How do you keep the Aquarium tanks clean?

September 2004

The Aquariums use a number of methods to keep live animal exhibits pristine for animals and visitors. The best method is good, old-fashioned elbow grease.

Volunteer divers join Aquarium staff in performing public programs and exhibit maintenance.

To keep exhibits clean, clear and healthy, the Aquariums rely heavily on their team of volunteer SCUBA divers. Volunteers assist with routine maintenance, which can include scouring mock coral and shipwrecks with toothbrushes. Sand and gravel are cleaned with an underwater vacuum. Inside the exhibit, the glass is hand-cleaned on a regular basis. The exterior glass is clean daily.

Fortunately, there are mechanically-designed tools to help with exhibit maintenance. The Aquariums are equipped with life support systems, consisting of  numerous filtering and circulation devices, to ensure high water quality.

Pumps operate life support systems, and some exhibits use protein skimmers to pull protein from waste and food from the water. This helps prevent poor water quality.

Most of the filtration systems have a sand filter and Bioball tower. These are contained areas that allow bacteria to break down harmful chemicals, such as ammonia, which is produced naturally by living creatures. Sometimes other methods, such as ozone or ultraviolet light filters, are used to further break down these chemicals and control parasites and algae growth.

The Aquariums depend on their volunteer dive teams for the successful operation of their facilities. For more information, or to become part of an Aquarium volunteer dive team, contact your favorite N.C. Aquarium by calling 1-800-832-3474, or visit