Skip to main content

Today's Family Magazine

Education meets exploration at Greater Cleveland Aquarium

Aug 01, 2016 12:01AM ● By Mary Flenner
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is about more than checking out some interesting fish.  It's a great educational experience for kids and adults alike.  From learning more about our local water life, to getting an up-close look at more exotic features like sharks, sea horses and an octopus, every corner holds something new. 

Located in the Powerhouse building on the west bank of The Flats, the aquarium has a unique atmosphere with its brick-filled tunnels and hallways.  Its iconic smokestacks are now home to moon jellyfish, which glow above you through bright lights, creating an almost extraterrestrial feeling.

As you enter, you'll notice lush vegetation, faux trees, rocks, vines and leaves that cover the walls and ceilings.  In the background, you'll hear the splash of waterfalls and bird calls, all helping to bring the world of nature alive around you.

The exhibit begins with local aquatic life from Ohio lakes and rivers.  You’ll find things like turtles, catfish, shiners and bass.  As you move through species from lakes and rivers of the world, you’ll see more tropical fish, coral reefs and eels.

In the coastal area, you can get hands-on with the stingrays as you dip your fingers into the fan-favorite touch tank, where stingrays whiz around the circular 11,000-gallon tank.
There are several large tortoises you can also feel.  All of the tortoises have been rescued by Noah’s Lost Ark (NLA) because they were abused, neglected or unwanted pets.  There are multiple touch tanks around the Aquarium.

If you’ve ever wanted to go snorkeling or swim with sharks, but perhaps don't have the nerve, the Shark SeaTube offers a perfect alternative. The SeaTube is a 175 foot-long tunnel, providing 180-degree views of the sharks and other aquatic life.  Four species of sharks will swim above and all around you, providing incredible, up-close views.  If you drop by on a Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday you can watch the shark feed, and if you are a certified SCUBA diver you can even sign up to swim with the sharks!

There are lots of opportunities around the aquarium to learn.  Kids can research and explore at stations using microscopes and observation journals.  There are also numerous informational signs around the aquarium and a friendly and knowledgeable staff available for questions.

The live coral exhibit emphasizes the importance of coral and why it needs our protection.  The Greater Cleveland Aquarium has actually been growing coral from tiny fragments acquired from other institutions that allows them to display live coral without harming natural reefs.

The Exploration Station on the second floor of the Powerhouse is set up as a research vessel. Kids are introduced to life on the sea where they can visit the captain’s quarters, act as a researcher, watch educational videos and participate in hands-on activities.  The Exploration Station also hosts storytime, games and activities.

The aquarium takes pride in teaching about environmental conservation and even coordinates beach cleanups in the summer that the public can take part in.  They also host fun seasonal events for both kids and adults, such as a special shark weekend, Halloween Hauntaquarium and Winter Waterland.

The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.  Visit them online at or call 216-862-8803 for more details and ticket information.