Welcome to our new coral reef exhibit! These aquaria present two different reef ecosystems — the Indo-Pacific and the Caribbean:

The Indo-Pacific

The Indo-Pacific region is a huge area — larger than the continental U.S. — and home to most of the world's coral reefs. These reefs contain an astonishing diversity of species, perhaps half of all species in the sea, including 700 species of coral and perhaps 3,000 species of fish, among many others. Scientists are still discovering new species here every year. But these reefs are threatened by human activities, from overfishing to pollution to climate change.

The aquarium features branching and plating stony corals of the Acropora and Montipora genera. Together with other stony corals, soft corals, giant clams, other invertebrates and fish, the Indo-Pacific coral reef represents one of the most biologically diverse environments on earth.

The Caribbean

The western Atlantic and Caribbean region is much smaller than the Indo-Pacific, and both the region and individual reefs harbor fewer species. But these reefs — which include the only coral reefs in North America (in the Florida Keys) — are home to more than 65 species of corals and perhaps 700 species of fish, among many others. These reefs, however, are in extremely poor health, due to a combination of climate change, overfishing, and pollution.

The Caribbean aquarium features soft corals, gorgonians, anemones, and sponges, and a small selection of stony corals typical of Florida Caribbean reefs. Notable by their absence are the reef-building staghorn and elkhorn branching stony corals, which have disappeared from Caribbean waters in the last 30 years.

Photograph by Nathan Krauss

A note about environmental concerns...

Both aquaria have been custom designed and built for maximum educational potential and minimal environmental impact.

Corals have been aquacultured or maricultured while the fish are either tank-bred or collected with strong emphasis on sustainability.

Modern pumping and lighting technology has been used to replicate the shallow tropical coral reefs while minimizing electrical usage.


  • Many of the corals and other reef organisms in the aquaria were donated by Dr. Drew Harvell of Cornell University.
  • Most of the above text was written by Steve Lowes of Cayuga Aquatics.