Ferdinand Velasco, 2002
Cichlid Room Companion

The National Aquarium in Baltimore

By , 2001. image

Classification: People and associations.

Amazon River Exhibit The National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Ferdinand T. Velasco.

Visiting public aquaria are one of my favorite pastimes and the National Aquarium in Baltimore's Inner Harbor has always been for me among the most desirable facilities to visit. My wife and I recently celebrated our first wedding anniversary (on March 25) by taking a trip to Baltimore. Needless to say, one of the highlights of our trip was a tour of the National Aquarium.

It was my first visit to Baltimore since the early 1990s and I was surprised at the extensive development of the waterfront area. The Inner Harbor is one of America's oldest seaports (dating back to the 1600s) but, thanks to recent renovations, is also one of the most attractive metropolitan waterfronts. The harbor is home to the USS Constellation, the last remaining Civil War vessel afloat, and the Maritime Museum. At the heart of the Inner Harbor is Harborplace, a wonderful complex of shops and restaurants and the venue for numerous entertainment events throughout the year. Also not to be neglected are the historic and architectural highlights of Mount Vernon Place.

Baltimore's Inner Harbor View of Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Photo by Ferdinand T. Velasco.

Although we enjoyed the sightseeing, our primary objective was to explore the National Aquarium. Since the aquarium is one of the hottest tourist attractions in the city, we planned our visit carefully in advance by visiting the official website at This gave us some tips on when would be the best time of the day to visit and also allowed us to purchase tickets in advance so that we would not have to wait in line.

USS Constellation USS Constellation at the Baltimore Bay. Photo by Ferdinand T. Velasco.

The National Aquarium is an incredible structure, consisting of seven levels and two million gallons of water. A staggering 10,000 species are maintained at the facility. We spent over four hours admiring the many exhibits. Most notable among these for readers of The Cichlid Room Companion is a new Amazon River Forest exhibit, which opened on February 21, 2000. The exhibit was the first new permanent exhibit for the Aquarium in nine years and consists of a 57-foot stretch of the Amazon River.

The exhibit features an assortment of reptiles, fishes, and birds, all representative of the lowland fauna of the South American Rain Forest. For many visitors, perhaps the most impressive inhabitants of the exhibit are a 200-pound anaconda, dwarf caimans, and giant river turtles. For the fish lover such as myself, however, the main attraction was the wonderful collection of fish, especially the cichlids. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I will simply share some photos of this amazing exhibit.

Amazon River Exhibit at the National Aquarium in Baltimore
Heros severus
Satanoperca leucosticta
Discus exhibit at the National Aquarium in Baltimore
Hoplarchus psittacus
Semaprochilodus insignis
Colossoma macropumum

The Amazing Amazon River Exhibit at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. Left to right, Top: A section of the 57 foot long Amazon River exhibit. Schools of characins and Corydoras catfish swim among the submerged wood of the flooded rain forest floor; A pair of Heros severus guarding their eggs. This species appeared to be the dominant cichlid in the exhibit. There were several pairs guarding eggs or fry all over the thank; Satanoperca leucosticta; These spectacular wild discus were displayed in a tank adjoining the Amazon River exhibit; Hoplarchus psittacus, this was one of several magnificent specimens in the display. All were in remarkable condition, with no trace of Hole in the head; Semaprochilodus insignis; An enormous tambaqui (Colossoma macropumum). Photos by Ferdinand T. Velasco.

Lack of space constrains me from describing the Aquarium's many other wonderful exhibits, such as the rooftop South American Rain Forest exhibit, the colorful reef displays, and the impressive collection of rays. I would simply encourage you to visit the National Aquarium. I guarantee that it will be a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Amazon River Exhibit My wife, Jennifer, admires a school of tetras, while Giant River turtles scurry about the bottom. Photo by Ferdinand T. Velasco.

No visit to Baltimore would be complete without enjoying some seafood. For a sample of the city's famous crabs and crab cakes, we highly recommend Orbycki's Crab House in historic Fells Point.

coral reef Visitors marvel at the brilliant colors of coral reef fish. Photo by Ferdinand T. Velasco.

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Velasco, Ferdinand. (Aug 10, 2001). "The National Aquarium in Baltimore". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on May 24, 2024, from: