With hundreds of animals of all sizes and varieties in the Giant Ocean Tank, you can imagine it’s a lot of work to prepare their food. In fact, it’s the first thing on the to-do list for our legion of volunteers and interns every day. It entails chopping and sorting and weighing and organizing and cleaning. Take a look! Our volunteer Alfred recorded this time lapse video of the crew at work.

Preparing Food for Fish

Here are a few of the things you might have noticed in the video, and some you maybe didn’t notice:

  • That’s a lot of people! It takes anywhere from two to six volunteers to prepare the day’s food. And they’re at it for at least an hour, often more!
  • The volunteers need to chop half of the food that goes into the tank so it’s suitable for the targeted fish. Smaller fish get smaller bites. 
  • What’s on the menu? Depends on the day, but here’s what you’ll find in our freezers and fridges: lettuce, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, peas, corn, sardines, anchovies, pollack, capelin, silversides, zooplankton, krill, clam, squid, shrimp, mackerel, and herring.
  • The folks standing at the sinks on the left are rinsing some of the food items before we put them into their serving dishes. It’s a way we can keep the water clear for visitors.
  • What’s with all the buckets? The food is separated into buckets for each feeding dive. The black bucket sitting on top of the barrel is for the compost, so fish heads, tails, squid pens and beaks, and shrimp tails — all things not easily digested by the fish — goes out to be composted rather than to a landfill.
  • The volunteers have to precisely weigh the amount of food that goes into those buckets. On an average day, 35 pounds of food is fed to all the animals each day.
  • The freezer door opens and closes a bunch. There’s a walk-in freezer adjacent to the kitchen. Our animals eat restaurant-grade seafood that arrives in frozen blocks on hefty palletes. Our volunteers need to thaw the fish the day before.
diver underwater feeding fish
A diver target feeds some of the smaller fish in the Giant Ocean Tank

So the next time you’re here at the Aquarium watching a feeding, just think about all the hard working folks behind the scenes that are also working to take such good care of these animals.