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Our Animals

About AquaFacts: AquaFacts are a resource for students who are looking for information on the animals at the Aquarium or other Aquarium-related topics. Here, we’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions that we’ve received about the animals that live at the Aquarium. The answers come from our biologists who care for the animals. If you have a question about these animals that’s not addressed in this page or the references below, please feel free to email our librarian.

Our Animals

Questions & Answers

Where do we get the animals?

Aquarium animals come to us from many places and in many different ways. Many animals arrive at the Aquarium as part of an exchange program with other large aquariums, zoos and universities. Most of the tropical fish are flown to the Aquarium from dealers around the world. The Aquarium tries to buy fish from sustainable fisheries and conservation-based associations, and only purchases from dealers who collect fish with nets, and not chemicals or explosives.

Aquarium divers have permits to collect marine invertebrates including octopuses, sea stars, sea anemones and species of fish. Other collectors walk out from the beach with seine nets to gather local invertebrates and fishes. Many animals are also born into our care. Once in the Aquarium, animals normally live for many years.


How many animals do we have at the Aquarium?

The Aquarium has more than 58,000 different animals belonging to 734 different species from all around the globe including whales, sea otters, sloths, frogs, fish, sea stars and much more. We have 34 different species of amphibians, 9 different species of birds, 179 different species of marine fish, 103 different species of freshwater fish, 364 different species of aquatic invertebrates, 11 different species of terrestrial invertebrates, 4 different species of non-marine mammals, 8 different species of marine mammals, and 22 different species of reptiles.


What do we feed the animals, and where do we get their food?

The animals stay healthy because we feed them a wide variety of nourishing food. Most of their food is purchased from local fishers and food suppliers. Some is even bought at regular grocery stores! A few examples of what we feed our animals are listed below.

  • Barnacles: fish, seaweed, brine shrimp
  • Octopuses: crabs, herring
  • Fishes: brine shrimp, plankton, fresh lettuce, chopped smelt, cod fillets, herring
  • Sharks: mackerel, smelt, herring and squid
  • Lizards: fruit, vegetables, meal worms, crickets
  • Seals: herring
  • Sea otters: fish fillets, squid, crabs, clams
  • Steller sea lions: herring, squid, capelin
  • Sea stars: clams, herring


For more information, contact our librarian:

Phone: 604-659-3404
Email: library@ocean.org

Permission is granted by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre for classroom teachers to make copies for non-commercial use. This permission does not extend to copying for promotional purposes, creating new collective works, or resale.


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