The Barcelona Aquarium, located in the Old Port of Barcelona, is the main and only large aquarium in the city and in Catalonia. In addition, it is the most important center in the world on a Mediterranean theme. The complex was opened in 1995.
There are aquariums and exhibitions, as well as a cafeteria, shop, photo souvenir, auditorium and other services. The Aquarium has 35 different aquariums, 11,000 animals from 450 different species, an 80 meter underwater tunnel with more than 100 people working on it.
In 2015 it was visited by 1,549,480 visitors, ranking fourth among the most visited attractions in the city of Barcelona, only behind the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell and the FC Barcelona Museum.
The oceanarium is the aquarium’s largest tank (36 meters in diameter and 5 meters deep), and contains 3.7 million liters of salt water. It also has a transparent underwater tunnel over 80 meters long.
The oceanarium shows a synthesis of the most representative species in the Mediterranean, including moray eels, sunfish, bream, rays and the largest sharks in the complex: the bull shark and Milberto’s silky shark. Other interesting species are the marine pig, the great butt and the guitar fish.
The spectacular Oceanarium, which is unique in Europe, is L’Aquàrium de Barcelona’s largest aquarium and home to the greatest number of species. With a diameter of 36 metres and depth of 5 metres, it contains almost 4 million litres of water. It houses species as diverse as giltheads, moray eels, ocean sunfish, rays and two types of shark: the sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) and the sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus) – the real stars of L’Aquàrium de Barcelona.
A transparent tunnel in excess of 80 metres in length enables you to enjoy a spectacular walk underwater. You can explore the Oceanarium from below and experience the exhilarating feeling of discovering the Mediterranean as if you were walking along the sea floor, just inches away from sharks and other curious species.
L’Aquàrium has 14 representative aquariums from the different Mediterranean communities with the most characteristic species. In addition, it recreates two protected areas on the Catalan coast: the Ebro Delta and the Medas Islands. Among the recreated spaces are the Posidonia community, the red coral community, the intertidal zone community, the community of caves and crevices, among others.
The Mediterranean Sea, with a length of 3,800 km, maximum width of 800 km, average depth of 1,500 m and points with up to 4,000 m deep is one of the largest marginal seas on the planet. Despite being considered a nutrient-poor sea (oligotrophic), it hosts a diverse range of ecosystems and species. Most notable among them is an important predator: the shark. It is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Strait of Gibraltar and the Black Sea by the Bosporus. The small size of its basin and its narrow connection with the Atlantic cause its tides to have very low amplitude (around 25 cm), which gives the sea its unique appearance. The Oceanarium is a microcosm of the Mediterranean Sea.
Other common marine organisms that can be found in the aquarium:
Fauna: Bluntnose sixgill shark (Hexanchus griseus); Atlantic wreckfish (Polyprion americanum); angular roughshark (Oxynotus centrina); common stingray (Dasyatis pastinaca); guitarfish (Rhinobatos rhinobatos); vadigo (Campogramma glaycos); false scad (Caranx rhonchus); leerfish (Lichia amia); pilot fish (Naucrates ductor); mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus); Guinean grunt (Parapristipoma humile); rubber-lip grunt (Plectorhinchus mediterraneus); meagre (Argyrosomus regius); bullet tuna (Auxis rochei); rudderfish (Centrolophus niger); turbot (Psetta maxima); sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus); sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus); ocean sunfish (Mola mola).
In each aquarium, you can learn about the most characteristic species. You will also be able to observe two recreations of protected areas on Spain’s coastline: the Ebro Delta and the Medes Islands, and take a walk through the acrylic tunnel that runs the length of the Oceanarium, which gives you the feeling that you are swimming with the sharks.
Shallow rocky coastal community
Shallow sandy coastal community
The Ebro delta
Cave and crevice community
The Neptune Grass community
Shallow algae community
The coralline community
Inter-tidal zone community
A little bite of sea
The red coral community
The Medes islands
The thematic aquariums of l’Aquàrium de Barcelona are small tanks for small species. They represent marine invertebrates (sea urchins and starfish), seahorses, redhead eggs, tropical corals and sea dragons.
The themed aquariums enable you to enjoy the small details of marine flora and fauna that in large aquariums would go completely unnoticed.These small tanks feature a number of interactive modules that you can use to learn more about the organisms you find.
Fantastic creatures under the sea
The complex’s seven tropical aquariums represent the typical ecosystems of the Red Sea, the Australian Great Barrier Reef and the Caribbean Sea, as well as poisonous fish and sharks from tropical waters.
A fascinating world of colour opens up before us under the sea. These are the coral reefs: unique, spectacularly beauty architectural creations built by small colonial invertebrates – corals. To enable you to travel through the tropical seas without having to catch a plane, L’Aquàrium de Barcelona boasts 7 aquariums that represent these seas and are home to its most characteristic species.
The tropical coral reef
The Caribbean sea
The Great Barrier reef. Australia
The Red sea
Tropical poisonous and aggressive fishes
Planeta Aqua is a large pavilion located at the end of the aquarium tour. There are several facilities with species adapted to different aquatic conditions. In the center of the room there is a shallow tank with guitar fish and rays, and in the circular loft, a series of aquariums dedicated to species characterized by their appearance, the practice of camouflage phenomena, symbiosis or because they are considered fossils living. Information panels on oceanography and environmental aspects are also available. Some of Planeta Aqua’s other exhibitions include:
Nearly three quarters of our planet is covered with water. In spite of this, we know less about the oceans and their inhabitants than we do about the surface of the Moon.
After visiting our large aquariums and spectacular Oceanarium, the tour continues on the second floor. Planeta Aqua will help you discover many of the creatures that have adapted to the most diverse of aquatic environments: the bitter cold, the darkness of the deep, warm tropical waters. You can also admire the way different types of ray, such as freshwater stingrays and eagle rays, swim, thanks to an open tank containing 20,000 litres of water.
On Planeta Aqua’s circular mezzanine floor, you can observe living fossils and find out about phenomena such as camouflage, symbiosis, some secrets of oceanography and environmental issues. Through computer games, information panels, small aquariums and interactive elements, you can learn about the evolution of different mammals, reptiles and fish, which have all adapted to the marine environment.
Life in the cold
This installation shows a penguin colony with the possibility of observation on the surface and underwater.
The tropical universe
This space consists of the recreation of three sections of an Amazon river, where you can see iguanas, piranhas, and chameleons, among other species.
The world of darkness
Aquariums dedicated to jellyfish and benthic species are arranged inside the full-scale replica of a sperm whale.
A pending search
A space dedicated mainly to children’s audiences where the history of ocean knowledge and the use of different oceanographic instruments is explained.
Explore! It is the main interactive space focused on children. It depicts three environments on the Mediterranean coast (the marshes of the Ebro Delta, the Costa Brava and the underwater caves of the Medas Islands).
Explora! is an interactive space within L’Aquàrium de Barcelona designed to raise children’s awareness of the marine world. It features over 50 interactivities in which children can touch, see, listen to, investigate and discover nature. In Explora!, three Mediterranean coastline environments are represented: The marshes of the Ebro Delta, a corner of the Costa Brava and an underwater cave in the Medes Islands.
THE MARSHES OF THE EBRO DELTA
These shallow, brackish water lagoons are an important habitat for many animal species, especially migratory birds. Explora! invites you to learn about the marshes in many different ways, for instance, with magnifying glasses and by analysing footprints in the mud.
THE COSTA BRAVA
All along the Catalonian coastline, there are many sandy beaches that are protected by large rocky cliffs that fall spectacularly into the sea. Discover the marshes and beaches of the Costa Brava in this corner of Explora!, where you can feel the waves break over you, without getting wet of course!
THE UNDERWATER CAVE OF THE MEDES ISLANDS
In this marine reserve just off the Catalonian coast, you can explore the reef and remains of a shipwreck – areas of refuge for many organisms. Discover them!
Jewels of the sea
The sea conceals many jewels and treasures. Who hasn’t ever looked for shells on the beach and been surprised by the rich variety of shapes and colours?
Molluscs are soft-bodied invertebrates that are often protected by a shell. They form part of a highly diverse, evolutionarily successful group that has managed to colonise a large variety of environments on the planet. Clams, oysters, squids, octopuses, slugs and snails are some of the best-known examples.
There has been interest in molluscs, particularly seashells, throughout human existence since time immemorial. They have always been an important source of food all over the planet and have also been used as tools to cut skin and other materials or to communicate over distance. Their use in the making of jewellery also goes back a long way and pierced shells to make necklaces and other ornaments have been discovered in many archaeological sites. They have also been studied as transmitters of numerous human parasitic diseases.
In this permanent exhibition, without leaving Barcelona, you can see some of the most exotic and amazing shells ever discovered and the tools that malacologists use to study these invertebrates.
Experiences with sharks
If you’d like to have a scuba diving adventure and enjoy a unique experience, L’Aquàrium has organised exactly what you’ve been looking for. Become a scuba diver for a day, and when you’re underwater in the Oceanarium, you’ll have sharks and thousands of fish swimming beside you.
With each new visit to L’Aquàrium de Barcelona, our protagonists – sharks, rays, penguins, etc. – will amaze you from the bottom of the sea.
Did you know that L’Aquàrium de Barcelona is the largest Mediterranean-themed aquarium in the world. Or that it contains 6 million litres of water in which almost 11,000 organisms from 450 different species live in harmony? Did you know that over 150 different types of meal are prepared for its inhabitants?
Come along and don’t miss out on feeding time! If its lunch time during your visit, you could be in for a pleasant surprise… If you’d like to see how the sharks are fed by our scuba divers, check out the feeding times below.
Have you ever wondered how sharks are fed? In the Oceanarium, L’Aquàrium de Barcelona’s largest aquarium, you can get a close look at how these elegant predators are fed by the divers. The divers feed the sharks with the help of rods onto which is impaled their favourite food, such as oily fish and squid.
The greediest of them all
You can watch how they are fed in the Planeta Aqua Room twice a day every day of the week.
The rays don’t want to go without their food either. As soon as they see their keepers, they move in to eat. Be careful you don’t get splashed though!
Eagle rays and Morays
An aquarium is a highly delicate and constantly evolving environment, which means that feeding times can be altered in accordance with the needs of the marine animals and their welfare.