Tangs (Acanthurus nigrofuscus), Whitebar Tangs (Acanthurus leucopareius), and two large Hawaiian species, the Ringtail Tang (Acanthurus blochii) and the Dussumieri Tang (Acanthurus dussumieri). Joining the tangs would be a somewhat close relative, a school of nearly a hundred Moorish Idols (Zanclus cornutus), perhaps one of the most iconic reef fish of Hawaiian waters.

    Angelfish and butterflyfish would be represented in this exhibit, although not as much so as in others. These species are known to pick at coral polyps, so selected species are those that cannot or will not do any serious damage to invertebrate populations within the exhibit. Starting the list is the Bandit Angelfish (Apolemichthys arcuatus), a rare deepwater angel species coveted by marine aquarium hobbyists, as well as two species of dwarf angelfish, the Flame Angelfish (Centropyge loricula) and the Potter’s Angelfish (Centropyge potteri). The Hawaiian race of flame angelfish is known for its brilliant red coloration, and its true form would be represented in the exhibit. Representing the butterflies are the Auriga Butterflyfish (Chaetodon auriga), the Lemon Butterflyfish (Chaetodon miliaris), the Raccoon Butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunula), the Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish (Forcipiger flavissimus), the Multiband Butterflyfish (Chaetodon multicinctus), the rare Ornate Butterflyfish (Chaetodon ornatissimus), the Fourspot Butterflyfish (Chaetodon quadrimaculatus), and the deepwater Tinker’s Butterflyfish (Chaetodon tinkeri).

    Smaller species represented from the damselfish family include the Blue-Green Reef Chromis (Chromis viridis), the large Hawaiian Sergeant (Abudefduf abdominalis), the Chocolate Dip Chromis (Chromis hanui), and the Agile Chromis (Chromis agilis). All of these species will be present in large schools, dividing themselves into smaller groups and patrolling the reef for food. Other small species include a variety of hawkfish, such as the Arc-Eye Hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus), the Blackside Hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri), the Stocky Hawkfish (Cirrhitus pinnulatus), and the Blood Red Hawkfish (Cirrhitops fasciatus). These comical fish will perch themselves amongst the coral colonies, entertaining guests by hopping around in search of small bits of food.

    A variety of wrasses will be displayed in this exhibit, mostly smaller species. These include the Jansen’s Wrasse (Thalassoma jansenii), the Lyretail Wrasse (Thalassoma lunare), the Bird Wrasse (Gomphosus varius), the Fivelined Wrasse (Thalassoma quinquevittatum), the Elegant Coris Wrasse (Coris venusta), the popular Yellow Wrasse (Halichoeres chrysus), Christmas Wrasse (Halichoeres ornatissimus), and finally, a sizable group of Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasses (Labroides phthirophagus). The cleaner wrasses will swim throughout the tank, picking parasites and dead skin off of the larger species, particularly the tangs. Signage will indicate the importance of these fish, and detail other known cleaner species, including gobies and shrimp.

    The reef floor will be littered with small groups of various goatfish species, including both the Sidespot Goatfish (Parupeneus pleurostigma) and the Whitesaddle Goatfish (Parupeneus porphyreus). Both species of these bottom dwellers are endemic to Hawaiian waters, allowing for the signage to detail several endemic Hawaiian fishes. Finally, a pair or small group of Pacific Trumpetfish (Aulostomus chinensis) will gracefully swim throughout the reef, allowing visitors to see a very rarely-exhibited fish swimming amongst a native reef biotope.

    After viewing the entirety of the Pacific Coral Reef gallery, learning about unique creatures found throughout the Indo-Pacific reef systems, visitors will exit, heading into the final gallery of the level, the Amazon River Forest.

    Amazon River Forest

    Entering the Amazon River Forest gallery, visitors will hear simulated calls of birds, rushing waterfalls, and the croaks of frogs, from speakers conveniently placed throughout the room. Similar to the other two galleries of the floor, this gallery will feature a large central exhibit, along with several large displays along the walls. This gallery serves as a preface to the fifth floor gallery, the Upland Tropical Rainforest and the Fanning Hidden Life gallery, showcasing life from the upper reaches of the rainforest as well as various parts of Central America. This gallery, however, will focus on the aquatic life of the rainforest, as well as a select few terrestrial species.

    Upon entering, guests will enter a hallway with two displays on either side. These will be smaller by public facility standards, approximately 6 feet long and 4 feet high. Each will house a pair of emerald tree boas, one housing the Amazon Basin Emerald Tree Boa (Corallus batesii) and the other the Northern Emerald Tree Boa (Corallus caninus). These two species were formerly considered one, until Robert Henderson formally described the Amazon Basin emerald as a separate species in 2009. Both species are inactive, but their bright green coloration with varying white dorsal markings will make them attractive display species. Exhibits will be similar in structure, with several perches of varying diameter for each snake, a background incorporating false tree trunks and additional perches, a realistic rainforest substrate similar to the ones seen in the tree monitor enclosures of the Oceania gallery, and lush tropical plantings. Bright lighting and frequent mistings will imitate the natural habitat of these snakes, and signage will indicate the differences between the snakes, including head structure, geographical range, and patterning.

    Continuing into the gallery, guests will first notice a large, full glass hexagonal exhibit sitting directly in the center of the hall. Covering nearly 2,500 square feet and holding over 60,000 gallons of water, this exhibit will hold an assortment of fish and reptiles from the Amazon Basin and its surrounding waters. The focus will be on endangered reptiles, as well as common schooling fish species from the area.

    Guests will notice a large central island, with mostly open space for the reptiles to bask. A sandy riverbank substrate will cover it, with plant growth getting thicker and thicker as it reaches the center of the island. The artificial rockwork surrounding both the base and the top of the exhibit, inside and out, will have a number of vines and hardy tropical plant species growing from it, including ferns and philodendrons. Under the water, a number of large-growing, hardy aquatic species will grow, along both the rocks and the open sandy bottom. The central island’s edges will feature large logs, allowing the large turtles and crocodilians inside to easily haul themselves out of the water. These will be coated in aquatic mosses and algae, giving them a very established feel - natural, artificial, or both forms of log would be appropriate in this setting.

    The main species housed in this exhibit will be a pair of large, threatened crocodilians from around the Amazon Basin, making two species ideal candidates. Both the Black Caiman (Melanosuchus niger) and the Orinoco Crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius) reach sizes that make them impressive display animals, with either being a great choice for this exhibit. The Orinoco crocodile remains one of the rarest species of crocodilian in the world, while the black caiman is making a steady comeback - signage would tell the story of both species, including notes on the several other species of crocodilian found within the Amazon.

    A number of endangered turtles would fill the waterways as well, all of them being some of the largest found in the area. Each species will ideally be housed in at least a group of five individuals, with at least two males present for every three females to encourage breeding. The first of these would be the Big-Headed Turtle (Peltocephalus dumerilianus), a species found throughout the Amazon River Basin that resembles the common snapping turtles of North America. Next will be a group of Red Headed Turtles (Podocnemis erythrocephala), a much smaller-ranging species known for tucking its head sideways into its shell, rather than straight back. A number of Magdalena River Turtles (Podocnemis lewyana) will be housed as well, a critically endangered species of sideneck turtle known only from northwestern Colombia. Yet another species of large South American sideneck turtle, the Yellow Spotted Turtle (Podocnemis unifilis), will also be present. Finally, a group of the largest species of turtle found in South America, the Arrau Turtle (Podocnemis expansa) will be housed. These turtles can reach a massive three and a half feet in carapace length, weighing nearly 200 pounds, making them one of the largest freshwater turtle species in the world, dwarfed only by a few species of softshell turtle. Signage will indicate the vulnerability of these turtle species, and conservation efforts such as national parks being declared in order to protect them.

    The aquatic section of this exhibit will be filled with large groups of several cichlid species, as well as a select few characins. Species will include a number of large South American natives, including the Chocolate Cichlid (Hypselecara temporalis), a brown and red species from areas of Peru, the Green Terror (Andinoacara rivulatus), a brilliant turquoise and gold species from Peru and Ecuador, the Red Terror (Cichlasoma festae), a bright red and yellow species from Ecuador and Peru, and both the Green Severum (Heros efasciatus) and the Redhead Severum (Heros sp. ‘red shoulders’). In addition to these cichlids, the Banded Leporinus (Leporinus fasciatus) and the Flagtail (Semaprochilodus theraponura) will represent the characins. This variety of fish species will bring light to the extensive diversity of South American cichlids, highlighting key species and also including notes about estimates on the number of species of cichlid throughout Central and South America.

    Heading left through the gallery, visitors will first see a large planted aquarium. Dense forests of aquatic plant species, including various swords, mosses, grasses, and ferns, will fill the tank, with minimal pieces of driftwood providing some shelter for the fish inside. This tank will be quite large, one of the biggest planted tanks of its type in any facility. The planned length is roughly 20 feet, holding over 4,000 gallons of water inside. Fish species will include a number of peaceful cichlid species, namely the Altum Angelfish (Pterophyllum altum), a much larger, more iridescent relative of the freshwater angelfish commonly seen in the aquarium trade. These fish can grow larger than the diameter of a dinner plate, with their tall dorsal and ventral fins included. Accompanying a group of these angels, nearly 80 strong, will be a group of Discus (Symphysodon aequifasciatus), a popular warmwater cichlid from the Amazon Basin. While a number of interesting color morphs of these fish have been selectively bred, the aquarium will exhibit the wild-type discus, choosing a colorful wild race such as those collected from the Alenquer River, a small tributary of the Amazon in Brazil. A smaller breeding group of Cupid Cichlids (Biotodoma cupido) will also inhabit this tank. These smaller, colorful cichlids are found throughout much of the Amazon Basin, including the tannin-stained, acidic waters that hold both discus and angelfish. Finally, a massive group of dwarf cockatoo cichlids from the genus Apistogramma will scatter themselves throughout the lower levels of the tank, with their spawning habits being displayed, providing an interesting look at cichlid reproduction to visitors. A number of species would be appropriate, with the Threadfin Dwarf Cichlid (Apistogramma iniridae) and the Macmaster’s Dwarf Cichlid (Apistogramma macmasteri) leading the pack. While both species could theoretically be housed in this system, it would be wise to limit the collection to a single species to prevent interbreeding.

    One of the few species of tetra able to tolerate the warm waters required for both discus and altum angelfish, at over 80 degrees fahrenheit, is the Rummynose Tetra (Hemigrammus rhodostomus). A large school, numbering in the thousands, will be appropriate for such a tank, as these fish reach under two inches long when fully grown. The characteristic pale white body, black and white striped tail, and red head make these fish an attractive schooling species for the planted aquarium.

    Finally, a number of small catfish species will live throughout the bottom and cover the driftwood found in this exhibit. Two species of corydoras catfish, both the Bandit Corydoras (Corydoras metae) and the Sterba’s Corydoras (Corydoras sterbai) will school throughout the bottom of this tank, occasionally providing additional movement throughout the upper water column. A school of over a hundred corydoras is one of the most graceful sights of the world’s freshwater rivers, and must be experienced in person to truly be understood. A number of Twig Catfish (Farlowella acus) will be visible to the most attentive visitors, perched carefully along the driftwood. These relatively small catfish are slender and brown, with armoring making them mimic a small twig, camouflaging them perfectly from predators. Another group of similar species, the Whiptail Catfish (Rineloricaria sp.) will be housed here as well. These are another species known to mimic small branches within the water in order to avoid predation. A number of small pleco species will round out the fish selection in this tank. Any number of species could be chosen, and several could be selected as interbreeding rarely occurs in these fish. However, smaller species of the panaque group, including but not limited to the Gold Stripe Panaque (Panaqolus sp. ‘L169’), as well as species of Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus sp.) would be the most appropriate choices. Species selection will come down to availability, upon approval that the species will be able to tolerate the warm waters of the exhibit.

    Continuing down the walkway, visitors will see another tank holding over 4,000 gallons. This tank will imitate a flooded forest, with large artificial tree trunks coming out of the dark, sandy bottom. Little to no plants will be present in this tank, as the inhabitants will simply uproot them while searching for food. The background of this tank will incorporate more artificial trees, in the form of roots coming down into the water. Species housed within here will be highlighted by a number of freshwater stingrays, of which a number of species would be appropriate. For display purposes, a mix of both black and brown ray species would be best, such as the Black Diamond Stingray (Potamotrygon leopoldi) and the Pearl Stingray (Potamotrygon jabuti). An experimental group of Flower Stingrays (Potamotrygon schroederi) would be grown out off display, and introduced to the exhibit if they proved to do well in aquarium settings. However, hopes are not particularly high, as this species has been known to die rather quickly and suddenly in aquaria - breeding them in captivity would be a major accomplishment for the aquarium. Other potential candidates, chosen based upon availability, include the Henlei Stingray (Potamotrygon henlei) and the Galaxy Stingray (Potamotrygon albimaculata). All of these species are larger-growing, meaning they would be appropriate with one another, but do not grow large enough to outgrow this system. It is possible that all of these species could be housed together, but again this would depend on availability at the time.

    Several other species of large fish will be housed in this aquarium, including a lone individual Gilded Catfish (Brachyplatystoma rousseauxii). This is a close relative of the infamous piraiba, one of the largest growing catfish species in the world. However, this member of the genus grows to a smaller, but still impressive size, making it a better candidate for this system. A pair of Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) will provide activity in the upper water column of this aquarium. These fish are a smaller relative of the arapaima, which is highly regarded as the largest-growing freshwater fish species in the world. Unfortunately, no exhibit within the aquarium is suitable to house these fish, so the arowanas will be used as a substitute, with their relationship being used to teach visitors more about the arapaima, a threatened fish which was recently reclassified into five distinct species. Other larger, predatory species in this tank will include a group of Kelberi Peacock Bass (Cichla kelberi), a smaller growing peacock bass species with a brilliant golden hue. A number of peacock bass species are found in Brazilian waters, but the kelberi’s bright coloration and small adult size compared to some of the others, known to reach over 30 pounds, makes it the best candidate for such an exhibit.

    Smaller fish within this exhibit will be made up of a mix of cichlids and characins, including the Zebra Pike Cichlid (Crenicichla zebrina), a brilliant yellow and red species of which a pair would be appropriate, a large group of Uaru (Uaru amphiacanthoides), a beautiful brown and black species commonly seen in tannin-stained blackwaters of the Amazon, a group of Mapirito Eartheaters (Satanoperca mapiritensis), a rare species of eartheater from northeastern Brazil, and a pair or two of the Parrot Cichlid (Hoplarchus psittacus), a deep turquoise colored cichlid from the Orinoco Basin. Representing the characins will be a large mixed school of both Tiger Silver Dollars (Metynnis fasciatus), a banded species from eastern Brazil, and the Blackberry Silver Dollar (Myleus schomburgkii), a rare color form of the blackbar silver dollar in which the entire body is a rich purplish-black color.

    As guests continue the other way through the gallery, they will come upon two more 4,000 gallon systems, each housing a predator of the Amazon waterways. The first tank will house two major predatory species, highly prized by both anglers and aquarists, and rarely displayed, if at all, in public aquaria. These include the Giant Wolffish (Hoplias aimara), represented by a large lone individual, and the Payara (Hydrolycus armatus), represented by a shoal roughly a half dozen strong. The wolffish is an ambush predator, sitting motionlessly along the bottom, until an appropriate prey item swims by. The payara, on the other hand, is a free-swimming species, typically found amongst rapid systems, preferring to chase down its prey for consumption. The payara is also known as the vampire fish or saber tooth tetra, for its large canines used to grab prey. This interesting mix of predators has been done successfully in much smaller aquaria, and will make a very unique display in such a large exhibit.

    The exhibit will have a dark sandy bottom, with a bit of hardy, low-light live plants and minimal rockwork and driftwood. The payara are more of an open water fish, while the wolffish is a structure-oriented species, and this combination will allow both species to occupy their respective niches. Towards the upper columns of the tank, the flow will be extremely heavy - giving the payara an at-home feel of being in a set of rapids, able to chase down live fish placed within their tank and feed naturally. Although live feedings are not always preferable, payara are known to adapt well to captivity with the caveat that they tend to take only live food items. To make the experience more respectable for guests, these fish will be fed only during the early mornings and evenings, when guests are not present. Also housed in this tank will be a large school of Cardinal Tetras (Paracheirodon axelrodi), a colorful red and blue species that will provide smaller activity throughout the entire water column, while being small enough to be of no interest to the predatory fish inside. Signage on this exhibit will describe some of the lesser-known predators of the Amazon Basin, including other species of both wolffish and payara.

    The final exhibit within this gallery is a paludarium, containing both a land and water area visible to guests. The water area will account for roughly half of the exhibit, holding approximately 2,000 gallons as opposed to the full 4,000. This exhibit will stretch from the floor to the ceiling, rather than the 4 foot high displays found along the other walls of the gallery. The land areas within this exhibit will be made of artificial rockwork, constituting several large islands in the exhibit. All islands will be covered in a soil-based substrate, allowing the inhabitant to burrow if it chooses. The background of this enclosure will feature several massive artificial trees, with their roots coming down into the water column, stretching from the top of the exhibit down to the sandy bottom beneath the water. Floating plants will cover most of the water’s surface, while fast-growing vines will cover much of the background and large logs throughout the exhibit’s islands. The sole large inhabitant of the enclosure will be a large female Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus), considered by most to be the largest species of snake in the world by mass. The female in this display will be among the largest in the country, being at least 16 feet long and weighing over 150 pounds. She will share her aquatic environment with a school of Fat Oscars (Astronotus crassipinnis), a far less common relative of the common oscar, one of the most popular tropical aquarium fish in the United States. Signage on this display will explain that anacondas are actually a fairly docile species, and are not the monsters they are made out to be. They will also dispel other myths about these snakes, including their size - a $50,000 cash prize has been offered to anyone who can find an anaconda 30 feet or longer, but this prize has still yet to be taken. The longest verified wild specimen was just 17 feet long, which is certainly a massive animal, but no 30 foot snake. Signage will finally discuss anaconda conservation, including threats to the species in the wild and conservation efforts to protect their numbers.

    After viewing the final gallery of the aquarium’s fourth level, guests will head up a short distance to the fifth and uppermost level, holding more species native to the Amazon Rainforest. The transition will be made short, and themes found in the Amazon River Forest gallery will be carried throughout the preferred methods of transportation to the fifth level, as well as the entrance to the walk-through rainforest exhibit.
    Last edited by a moderator: 28 Mar 2020
  8. biggiesmalls

    biggiesmalls Well-Known Member

    25 Mar 2020
    North Carolina
    Upland Tropical Rainforest


    As guests reach the fifth and highest level of the aquarium, they will be immersed in a large glass pyramidal dome, similar to what’s seen in the Everglades Outpost exhibit. This expansive habitat will stretch nearly 30 feet in the air, allowing for the planting of various live trees, giving the species housed within as close to a natural environment as is possible. The habitat will cover nearly 60,000 square feet, with the additional Fanning Hidden Life Gallery incorporated into this figure. No fish will be signed for in either of the two galleries, instead highlighting birds, small mammals, lizards, chelonians, and dart frogs.

    Upon entering the walk-through rainforest gallery, visitors will notice a number of plants nestled among the tall live trees within the exhibit. Several hundred species will be housed here, constituting everything from broad-leafed plants, to flowering plants including bromeliads, to aquatic species, to smaller trees and shrubs, to grasses, vines, and a host of other types. The species list is far too long to properly list here, but choices will be made at the discretion of the aquarium’s chief botanist, with the goal of creating not only a world-class aviary and zoological collection, but a world-class Amazon botanical garden as well.

    The path throughout this exhibit will be a wooden deck, complete with large timber supports and thick manila rope railings, giving the feel of truly walking through the treetops. The path will cover all major areas of the exhibit, allowing attentive guests to see nearly every species housed within, while still providing each and every animal species with areas to retreat from view. The path will start at the lower levels of the rainforest, located near the entrance, and slowly curve and snake upwards, eventually reaching approximately 20 feet in the air, with a large platform giving an aerial view of the entire exhibit. The exhibit’s main water feature will be a large waterfall, situated at the back corner of the exhibit, just behind the large aerial viewing platform for guests. This will head down a simulated river, with several side pools providing areas for birds and reptiles to swim, culminating in a large lagoon at the exhibit’s entrance. Guests will start their tour by crossing the bridge over this exhibit, viewable from both the left and right sides of the pathway.

    This large lagoon will host a number of native waterbirds, which are all kept free-flighted in the exhibit. Perhaps the most impressive of these will be a flock of nearly a hundred Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber), filling the water’s edge with beautiful contrast of green foliage and bright red birds. If needed, surplus Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea ajaja) could be mixed in with this flock, though they would not be a primary species as they are currently represented in two exhibits throughout the aquarium. Several pairs of Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias) will be found throughout the waterway, usually perched just along the water’s edge looking for food, which will come in the form of large schools of wild-type Guppies (Poecilia reticulata) housed throughout the exhibit. These species will not be accounted for within the signage, as they will be hardly visible to guests and will serve no display purpose, instead as a natural food source for the waterbirds housed here. Found in the trees overhanging the lagoon will be a colony of Boat-Billed Herons (Cochlearius cochlearius) and Yellow-Crowned Night Herons (Nyctanassa violacea), both common species of the mangrove forests, whose habitat will be recreated with the incorporation of artificial mangrove roots scattered throughout the back edges of the lagoon. A plant species of interest within the lagoon will be the giant water lilies of the genus Victoria, found throughout the Amazon. These large plants reach diameters of 8 to 10 feet, able to support several hundred pounds of weight. Several Wattled Jacanas (Jacana jacana) will tread carefully across these large plants, picking fish off of the edges. Other species primarily inhabiting the water’s edge will include Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis), a migratory species found throughout the world but common year-round in the Amazon, Southern Lapwings (Vanellus chilensis), a common species of wader found throughout all of South America, and Grey-Necked Wood Rails (Aramides cajaneus), a rather impressive species of rail with grey, olive green, and rusty brown plumage. Finally filling the waterway will be a large flock of Amazon waterfowl species, including the Ringed Teal (Callonetta leucophrys), Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis), Southern Pochards (Netta erythrophthalma), Rosy-Billed Pochards (Netta peposaca), Chiloe Wigeon (Mareca sibilatrix), and Orinoco Geese (Neochen jubata). This variety of waterfowl species are all common throughout the waters of the Amazon Basin, and such a variety of species will allow signage to explain the vast numbers of other waterfowl species found throughout the region.

    Perhaps the most represented of the passerines will be the tanagers, and for good reason. These birds make up over 240 known species, comprising roughly 4% of all bird species around the world, and roughly 12% of bird species found throughout Central and South America. Some 24 species will be represented in this aviary, all housed in groups of at least two males and two females, to encourage breeding. As with all other aviaries in the aquarium, birds will be provided with raw materials to encourage nesting behaviors. Species will include the Bay-Headed Tanager (Tangara gyrola), a brilliant blue and green bird with a deep red head, the Green and Gold Tanager (Tangara schrankii), a bright green species whose plumage transitions to a near-gold coloration near the head, the Silver-Beaked Tanager (Ramphocelus carbo), a dark red species with a bright gray bill, the Turquoise Tanager (Tangara mexicana), a two-tone blue and yellow species, the Blue-Gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus), a species with sky blue and pale grey coloration, the Brazilian Tanager (Ramphocelus bresilius), a bright red species found only in eastern Brazil, the Paradise Tanager (Tangara chilensis), a black-based species with a green head, blue underbelly, and yellow to red rump, the Blue and Yellow Tanager (Thraupis bonariensis), a species with a mix of blue, orange, yellow, and black plumage, the Burnished-Buff Tanager (Tangara cayana), a common species with a burnt orange base and black accents, the Opal-Rumped Tanager (Tangara veila), perhaps the deepest species of blue tanager, the Swallow Tanager (Tersina viridis), a species with coloration mimicking the blue jay of North America, the Blue-Necked Tanager (Tangara cyanicollis), a black species with a sky blue head, the Fulvous-Crested Tanager (Tachyphonus surinamus), and finally the White-Lined Tanager (Tachyphonus rufus), a species with largely black and gray plumage. Species classified with the tanagers, but not commonly referred to by the name include the Saffron Finch (Sicalis flaveola), a bright yellow species widely distributed throughout the Amazon, the Red Crested Finch (Coryphospingus cucullatus), a beautiful, widespread species of red tanager, the Red Capped Cardinal (Paroaria gularis), a black and white red-headed species unrelated to the North American cardinals, the Yellow Cardinal (Gubernatrix cristata), an endangered species appearing like a yellow version of the common northern cardinal of the states, the Red Crested Cardinal (Paroaria coronata), an iconic gray and white red-headed species that has been introduced to tropical locations around the world, the Blue Dacnis (Dacnis cayana), possibly the brightest species of blue tanager, the Black-Faced Dacnis (Dacnis lineata), yet another bright blue species with increased amounts of black plumage, the Green Honeycreeper (Chlorophanes spiza), an emerald green species found through Central America and the Amazon, the Red-Legged Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes cyaneus), a brilliant purple and black species, and the Purple Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes caeruleus), a very similar species to the red-legged honeycreeper, distinguished by its black legs and longer bill. Such a variety of species will provide the opportunity to educate guests on this large family of birds, making up nearly an eighth of the species found throughout the American tropics. In addition, their quick flight, loud calls, and brilliant plumage will provide a great sense of ambience throughout this simulated rainforest.

    Other passerines represented in this exhibit will cover a number of families and genera, rivaling the collection of many zoos, with an unprecedented collection for an aquarium. This will further improve the status of the already-renowned Upland Tropical Rainforest exhibit of the original aquarium, increasing biodiversity amongst birds housed here and crossing off many “lifers” for avid zoo and aquarium goers. Perhaps the most represented will be the cotingas, showcasing seven species including the Screaming Piha (Lipaugus vociferans), the second loudest species of bird in the world, the Pompadour Cotinga (Xipholena punicea), a bright red and white species, the Spangled Cotinga (Cotinga cayana), perhaps the most beautiful bird of the new world with its metallic blue feathers and magenta throat, the Guianan Red Cotinga (Phoenicircus carnifex), a red and black species from the northern Amazon Basin, the Capuchinbird (Perissocephalus tricolor), an odd species said to have a call between the noise of a cow mooing and a chainsaw starting, the Purple-Throated Fruitcrow (Querula purpurata), a black and magenta-colored insectivore from the northern reaches of South America, and the Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola rupicola), a somewhat large passerine species known for its bright orange coloration and its impressive mating displays.

    The icterids will also receive fair representation in this exhibit, with six species present. Two species of oropendola, both the Green Oropendola (Psarocolius viridis) and the Crested Oropendola (Psarocolius decumanus), will live within this exhibit. These are among the largest of passerines, reaching lengths of nearly 18 inches. Two closely related species of cacique, the Red-Rumped Cacique (Cacicus haemorrhous) and the Yellow-Rumped Cacique (Cacicus cela) will be present, both species being widely ranging throughout Central and South America. Finally, both the Yellow Hooded Blackbird (Chrysomus icterocephalus) and the Scarlet-Headed Blackbird (Amblyramphus holosericeus) will live within the forest, both being smaller black-based species with yellow and red head plumage, respectively. The only species representing the manakins will be the Golden-Headed Manakin (Ceratopipra erythrocephala), a species reaching under 4 inches in total length with a black base and a rich yellowish-orange head. Two true finches will be represented, the Violaceous Euphonia (Euphonia violacea) and the Blue-Naped Chlorophonia (Chlorophonia cyanea). Both are smaller species, and brilliantly colored featuring a mix of blues, purples, greens, and yellows. Rounding out the large passerine selection is the Yellow-Green Grosbeak (Caryothraustes canadensis). This is a wide ranging species throughout South America, and is more closely related to the North American cardinals than any of the tanager species commonly called cardinals are.

    While non-passerine life in this gallery will be largely dedicated to species of threatened parrots and toucans, along with the waterbirds, several other species will be present. Perhaps one of the most iconic species of walk-through rainforest exhibits is the Blue-Crowned Motmot (Momotus momota), a South American species related to the kookaburras of Australia and bee-eaters of Africa. The Guira Cuckoo (Guira guira) will also be represented, a beautiful brown species from the southern reaches of the Amazon known for its long, loud call, predatory nature, and strong odor. A group of Black-Spotted Barbets (Capito niger) will be present, a small black, red, and yellow species found in the northeastern Amazon. Representing the Galliformes is the Chaco Chachalaca (Ortalis canicollis), a popular species of game bird found throughout a variety of South American habitats. One species of largely flightless tinamou will be housed in the exhibit, the species of choice being the Little Tinamou (Crypturellus soui). These birds will give the opportunity to introduce signage talking about various uncommon flightless bird species, including the rheas of South America, cassowaries of Oceania, and birds like the takahe and kakapo in New Zealand. Two species of trogon will be displayed, the Black-Tailed Trogon (Trogon melanurus) and the Green-Backed Trogon (Trogon viridis). These birds are a relative of the infamous resplendent quetzal, which unfortunately is a Central American species and would not be appropriate to display in such an exhibit. Finally, represented by three species will be the pigeons and doves. The grey and copper-colored Pale-Vented Pigeon (Patagioenas cayennensis), the beautiful purple, brown, and white Scaled Pigeon (Patagioenas speciosa), and the ground-dwelling Ruddy Quail Dove (Geotrygon montana) will all be housed in this exhibit.

    Parrot species in this exhibit will consist of pairs and small flocks of smaller endangered species found throughout various regions of the Amazon. While the exhibit is not appropriate for a number of larger macaw species, it would be appropriate to house one to two pairs of large macaws in this exhibit. Two species would be appropriate, but the Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthus) would be the species of choice for this exhibit. These are the largest species of extant macaw, and their brilliant deep blue coloration will make them stand out in such an exhibit to visitors. A pair of breeding adult hyacinths flying throughout the exhibit will be perhaps the most impressive sight of the entire exhibit, a lofty claim when there are nearly 120 species of animal housed here. In the event that the Lear’s Macaw (Anodorhynchus leari) becomes available, the hyacinths will be moved to a separate facility, in favor of these rarely-seen macaws. This species has two very small, isolated populations in eastern Brazil, with just over a thousand individuals located in the wild. While rare in aviculture, this species has been exhibited before, and it may become possible to display them in the Upland Tropical Rainforest exhibit.

    Several pairs of White-Bellied Caique (Pionites leucogaster) will be present in the exhibit, a small species whose antics will easily capture the attention of guests. These green, yellow, and white parrots are small, stocky, and playful, making them a very popular pet species. They are endangered in the wild, native to the southern Amazon in Brazil. A pair of the rarely-exhibited Vulturine Parrot (Pyrilia vulturina) will be displayed, a brilliant rainbow-colored parrot displaying patterns similar to that of a rainbow lorikeet in the body of a typical Amazon parrot. Listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, this little-known species is native to forests of eastern Brazil. Two species of endangered Amazon parrot, the Vinaceous Amazon (Amazona vinacea) and the Diademed Amazon (Amazona diadema) will be displayed, kept as several breeding pairs. Both species are native to opposite corners of the Amazon Basin, the vinaceous from the southeastern reaches and the diademed from the northwest. Finally, flocks of three conure species will be housed in this exhibit, numbering at least 15 individuals each. First is the Golden Conure (Guaruba guarouba), a bright yellow species with rich green accents, and one of the larger conure species. A flock of these flying throughout the canopies of the exhibit will be an impressive sight, with the birds often landing near the main pathway to feed on seeds and nuts placed on feeding platforms. The Sun Conure (Aratinga solstitalis) is a popular aviculture species, but is endangered in the wild due largely to habitat loss. These noisy birds will fill the rainforest with their constant chatter and the not-so-occasional loud scream, bringing life to the exhibit. Finally represented will be the Grey-Breasted Conure (Pyrrhura griseipectus), a green species with a gray head and, contrary to their common name, a red breast. These rare conures are located in just two populations, both in areas of the northeastern Amazon.

    Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this exhibit will be the large collection of aracaris, toucanets, and mountain toucans. These smaller relatives are represented in zoos and aquariums by only a select few species, and the aquarium will aim to bring to light a number of smaller, rarely-seen species of these interesting birds. While large toucan species are known to be omnivorous, and readily prey on small bird species, the smaller species are not known to do so and will be far more appropriate in such a large mixed-species environment. Four species of aracari will be represented, including the Ivory-Billed Aracari (Pteroglossus azara), the Chestnut-Eared Aracari (Pteroglossus castanotis), the Pale-Mandibled Aracari (Pteroglossus erythropygius), and the Many-Banded Aracari (Pteroglossus pluricinctus). All four species are medium sized, reaching lengths around 16 inches. Additionally, all species have dark back plumage, with light pale bills with varying degrees of black markings, and varying patterns on the underside, including blotches and bands of red, black, and yellow. Representing the toucanets are two species, the Black-Throated Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus atrogularis) and the Blue-Banded Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus coeruleicinctis). Both species are among the smallest of the toucans, reaching adult sizes of roughly 12 inches. Both are green in color, with dark bills and varying amounts of red and blue plumage across various parts of their body. Finally, the mountain toucans will be represented by the Plate-Billed Mountain Toucan (Andigena laminirostris), a high-elevation species that doesn’t invoke the typical image of a toucan. These grayish-blue birds have brown wings, red legs and rumps, dark green tails, yellow and blue facial markings, and a bill that fades from red to black. This species, along with all of the smaller toucans mentioned previously, emit a wide variety of vocalizations, helping to further bring life to the rainforest. Signage will represent species that inhabit this artificial rainforest, describing each in detail and explaining the variety that toucans come in, not just the large species typically seen in collections.

    While the focus will be on smaller toucan species, two species of large toucan will be represented, a pair each of the Red-Billed Toucan (Ramphastos tucanus tucanus) and the Swainson’s Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus). As both species are known predators of small bird species, both pairs will need to be housed in their own separate aviaries. As such, sections of the exhibit near the path will be meshed off with a fine vertical mesh, nearly invisible to guests when properly incorporated. The interior of the exhibits will be non-differentiable from the rest of the exhibit, making a seamless transition from the main aviary to the toucan aviaries. Both toucan aviaries will be roughly 600 square feet in size, extending to nearly the top of the building, as appropriate.

    Throughout the exhibit will be several sloths, which guests will be alerted to look out for upon entering the exhibit. As sloths are largely sedentary animals, their individual locations within the exhibit will be easily predicted. Two threatened species will be present - the large vulnerable Maned Sloth (Bradypus torquatus) and the critically endangered Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus), which the Dallas World Aquarium infamously failed to acquire in 2015. The pygmy species is of utmost importance to conservation-based facilities such as this, as the population was estimated at just 79 wild individuals in 2012. Breeding efforts here will be one of the aquarium’s top priorities, for potential re-introductions to the small Panamanian island these animals are native to. Signage throughout the exhibit, placed in known hotspots for the sloths, will detail the six species of sloth, including their biology and conservation efforts in place for them.

    The path coming off of the large aerial viewing platform will quickly head downwards, passing by another enclosure similar in both structure and size to those for the large toucan species. This enclosure will be incorporated into the outside exhibit, with a seamless transition from the interior to the exterior. It will be easily viewed from the main pathway, with the exhibit’s front curving along with the pathway. Housed within it will be a group of Pied Tamarins (Saguinus bicolor), a critically endangered species of primate endemic to the Amazon Rainforest. Conservation efforts for this species will be another of utmost importance for the aquarium, and signage on these unique primates will represent this.

    Carrying down along the path, visitors will reach the exhibit’s floor, offering a view of a dark glass-fronted enclosure placed beneath the viewing platform they’ve just left. The enclosure will feature a large artificial rock wall, with caves and ledges for the inhabitants. These will be easily accessed by fallen trees, either natural or artificial. Plant life will be similar to what’s seen throughout the exhibit, although a bit less dense to allow easier viewing of the inhabitants. A small pool, separate from the main waterway in the enclosure, will be present, fed by a slowly-trickling waterfall along the back rock wall. Housed inside will be a pair of Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis), a medium species of cat found throughout the Amazon. While the jaguar would be largely preferred for an exhibit of this magnitude, such a large animal deserves an enclosure nearly the size of the entire building, and would not be suitable for the aquarium. This display will be sizable for the pair of cats housed inside, occupying roughly 1,400 square feet and reaching a height of about 12 feet. These cats would be housed conditionally, and if displays of stress and/or boredom were observed, the animals could be transferred to another facility and a suitable replacement animal could be found - that list may include coatimundi, tamandua, or another primate species.

    Reptiles in this exhibit will be represented by just two species, limited to two separate enclosures within the building. The first will be a pair of Caiman Lizards (Dracaena guianensis), housed in an enclosure similar to those used for the tamarins and large toucans. Their enclosure will feature a large pool fed by a rapid system coming from the waterfall, surrounded by plants and large fallen logs for the animals to bask. The other species housed within the enclosure will be the Yellowfoot Tortoise (Chelonoidis denticulatus), housed in a large cleared-out area occupying nearly 400 square feet. This area will be dominated by grasses, fenced off from the rest of the exhibit - the fencing will be just low enough to keep the tortoises in, and covered in plant growth to hide it from view. A group of at least five individuals will be housed at the aquarium, all from the Amazon Basin race, which is known to grow much larger than others, reaching a size of over three feet in carapace length. This makes them the sixth largest species of tortoise on the earth, outsized by only the Galapagos tortoises of their namesake islands, the aldabra tortoises of the Seychelles, the sulcata tortoise of North Africa, the leopard tortoise of East Africa, and the Burmese brown tortoise of Southeast Asia. Both reptile enclosures will be placed in appropriate areas, with the caiman lizards on a sloped area near the waterfall, and the tortoises on a flatter area closer to the main lagoon.

    Fanning Hidden Life Gallery

    After completing the trail throughout the exhibit, visitors will enter the final main gallery of the aquarium, the Fanning Hidden Life gallery. This naming is a dedication to the late Forrest Fanning, a key conservator of arboreal alligator lizards as well as tree monitors, crocodilians, rare turtles, and a host of other species. Displayed in this gallery will be both dart frogs and arboreal alligator lizards, with a total of 12 displays for each on either side of the gallery.

    Displays will be largely similar across the board, featuring heavy plant growth, a minimal water feature, and sufficient wood pieces to provide climbing and perching opportunities for the inhabitants. Rather than describe each display over and over again, the rest of this update will focus on the species housed inside. Signage on each enclosure will detail the biology of the animal, and some note of conservation for either dart frogs or alligator lizards as a whole, be it threats to the animals, conservationists working to preserve the animals, or specific conservation programs in place to protect the animals. Each enclosure will have subtle differences, designed by the aquarium’s chief botanist to represent differences in the rainforest and cloud forest habitats of each different country animals are represented from. Plant life will be varied, highlighted by large bromeliads, as many dart frogs and alligator lizards use these flowers as cover for their young. At the entrance to the gallery, there will be a dedication to Forrest, as he was a good friend of the aquarium’s designer. In addition to the numerous displays in the gallery, several pairs of each included species, and perhaps some other threatened or rare species, will be housed in easily-maintained breeding enclosures in an off-exhibit space.

    Starting with dart frogs, a total of twelve species will be displayed, representing the twelve countries in which dart frogs are found. The first species, representing Bolivia, will be the Three-Striped Dart Frog (Ameerega trivittata), a large green and black species found throughout most of South America, namely Bolivia. Representing Brazil is the Splashback Dart Frog (Adelphobates galactonotus), a species coming in a variety of colors. The orange race, with a black underbelly and legs and a bright orange back, will be represented in this collection. From Venezuela will be an iconic species, the Yellow-Banded Dart Frog (Dendrobates leucomelas). These mid-sized frogs are known for their bright black and yellow coloration, and the fine-spotted race, with a number of small black spots covering their yellow bands, will be held here. From Colombia comes the Golden Dart Frog (Phyllobates terribilis), a large species known for being the most poisonous species of the group. The unique mint race, known for its pale grayish-green coloration, will be represented. Representing Guyana is a species of thumbnail frog, the Uakari Dart Frog (Ranitomeya uakarii). These small frogs are black with light blue legs, and racing stripe patterns that start out red at the head and fade to yellow down the body. From French Guiana comes a large blue and yellow variety of the Dyeing Dart Frog (Dendrobates tinctorius), the Boulanger race known for its deep blue hind legs and bright yellow head. Ecuador’s representative is a rare species of frog, the Devil Dart Frog (Oophaga sylvatica), specifically the Bilsa race which is a bright reddish-orange color with black webbed patterns across its back. Suriname will be represented by perhaps the most iconic dart frog species, the Blue Dart Frog (Dendrobates tinctorius azureus), a medium sized frog known for its bright blue coloration, among the brightest of the dart frogs. Representing Peru, one of Latin America’s hotspots for dart frog species, is the Blessed Dart Frog (Ranitomeya benedicta), a black, blue, and red species described as its own in just 2008. Central America is to be represented by three countries, including Panama with the Splendid Dart Frog (Oophaga speciosa), a bright solid red species, Costa Rica with the aptly-named Green and Black Dart Frog (Dendrobates auratus), and Nicaragua with the Strawberry Dart Frog (Oophaga pumilio), a species known for its wide color variations. The race represented here will be the blue jeans variant, known for its bright blue hind legs.

    The arboreal alligator lizards of Mexico and Guatemala will also be represented by a total of twelve species, most of which are listed as threatened by the IUCN. Starting the list is the endangered Mexican Alligator Lizard (Abronia graminea), a bright green species known from the highlands of Atlantic Mexico. Following these is the Bromeliad Alligator Lizard (Abronia taeniata), a black, green, and grey banded species from two separate populations in central Mexico. Another grey and black species, the Del Campo’s Alligator Lizard (Abronia martindelcampoi) will be represented, known from a small pocket of forest in southern Pacific Mexico. Moving onto a species known for its more black and white coloration, the Deppe’s Alligator Lizard (Abronia deppii) will be held here, known from south-central Mexico. From the southern border state of Chiapas in Mexico comes the Red-Lipped Alligator Lizard (Abronia lythrochila), a yellow-green species known for its red facial markings. The only species of Guatemalan alligator lizard present is the endangered Bocourt’s Alligator Lizard (Abronia vasconcelosii), a light blue species known from the Sierra Madre mountain range, specifically in northern Guatemala. The Reid’s Alligator Lizard (Abronia reidi) will be displayed, making this facility one of, if not the only facility in the world to house and display it. This rarely-seen species is native to a small mountain range in Atlantic Mexico, and is known from just a few live specimens. Another endangered species, the Chiszar’s Alligator Lizard (Abronia chiszari), will be represented as well. This species shares a range with the rare Reid’s alligator lizard described previously. Another little-known species, this time from Pacific Mexico, will also be held in the facility - the Martinez’s Alligator Lizard (Abronia ornelasi), one of the newer species described in just 1984. The Velazquez Alligator Lizard (Abronia ramirezi), however, is an even newer species, described 10 years after the Martinez’s. This species shares a range with the red-lipped alligator lizard, in the border state of Chiapas. Finally, two other little-known species from southwestern Mexico will be displayed - the
    Mitchell’s Alligator Lizard (Abronia mitchelli) and the Bogert’s Alligator Lizard (Abronia bogerti). The Bogert’s alligator lizard is of particular interest, as this is one of the least-commonly seen species in the world, and has a brilliant mustard-colored body with black bands across its top.

    After viewing the two dozen enclosures in this relatively small gallery, visitors will head out an exit, down to the final two exhibits of the aquarium, both being large aquariums detailing marine life in the Caribbean.
    Zoological Point likes this.
  9. biggiesmalls

    biggiesmalls Well-Known Member

    25 Mar 2020
    North Carolina
    Atlantic Coral Reef


    Upon exiting the Fanning Hidden Life gallery, visitors will head downstairs to first view the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit. This tank will follow the wreck of the Tears of Allah, a 92 foot wreck sunk with one other ship in the 1980’s for the 1983 James Bond movie, Never Say Never Again. This is a shallow water wreck, sitting on the seafloor at a maximum depth of just 45 feet below the water’s surface. A variety of marine life surrounds this wreck, including a number of fish species that will be represented in this exhibit. Due to the 28 foot depth and nearly 1.3 million gallon volume, growing live corals would be extremely difficult. As such, the tank will feature a variety of artificial corals, sponges, and gorgonians native to the waters of the Caribbean. Visitors will view the curved tank from the top level, slowly spiraling down an escalator/walkway taking them into the tank’s depths. At the deepest part, visitors will get a chance to peer into a large hole in the wreck’s hull, providing a look at the living activity inside of a shipwreck.

    Megafauna inside of this exhibit will largely be represented by various species of ray, accented by the rarest sea turtle in the world, the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii). This species is thought to have a global population of under 50,000 individuals, which may seem large but in actuality is quite small given the nearly 140 million square miles of ocean on our planet. The turtle housed here will be a rescued animal, taken in from one of a number of turtle sanctuaries throughout the country. This rare chance to view one of the most endangered animals on our planet will provide one final opportunity for signage detailing the plight of the world’s sea turtles, detailing the four species housed at the aquarium and the three others found throughout the world.

    Rays represented in this aquarium will be a tribute to the aquarium’s original Wings in the Water exhibit, replaced by the Blacktip Reef and featuring a number of ray species found throughout the world. The species list for this exhibit will closely resemble the original one, beginning with a large school of both Cownose Rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) and Bullnose Rays (Myliobatis freminvilli). Both species are similar in shape and size, being a brown species of winged ray reaching approximately three feet in wingspan. Accompanying these winged rays will be a small group of Spotted Eagle Rays (Aetobatus narinari), a much larger black and white-spotted species native to the Atlantic and Caribbean. These threatened rays reach a wingspan of nearly 10 feet, with the largest specimens reaching an impressive 16 feet in length and over 500 pounds. Special signage will be dedicated to these rays, and the conservation efforts put in place by facilities such as the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida.

    Three large species will cover the bottom of the aquarium, starting with the Spiny Butterfly Ray (Gymnura altavela). This species is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, and specimens in this area have been known to reach 7 feet across. Off of West Africa, these animals are known to grow even larger - with reports of 13 foot wide individuals being somewhat prevalent. Representing the typical stingrays will be two large species, the Roughtail Stingray (Dasyatis centroura) and the Southern Stingray (Hypanus americanus). Both species are large, plain species, with the southern growing to roughly 5 feet across, and the larger roughtail reaching perhaps 8 or 9.

    Accompanying the rays will be a group of Atlantic Nurse Sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum), one of four species worldwide and one of two found at the aquarium. These sharks are common reef residents, being one of the largest species of benthic shark, and rarely cause trouble in such large systems. This species was very recently split from the Pacific nurse shark, a very similar species found in Mexico and Central America, in just 2015.

    A number of schooling fish, representing several families, will be represented in this aquarium. Each species will be represented by hundreds of individuals, filling the large exhibit with activity, life, and color. Some species are also represented in other galleries, but are included here as they are an important part of the life found on Caribbean reefs and wrecks.

    Perhaps the most common fish found among the reefs and wrecks of the Bahamas are grunts and snappers, which will be represented by fourteen species. A number of blue and yellow striped species of grunt will be included, such as the Bluestriped Grunt (Haemulon sciurus), the French Grunt (Haemulon flavolineatum), and the Smallmouth Grunt (Haemulon chrysargyreum). Other species will include the black, blue, and yellow Porkfish (Anisotremus virginicus), the silver and yellow White Grunt (Haemulon plumierii), the black and yellow Spanish Grunt (Haemulon macrostomum), the yellow Tomtate (Haemulon aurolineatum), and the black and white Cottonwick (Haemulon melanurum). Two species of slender grunt, the Bonnetmouth (Emmelichthyops atlanticus) and the Boga (Haemulon vittatum), will also be held here. Snapper will be represented by the pale blue and bright yellow Yellowtail Snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus), a upper-water schooling species, the Mangrove Snapper (Lutjanus griseus), and the Blackfin Snapper (Lutjanus buccanella), both mid-size red and grey species common in the tropical Atlantic, and the large pink Mutton Snapper (Lutjanus analis), a popular species of game fish commonly seen throughout both the reefs and the grass flats of the Bahamas.

    A number of silvery fish species, including jacks and fish commonly considered baitfish, will live in this simulated reef environment. Perhaps the largest of these is the Permit (Trachinotus falcatus), a large disk-shaped sportfish commonly targeted on the flats, which is also found over nearly every wreck in Florida and the Caribbean. Other species of jack will include the Blue Runner (Caranx crysos), the Horse-Eye Jack (Caranx latus), the Bar Jack (Caranx ruber), the Banded Rudderfish (Seriola zonata), and the Lookdown (Selene vomer). All are relatively small-growing species, posing little to no threat to the smaller fish species housed within the exhibit - in addition, the large permit is a crustacean eater, rarely if ever preying on other fish. Also included with the jacks, but largely considered baitfish, are three species of scad - the Bigeye Scad (Selar crumenophthalmus), the Mackerel Scad (Decapterus macarellus), and the Round Scad (Decapterus punctatus). All three species grow to roughly a foot in length, forming impressive schools just above the wreck’s structure. Two species of sardine, the Redear Sardine (Harengula humeralis) and the False Herring (Harengula clupeola), will join them. Other silver schooling species will include the Spadefish (Chaetodipterus faber) and the Saucereye Porgy (Calamus calamus), both mid-size invertebrate-eating specialists that grow to a bit under two feet in length. Finally represented will be a shoal of Great Barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda), one of the reef’s most infamous predators. In such a large, well-fed environment, these fish will likely pose little threat. In the event that they do occasionally consume one of the schooling species, their numbers are easily replenished due to the Caribbean’s relatively close proximity and the ease of collecting fish there.

    Angelfish, butterflyfish, and tangs of the Caribbean will also be represented, as they form a group of some of the most recognizable species among the reefs and wrecks. Three species of tang, the Blue Tang (Acanthurus coeruleus), the Ocean Surgeonfish (Acanthurus bahianus), and the Doctorfish (Acanthurus chirurgus) will all be represented. The blue tang can be represented in two forms, both the bright yellow juvenile form and the deep blue adult form. Butterflyfish will be represented by four species, the Foureye Butterflyfish (Chaetodon capistratus), the Spotfin Butterflyfish (Chaetodon ocellatus), the Banded Butterflyfish (Chaetodon striatus), and the Longnose Butterflyfish (Prognathodes aculeatus). While many of the Atlantic butterflyfish species share common names with their Indo-Pacific counterparts, they are entirely different species and not to be mistaken for one another. Finally representing the angelfish will be a number of large species, some of the most popular reef species with divers. The black and yellow Rock Beauty Angelfish (Holacanthus tricolor), the gray and yellow-flaked French Angelfish (Pomacanthus paru), the aptly-named Gray Angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus), the blue, green, and yellow Blue Angelfish (Holacanthus bermudensis), and the bright blue and yellow Queen Angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris) will all be represented in this environment.

    A wide variety of odd-shaped fish, those including the pufferfish, triggerfish, filefish, and cowfish, will inhabit this tank, albeit in smaller numbers than some other species. The star of the show will be a pair of large Porcupine Pufferfish (Diodon hystrix), a species growing over two feet in length, making them one of the largest of both the freshwater and marine puffers. Representing a relatively smaller puffer species is the Balloon Pufferfish (Diodon holacanthus), reaching an adult size of just over one foot. The filefish will be represented by the White-Spotted Filefish (Cantherhines macrocerus), a medium-sized species coming in both a brown coloration with white spots, and a solid rusty orange color. The unique cowfish will be represented by a single common Caribbean species, the Scrawled Cowfish (Acanthostracion quadricornis), a colorful blue and brown species known to feed on crabs, sponges, and seagrasses alike. The triggerfish will be represented by the Black Durgon Triggerfish (Melichthys niger), the gray and red Sargassum Triggerfish (Xanthichthys ringens), and the large Ocean Triggerfish (Canthidermis sufflamen), foregoing the extremely aggressive and colorful queen triggerfish that is typically seen in Caribbean-themed displays. Other species included in this rough group will include the Remora (Echeneis naucrates), a larger species known for its tendency to follow and rest upon sharks, rays, and turtles, the Sand Tilefish (Malacanthus plumieri), a smaller bottom-dwelling species known to dart in and out of rockwork and wrecks, and both the Yellow Goatfish (Mulloidichthys martinicus) and the Spotted Goatfish (Pseudupeneus maculatus), which can change its colors from a bright red when resting to a pale gray when hiding or escaping from a predator.

    Wrasses will be represented by a number of smaller species alongside the much larger parrotfish, of which more species are found in the Caribbean than perhaps anywhere else. Small species will be represented by the purple and orange Creole Wrasse (Clepticus parrae), the bright green and yellow Puddingwife (Halichoeres radiatus), the iridescent green, black, and yellow Yellowhead Wrasse (Halichoeres garnoti), the bright blue and turquoise Bluehead Wrasse (Thalassoma bifasciatum), and the pink and yellow Spanish Hogfish (Bodianus rufus). One larger species of wrasse popular with spearfishermen, the Hogfish (Lachnolaimus maximus), will also be present in this tank. Though these are an immensely common fish around Atlantic reefs and wrecks, they are rarely exhibited in aquaria. Three species of parrotfish will be present - the aptly-named Blue Parrotfish (Scarus coeruleus), the cotton-candy-colored Striped Parrotfish (Scarus iserti), and the bright blue and white Princess Parrotfish (Scarus taeniopterus). Nearly all species of Caribbean wrasse are hermaphroditic, meaning in the absence of males, females will transition themselves over to males. This provides an opportunity to display three distinct color phases of each species - the female coloration, the initial male coloration, and the terminal male coloration, which is often the brightest and most recognizable form.

    Bottom dwelling species will be represented by a number of Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatus), a protected species throughout most of the Caribbean with brilliant light and dark brown bands across its body. Representing the red squirrelfish will include a number of species, such as the Common Squirrelfish (Holocentrus adscensionis), the Glasseye Squirrelfish (Heteropriacanthus cruentatus), the Blackbar Soldierfish (Myripristis jacobus), and the Longspine Squirrelfish (Holocentrus rufus). A number of small species related to the groupers, known as hamlets, will also be present in this exhibit. Species will include the brown, yellow, and blue Barred Hamlet (Hypoplectrus puella), the pale white and yellow Butter Hamlet (Hypoplectrus unicolor), the indigo and yellow Shy Hamlet (Hypoplectrus guttavarius), and the jet-black Black Hamlet (Hypoplectrus nigricans). Basslets will also be represented, showcasing the Tobacco Basslet (Serranus tabacarius), a small brown and white species with coloration mimicking dried tobacco leaves. Finally, two species of damselfish, both the common Sergeant Major (Abudefduf saxatilis) and the somewhat uncommon Brown Chromis (Chromis multilineata) will be represented.

    One final fish species will be displayed in this tank, in a group of roughly ten large individuals. Perhaps the main attraction to the reefs of the Caribbean, as far as the bony fish go, is the Green Moray Eel (Gymnothorax funebris). These large eels commonly reach 5 feet in length, but in aquaria have been known to reach over 8 feet. This species has a widely varying temperament, with wild individuals occasionally chasing divers out of their holes in the wrecks, and captive individuals even seeking out head scratches and attention from divers within their enclosure.

    In addition to the variety of fish species in this aquarium, one invertebrate species will be kept experimentally in the exhibit - a large group of Spiny Lobsters (Panulirus argus). These are a very popular prey species for animals such as the nurse sharks, the various ray species, and the groupers, and if they prove to be nothing more than an expensive feeder item, their numbers will not be replaced. Still though, a large group of lobsters stampeding across the bottom of the aquarium for food would be an impressive, rarely-seen sight in aquaria.
  10. biggiesmalls

    biggiesmalls Well-Known Member

    25 Mar 2020
    North Carolina
    Bahamas Shark Lagoon


    After reaching the bottom of the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit, guests will step into a small room before heading down another spiraling escalator/walkway, this time viewing an even larger tank housing a number of shark species native to the Caribbean. This tank would be the same 28 feet deep, with an added 40 feet of width for a total volume of roughly 2.8 million gallons. Also factored into this volume is an off-display lagoon situated at the back of the exhibit, holding approximately 300,000 gallons at 8 feet in depth. This section will be separated from the main display via a large remote-controlled gate, allowing individual animals to be moved into here to accustom to aquarium life, or for specific treatment. The life support system for this lagoon will be able to be separated, allowing for treatment of 300,000 gallons of water for a sick or injured fish, rather than 2.8 million. As the sharks in this exhibit are rarely seen in public aquaria, individuals will likely need to be placed into this lagoon to ensure that they are able to adapt to aquarium life - and due to the size of both the animals and the holding space, it is not likely that such a pool could be placed anywhere else in the aquarium.

    The viewing for this tank will be very similar to the Atlantic Coral Reef - visitors will be able to ride a slow-moving, curved escalator going down the lengths of the tank towards the bottom, or walk at their own pace along a walkway directly adjacent to the escalator. This tank will remain very open, with little more than blue lighting, a sandy bottom, and perhaps a few small rock structures to provide ambience within the exhibit. The animals housed inside will require a large area to properly thrive in captivity, and additional decorations within the exhibit will be entirely unnecessary.

    The highlight of this tank will be either a lone individual or pair of Tiger Sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier). These large sharks have been successfully displayed in only a handful of aquaria, including the Aquarium of the Pacific in California, Epcot’s Living Seas Pavilion in Florida, and the Maui Ocean Center in Hawaii. These sharks grow to average adult lengths of 14 feet and weights of nearly 1,400 pounds. These, however, do not represent the largest tiger sharks recorded, which have been known to reach 18 feet in length and over 3,000 pounds. As such, no more than two individuals will be appropriate for even an aquarium of this magnitude.

    Hammerhead sharks will be represented by one of two species - either a lone individual or pair of Great Hammerhead Sharks (Sphyrna mokarran), or a small shoal of Scalloped Hammerheads (Sphyrna lewini). Both species are critically endangered, and will be a great opportunity for signage to focus on the conservation status of these two sharks, as well as the seven other species found throughout the world’s oceans. Great hammerheads are the largest of their family, reaching an average of 11 feet and roughly 500 pounds, with the largest specimens attaining lengths of 20 feet and weights of over 1,200 pounds. Scalloped hammerheads are still a large species, but reach smaller sizes than the great hammerhead, with an average size of 8 feet in length and under 200 pounds in weight, and a maximum of around 14 feet and 450 pounds. Scalloped hammerheads have been displayed successfully in the long-term by a number of institutions, including the Maui Ocean Center and the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the United States. Great hammerheads, due to their size, are far rarer in aquaria, but have been successfully kept at institutions such as the Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas and the Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey. Due to the large adult size of the great hammerheads, it is likely that they would not be able to live out their full lifespans in this aquarium with the tiger sharks, although it is possible that smaller individuals could be temporarily housed here for rehabilitation. As we know little about the captive care requirements of both tiger sharks and great hammerheads, it is possible that the main species housed will fluctuate over time, with certain points in time having neither species, many having just one, and others having both.

    Two other rarely-exhibited species will be displayed in this tank, the first being the Blacktip Shark (Carcharhinus limbatus). Not to be confused with the blacktip reef shark, these sharks rarely adjust well to anything but the largest of aquaria, and are known to be quite aggressive when not constantly fed. This species also grows much larger than the blacktip reef shark, reaching adult lengths of nearly 9 feet and 300 pounds. Another rarely-seen species, for many of the same reasons as the blacktip, is the Silky Shark (Carcharhinus falciformis), an even larger species growing to 11 feet and over 700 pounds. Both species typically stay much smaller, under 8 feet in length and under 200 pounds in weight. This aquarium’s size, the unique acclimation pool, and dedicated team of elasmobranch husbandry experts from around the globe will allow the exhibition of these species, giving guests an opportunity to see two additional species rarely seen in aquaria around the world.

    Three other shark species will be exhibited in the aquarium’s second largest exhibit, all of them more common than those previously mentioned. The first is the Sandbar Shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus), a medium-sized species known for its tall dorsal fin. Both the sandbar and the silky shark are threatened species, allowing for more signage detailing conservation of large sharks around the world. A much smaller species, the Blacknose Shark (Carcharhinus acronotus) will be housed here in sizable numbers, as they are not known to reach lengths of over 6 feet, with 4 to 5 feet being more typical for full-grown adults. Finally represented will be the Caribbean Reef Shark (Carcharhinus perezi), a larger-growing species typically reaching adult lengths of 6 to 7 feet. This species is one of the most common around the Bahamas, with dive tours typically banking on seeing at least one or two of these sharks.

    Although no rays will be represented in this tank, due to them playing a large role in the diet of both tiger and hammerhead sharks, both the Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata) and the Largetooth Sawfish (Pristis pristis) will be displayed. Both species are among the most common species seen in aquaria, as well as some of the largest, reaching adult lengths of 18 feet and possibly larger. Average adults seen in aquaria are much smaller, perhaps in the 12 foot range. As wild collection of sawfish is strictly prohibited, these animals would need to come in from other facilities around the world, perhaps in exchange for donations to conservation programs or straight fees for the animals.

    Fish species in this exhibit, as well as the many other exhibits throughout the aquarium holding sharks, will need to fit one of three categories - either too large or aggressive for the sharks to bother, too small to be of any interest to the sharks, or easily replaceable in the event that their numbers within the exhibit dwindle.

    A number of large species will be represented here, including two commonly-seen species of large grouper. The first, the Black Grouper (Mycteroperca bonaci), reaches lengths of nearly 5 feet, and weights of over 200 pounds. Due to the size of the exhibit, a number of these fish can be housed here. The second species, the Goliath Grouper (Epinephelus itajara), dwarfs the black grouper, coming in at lengths of over 8 feet, and weights speculated to reach at least 800 pounds. A number, albeit smaller than the population of resident black groupers, of these fish will provide a great look at these monstrous fish for guests. A shoal of Atlantic Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) will reside in this tank, filling the upper and middle water columns. The number of tarpon in this exhibit will start out small, gradually increasing as fish from the Everglades Outpost exhibit outgrow their home there, and come to join the shoal housed here. A school of Black Drum (Pogonias cromis), a popular sportfish from the Atlantic, will fill the bottom of the tank. Individuals collected will be close to their maximum adult size, which can reach well over 100 pounds. The rarely-seen Cubera Snapper (Lutjanus cyanopterus) will also be displayed in smaller numbers, as this is a threatened deepwater species, and considered one of the largest snappers found anywhere in the world, reaching weights of well over 100 pounds. Large jacks will be represented by three species, the Greater Amberjack (Seriola dumerili), a popular sportfish reaching 6 feet and nearly 200 pounds, the Crevalle Jack (Caranx hippos), another popular species with sportfishermen reaching roughly 50 pounds, and the similarly-sized Almaco Jack (Seriola rivoliana), a close relative of the amberjack.

    Smaller schools of jack will be made up of four species, including the ubiquitous Blue Runner (Caranx crysos), the Florida Pompano (Trachinotus carolinus), the closely-related Palometa (Trachinotus goodei), and the Horse-Eye Jack (Caranx latus). As with the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit, grunts and snapper will also be heavily represented, with species including the Bluestriped Grunt (Haemulon sciurus), the French Grunt (Haemulon flavolineatum), the Mangrove Snapper (Lutjanus griseus), the Lane Snapper (Lutjanus synagris), the Porkfish (Anisotremus virginicus), the Sailor’s Grunt (Haemulon parra), the Schoolmaster Snapper (Lutjanus apodus), the Smallmouth Grunt (Haemulon chrysargyreum), and the Yellowtail Snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus). All species listed will be housed in groups numbering several hundred each, forming expansive schools and filling the middle and lower water columns of the aquarium. Representing the closely-related porgies is also the Sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus), a common food fish also seen in the Everglades Outpost exhibit.

    After viewing the aquarium’s final exhibit, guests will be directed back into the entrance building of the aquarium, able to exit or continue back and view any section of the aquarium they wish for any number of times.
  11. biggiesmalls

    biggiesmalls Well-Known Member

    25 Mar 2020
    North Carolina
    Final Update: Recap and Expansions


    As the tour of the aquarium winds to an end, the immense variety of habitats and animal species represented is finally realized in all its glory. The aquarium displays a total of at least 845 accounted animal species, with the number likely creeping closer to 900 as more and more invertebrate species are accounted for. Excluding all invertebrates (with the exception of cephalopods), the aquarium's species count sits between 607 and 614.

    Mammals are represented by 6 total species, with conservation-based signage detailing the plight of several others. Species housed here include West Indian manatees, ocelots, pied tamarins, tree kangaroos, and 2 species of sloth across 3 separate galleries.

    Birds are represented by 128 species, a number rivaling that of many zoos around the world, let alone aquariums. 49 species of passerine, 35 species of waterbird, 18 species of parrot, 15 species of cavitave (a clade including the trogons, kingfishers, motmots, barbets, and toucans), and 7 species of pigeon make up the bulk of the collection, while the birds of prey, cuckoos, gamebirds, and tinamous are represented by a single species each. Birds can be found in every major gallery/floor of the aquarium, with the exception of the final two large exhibits.

    Amphibians at the aquarium are represented by a total of 15 species, including 2 tree frog species, 1 toad species, and 12 dart frog species, not including undetermined animals housed off-display as part of the aquarium's amphibian and lizard conservation program. Amphibians can be seen in displays in the Fanning Hidden Life gallery, as well as the Florida: Panhandle to the Keys gallery, and free-ranging in the Everglades Outpost exhibit.

    Reptiles are represented by 54-56 species, depending on selection by the lead reptile and amphibian curator. 3 species of crocodilian, representing Australia, North America, and South America, can be viewed across 3 separate galleries. Anywhere from 9 to 11 species of snake, depending upon availability, can be viewed, including pythons, boas, colubrids, and elapids. 20 species of lizard are housed here, including 5 species representing Oceania, 12 representing Central America, 1 representing North America, and 2 representing South America. By far the most represented order of reptiles is the chelonians, with 16 species of freshwater turtle, an unprecedented 4 species of sea turtle, and 2 species of tortoise represented from Oceania, South America, and North America alike.

    At least 240 species of invertebrate can be found at the aquarium, with numbers likely reaching closer to 300, as many species are practically undifferentiable. By estimates, corals, sponges, and gorgonians make up at least 140 of these species, insects make up at least 40, the shelled molluscs make up 20, crustaceans make up 16, anemones and echinoderms (including the starfish, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins) make up 12 a piece, cephalopods make up 2, and jellyfish are represented by a single species.

    Finally, fish are represented by an astounding 400-plus species, with the highest possible estimate sitting at 407 species. Sharks are represented by 35 to 36 species, with rays and their relatives coming in at anywhere from 14-18 based on selection. This gives the aquarium one of the largest collections of cartilaginous fish in the Americas, if not in the greater world. Freshwater bony species are represented by 62 species, with saltwater bony fish coming in at an impressive 291 species across a number of families.


    With the construction of the National Aquarium's new Dolphin Sanctuary, somewhere in either the Florida Keys or the Caribbean, a future expansion update to this update is warranted. Two updates will be modified upon release of more information about the new sanctuary - the Everglades Outpost exhibit will be replaced with whatever replacement option is selected, and this update will be reconfigured to showcase a new habitat, located somewhere in Florida or the Caribbean, for the aquarium's manatees. In addition, minor updates to several of the aquarium's exhibits will take place, with species lists being modified to accommodate species previously housed in the Everglades Outpost exhibit.

    A number of potential options are being explored for the rebuild of the 94,000 square foot Everglades Outpost exhibit, and I would love to hear feedback on what you'd like to see the most. Potential options include:

    • Sticking with the Everglades theme, and replacing the manatees housed inside with American crocodiles, allowing the aquarium to showcase a threatened species and offer a unique display of a breeding group of crocodiles underwater, alongside various fish, reptiles, and birds.
    • A West and Central African-themed exhibit, showcasing a number of rare species from the area in a fashion similar to the Oceania exhibit. Species may include, but are not limited to, slender-snouted crocodiles, dwarf crocodiles, mambas, gaboon and rhinoceros vipers, tropical birds such as hornbills and turacos, and a large central rivermouth tank featuring large rarely-seen fish species such as cubera snapper, giant threadfin, jacks, barracudas, tarpon, guitarfish, and potentially bull sharks.
    • A Seychelles-themed exhibit, including aldabra tortoises, birds native to the islands, and a large aquarium resembling a reef flat from any number of the islands.
    • A Southeast Asian exhibit, similar again to the Oceania building, showcasing komodo dragons, gharials, water monitors, giant softshell turtles, large freshwater species such as the giant freshwater stingray, snake species such as the king cobra, and a number of large free-flighted bird species including rhinoceros hornbills, great hornbills, and victoria crowned pigeons.
    • A Central American exhibit, likely to represent Belize or Nicaragua, featuring a mix of freshwater tanks (housing various cichlids and the like), brackish tanks (housing species such as tarpon, snook, and jacks amongst American crocodiles), saltwater tanks (housing reef species, including permit and mutton snapper alongside smaller species), free-flighted birds from the area, reptiles native to the rainforests, and perhaps sloths, primates, and other mammals found in the area.
    • An exhibit representing life in the Caribbean, including various waterbirds such as flamingos, land iguanas, Cuban crocodiles, various Caribbean snakes, and other species.
    • A Madagascan exhibit, featuring lemurs, free-flighted birds, and a number of rare reptile species from the island such as turtles, radiated tortoises, ground boas, mantellas, and chameleons.
    • A New Zealand exhibit, featuring a coldwater reef tank, a freshwater trout river, a number of native birds including the flightless takahe and kakapo, a penguin colony, and various reptiles including conservation projects for both the Naultinus green geckos and the tuatara.
    • A new large shark exhibit, allowing one tank to focus on sharks and fish of the Caribbean, and the other to focus on an area of the Pacific, such as Hawaii. This would allow the aquarium to display both great hammerhead sharks and tiger sharks, along with at least a dozen other species, across multiple exhibits.
    • A penguin gallery, with five exhibits representing South Africa, Antarctica, Chile, New Zealand, and the Falkland Islands or a similar island cluster known to hold several penguin species.
    In addition to these, I am interested to hear what other galleries you think may make an interesting replacement to the Everglades Outpost exhibit. Unless the manatees are simply replaced with American crocodiles, most of the small fish species, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates will be captured and fed off to birds, larger fish, and invertebrates throughout the aquarium. The larger fish species will be moved to the large shark tank and the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit, with the sea turtles being rearranged throughout these two exhibits as well as the Blacktip Reef exhibit and potentially the manatee sanctuary. The birds will be relocated to a sanctuary built in the same location as the manatee sanctuary, with species like the roseate spoonbills being moved to the Upland Tropical Rainforest. A few of the gallery choices, such as the Caribbean or the Central American galleries, will allow for at least a few species, such as the pelicans, to remain in the space.

    This concludes the write-up of the new National Aquarium, I hope it's been an interesting read. In the future, I'd like to write up maintenance plans and develop maps for each area of the aquarium, but this is farther out into the future. I'd love to hear what suggestions you have for species to be added or removed from galleries, as I'll be going back and changing these updates as appropriate. Hope this has been enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to future updates
    amur leopard likes this.
  12. Jarne

    Jarne Well-Known Member

    31 May 2020
    I'm gonna take my time to read trough the lot with more detail in the future. I see a lot of good things in there, but also some things that do incite questions.

    I do have my doubts about the many species of angelfish and the huge numbers of some species in blacktip reef. Most dwarf-angels for example live in harems averaging about 7 individuals or something else inside that range. They might also be aggressive to other angelfish. With 250+ angelfish in there (the way I read it, I'd even think you would put about 300 or more in there) you are gonna get a heck of a lot of aggression between species, and probably also between individuals of the same species (for example the groups of large angelfish). In general certain numbers do seem a bit off in some exhibits, like several couples of sunbittern. As I recall it's not a colonial breeder, and they will probably defend their nest. Tokay gecko's are also quite territorial, so a group might not be the best to keep inside a terrarium.

    Also certain species are not placed in their correct biome. Lear's macaw for example aren't rainforest inhabitants, they live in much more open and dry environments.

    Besides this I also see some species here that would be kept totally inappropriately. The giant softshell-turtles for example probably wouldn't breed in such a setup. The rainbow fish kept in certain tanks will probably end up being snacks for other inhabitants, especially the fly river turtles.

    Also some things are just absurd, like the many sawtooth fishes for example. It's almost impossible if not totally impossible to import them from the wild, and they aren't bred in captivity. The same would probably be the case for species like the softshell-turtles