Research & Conservation

Summer fun and new fish!

We are loving summer 2018 at the Malta National Aquarium. So far we’ve had thousands of enthusiastic fish-loving visitors who have really shown us, and our animals, a huge level of respect.

We’re also delighted that we’ve had people contacting us sending in their views and their blogs – including a very interesting read about the Water Crisis that we find ourselves in, following our blog post published in April discussing the issue and what we can do to help. discusses the crisis in great detail, hovering over different cities affected across the globe while also highlighting what is being done to ensure the problem is dealt with and pressures on human life ease through the work and research carried out.

Aside from entertaining and hosting our new friends we’ve also got some amazing success stories as our fish continue to thrive in their healthy and positive environment, and you’ll read our fascinating stories of a species which is currently thriving.

Summer 2018 has been extremely educational for everyone. Our workshops and education activities have been targeting everyone, form tiny humans to fully grown adults – and the smiles we have seen have made all our hard work worth the while. The full list and details are here.

We’ve tried to show a better way by educating the masses about plastic pollution, and through this blog have also shown alternatives to our current lifestyles.

Continuing from where we left off last month, we’ll bring you the story of how we helped our sharks train their senses. Yes – sharks can play too, and yes, like you they can learn. Now, a shark can smell one tiny drop of blood in a sea of over 100,000 drops of water… which is very unique. The Mediterranean Sea is the home to over 30 different species of shark, with each species having a different set of teeth, depending on their diet and we were happy to introduce our young learners to our shark family. Our summer school can help you learn more about our silvery creatures, and you will find out just how much they are misunderstood.

Nat Geo kids has a good video which is packed with shark stats:

With every single conversation about fish and different species we can not fail to mention the impact of human behaviour on the natural world. The fact that we have distinguished the terms “human” and “natural” is significant… because, after all, aren’t we part of the natural world.

This is a vital point to keep at the forefront of your mind – not only is the natural environment all around us, but we thrive in it and are a huge part of it. We have neglected this point for decades, and as we sit in our enclosed concrete walls reading it we often get detached… but please: go outside, step into the wilderness, look at the beauty of nature herself by gazing at the open sea, or the beautiful flowers that bloomed. The more you interact and adore the natural world, the easier you will find it to protect it. It is your home, so just as you do your best to keep your room tidy at home, apply the same thought to your outside home. There are bins for plastic, a ton of plastic we do not need to use, and a good message to spread.

That is one impressive nose, and it comes with an even more impressive sense of smell

All our events at Summer School focus on the sea and our natural habitat, and our aim is to spread the good word of conservation and protection of all life, whether it is marine, terrestrial or indeed human.

Our success stories go beyond our hard work in helping humans help nature. We’re actually organically producing fantastic stories about thriving species and here we’ll give you a snippet of the magic that our scientists and staff produce daily.

  • Spanish bream
  • Painted beetles
  • Eliot cichlids
  • Fairy cichlids

These little creatures have given us the widest of grins following their successes and we couldn’t wait to share the news of our brand new species going by the exotic name: The Spanish sea bream – or the axillary seabream.

This little beauty thrives in the Atlantic and Mediterranean and can live up to 18 years… and guess what the best fact of them all is?

It is born male until the fish eventually turns into a female. This phenomenon is makes it a protandrous hermaphrodite. Our favourite clownfish, Nemo himself (…or herself), also possesses this magic power and does this due to the complex hierarchy of their society. Most societies have a female leader, and when she dies a male… who later can turn into a female, replaces her. The transformation is not an easy one for most fishes, and only the ones at the top ring of evolution manage the change. During the change they are often in total solitude, but when they emerge, they look bigger, stronger and ready to deal with the everyday fishy business!

The Spanish sea bream is a species of fish which is very much in demand by commercial fishing and as a result numbers along the Atlantic coast, on the shores of Morocco and Spain have declined. Measures are now in place to ensure their safety where fishing companies must register their catch and only take ones of appropriate size. Protecting the spawning stock and expanding the marine protected areas will aide in ensuring this shiney fish thrives once more. We look forward to having you check out our very own Spanish seabreams here at the Malta National Aquarium.

Fabulous painted beetles

The coloroufl fab four are also in town at the Malta Aquarium, as these beetles are as colourful as their sixties’ namesake. Luckily for the species, they just love to mate and after mating, the female lays an egg in moist ground, which hatches after a short time into a larva that feeds voraciously for two two five months. Their adult life spans over several months, and to help the species grow, many larvae are created, to increase the survival rate for those not making it before moulding into pupa form.

Elliot’s Cichlid & Fairy cichlids

Right now our cichlid population is booming due to the fact that they love their home. When fish feel safe in an environment they will reproduce and grow and as a result we’re now the proud keepers of the tiniest baby cichlids you’ll see.

Tank 48 houses the stunning and colourful Elliot cichlids and further down in tank 36 our new members, the Fairy cichlids are doing well. At just three months old they have lots to learn, but are swimming happily and freely amongst their new family.

Fairy cichlids can only be described in one word: Stunning. Their fins curl up behind them and as they glide through the water you’ll be lured by their swashbuckling beauty. We’d love to have you visit our little boomers and track their growth!

So far this summer we’ve had lots of fun, learning loads about out new species. We’ve expanded our education program and happily received hundreds of smiling faces. Next month we’ll tell you have you can help our fish stay calm as you pay them a visit! They can’t wait to meet you, and neither can we!