From 6 December, St. Nicholas Day, Warsaw citizens will be able to visit a surrogate South America. After a thorough modernization, the Warsaw Municipal Zoological Garden will open a new aquarium. The most attractive feature of the renovated pavilion is an 11-metre aquarium that imitates an Amazonian river.
The building that nowadays houses the aquarium was built in 1932 as a greenhouse and aviary for birds. In the 1930s, it was considered one of the most beautiful constructions at the Warsaw Zoo. It still holds true nowadays. As an element of an area listed in the register of objects of cultural heritage, the aquarium’s exterior has remained unchanged. The interior, however, received a complete make-over. The numerous small tanks were replaced by six new ones. But those are truly exceptional.
Upon entering and crossing a small bridge, visitors can see giant river stingrays (Potamotrygon motoro) under their feet. The pond where the stingrays live was set in the exposition hall’s floor; it does not look like much, but it contains 10,000 litres of water. The open tank is surrounded by exotic plants, and the bridge itself was made of glass panes.
In the main part of the exhibition, the visitors’ eyes are immediately drawn to the 11-metre, 30,000-litre acrylic tank: the home of fish of the characids family. The exposition is embellished with abundant vegetation from South America. In this fresh-water tank which imitates an Amazonian river visitors can see fish of more than 30 species, such as neon tetras, cardinal tetras, black neon tetras and golden otocinclus.
Next to the river, there is a paludarium, also containing 30,000 litres of water. This is the home of the largest Amazonian fish: arapaimas (Arapaima gigas). They can grow up to 2 metres long and weigh more than 100 kilograms.
Marine aquariums have been organized in a system of three tanks, which together contain 15,000 litres of water. They are inhabited by soft corals, sea anemones and coral reef fish. Sea horses have a home of their own.
The walls of all tanks are equipped with special nozzles to create current and provide the plants and animal the optimum conditions of their natural environment.
For correct functioning of water habitats in the aquariums, the back rooms of the building now house modern filtering systems that ensure the proper water parameters. A large part of the building is filled with water treatment devices, which alone are one of our aquarium’s curiosities.
The whole exposition has been equipped with a multimedia information system.
The building’s modernization was an extremely complicated endeavour. The building survey showed the construction was in a bad shape and needed reinforcing. The war and passing time weakened the building’s structure. Additionally, its being used as an aquarium, which caused high humidity and temperature in the interior, resulted in an even quicker degradation.
The work, conducted by Stołeczny Zarząd Rozbudowy Miasta (Capital City Construction Office), began in 2013/2014. Although the building’s shape remained unchanged due to its historical value, it gained a new strong foundation and construction reinforcements that strengthen the building’s entire structure. The pavilion was also given a new roof, attic, additional entrance for easier communication and new sanitary, hydraulic and electric installations. Modern ventilation and sewage systems were designed so as to minimise the effect of warm and humid environment on the building’s structure. The water used in the aquarium is heated with two solar batteries.
The total cost of the aquarium’s renovation, financed by the Capital City of Warsaw, was almost 5.8 million zlotys.
The renovated aquarium will be opened to visitors on the St. Nicholas Day, 6 December.