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Cosmocaixa Barcelona

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    Last week I visited the huge public aquarium here on the port in Barcelona. I paid 17 euros to get inside and to say I was disappointed would be an understatement. There were a few really impressive displays (sea dragons ((Phycodurus sp.)) and errr, sea dragons) and the shark tunnel was bigger than most but basically the displays were of the same theme you see in almost every public aquarium. Uninspired and at times, totally incorrect.

    Entrance hall. The thing in the centre is a 300 year-old tree from the Amazon!

    This is the first animal display I came across, not fish but stick insects! Sorry didn’t catch the species:

    This display has two pairs of Amphiprion ocellaris (common clownfish) with host anemones, plus a few fire shrimp:

    …and next door is this tank housing a stunning and incredibly healthy-looking Pterois volitans plus a large clownfish (A. clarkii I think):

    Archerfish tank. This contained at least three species of Toxotes. Will id next time:

    Land hermit crabs Coenobita sp.:

    These two tanks were cool. They were set up to show how electric fish navigate and how they feel at ease in a clear plastic tube as they cannot see that it is clear!:

    Tank on the left contains a 12″ Black Ghost Knifefish Apteronotus albifrons. You can see it in the plastic pipe at the bottom right:

    …and the second tank contained a group of elephant noses Gnathonemus petersi:

    Scyliorhinus stellaris?:

    Next was this rather nice planted tank. I think it was originally meant to be a SE Asian set-up but there was a right motley crew in here including angelfish, Madagascan rainbows (Bedotia geayi) and African knife fish (Xenomystus nigri) as well as all the Asian stuff:

    …swiftly followed by these three small planted tanks containing corys, various tetras and hatchetfish. Not sure about the scientific value of these (or the previous planted tank). Someone in charge here is a definite fish geek!

    End of part one, Nautilus. Wait an hour or so for me to upload part two as it’s this that really blew me away….

    Attached files



    thats a good place to spend a day in



    Great pics mate,

    If you want a good public aquarium check out ocean world in Bangkok (if your ever in Thailand!!) – got some fantastic pics of some great displays – me and the family spent most of the day there when i thought that we would last about an hour!



    You lot are too quick!



    Wow, cant wait to see some more pics of the nautilus – weird things but i love the look of ’em (roll on a lottery win, then i’m having one!)



    Right this is where things got really interesting! The main exhibit on the bottom floor of the museum is a 1km square (!) recreation of a flooded Amazon rainforest! In terms of the plants, trees and species selected it is spot on in every aspect and is the best single aquatic-based display I have ever seen. It’s split really cleverly (almost invisibly) into different terrestrial and aquatic enclosures to ensure that incompatible species don’t come into contact…..truly inspiring. I will be back to spend a good few hours investigating this as I missed loaaaads of stuff…..

    The approach to the “tank”….my jaw was already dropping at this point….

    I’m trying to give you a sense of the scale of the thing in the next few….this pic shows about a 1/4 of the front of the display:

    Right hand half of the display:

    Left-hand half:

    Top of left-hand half:


    Right-top….this gives you some idea of the size of the thing….this section alone must be over 100 square metres:

    Now for some of the animals living in this superb biotope recreation. This is my Mexican flatmate Carolina attempting to communicate with a huge Arapaima gigas…using a metro map!

    Arapaima head…bigger than that of a human!:

    This pic shows just how realistic and colossal this display is. The Hypostmous (plec) in the centre of the shot is well over 12″ long. Look at the layers of detritus on the bottom. The blue dots you can see are some of what must be 1000s of cardinal tetras contained in this section. I had a brief conversation with a member of staff who told me that most of the smaller fish are reproducing at will in the tank so any that are eaten are not of any real concern as their numbers are actually increasing! Also take note of the red-tailed cat at the back of the pic…there are a few of these in the tank and we sat and watched two of them having an amazing territorial battle for ten minutes or so, shooting up into midwater and so on. The tank is big enough to cope with a good number of the enormous territories required by this species. It’s only when you see this kind of natural behaviour up close you realise just how unsuitable these creatures are for the home aquarium….

    Couple more shots of the front of the display:

    This is the “centre-left” section of the display. It’s miles smaller than the pond on the right but must still be 10 metres across the front. In here are various cichlids, larger characins (including amazing shoals of various Anostomus and Metynnis species) plus loads of corys and smaller tetras. I didn’t have much time so couldn’t record them all but more details will follow. There’s a large terrestrial section to this part of the display containing a small group of Capybara but I couldn’t get any good shots of them. The second pic here is terrible but if you look closely you can just about make out a pair of Heros sp. “Rotkeil” guarding a batch of eggs (the white patch to the right of the top fish). :

    This is the “far-left” section, containing Amazonian turtles, dwarf caiman (small crocodilians around 6 feet in length) and Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri). Check out the huge Echinodorus (Amazon sword plant) species growing emerse in the top left of the third pic:


    You then have the opportunity to walk around the left side of the exhibit and explore underneath it! The first thing to confront you in this dark space is an enclosure containing a huge Anaconda Eunectes sp. Sorry didn’t get the exact species and the bugger was in the water at the front of the tank so I couldn’t get a good shot of it. This space is open to the main exhibit above allowing this aquatic boa to move above ground if it wants. It’s cut off from the other animals in the display for obvious reasons though:

    This pic is crap, sorry. /ohmy.gif” style=”vertical-align:middle” emoid=”:o” border=”0″ alt=”ohmy.gif” />

    Next up as you walk under the flooded forest is this massive viewing window into the main pool…awesome to watch Pacu shoaling above smaller tetras, dwarf cichlids, Loricariids and Corydoras. I really must get back with a good camera as it’s impossible to describe with words alone as all you can really see here are the blue dots of the cardinals. I assure you there’s loads more going on! :

    …followed by a series of smaller viewing windows. First one is into the main pool again. We were lucky as both Arapaima were resting here as we walked by. That is the hand of an adult not a child by the way!:

    Next is a window into the smaller section I mentioned earlier. I wish I could have got better pics as there must have been 50 or so corys of various species scooting about among the detritus in front of the window. These were the best I could do for now:

    Opposite this window is this tank containing a beautiful Amazon tree boa Corallus hortulanus plus a population of poison frogs Dendrobates tinctorius . No pics of the creatures as my phone couldn’t cope with the lack of light

    As you begin to climb up into the exhibit itself you have a couple more viewing windows. It was then we realised there are loads of birds in there too! View into the terrestrial part of the section containing the caiman/piranhas:

    ….and opposite is a view into the Capybara enclosure:

    This is the view as you emerge into the light:

    …looking back from where we came. Can you see the stunning bird on top of the “tunnel”?:

    This guy was very friendly….he followed us all around the exhibit and had the funniest running action…

    Echinodorus sp. growing emerse around the margin of the “flooded forest”:

    …and as if this wasn’t all cool enough, it only started raining!!

    Last couple of shots of the front of the display. We were the last people in the place (my fault /biggrin.gif” style=”vertical-align:middle” emoid=”:D” border=”0″ alt=”biggrin.gif” />

    Attached files




    That looks absolutely insane man. I am DEFINITELY coming over to see that /ohmy.gif” style=”vertical-align:middle” emoid=”:o” border=”0″ alt=”ohmy.gif” />



    did you hear that?

    i meant,

    my eyes popping out,
    my jaw dropping,
    and my heartbeat faster than a 1/4 mile 9sec car

    I definitely want to go!



    you lucky b*gg*r Matt,
    i’ll definitely have to go there and see it for myself, with the wife in tow.
    first though i’m going to Egypt for a break and the sun.




    Just gonna edit the subtitle and put a not safe for 56k users warning



    Good idea Dunc /biggrin.gif” style=”vertical-align:middle” emoid=”:D” border=”0″ alt=”biggrin.gif” /> Mick there are also places close to here that are not difficult to get to where several species of Cobitis can be caught. This will be one of my next missions!



    QUOTE (Matt @ Jul 6 2008, 02:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
    Good idea Dunc /biggrin.gif” style=”vertical-align:middle” emoid=”:D” border=”0″ alt=”biggrin.gif” /> Mick there are also places close to here that are not difficult to get to where several species of Cobitis can be caught. This will be one of my next missions!

    if i had the money i’d be on the next plane…



    WOW is all i can think of to say!! That is quite amazing!

    Thats it; i’m going to Barcelona!!!!



    That is truly amazing – if i am ever in Barcelona i am going there!



    Let’s organise a coach trip. You all give me £300 and I’ll sort it out.

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