Don Peterson of Roanoke Times
Center in the Square's new centerpiece has arrived and boy, is it going to be a big'un. The 5,500-gallon aquarium that will display live coral and saltwater fish is part of the instituation's $27 million renovations. The tank, according to officials, will be the largest living coral reef aquarium in the mid-Atlantic region.
It took some serious dedication to get the tank inside. At 7,000-pounds and as wide and tall as a bus, it "was lifted by crane and placed onto rollers but couldn't be wheeled into the building until ceiling ducts were taken apart so the top of the tank could clear. It was ultimately lowered into a depression in the cement floor and placed on top of blocks of ice, which gradually melted to let the tank gently settle into its space."
Once hooked up to proper pumps and filters, 10,000 gallons of water will circulate through the tank. The marine life inside, 250 marine fish and 150 live soft and stony corals, will come from aquatic farms instead of the ocean, according to Jeff Turner of Florida-based firm Reef Aquaria Design (which designed the tank).
Turner also noted that because of the tank's incredible size, divers will have to place the coral inside the aquarium.
Roanoke Times reports that Center Vice President of Development Julee Goodman said there are two fundraisers in the works that will be launched at a Sept. 13 dinner event.
"Adopt a Fish" will allow individuals to sponsor fish in the aquarium and provide funds for operations and maintenance. "The Coral Reef Society," pitched toward donors and corporations with deeper pockets, will aid the education program that ties into the aquariums. A portion of that funding will go to the Coral Reef Research Foundation.
Center in the Square plans to hold its grand reopening in May 2013.
For the full article written by Mike Allen of The Roanoke Times, please go here.
You can also check out more photos of the aquarium being loaded into its new home, also on the Roanoke Times.