Saturday, 23 September 2017

Cairns Aquarium

So the Cairns Aquarium has finally opened! It has been a long wait. I planned to buy an annual pass and dropped in on Monday afternoon to pick that up thinking I would then find it easier to get in for Tuesday's opening. They had actually opened a day early for pass holders so I slipped through for a quick unexpected look during my lunch break, and then headed back today for a more leisurely look.

Photos and some brief commentary are below the fold.
First I'll comment on my main disappointment: so much fake coral. They've used various types of fake coral in most of the saltwater tanks. I'm pretty sure some are the plastic or resin copi-corals you can buy for home aquariums. I tried these in a fish only tank for a while but found algae build up was a problem. Real coral will fight off colonising algae and keep themselves clean. Fake coral quickly gets covered in algae, and this has already begun in many of the tanks. It will be interesting to see how well they handle this.

Another negative, which is no fault of the Aquarium's, was that someone has already tried carving their initials into the acrylic of one of the main display tanks. They were obviously interrupted as they only got their first initial - L - done. Whoever L is they deserve to have their arse kicked.

Now, the good stuff: I was pleased to see quite a large freshwater section, including one huge tank that I think will be home to a sawfish in time. At the moment it's a barramundi, salmon-tailed catfish and saratoga tank. It's gorgeous, and I think my favourite display already. They've got grunters, mouth almighty (I'm not sure how to make that a plural - mouths almighty? Mouth almighties?), Lake Eacham rainbowfish (extinct in the wild), Jardine River turtles (until recently believed extinct), mangrove jacks, and even some lovely blue freshwater crayfish which didn't come out in my photo.

There are two main display saltwater tanks. One is a very impressive tower of a tank that extends up to the floor above. It's distinctive and very different to the tanks in Townsville or Melbourne aquariums to which I've been. The biggest tank is a deep water reef re-creation with some hammerhead sharks, rays, and lots of smaller fish. I think I overheard a staff member saying more sharks are on the way. There's the obligatory walk through tunnel to have rays and sharks swimming over your head, and a large window with a seating area for talks.

Anyway, here are some photos:

The first view of the tall tank is from upstairs. There's benches for presentations.

Here's the bottom. They should have had this as the first view for more wow factor.
Emperor angelfish

A hammerhead shark in the main tank. They've faked the reef quite well.

A large curved window into the main tank

The big freshwater tank. As a former barramundi owner I think this was my favourite
The main live reef tank is fairly small but very nice

I'll be interested to see how the reef tank matures

A saratoga from the freshwater section

Mt Lewis spiny crayfish

Freshwater pipefish - this photo is the right way up

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