Step by step guide to becoming an aquarist

An aquarist is a special type of an animal care taker. An aquarist usually works for the aquatic section of a zoo or for a public aquarium and takes care of the fish and the aquatic animals. He or she is in charge of feeding the fish and animals, preparing the food and making any dietary adjustments that may be necessary. The aquarist is also responsible for making sure that the aquarium, tanks or exhibits are all clean and free of algae, that the water quality is maintained, and that the temperature is adjusted as needed. The fish and aquatic animals need a safe, nurturing environment and the aquarist makes sure this is provided. He will also check for any signs of sickness, disease or injury.

What does an aquarist do?

An aquarist is in charge of the well-being of fish and marine animals in an aquarium. Aquarists have a passion for the animals they look after and take great care to make sure they live excellent lives in captivity. Just like a zoo needs zookeepers to look after the animals, aquariums also need people to look after the fish and aquatic animals. Aquarists may work in zoos, theme parks or research facilities. They have a variety of activities to attend to, which can vary according to the type of animals kept at the facility.

An aquarist could perform any of these tasks:

  • monitor and treat fish diseases
  • ensure life support systems are functioning, such as pumps, heaters, and filters
  • monitor water quality
  • observe for any anomalies in fish tanks
  • clean the inside of the fish tanks and up-keep the underwater habitats
  • feed and administer vitamins to sea life
  • create habitats that will delight visitors
  • mentally stimulate some species with toys or challenges

In some cases, an aquarist will travel to various locations to collect specimens from lakes, rivers, and oceans. The specimens they collect must be safely extracted and transported back to the facility. The job of an aquarist is sometimes very physical, as transporting animals from one tank to another takes a lot of physical strength.

What kind of skills are required?

When contemplating a career as an aquarist, take a quick inventory of your personal traits. An aquarist must have great listening and monitoring skills to understand what others are saying or to identify solutions to problems by observing the situation with a keen eye. Time management is also a critical element to the success of an aquarist. Most importantly an aquarist must be comfortable with the animals and be passionate about the general well-being of the animals.

The steps to becoming an aquarist

  1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree (most candidates pursue a major in environmental engineering, veterinary science, biology, etc.)
  2. Gain experience through an internship
  3. Get a job in the field
  4. Keep up to date with certifications