The Tropical Aquarium is a unique historical site. It offers a fascinating voyage in space and time to discover a mysterious colorful world that has always attracted us, as is demonstrated in art and mythology.

A Little History

Aquarium tropical. Photo Anne Volery

Aquarium tropical. Photo Anne Volery

The Tropical Aquarium was created on the occasion of the Colonial Exposition of 1931 to show the public the aquatic fauna of the colonies.

First with its integration into the Museum of Colonies, and later the Museum of Overseas France, the Aquarium followed the latter’s destiny.

In 1960, it was attached to the French Ministry of Culture.

The renovation of the Aquarium was undertaken in 1985: all the installations prior to 1968 were completely revamped, introducing current techniques while preserving the historic aspect of the site. 

These improvements made it possible to adopt a new policy for the acquisition of animals with very specific requirements for water quality. The new specimens were chosen according to the information they could provide, especially for young visitors, in the context of the Aquarium’s educational mission.

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The Collections

synchiropus splendidus.

synchiropus splendidus

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.

In order to facilitate the visit, the tanks have been grouped to illustrate precise themes:

  • “Primitive” fish that are the almost unchanged descendants of animals that already existed several million years ago
  • Cichlids: fish whose methods of reproduction are among the most highly evolved
  • A group of tanks illustrating associations in marine environments (symbiosis between corals and unicellular algae, clownfish and anemones, associations between coral fish and cleaner fish that remove their parasites)
  • Reproduction in freshwater is represented by oviparous (egg-laying fish), rarer ovoviviparous (bearing live young) fish, or exceptional real viviparous (live-bearing) fish, or exceptional real viviparous (live-bearing) fish.
  • “Electric” fish illustrate the additional senses that aquatic animals may acquire when evolving in an atmosphere much denser than air, such as sensitivity to electric fields and vibrations
  • Bio-geographical presentations: Asia is marked by a great development of the cyprinid family that occupies the majority of its ecological niches. Fish in the Indo-Pacific Ocean are surprising for the diversity of their color patterns. As for the fragile endemic communities of the African Great Lakes, they are very revealing of the impact of human activity. The last tanks, devoted to South America present, among others, the mythical piranha and above all the discus, considered to be the most beautiful of freshwater fishes.

Other semi-aquatic vertebrates, such as crocodiles and turtles, are examples of the evolution of tetrapods.

See the species in the Aquarium