The Downtown Aquarium in Houston is a public aquarium developed from two Houston landmarks, the Central Waterworks Building and the Fire Station No. 1. The aquarium is situated on a 6-acre site, and it is the home of over 200 kinds of aquatic animals. In this article, we are going to explore more about the history of the Downtown Aquarium and the exhibits that you can discover here.
The Downtown Aquarium plans started in 1999 when the City of Houston decided to put out a request for proposals for the renovation of Fire Station No.1 and the Central Waterworks plant. Sometime during the mid-2000s, a Post/Cordish partnership plan, which states that the Central Waterworks plant would be turned into a shark and ray exhibition habitat, was accepted. The project included constructing an aquarium and a main restaurant, that would be placed on the second floor of Fire Station No.1. The said fire station will remain intact while construction took place around it.
In 2003, the Downtown Aquarium was finally opened to the public.
Exhibits in the Downtown Aquarium
The Aquarium Adventure Exhibit – This exhibit is located in the main building. You can see five main themed areas, the tiger habitat, and several interactive displays.
The Louisiana Swamp Exhibit – This exhibit is home to several animals from the marsh and bayous of the Gulf Coast. In the Louisiana Swamp Exhibit, you will see turtles, alligators, Tarpon, catfish, spotted gar, salamanders, and bullfrogs.
The Shipwreck – This exhibit will put you inside the sunken hull of a Spanish Galleon during the 17th-century. From there, you can look out to and see coral reefs and sea creatures such as the giant Pacific octopus, snapper, a moray eel, tangs, clownfish, grouper, sea stars, garibaldi, and sea anemones.
The Rainforest Exhibit – In the rainforest exhibit, you will learn about the tropical rainforests of the world, and explore the life inside their rivers. Here in this exhibit, you will be able to see some red-bellied piranha, macaws, poison dart frogs, freshwater stingrays, Arowana, emerald tree boas, archerfish, and skinks.
The Sunken Temple – In this exhibit, you will be able to see some lionfish, electric eel, reticulated phyton, Goliath bird-eating spider, and porcupinefish.
The Gulf of Mexico Exhibit – This exhibit features an oil rig habitat theme where you can see several fish species such as redfish, nurse shark, jacks, snapper, Tarpon, a blue runner, and so much more.
Stingray Reef – In this exhibit, you will be able to get up close and personal with stingrays. And if you are willing to go the extra mile and pay a small fee, you will be able to touch the stingrays and feed them too.
Shark Voyage – This is a 2 ft narrow gauge C.P. Huntington train ride that takes you on a tour of the entire museum. It takes a stop in the center of a 200,000-US-gallon shark habitat to learn a thing or two about sharks, and watch them swim around. The place where shark habitat is viewed from the train is located in a separate building from the main aquarium.
Other facilities on the Downtown Aquarium includes a bar, restaurants, as well as banquet facilities. Besides all of that, you can also ride the Diving Bell Ferris Wheel, an aquatic-themed carousel located just outside Downtown Aquarium.
If you want some adrenaline rush, you can take a ride at the Lighthouse Dive, an intensifying drop tower. However, if you are looking for a more kid-friendly ride, then the Frog Hopper ride is a perfect choice. Aside from these rides, the Downtown Aquarium in Houston also has several carnival-styled games to keep you entertained.