Downtown Aquarium is a public aquarium and restaurant located in Houston, Texas, United States that was developed from two Houston landmarks: Fire Station No. 1 and the Central Waterworks Building. The aquarium is located on a 6-acre (2.4 ha) site at 410 Bagby St. in downtown Houston. It houses over 200 species of aquatic animals in 500,000 US gallons (1,900,000 l) of aquariums. The complex includes two restaurants, a bar, and banquet facilities.
The Downtown Aquarium in Houston is owned and operated by Landry's Restaurants, Inc. and accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
In 1999, the City of Houston put out a request for proposals for the redevelopment of Fire Station No.1 in the 400 block of Bagby, and the nearby Central Waterworks plant. In mid-2000, Landry's plan was accepted over an alternate proposal by the Post/Cordish partnership. The Central Waterworks plant would be a sharks-only exhibition tank. The main restaurant would be on the second floor of the old firehouse, which would remain intact while construction took place around it.
The Downtown Aquarium was opened in 2003.
In late 2015, a campaign targeting the Aquarium's white tiger exhibit was launched by animal rights activists. The Downtown Aquarium rejected the criticism of the exhibit by stating that their "tigers receive exemplary animal care," and "our tiger exhibit has been accredited by AZA, and every year by the USDA."
The Aquarium Adventure Exhibit in the main building consists of 5 main themed areas, plus the tiger habitat and interactive displays.
The Louisiana Swamp exhibit is home to animals from the marsh and bayous of the Gulf Coast, including alligators, alligator snapping turtles, spotted gar, crayfish, catfish, and bullfrogs.
The shipwreck puts visitors inside the sunken hull of a 17th-century Spanish galleon where they can look, out to see living coral reefs and sea creatures including a giant Pacific octopus, a moray eel, clownfish, tangs, grouper, snapper, garibaldi, and star fish.
The Rainforest exhibit explores the tropical rainforests of the world, and life inside their rivers. The exhibit features macaws, Red-bellied piranha, freshwater stingrays, an emerald tree boa, poison arrow frogs, archerfish, arawana, and birds.
The Sunken Temple showcases species such as lionfish, tarantulas, pufferfish, an electric eel, and a reticulated python.
The Gulf of Mexico includes nurse sharks, snapper, redfish, tarpon, jack and more.
Discovery rig has three touch tanks to let visitors get up close and personal with marine life including stingrays, bamboo sharks, horseshoe crabs, butterflyfish, triggerfish, and tangs.
The White Tiger of the Maharaja Temple exhibit houses the aquarium's white tigers.
Shark Voyage, a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge C.P. Huntington train ride, tours the entire property and stops in the center of a 200,000-US-gallon (760,000 l) shark tank to let visitors watch the sharks. The shark tank viewed from the train is in a separate building from the main aquarium.
Other facilities on the aquarium property include two restaurants, a bar, and banquet facilities in the main building; and the Diving Bell Ferris Wheel and an aquatic-themed carousel outside. One of the restaurants includes a 110,000-US-gallon (420,000 l) centerpiece aquarium which is the largest cylindrical tank in the United States.
On July 12, 2009 two miniature trains collided in the loading area. According to officials one train hit the back of the other, forcing two cars off the track. 31 people were injured and 27 were taken to hospital. Nobody was seriously injured, and there was minimal damage to the trains.