Belle Isle Aquarium – Detroit, Michigan
The Belle Isle Conservancy has done many great things to help improve the visitor experience on Belle Isle. One of the best things they were able to do was re-open the Belle Isle Aquarium, a Detroit landmark that opened in 1904 but had to close in 2005 due to budget cuts. Since opening the doors to the public once again, the aquarium has seen repairs made and exhibits added – and attendance numbers seem to indicate that those efforts are appreciated. Like several other landmarks on Belle Isle, the aquarium was designed by architect Albert Kahn. We had the chance to visit the Belle Isle Aquarium back in November of 2019, and we will now share a few things from our visit.
Inside the aquarium you will find a variety of fish and other animals from all over the world. A tank full of piranhas, a lake sturgeon display set up to look like Pictured Rocks, electric eels, seahorses, and the only known collection of all seven types of gar in North America were a few of the highlights for us.
The aquarium is a popular spot for school field trips, and many of its displays are set up with education in mind. One display focuses on the impact of invasive species in the Great Lakes, a very relevant concern given the amount of international shipping traffic that passes Belle Isle each year. Other exhibits compare the power generated by electric eels to other power sources or offer up facts about jellyfish, seahorses, starfish, clownfish (may look familiar from a few Pixar movies), and more.
A koi pond can be found outside between the aquarium and the neighboring conservatory, families are invited to take part in koi transfer days in the summer and winter as these colorful fish move between seasonal homes.
Here are three of our favorite photos from our visit: snapping turtle reflection, the stars of Finding Nemo/Finding Dory (clownfish and royal blue tang), and a look at the green glass tile vaulted ceiling.
The Belle Isle Aquarium is located at 3 Inselruhe Ave. on Belle Isle. It is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday through Sunday. A Michigan Recreation Passport is required for all vehicles entering Belle Isle State Park; there is no admission cost (donations welcome) or parking fee to visit the aquarium. Be sure to check out the amazing collection of plants at the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory next door!