Many visitors to the New England Aquarium can stop at a window in the Giant Ocean Tank and just stare. There’s so much movement and color and texture and excitement at every level of the four-story exhibit. Some of the longer-lived fish have been swimming in the Giant Ocean Tank (alongside Myrtle the turtle) for decades. Many of the other fish come from other aquariums, and historically, some fish have been collected from the wild. Now as our oceans face threats including overfishing and climate change, creating sustainable, self-sustaining exhibits on Central Wharf is something we’re striving to do. 

So our aquarists have been toiling quietly behind the scenes in our Quincy Animal Care Center, and with our partner Roger Williams University, raising several species of popular reef fishes. This entails making sure the parents are healthy and happy enough to spawn or lay eggs, collecting the eggs and then hatching them, and then raising the larvae (and their teeny tiny food). We’re happy to report that we’ve had some great successes! Learn more about the fish we’ve raised in 2016, and see pictures of them as juveniles and what they will look like as adults.

juvenile lookdown
lookdown in giant ocean tank

Lookdown, Selene vomer

You’ll find these fish schooling in the Giant Ocean Tank with their distinct, straight front face and long dorsal fins.

  • Parents from the Giant Ocean Tank were moved to a specially designed tank in our Quincy Animal Care Center that helped collect eggs.
  • The parents were induced to spawn by the New England Aquarium and Roger Williams University team.
  • Eggs were collected by Aquarium staff in Quincy in special egg collectors.
  • 50,000 eggs were collected (!!) and transferred to Roger Williams University, where they raised 6,000 larvae.
  • Of the 500+ juveniles now living in our Quincy holding facility, 300 will be sent to other aquariums and the rest will go into the Giant Ocean Tank when they’re big enough.
blue chromis larval fish under microscope
blue chromis in the Giant Ocean Tank

Blue Chromis, Chromis cyanea

These are smaller, brightly colored fish that you can see flitting about the Giant Ocean Tank. This exciting aquarium first was detailed in Coral magazine by aquarist Monika Schmuck!

  • The broodstock (or parents) reside in Quincy.
  • Eggs are being collected on a regular basis by Quincy staff.
  • Two larvae were successfully raised to juveniles (first time ever!), and then another 30 more grew to be juveniles from a second batch of eggs.
  • When they are mature enough, they will go into the Giant Ocean Tank.


a larval striped burrfish under microscope

Striped burrfish, Chilomycterus schoepfi

Burrfish are slower moving fish in the Giant Ocean Tank that are always posing for pictures! When threatened, these fish gulp down water to inflate their bodies, making them very prickly and (hopefully) unappealing prey. 

  • Eggs collected by Giant Ocean Tank staff in the exhibit were sent to Quincy.
  • Four larvae were raised in Quincy; one on Central Wharf.
  • They will go on exhibit in the big tank once they grow large enough.
planehead filefish larvae under microscope

Planehead filefish, Stephanolepis hispidus

  • Eggs were collected by Giant Ocean Tank staff and raised in Quincy.
  • Four were put on exhibit in the Giant Ocean Tank!
  • The rest went to other aquariums for exhibit.
yellow headed jawfish larva under microscope
yellowheaded jawfish

Yellowhead jawfish, Opistognathus aurifrons

These charismatic fish can be found in the Yawkey Coral Reef Center at the top of the Giant Ocean Tank. Take a moment to watch them, you might catch them rearranging the pebbles around their burrow.

  • Mouth-brooding parents live in Quincy.
  • 15 fish were raised in Quincy.
  • Several went on exhibit in Yawkey Coral Reef Center at top of Giant Ocean Tank.
  • Rest sent to other aquariums for exhibit.