5 hats a S.E.A. Aquarium aquarist wears

While they may be called professional fish keepers, S.E.A. Aquarium aquarists are much more than that. Here’s an inside look at what their job really entails.

1. Chef

About 150kg to 200kg of fish feed is prepared for our 100,000 marine inhabitants daily. Every morning, four to six aquarists will spend 120 minutes to cut and pre-pack various types of fish feed such as squid, tuna, horse mackerel and krill. Most of these fish feed are delivered regularly by suppliers while certain feed like plankton or artemia (for feeding sea jellies) are cultivated in-house daily.

Preparing krill for manta rays (left) and cutting up tuna, horse mackerel and squid for sharks (right)
Preparing krill for manta rays (left) and cutting up tuna, horse mackerel and squid for sharks (right)

2. Sanitation Director

Our aquarists are also rostered to clean the acrylic panels of all 49 habitats on a daily basis and clear away debris found on the sand bed where fecal matter tends to be trapped. Our largest habitat, the Open Ocean habitat, has a floor-to-ceiling viewing panel measuring 36m by 8m. It takes 3 aquarists 2 hours to clean it every day.

5 hats an aquarist wears
Every morning, our aquarists can be seen siphoning the sand bed to remove fecal matter and leftover food (left), as well as wiping off algae build-up on the habitat panels (right). While they work, they also keep an eye out for sick or injured fish which they will remove from the habitat for isolation and treatment.

3. Maître d’

Food is served to our inhabitants at specific times using different methods. Feeding methods include Surface Feeding and Broadcast Feeding (for smaller species like clown fish) and Dive Target Feeding (for larger species like sharks and rays in larger habitats). Meal frequency depends on species. Some are fed daily, such as those in Coral Garden, while others like sharks are fed three times a week. View our feeding schedule here.

5 hats an aquarist wears
Ng Shiwei and Brandon Lee from the curatorial team suited up in chainmail, all set to feed the sharks in Shark Seas habitat.
5 hats an aquarist wears
Brandon (right) feeding the sharks with squids and fish while Shiwei (left) keeps a lookout for potential danger.

4. Trainers and marine ambassadors

Our aquarists don’t just work with marine animals. They also double up as ambassadors of marine life when they host guests in Ultimate Marine Encounters such as Sea Trek Adventure, Open Ocean Dive and Ray Bay, where they share their expertise and experience while guiding them through the programmes. Some aquarists who are certified master divers are also involved in training guests in our popular PADI Open Water Dive Course and PADI Discover Scuba Diving Course.

5 hats an aquarist wears
Ray Bay session at Adventure Cove Waterpark where guests get to feed and touch rays.

5. Expert breeders

At S.E.A. Aquarium, we have developed a system of best-practice marine husbandry that draws on years of collective experience from our aquarists, who are involved in the breeding of species such as sea jellies, stingrays and shark rays. In the past year alone, selected species of marine animals were successfully bred in captivity, largely due to our aquarists’ dedication and devotion to their job.

5 hats an aquarist wears
Born in S.E.A. Aquarium on 10 November 2015, this shark ray pup is one of the world’s first to be born and successfully raised under professional human care.

We’ll let Shiwei tell you why an aquarist is the best job ever:

5 hats an aquarist wears

“Five years ago, I was studying Finance & Accounting in university when I saw S.E.A. Aquarium recruiting divers. I dropped my course and applied without hesitation. Today I’m part of the team that takes care of our large exhibits like sharks and manta rays. It is a physically demanding job but I love what I do. There’s a great sense of achievement knowing that the animals are well cared for, and to know that we are spreading the knowledge on marine life.”

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