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Thread: Cosmocaixa, the science museum in Barcelona, Spain - load warning!!

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    Cosmocaixa, the science museum in Barcelona, Spain - load warning!!

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    Hi everyone here is the thread requested by Mr Choy. I must admit I am copying and pasting this from elsewhere as it took a while to write so please accept my apologies for that.

    Anyyyway, I recently visited the excellent science museum here in Barcelona. There are a good few aquatic displays but the main exhibit on the bottom floor of the museum is the one I think members here will enjoy. It's a recreation of over 1 square kilometer of flooded Amazon rainforest! In terms of the plants, trees and species selected it is very good and must be the best single aquatic-based display I have ever seen. It's split really cleverly (almost invisibly) into different terrestrial and aquatic enclosures to ensure that incompatible species don't come into contact.....truly inspiring. Apologies for the pic quality as these were all taken with my crappy phone cam and we only had an hour to spend here:

    The approach to the "tank"....my jaw was already dropping at this point....



    I'm trying to give you a sense of the scale of the thing in the next few....this pic shows about a 1/4 of the front of the display:


    Right hand half of the display:


    Left-hand side:


    Top of left-hand half:


    Centre-top:


    Right-top....this gives you some idea of the size of the thing....this aquatic section alone must be over 100 square metres:

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    Now for some of the animals living in this superb biotope recreation. This is my Mexican flatmate Carolina attempting to communicate with a huge Arapaima gigas...using a metro map! These guys share the enormous right-hand pond with loads of other species large and small (check the massive L091 at the bottom of the pic) and it was just wonderful to see these creatures living in an environment that truly does them justice rather than cramped into a display tank to satisfy the paying public:


    Arapaima head...bigger than that of a human!:


    This pic shows just how realistic and colossal this display is. The Hypostmous in the centre of the shot is well over 30cm long. Look at the layers of detritus on the bottom. The blue dots you can see are some of what must be 1000s of cardinal tetras contained in this section. I had a brief conversation with a member of staff who told me that most of the smaller fish are reproducing at will in the tank so any that are eaten are not of any real concern as their numbers are actually increasing! Also take note of the red-tailed cat at the back of the pic...there are a few of these in the tank and we sat and watched two of them having an amazing territorial battle for ten minutes or so, shooting up into midwater and so on. The tank is big enough to cope with a good number of the enormous territories required by this species. It's only when you see this kind of natural behaviour up close you realise just how unsuitable these creatures are for the home aquarium....


    Couple more shots of the front of the display:


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    This is the "centre-left" section of the display. It's miles smaller than the pond on the right but must still be 10 metres across the front. In here are various cichlids, larger characins (including amazing shoals of various Anostomus and Metynnis species) plus loads of corys and smaller tetras. These smaller fish can pass through into the large right-hand section. I didn't have much time so couldn't record them all but more details will follow. There's a large terrestrial section to this part of the display containing Capybara but I couldn't get any good shots of them. The second pic here is terrible but if you look closely you can just about make out a pair of Heros sp. "Rotkeil" guarding a batch of eggs (the white patch to the right of the top fish). :


    This is the "far-left" section, containing Amazonian turtles, dwarf caiman and Pygocentrus nattereri as well as loads of smaller fish. Check out the huge Echinodorus species growing emerse in the top left of the third pic:




    You then have the opportunity to walk around the left side of the exhibit and explore underneath it! The first thing to confront you in this dark space is an enclosure containing a huge Anaconda Eunectes sp. Sorry didn't get the exact species and the bugger was in the water at the front of the tank so I couldn't get a good shot of it. This space is open to the main exhibit above allowing this aquatic boa to move above ground if it wants. It's cut off from the other animals in the display for obvious reasons though:


    This pic is crap, sorry. However I thought it was worth including as this brightly-lit tube leads to an underground nest of leaf-cutter ants (no idea on species but the genus could be either Atta or Acromyrmex). The nest is enormous and viewable through glass but what's amazing is the length of the tube (at least 10 metres) and the fact it opens into the forest above allowing the ants to exhibit totally natural behaviour. You can go above ground and watch them slicing bits out of leaves then follow them carrying the pieces down to the nest. The interaction between them is very cool to watch...

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    Next up as you walk under the flooded forest is this massive viewing window into the main pool...awesome to watch Pacu shoaling above smaller tetras, dwarf cichlids, Loricariids and Corydoras. I really must get back with a good camera as it's impossible to describe with words alone as all you can really see here are the blue dots of the cardinals. I assure you there's loads more going on! :



    ...followed by a series of smaller viewing windows. First one is into the main pool again. We were lucky as both Arapaima were resting here as we walked by. That is the hand of an adult not a child by the way!:


    Next is a window into the smaller section I mentioned earlier. I wish I could have got better pics as there must have been 50 or so corys of various species scooting about among the detritus in front of the window. These were the best I could do for now:



    Opposite this window is this tank containing a beautiful Amazon tree boa Corallus hortulanus plus a population of poison frogs Dendrobates tinctorius . No pics of the creatures as my phone couldn't cope with the lack of light :


    As you begin to climb up into the exhibit itself you have a couple more viewing windows. It was then we realised there are loads of birds in there too! View into the terrestrial part of the section containing the caiman/piranhas:

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    ....and opposite is a view into the Capybara enclosure:



    This is the view as you emerge into the light:


    ...looking back from where we came. Can you see the stunning bird on top of the "tunnel"?:


    This guy was very friendly....he followed us all around the exhibit and had the funniest running action...



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    Echinodorus sp. growing emerse around the margin of the "flooded forest":


    Views across the surface of the main aquatic section that houses the bigger fish (plus thousands of smaller ones). I wish I could give a better sense of the scale here....it's at least 50 metres across to the other side...



    ...and as if this wasn't all cool enough, it only started raining!! Ingeniously this only fell on the water and plants and we remained totally dry!




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    Last couple of shots of the front of the display. We were the last people in the place (my fault ) but I'll be returning really soon to observe the species more closely and find out about filtration/maintenance/water parameters/volume etc. It's so refreshing to find a display like this dedicated to freshwater (as opposed to marine) species and attempting to reproduce an accurate biotope as well as some genuine education for those interested. The best I'd seen before was at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, U.S. but this 100% bettered that by its sheer scale. I could easily spend a full day looking at this exhibit....it is incredible and I'm only sorry that these pictures don't do it justice. With the possible exceptions of the birds, Capybara and caiman (although even these have enormous spaces in which to roam compared to most exhibits I've seen before) the creatures here really do show natural behaviour and the museum should be applauded for that in my opinion. It also absolutely reinforced my view that "tankbusters" have no place in the home aquarium or even most public aquariums. The behaviour shown by the biggest fish on display here was like nothing I'd seen in captivity before. Just look at the happy shoal of pacu below for evidence. I'll try to get some video next time so you can see what I mean. Hope this hasn't become boring for anyone and sorry for waffling on but this thing really did blow my mind, especially for only 3 euros!



    PS. Sorry for the massive pictures! If anyone fancies resizing that lot feel free!

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    very cool aquarium!

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    Matt,
    Thanks for the very interesting write ups and great photos.
    Really enjoyed it.
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    Richard
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    Thanks for sharing, really impressive.
    My Apisto Keeping Diary
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    My goodness! The scale of this project is massive.

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    Wow!!!....just amazing

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    wow. i'm in awe! I'm putting Barcelona on my "must visit" places list purely because of this.

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    One word: Impressive!
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    Oh boy oh boy. Next stop - Barcelona!!! Thanks Matt for making an effort to post this up! It is truly an eye-opener, literally! My jaws dropped when i saw the first arapaima shot which your flatmate was trying to communicate with! And they stayed dropped all the way until the last picture! It must have been quite an experience for you! Tag this as a sticky!!!
    -clint- ~apisto keepers unite!~

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    holy smoke! Thats a gigantic size aquarium, certainly a heart stirring event.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers!
    Cheers!

    Benetay

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    Very nice place to educate people about the nature world....
    Wanna see Borneo? Just click...http://junglemikey.blogspot.com/

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    All i can said is WOW... .... Thanks for sharing.

    MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! TIME TO LAY BACK AND RELAX!
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    WOW! Very interesting ! Hope one day will be able to go there, Btw those gigantic fishes really fish me out, looks weird Never mind Thanks for sharing
    Cheers !
    Keeping.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Telecredible View Post
    WOW! Very interesting ! Hope one day will be able to go there, Btw those gigantic fishes really fish me out, looks weird Never mind Thanks for sharing
    Cheers !
    You can find those HUGE gigantic fish in Pasir Ris Mainland Tropical farm, they have quite a few there.

    MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! TIME TO LAY BACK AND RELAX!
    A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Begins With A Single Step

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