An Special Section FRIDAY, MAY 14, 1999
Hours, prices, and other information were current at time of publication and may have changed.


- Introduction
- Going there
- The murals
- The music
- Shop and Eat
- Beginnings


- World Rivers
- Shore Gallery
- Touch Pool
- Bizarre & Beautiful
- Dangerous & Deadly
- Riverbank
- 'Gator Bayou
-Amazon Rain Forest
- Coral Reef
- Jellyfish Gallery
- Kingdom of Penguins
- Ray Nursery
- Repopulation
- Surrounded by Sharks


- Staff and keepers
Oceanic Adventures Newport Aquarium] [Building image]
Coral Reef
Ornate, delicate habitat draws a crowd of colorful, diverse marine life

        Coral reefs are typically found in tropical waters. They are made of corals, or limestone formations composed of millions of tiny animals called polyps. Corals are often brightly colored and ornate in shape.

        The reefs attract all kinds of marine life. Sea creatures use them as hunting grounds and safe refuges. Because of the vibrant colors of the corals and the fish, reefs attract divers and snorkelers who enjoy taking in their beauty.

        Most reefs are in the South Pacific, Southeast Africa, Australia, Brazil, Bermuda and Florida.

        In this coral reef — another tunnel — a dozen sharks join hundreds of colorful fish ready for viewing. The walkway, designed and manufactured in Colorado, is surrounded by a circular tube of seamless acrylic.

        Rocky ledges serve as the backdrop and offer nooks and crannies where the animals can swim in and out. Colorful coral replications pop out all over the gray ledges.

        All the coral in this section was man-made. Harvesting the amount of coral displayed in the exhibit would exhaust any natural habitat. Still, the synthetic reef imitates the beauty of nature.

        Zebra Sharks live in the Western Pacific and Indian oceans. The Raccoon Butterflyfish is an inhabitant of the Indian and Western Pacific oceans. Epaulette Sharks are native to the Indo-West Pacific. Spotbanded Butterflyfishes live in the Indo-Pacific region. Strawberry Coral is found in reefs all over the world.

How big do they get?
        A Racoon Butterflyfish can grow to 8 inches. Epaulette Sharks grow to about 3 feet. A Zebra Shark can grow to 111/2 feet. Strawberry Corals will grow as large as conditions will allow. Shrimp Gobies generally do not grow to more that 1 inch. Arc Eye Hawkfish grow to 5-6 inches; Spotbanded Butterfly Fish can reach 6 inches.

        This tunnel, which is 32 feet long and consists of 10,700 pounds of acrylic, cost $100,000.

What fish eat
        Raccoon Butterfly fishes eat nudibranchs, worm tentacles, coral polyps and algae. Epaulette Sharks eat small invertebrates and fishes. Zebra Sharks eat small shell fishes, crustaceans and fishes. Shrimp Gobies eat tiny bits of matter in the water. The Spotbanded Butterfly fish eats coral polyps and anemones. Strawberry Coral eats primarily swimming larvae. Arc Eye Hawkfishes pounce on tiny organisms from their coral “perches.”

What you don't see
        Deliveries arrive on a regular basis from food wholesalers who drop off such delicacies as shrimp, clams, smelt and squid. These are the same wholesalers that supply your favorite local restaurants. Once delivered, volunteers and aquarium staffers chop the seafood into tiny bits making what they call “cut mix.” Inhabitants of the coral reef get to enjoy “cut mix” every day. They also dine on romaine lettuce leaves, which are weighted then sunk into tanks for the fish to nibble. When nibbling time is over, what remains is hoisted back to the surface and discarded.

Exhibit by the numbers
        1,400 fish

        85 species

        1,380 pieces of coral

        75-80 degrees is the water temperature

        6 1,000-watt metal halide lamps simulate sunlight

Stars of the Tank
        Zebra Shark: When young, these sharks have markings that resemble those of zebras. As Zebra Sharks grow older the stripes begin to look more like the markings of a Leopard Shark.

        Epaulette Shark: The Epaulette Shark has a large dark circle on its back with a white ring around it. The marking looks like a third eye. These harmless sharks are common as adults and difficult to find when young because they hide within reefs.

        Arc Eye Hawkfish: The Arc Eye Hawkfish ranges in color from red to brown and sits atop coral in shallow water. Because it is so small, the fish maneuvers easily in tight coral reefs.

        Raccoon Butterfly: The Raccoon Butterfly is named for the black spots that surround its eyes distinguishing them from the rest of its golden body. They live in lagoon and seaward reefs and enjoy rocky slopes where they feed at night.

        Spotbanded Butterfly Fish: Brightly colored butterflyfishes tend to swim in pairs. Their favorite places to congregate include areas with dense coral populations.

The Tristate is Goin' Fishin'
Going to the Aquarium
Murals bring seascapes to life
Music sets the mood for 16 exhibits
Shop, eat and watch a movie
The making of an aquarium
World Rivers
Shore Gallery
Touch Pool
Bizarre & Beautiful
Dangerous & Deadly
'Gator Bayou
Amazon Rain Forest
- Coral Reef
Jellyfish Gallery
Kingdom of Penguins
Ray Nursery
Surrounded by Sharks
Meet the staff and keepers

Copyright 1999 The Cincinnati Enquirer, a Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper.
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