Behind the scene
Plankton are produced in the aquarium for the growth and development of many sea creatures. Phytoplankton (plant plankton; Isochrysis, Nannochloropsis, Tetraselmis genus and diatoms) form the basis of the food chain and are grown in cylindrical containers. Zooplankton larvae Artemia salina (animal plankton), due to their size and nutritional value, represent the standard in aquarium cultivation. We ensure the necessary amount of artemia using a modern system (INVE Aquaculture – SEP-Art technology). It enables the separation of hatched larvae from their shells, which results in clean and high-quality food.
To create a self-sustaining aquarium, other than plankton, crickets (Gryluss assimilis) are also bred – the main food of veiled chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus), the central bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps) and the leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius).
An essential part of every aquarium is a breeding facility for its own needs. The strictly controlled aquarium conditions in Aquarium Pula allow the continued breeding of numerous species, such as the moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita), the clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris, Amphiprion clarkii) and shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni, Palaemon elegans) to maintain the number of animal species in exhibits. Thanks to natural reproduction and favourable conditions, the reproduction of catsharks (Scyliorhinus canicula, S. stellaris) occurs during the entire year. Their offspring are exchanged with European aquariums, and, with the approval of the competent Ministry, we restore the population of endangered species in their natural habitat.
Before arriving at the aquarium, all animals undergo a certain acclimatisation period or adaptation to their new environment – quarantine, to reduce stress caused by transport and prevent potential diseases and the spread of parasites. Quarantine lasts 3-4 weeks, depending on the species and is also used to treat and rehabilitate sick or wounded organisms.
Seawater filtration system
The most important feature of any aquarium is the seawater filtration system. Appropriate biological filtration ensures optimal living conditions in every pool. State-of-the-art equipment replaces the many biological and chemical processes which occur naturally in the sea.
To maintain optimal conditions, Aquarium Pula utilises the benefits of its location by the sea to attain fresh seawater, which, through collection basins, flows to the aquariums. The deep water is extremely clean and has an ideal temperature (15-17°C). The lack of sufficient quantities of dissolved oxygen and low pH values of seawater are compensated by using physical processes.
Tropical pools require higher temperatures, which is why filtration systems which maintain microbiological and chemical water parameters within tolerance levels are used. Namely, the process of food degradation produces harmful compounds such as phosphates, while metabolic by-products of fish contain high levels of poisonous compounds: ammonium, nitrite and nitrate. Physical (sand filters, protein skimmers, UV filters) and biological (biological filters) methods for cleaning the water are used to remove such harmful compounds.
A lot of expertise and experience is needed to satisfy the nutritional needs of each organism. Every species behaves differently, according to its own feeding strategy, which is why their feeding is diverse and balanced. To ensure our animals receive good nutrition based on their needs, procuring, storing and using food are strictly controlled steps, as this is the only way to ensure high nutritional values that conform to animals’ real needs.
Feeding in the aquarium
In the aquarium, we feed animals with live or frozen feed. Namely, some inhabitants, such as seahorses, greater pipefish and young cuttlefish, cannot survive without live food, which is why we provide Mysidae and Palaemonidae crustaceans, while common octopuses, grey triggerfish and rays are fed with live decapod crustaceans. For some Adriatic fish, such as the striped red mullet, young (juvenile) specimens, and tropical sea fish, we order high-quality frozen feed (small and large mysids, krill, artemia, worms, fish eggs) originating from Italy and the Netherlands. We catch crustaceans for our Adriatic fish ourselves: mysids and shrimp. Large quantities of fresh fish feed (anchovy, sardines, sprat, hake) are ordered and then repackaged and frozen at -20°C. The reason for this is to eliminate bacteria and possible parasites. The fish is defrosted in a special defrosting machine which preserves its nutritional characteristics: taste, texture and colour of food.
The frequency of feeding is determined by water temperature; at lower water temperatures, the animals require smaller quantities of food (three times a week), while tropical animals are fed twice a day.
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