Research and development is an important link to the aquaculture industry, but not all R&D occurs in research laboratories or facilities.
Aquariums usually provide a venue for both public education and aquaculture research to occur. The aquarist plays an important role in the functions provided at an aquarium.
The aquarist cares for all the aquatic species in an aquarium. An aquarist must feed the fish, perform daily health checks on aquatic species and monitor the activities of the organisms within the aquarium. In addition, the aquarist must tend to the organisms environment, which are tasks typically performed by Mother Nature in their wild setting. Chores such as cleaning tanks, both for the health of the fish and for the better viewing possibilities for the public, cleaning water recirculation pumps and maintaining required tools and equipment all fall within the aquarist’s jurisdiction.
Beyond daily tasks, the aquarist also serves as the first line of defense when aquatic species become susceptible to sickness and disease. While aquaculture veterinarians can be called to assist with serious issues, it is generally the aquarist’s responsibility to diagnose, treat or prevent any issues as they arise.
Finally, the aquarist often serves as the point person in running research experiments on aquatic species designed either by aquarium staff or outside scientists.
Most aquarist positions require an individual to have a bachelor’s degree in biology, veterinary medicine or other science-related field from an accredited university. In general, however, the aquarist needs to have a strong understanding and love for aquatic species.
The median salary for an aquarist is around US$50,000, with starting amounts varied by level of experience or responsibility, along with the nature of the aquarium itself. As salaried positions, most aquarist positions receive medical benefits, paid vacation and sick leave.
The working conditions for an aquarist are generally controlled environment replications of what their particular aquatic species would inhabit naturally. Plenty of time spent in the water is standard and an ability to dive is usually either required or will be taught to the applicant. Take a minute to learn about diving careers in that section of JobMonkey.
Not all of the aquarist’s time is spent in the water or cleaning a tank however. Much of their time is also spent in an office, summarizing data, writing status reports or correspondences with other aquarium officials. The actual working hours may be a bit unusual, as many of an aquarist’s activities must be performed when the aquarium is closed or displays are off limits to the public.