This past weekend, our family, plus a few friends, had the chance to visit the newly opened Greater Cleveland Aquarium located in the Powerhouse on the West Bank of the Flats. There is obviously a need for this type of entertainment and educational venue in Northeast Ohio, as the aquarium saw 64,000 visitors within the first month of opening. With expectations of 400,000 to 500,000 people in the first year, I think it is well on its way.
I’ve been to the Powerhouse before, but those who haven’t are pleasantly surprised by its architecture and how the aquarium is integrated into the historic building. The 70,000-square- foot, 42-tank aquarium has more than 5,000 fresh- and salt- water fish with plenty of room to expand. Expect your visit to take about an hour and a half.
My best piece of advice before visiting on a weekend is to purchase your tickets in advance online. We visited on a Saturday, and despite the long lines to purchase tickets, we had plenty of space within the exhibit and did not feel rushed.
The aquarium is divided into four areas – Ohio Lakes and Rivers; Weird and Wonderful; Coastal; and the Shark Tank. The first area is an Ohio fisherman’s paradise with impressive tanks of Bass, Bluegill and Walleye to name a few. We learned about the re-introduction of the Ohio Brook Trout. And, did you know that goldfish are considered an invasive species?
Next, we moved into an area containing some of our faves. The Clown Fish (or Nemo to my three year old) was a big hit. There were sea horses, octopi and many other interesting species. The overall experience is uniquely enhanced by incorporation of the existing architecture. For example, we passed under a skylight that once housed the old building's steam pipes, but is now home to a lucky group of lobsters. It’s a unique view of lobsters, as the light shines through the tank exposing their underbellies.
I really enjoyed the next area of Coastal fish. Tall tanks up to eight feet house large assortments of colorful fish and large coral. I loved the lionfish, and the eel were really creepy and interesting poking their heads out of their coral apartments.
We came to an open area that has a circular tank containing stingrays for people to touch and interact with. The other half of the open tank has a small sand shark that you can touch!
Finally, on to the impressive Shark Tanks! You enter a SeaTube--a 150-foot, walk-through tunnel-- while fish and sharks swim above and beside you. My son loved being face to face with these seven- foot Sand Tiger sharks. The day we visited, the tanks were cloudy due to the necessary filtration process. However, we still were able to experience these thrilling creatures up close and personal.
We had a great time at the aquarium. My son thinks he’s a shark now!
Annual pass packages are available and provide fast and easy admission. If you have a group of 15 or more, call in advance to receive special group rate pricing. The Aquarium even offers kid’s party packages, making your child’s next birthday a memorable and easy party option.