The Emerson Children’s Zoo at the Saint Louis Zoo has added new aquatic displays with a variety of captive bred fish and reef creatures for children to view. The aquarium includes a display of 10 moon jellies that children can view under lights that turn the jellies pink, green, or blue as well as a live coral exhibit featuring orchid dottybacks, neon gobies, peppermint shrimp, harptail blennies and two species of clownfish. The main aquarium is about 190 gallons with the complete aquarium around 230 gallons. The system uses a variety of filtration, including foam fractionation, activated carbon, GFO (granular ferric oxide) media, filter socks and pads, and a macroalgae refugium with live rock. Lighting is provided by a pair of Ecotech Marine Radion XR30W Pro LED fixtures, tied into an custom program to achieve natural light and moon cycles that emulate natural reef lighting.
“This exhibit will help children learn about coral reefs—fragile environments in the wild that serve as homes for millions of tiny animals,” Alice Seyfried, Fred Saigh Curator of the Emerson Children’s Zoo said in a press release. “The weather within the coral reef exhibit will change as it does in the wild, with simulated storms, lightning, waves and all the phases of the moon—matching the environment of the shallow, warm water in the tropics where coral reefs develop.”
The freshwater exhibit showcases five species of rainbowfish, flame and powder blue gouramis, velvet swordtails and tiger barbs. The goal of the aquarium exhibits is to educate children on the importance of the oceans, rivers, and other bodies of water that these animals can be found in the wild. The zoo noted that the Saint Louis Area Saltwater Hobbyists Club donated the coral that is in the reef exhibit at the zoo. “This gift made the exhibit entirely sustainable—nothing was taken from the wild,” Seyfried said. SLASH donated zoanthids, frogspawns, Ricordea mushrooms, a toadstool leather, a gorgonian, and 2 rose bubble tip anemones. ORA and Sustainable Aquatics supplied the aquacultured fish and other aquacultured corals.
Emerson Children’s Zoo admission is free from 8 to 9 a.m. in the summer and $4 after 9 a.m. Admission to the Saint Louis Zoo is free.