Posts Tagged 'fish'

Animal Updates – March 16

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

You’ll notice in this week’s update that we’ve changed the format and design a little. We’ll now be adding labels so you can easily identify what venue the animal update is coming from! We love to hear feedback–please let us know how you like the new format!

Check our WATERlog blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s happening this week!

Scrawled Filefish
A beautiful scrawled filefish has been added to the Gray’s Reef exhibit.

Bucktooth Tetras
A total of 29 new bucktooth tetras have been added to the Piranha exhibit.

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

Now that we’ve shared this week’s Animal Updates, we wanted to share some other news!  If you haven’t seen, we announced some BIG news this week: we launched a beautifully redesigned!

One of the very exciting features of this new website is our wonderfully detailed animal pages! The main Animals page will now give you the opportunity to explore our animals (from both Baltimore and Washington, DC) like never before. Explore by venue, color, exhibit, geography, characteristics, and more!

On specific animal pages you can explore even further. Each animal has various photos, facts, and sometimes videos; plus, many have a special note from the animal’s Aquarium caretaker!

So please explore the new, especially the new Animals section!

And remember, be sure to check back here every Friday to find out what’s happening!


Happy Halloween from the National Aquarium!

At the National Aquarium, you can come face to face with thousands of different species of animals. Some of these animals are cute and furry, like Xeno the sloth. Some animals, such as the clown triggerfish, are vibrantly colored. Some are awe-inspiring, like the diverse species found in our Jellies Invasion exhibit. And some are downright spooky!

Check out this collection of photos and fun facts of some of the spookiest creatures at the National Aquarium:

California sheephead

California sheephead
The California sheephead, a wrasse native to the eastern Pacific Ocean, begins life as a female with pink coloration. When it grows to a length of about 18 inches, it transforms into a male. Their protruding canine teeth, which give them their menacing appearance, are adapted for prying hard-shelled animals from rocks. The California sheephead uses its powerful jaws and sharp teeth to crush the prey, and modified throat bones to grind the shells into small pieces. See this fish in the Kelp Forest exhibit at the National Aquarium, Baltimore.

Albino American alligator

Albino American alligator

Albino American alligator
Just in time for Halloween! The National Aquarium’s Washington, DC, venue unveiled an extremely rare albino American alligator this month in a temporary exhibit, Secrets of the Swamp. This 4-foot-long snow-white beauty is one of fewer than 100 albino alligators in the entire world, and she’s only here through February. Don’t miss your chance to catch a glimpse of this ghost of the swamp!

Generally, alligators with albinism cannot survive in the wild; their inability to blend in with their surroundings not only makes them unable to ambush prey, but also draws the unwanted attention of predators. Albinism is a genetic condition in which an animal lacks melanin, or coloration pigment, in the eyes and skin, resulting in this alligator’s unusual translucent scales and pink eyes.

Grey-headed flying fox

Grey-headed flying fox
The aptly-named flying fox looks very much like the canine creature for which it is named. The grey-headed flying fox, otherwise known as a fruit bat, makes its home in the tall trees of the tropical rain forests in northeastern Australia and the Southeast Asian islands.The grey-headed flying fox is the largest of the flying foxes, growing to up to one kilogram in weight, with a wingspan of up to one meter. They live in large colonies which can contain up to a million individuals, and the colony sizes keep increasing as the flying foxes’ habitat is destroyed, limiting roosting sites. The next time you visit the Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit at the National Aquarium, Baltimore, be sure to look up to the ceiling for a glimpse at a small colony of these amazing winged creatures.

Black ghost knifefish

Black ghost knifefish
This mysterious-looking tropical fish is known as the black ghost knifefish. It is a weakly electric fish that uses an electric organ and receptors distributed over the length of its body to locate insect larvae.


Grass shrimp

Grass shrimp
This unworldly-looking creature is a grass shrimp, common in estuarine waters along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Their bodies are nearly transparent, except for orange or yellow pigment in the eyestalks. Grass shrimp also have a well-developed rostrum (horn) with teeth along the edges, four spines on the telson (the pointed structure in the middle of the tail fan), and heads that are longer than the rest of the body.
Phyllobates terribilis, the Golden Poison Frog

Phyllobates terribilis, the golden poison frog

Phyllobates terribilis, the golden poison frog
Even though you won’t see one of these at the National Aquarium, how could we not include an animal with a name like Phyllobates terribilison this list? This tiny frog is found in the Amazonian rain forest along the Pacific coast of Colombia, and it certainly lives up to its name! Considered to be one of the most toxic animals on Earth, golden poison dart frogs have enough venom to kill 10 grown humans. Their bright yellow skin is saturated in an alkaloid poison that contains batrachotoxins, which prevent nerves from transmitting nerve impulses and ultimately result in muscle paralysis.

The bright-yellow frog on view in the Hidden Life exhibit at the National Aquarium, Baltimore is a Panamanian golden frog—which is actually a toad! This beautifully colored toad may not be lethal like P. terribilis, but seeing one is certainly a rare opportunity. This species is critically endangered. The Panamanian golden frog is under pressure from habitat destruction, illegal poaching (collection), and the Chytrid fungus. The Chytrid fungus is probably the leading cause of amphibian decline in the world.

The National Aquarium, Baltimore, is one of several organizations participating in Project Golden Frog, a conservation project involving scientific, educational and zoological institutions in the Republic of Panama and the United States that aims to understand this species through husbandry (breeding), research and education programs.

Wounded Warriors dive in the Aquarium

This summer, the National Aquarium welcomed some very special guests for a very special evening. Nine wounded soldiers from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center were able to live a dream and scuba dive in the Aquarium as part of their rehabilitation programs.

Wounded Warriors Dive

These veterans, who participate in a program called Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba (SUDS), were taught the basics of Aquarium diving and safety procedures before plunging into the world of sting rays, sharks, and more than 50 species of fish. Each diver was accompanied in the water by dive professionals from the Aquarium.

Wounded Warriors Dive

The animals responded exceptionally well and greeted all of them. Calypso, our green sea turtle who also happens to be an amputee, was very curious and interactive. One of the double-amputee veterans was in the Wings in the Water exhibit and Calypso came over to look at his prosthetic legs and then just sat down in his lap. She was a huge hit with all of the veterans, and everyone had a great time!

Wounded Warriors Dive

The National Aquarium is honored to have worked with these heroes, and we look forward to doing this again soon!

30 fascinating fish facts

2011 marks the National Aquarium’s 30th anniversary year—a year that will honor the Aquarium’s successful past and highlight its future as a leader in global conservation and aquatic health. Turning 30 also gives us an excuse to celebrate, have fun, and create this list of 30 fascinating fish facts for your cerebral pleasure!

1. Fish are cold-blooded, which means their internal body temperature changes as the surrounding temperature changes.

2. About 96% of fish are bony fish. The rest are cartilaginous fish, like sharks, skates, and rays.

Electric eel

Electric eel

3. Electric eels can discharge up to 550 volts, using their shock as an offense for catching food or a defense to escape.

4. Only the front 1/5 of an electric eel contains vital organs. These are located directly behind its head. The rest of the body is comprised of organs that produce electricity.

5. Arowana have the ability to jump out of the water to catch prey such as insects, birds, and bats.

6. More species of fish are found in the Amazon River than in all of Europe.

7. Gar are known as “living fossils,” as their remains have been found dating back to the Cretaceous period.

8. The female seahorse transfers the eggs to the male’s pouch, where they are incubated until birth.

Red lionfish

Red lionfish

9. Red lionfish are beautiful in the aquarium, but potentially devastating to the Atlantic Ocean, as the first successfully invasive species.

10. The northern snakehead has the ability to gulp air and absorb oxygen through a modified swim bladder that functions much like a lung. This ability allows the snakehead to travel across land to move into new bodies of water.

11. Piranhas hunt in large groups called shoals, or packs.

12. The largest fish in the world is the whale shark, which can grow up to 41 feet long.

13. Baby sharks are called pups.

14. The sand tiger shark is the only shark known to adjust its buoyancy by burping—gulping and expelling air at the surface. This strategy allows the shark to hover nearly motionless in the water column.

Seven-spot archerfish

Seven-spot archerfish

15. The archerfish is named for its peculiar adaptation of shooting a stream of water like an arrow at its unsuspecting prey—a tasty insect perched on a branch above the water.

16. The male banggai cardinalfish incubates the eggs in his mouth and continues to hold the young within his mouth cavity after hatching to further protect them.

17. Feather blennies lay their eggs in empty oyster shells. These territorial predators use their strong jaws to snap up and eat small fish and crustaceans that venture too close to the oyster shells.

18. The green moray eel is really brown! The yellow tint of the mucus that covers its body, in combination with the drab background color, gives the fish its characteristic uniform green color.

19. Southern stingrays have a “live birth,” meaning that the eggs hatch within the mother’s body. The pups, up to 10 in a litter, average 9 inches across at birth. Before their live birth, stingrays’ “wings” are curled up like crepes.

20. Burrfish are covered with short, heavy spines that are always erect, unlike their cousins the porcupinefish, which have movable spines.

Porcupine fish

Porcupine fish

21. When feeling threatened, pufferfish quickly ingest water to inflate their bodies into a ball several times their normal size.

22. Flounders and sole are fish with both eyes on the same side of their head. One eye actually migrates to the other side during larval development. Like most flatfishes, these bottom-dwellers can change the color patterns on their skin to blend in with their environment. They bury themselves in the sand and, with both eyes facing up, wait to ambush unsuspecting prey.

23. Jellies have been around for more than 500 million years—they pre-date dinosaurs!

24. The lined seahorse is the only seahorse found in the Chesapeake Bay. It camouflages itself by developing leafy appendages and changing colors.



25. In a group of clownfish, there is a strict dominance hierarchy. The largest and most aggressive female is found at the top.

26. Clownfish and sea anemones have a symbiotic relationship. The sea anemone protects the clownfish from predators, as well as providing food through the scraps left from the anemone’s meals. In return, the clownfish defends the anemone from its predators and cleans it from parasites.

27. Some catfish create saucer-shaped nests by fanning the river or lake bottom with their tails. Several thousand eggs are deposited in the nest and are guarded until they hatch.

28. The toothless catfish is not really toothless. It has teeth in the back of its mouth. This bottom-feeder vacuums through the sand to find its food.

29. The Australia grunter fish is so named because it emits an audible grunting sound when handled out of the water.



30. Barramundi, a giant perch found in Australia, changes sex as it grows up, starting as a male. Upon reaching 19.7 inches in length, it become female. These fish can grow to up to 6.5 feet long!

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