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A day in the life of the Aquarium

24 March 2014 by Alyster

Alyster, one of our aquarists, getting ready to feed the sharks.

Alyster getting ready to feed the sharks.

Hello, I’m Alyster, an aquarist at World Museum. Today I’m going to tell you a bit about a ‘typical’ day working in the Aquarium – although each day can be very different from the last! I’m not the only aquarist who works at the museum. Myself and Ben (who has a starring role in the video below) take care of the majority of the husbandry, with help from our boss Paul, who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and is happy to relay his 15+ years of experience as an aquarist. 

8.30-10am

When we get into work first we need to check everything is ok. We go round each tank checking our animals are fine; all the equipment is working and checking if any tanks could do with a spruce or clean. We record the temperature, salinity, pH and oxygen levels in each tank, to monitor and make sure they are within the right limits. We keep lots of records, it is required for our zoo license, but it also helps us spot anything unusual straight away.

We start our food prep, taking out the frozen food required that day; sprat, krill, and mysis. We squirt the food with an enrichment gel, full of vitamins and minerals so our animals get the nutrients they need. We feed the majority of our animals on dried food; marine and algae flake, and pellets. This food is chock full of the nutrients.

10am-12.30pm

Preparing the fish food

Ben preparing food for the animals.

We offer school sessions, and at this time we will be setting up our education area for the session. At this time in the morning the first feed will be done. Our aquarium as two sections: our tropical section, these are our corals and indo-pacific fishes, and our temperate section, these are our local species found off the British coasts. The tropical fish get fed twice a day, they need this as they’re constantly on the move, our temperate fish get one feed, they’re not as active generally, and you’ll see they mainly sit around. I don’t blame them sometimes!

1-4.30pm

While one member of the team may be doing another school session, this is when we do our daily/weekly or monthly jobs. These include water tests, maintenance in the plant room, cleaning tanks and cleaning everywhere. We check for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate in each system – we have 11 separate systems that need to be recorded. We’re checking that our water is clean and free of nasty toxins that would harm our animals.
We also make sure that everything is looking at its best, by cleaning away algae, tidying up tanks, and moving rocks or stones around. Sometimes it’s best to get in the tank to clean it, either in a wetsuit or we’ll drain the water down to ankle level and get in! Oh, and we have to make sure all the washing up is done.

Cleaning one of the tanks

Making sure the tanks are nice and clean!

 

4.30-5pm

Shut down. The first thing we do in the morning is check everything is ok and it’s the last thing we do before we leave. It’s very thorough; we are responsible for the welfare of these animals. They’re here so we all can engage with them and we can come to the museum and see how fascinating and remarkable they are. Most people may not have a chance to see and appreciate them in their habitats in the wild and we don’t want to forget these animals exist. We need to make sure that people care that their habitats are preserved, so they can survive and thrive for many millions of years to come.

You can come and see for yourself – we’re open 10am-5pm daily and it’s all free! Watch Ben showing you a day in the life of the Aquarium, in our new video:

 

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