CZAAWE Resource Article

Aquarium science: The substance behind an image
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Zoo Biology
Abstract 10.1002/zoo.1430120504.abs A change occurring in commercial aquaria is transforming them from centers of entertainment to places that emphasize education, science, and wildlife conservation. If this transformation is to be authentic, it must be based on a greater understanding of the animals in their captive environment. A stronger scientific basis for husbandry management, education, and conservation is needed. A systems approach to aquariology, aimed at both the individual holding facility and the aquarium institution, is suggested. A science of “aquariology,” i.e., the study of animals in controlled aquatic systems, needs to be advanced, and a program instituted in which research, management, education, and conservation goals are integrated. Aquarium science should emphasize an ecosystem approach and consider the evolutionary history of the species held. Exhibits could focus on the role of organisms in ecosystems to better encourage public understanding and support for aquatic conservation. A systems approach could also facilitate communications among managers, staff, and outside experts, as well as contribute to the long-term care of the organisms and their capacity to adapt. A systems approach is essential if the aquarium image is based more on understanding and conserving aquatic life and less on public relations and exploitation of wild species. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.