The Tropical Aquarium was created for the Colonial Exposition of 1931 to show the aquatic fauna of the colonies to the public.
Like the building itself, the Tropical Aquarium was designed to last. Indeed, this type of installation involves a considerable investment and at that time constituting a live collection of fish presented many difficulties due to the relative slowness of transportation.
Integrated into the Museum of the Colonies, the Aquarium followed its fortunes. In the context of the Museum of Overseas France, it received contributions from governors who considered it a point of honor to bring back specimens when they returned to metropolitan France. In 1960, when the museum was attached to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, the Aquarium owed its continuation in the institution to the great number of visitors it attracted.
In 1985, the Musées de France recognized the specificity of the Aquarium and its complementarity with the museum: its administration was modified to take into account the inevitable emergencies linked with maintaining a living collection. The renovation of the Aquarium was then undertaken: all installations prior to 1968 were completely revamped. Current techniques were introduced while preserving the historic aspect of the site.
These improvements made it possible to adopt a new policy for the acquisition of animals respecting very specific requirements for water quality. The new residents were chosen in relation to the information they could provide, especially for young visitors, in the context of the Aquarium’s educational mission.
The collection numbers some 15,000 animals and 750 species, but these figures continually vary depending on reproduction, mortality, exchanges with other public aquariums, purchases and gifts.