“Sea-wonders crowd around…”: Major upgrades in the Aquarium exhibits

“Sea-wonders crowd around…”: Major upgrades in the Aquarium exhibits

Two of the Primorsky Aquaruim exhibits have seen major changes: the renovation of aquaria and terraria was followed by a big shipment of new species, including the golden cuttlefish, big-belly seahorses, unusually coloured horseshoe crabs, and spotted jellies.


Seahorses are among the favourites of our visitors, but the big-belly seahorse Hippocampus abdominalis is also totally new for the Aquarium and thus attracts their special attention.


“As their name tells, these fish have funny paunch bellies,” notes Viktoria Dianova, Head of the Department of the Russian Far East Marine Species. “Big-belly seahorses inhabit tropical waters. They are the largest of all the seahorses, reaching up to 35 cm. Our newcomers vary in size and age, but all of them are younger than one year. In aquaria, they become sexually mature by eight months of age, and one of our males is already fully mature. We hope that some female will reciprocate his feelings. We’ve bred spotted seahorses before, and are going to apply this technique to big-bellies”.


Green iguanas have returned to their renovated terrarium, which is now even more similar to their natural habitat.


“The smaller logs have been changed for the larger ones, more comfortable for iguanas to rest on. The new logs are also heated up specially for these tropical animals”, comments Maria Vitman, Head of the Exhibition Department. “We’ve restructured the pool - now it is a rocky cove looking very much like that in the wild and more suitable for taking baths, too. Furthermore, we’ve decided to change the floor surface and covered it with coco peat. We’ve added more leafy plants into the exhibit to provide shade for iguanas lounging under them. About a dozen different specialists took part in these renovations of the exhibit, from a welder to an artist”.


The golden cuttlefish Sepia esculenta have moved into a refurbished aquarium in the Evolution of Life in the Ocean exhibit. Cuttlefish are very sensitive, and even the slightest stress can kill them. Luckily, they had successfully withstood their journey to Vladivostok and accustomed themselves to the new home.


“Our cuttlefish were raised on a special farm in Taiwan,” explains Marat Haidarov, Head of the Exotic Aquatic Species Department. “We’ve bought both large and small individuals. The larger ones, 12 cm long, are already on display. The 6-cm little ones are still growing in the Science and Acclimation Building. Unfortunately, these mollusks have a short сhildhood and the longevity of only about half a year. Now we feed them with live food—mysids and guppies—but we may change their diet later.”


The new delivery has also increased the number of horseshoe crabs in the Primorsky Aquarium collection. Some of these crabs possess striking pirate-style coloration.


The Primorsky Aquarium welcomes a new arrival at the jellyfish exhibit: the first-timer here, also called ‘golden jelly’— a tropical medusa from the genus Mastigias.


“Members of this genus are notable for hosting symbiotic microalgae in their tentacles, the same trait as in Cassiopea, the upside-down jellyfish. That is why they need bright light in the aquarium. Unlike Cassiopea species lying on the bottom upside down, members of the Mastigias genus are good swimmers,” says Marat Haidarov. “The distinctive feature of this tropical medusa is spots on its bell, making it outwardly similar to a fly agaric mushroom. We’ve launched a program of jellyfish breeding here at the Aquarium, and we will definitely include the newcomer into it.”


General information:


– The Russian name of the golden cuttlefish translates into English as ‘edible cuttlefish’.


– Seahorses are remarkable in that their male members get pregnant and bear young. The female deposits her eggs into the brood pouch of the male. After that, he fertilizes and carries the eggs throughout the gestation period, which lasts for 40–60 days.


– Green iguana is a large herbivorous lizard reaching a length of 1.5 m. It is found in the Central and South America.


– Japanese think that the shell of the horseshoe crab resembles a samurai’s helmet and call it ‘helmet crab’. The Russian name of this arthropod means ‘animal with a sword-like tail’.