AGA 2008: Georgia Aquarium Field Trip

November 23rd, 2008

The 2008 Aquatic Gardener’s Association Convention started with a field trip to the Georgia Aquarium, which was conveniently just a few blocks away from the convention hotel. We all assembled in the lobby of the hotel, and created a mob of people filling the street toward the aquarium. It was a great way to meet up with folks that you haven’t seen since the last convention.

George Aquarium

The aquarium is rather new in Georgia, and that shows through in the cleanliness and general niceness of the tanks and facilities. The building has a central cafe/atrium area with wings heading off in different directions. We were first guided into their river wing because they had the planted aquarium staff there to answer any questions we had about those tanks.


The planted tanks that they had were nice tanks. They wouldn’t place highly in an aquascaping contest, but they’re well designed, and accomplish feats that most of us don’t usually attempt. By that, I mean that some of these tanks must have been 5-6 feet tall, and yet they still managed to adequately light them to the floor.

Planted Tank

In addition, I asked one of the staff how they trimmed their plants in such a deep tank, and they said that they literally put on a wetsuit, and dive into the tank. If it was such a rigmarole for me to trim my tanks, I don’t think they’d ever get attention!

Planted Tank

In addition to the planted tanks, they had a fair number of other freshwater tanks, including a large river tank with huge catfish, an African rift lake tank, a piranha tank, and several others. I would have liked to see more freshwater stuff at the aquarium, in comparison to the marine sections, but the things they had were nicely done.


One of the cooler attractions at the aquarium was their beluga whale pool. I counted four whales playfully swimming back and forth, clearly recognizing the humans on the other side of the glass. It’s always amazing to watch humongous creatures maneuver so gracefully and with such ease underwater.

Beluga Whale

And of course, they had a sea dragon exhibit. These odd-ball creatures don’t seem to move around much, but they’re fun to watch just due to their unique appearance.

Sea Dragon

I would be completely negligent if I didn’t show a picture of a guitarfish (below), for which this blog is *not* named after, but a coincidence that was nice to discover. Although they kind of look like a shark, they’re actually in the ray family, and cruise along the bottom searching for small crustaceans to eat.


The most impressive display at the Georgia Aquarium is their huge tank, which I believe is the largest aquarium in the world. They had large informational cards that you could take listing most of the species in the aquarium, so that you could find and identify the various fish in the tank. I could have sat in front of this glass all day long.

Huge Tank!

In fact, I believe that they several events in this room with the aquarium as a backdrop, and they even allow you to sleep over in some cases, where you can fall asleep watching the fishes. Obviously, there were countless other exhibits throughout the aquarium, but two of my favorites, which most public aquariums seem to have these days, were the eels/worms, and then the jellyfish below.


It’s just so neat to watch both of these creatures flow in the current, just waiting for food to come their way. The jellyfish, especially, are beautiful with the blue backdrop, and their orange and reddish colors.


I would recommend the Georgia Aquarium to anyone who’s in Atlanta and needs something to see. It’s definitely got a lot of offer, and is worth the price of admission. That huge tank is worth it by itself.

8 Responses to “AGA 2008: Georgia Aquarium Field Trip”

  1. Jason Says:

    No photos of the whale sharks? *waaaaaah*

  2. Sarah Says:

    Wow, I have never heard of, let alone seen, a sea dragon before. They are crazy looking! Now I must go find more pictures of them 🙂

  3. Ava Says:

    I can’t believe these people actually dive into tanks to trim the plants. Talk about devotion! 🙂

    Great pics! Did you take them? How did you get such an amazing shot of the jellyfish?


  4. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks for the comments. Ava, yes, these pictures are mine. A lot of it is luck, plus those Jellyfish tanks are usually well lit with that blue background, which helps. Thanks!

  5. Kim Says:

    I could easily live in that one room with that huge tank. One giant room with a great view! But it would have to be freshwater.

  6. Usagi Says:

    Good to see the jellies made it there okay. I helped pack them up and ship them in September.

  7. AquaDaily Says:

    I don’t know if I’m more jealous of your trip or of your photography skills.

    Have to admit I’m not a huge fan of keeping wales in captivity (as in anyone keeping them – not me personally!) but that photo seems so alive.

  8. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks for the kind words, AquaDaily. I also wonder about some of the captive creatures we keep, both whales, as well as our smaller fish in our own tanks, but at the very least, I like to think our environment is usually less hostile than in the wild.