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A man in a blue shirt carries a white box labeled "LIVE TROPICAL FISH"

Hmm, what could be inside?

As we inch closer to the grand opening of Rainforest Revealed, we are happy to announce that a dozen fish representing three species have arrived and are already settling into their new, 5,300-gallon home!

Roughly 2,500 freshwater fish species are known to live in the Amazon River Basin, and it’s estimated more than 1,000 await discovery. While there’s no way we can replicate that level of biodiversity here, we’re hoping to give you a taste of it and help you understand why this complex ecosystem needs our protection.

Two bigtooth river stingray brothers came to us from Zoo Miami last month, living behind the scenes until the tank was ready. They received wellness exams that involved having their blood drawn, undergoing ultrasounds and getting microchipped, and both appear to be in excellent health.


A man uses a net to place a stingray in a blue plastic pool.

A stingray is placed in the acclimation pool.

When the life support system was up and running earlier this week, a team of keepers filled a carrier with water from the stingrays’ habitat and carefully transported the animals to a “kiddie pool” next to the aquarium. Keepers gradually siphoned aquarium water into the pool so the stingrays could adjust to the new parameters. Once the levels matched, the stingrays became the first residents of the “river monsters” tank!

That evening, a truck carrying red-bellied black pacus (bred in a domestic hatchery) and four tiger shovelnose catfish (collected from a sustainable fishery in Brazil by nonprofit Project Piaba) pulled into the Zoo. They underwent a similar acclimation process and were released into the aquarium within a few hours.


A woman places the end of a long, black device in a cooler filled with blue water.

Nicole tests water parameters as the pacus acclimate in a cooler. The blue dye is medication that protected the pacus from ammonia buildup while in transit.

All 12 fish appear to be thriving in Rainforest Revealed and displaying species-typical behavior, and this is just the beginning. A pair of arapaimas is set to arrive from an AZA-accredited facility next week, and we’ll be collecting nonnative oscars and peacock bass from south Florida later this month. Many of these fish will be juveniles, so you’ll have the opportunity to watch them grow in the coming years.

An easy way to protect fish populations in the Amazon (and all over the world) is to watch what you eat; consult Seafood Watch to identify Best Choices and Good Alternatives. If you have a tank at home, make sure the fish you purchase were captive bred or sustainably collected from their natural range.

Marvel at these fish in person when Rainforest Revealed opens on November 23!