National Aquarium Napier Hawkes Bay Attraction
Friend of the National Aquarium
Friend of the National Aquarium
Marine Parade, Napier
Phone: 06 834 1404
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Around The World

Giant Gourami (Osphronemus goramy)
Size: up to 60cm
Range: Java (originally), SE Asia, Australia, Seychelles, Mauritius
A labyrinth fish which has a chamber in the head above the gills, used for retaining air. This allows the fish to live in water with low oxygen such as muddy swamps. If prevented from surfacing the Giant Gourami will drown. Napier’s Giant Gourami enjoys blanched peanuts and broccoli and in the wild will eat fruit and nuts – a diet developed from what falls from trees into rivers. Giant Gourami have become rare because of the removal of forests that previously surrounded their habitats.
Japanese Firebellied Newts (Cynops pyrrhogaster)
Size: ave. 90 – 120mm
Range: Asia, Europe, US
Permanent tadpole shape. Some species can be toxic to touch. The parents of these japanese firebellied newts were confiscated when they were brought illegally into New Zealand but japanese firebellied newts are now allowed to be kept in home aquarium. A fiery orange marking on the belly serves as a warning to predators that it produces a potent toxin.
Africa Clawed Toads (Xenopus laevis)
An ancient species, with a smooth, slimy skin and frog-like appearance. Its webbed feet indicate that the African Clawed Toad spends all its time in the water, not on land, and has horny black claws on the outer toes of its hind feet. Commonly used in the scientific community for research because the eggs are large and transparent, as are the young tadpoles. Students can watch cells dividing and when the eggs hatch, they can see all the living organs – the heart beating and blood flowing through veins – without having to destroy the specimen. The female African Clawed Toad is larger than the male. They live in cold water, are veracious eaters, living mainly on small fish.
Convict Cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata)
Size: males up to 15cm, females 10cm.
Range: Honduras, Nicaragua
Takes its name from its striped pattern. The Convict Cichlid is very territorial and can be aggressive. When they breed, the male and female pair off and stay together, claiming their own territory and chasing other fish away. Convict Cichlid are among the few fish to protect and guard their young, who are nudged back home when they stray.
Koi Carp (Cyprinus carpio)
Size: up to 75cm; can weigh 10 kg
Koi Carp are the national emblem of Japan. Koi Carp are bred as ornamental fish to be viewed from above, which is why they are well patterned along the back. Koi Carp have been banned in New Zealand where they are considered a pest because they dig on the bottom of rivers, destroying waterways and eating native fish eggs. The exact origins of koi are unclear but they are thought to be a cross between the European carp and goldfish.
Goldfish (Carassius auratus)
Origin: China
They might be different in shape, colour and size but all goldfish come from the same species, originating from the same parent stock. Different varieties have been developed by in-breeding selected fish but each retains a throw-back to the originals. As an example, the Celestial goldfish was bred for an Emperor who wanted a goldfish that looked up to him. Without human interference the fish will eventually revert back to their original grey colour, which helps them avoid predators. They are the most kept pet throughout the world.
Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri)
Size: up to 30cm in the wild, but smaller in captivity
Range: native to Amazon River system of South America.
This was the first aquarium in New Zealand to house piranhas. The original piranhas were exchanged with the Cleveland Aquarium in US for New Zealand seahorses. The piranha’s teeth are so sharp and jaws so strong that it can chop out a piece of flesh from a man as neatly as a razor, or clip off a finger or a toe - bone and all - with the dispatch of a meat cleaver. Many species are vegetarian but these eat anything, feeding mainly on a diet of other fish and small animals. Piranhas live in large schools and it is their sheer numbers that make them man-eating and dangerous. There is an obvious pecking order, with one fish assuming dominance. They are one of the few fish species where this occurs. If one steps out of line the leader will discipline the wayward fish and others will join in the attack. They will often bite each other, sometimes viciously, but have the ability to recover and repair quickly.
Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
Terry is the only one of this type kept in New Zealand and came to Napier from Fiji in 1976 when he was only the size of a dinner plate and initially grew about 5cm a year. These sea turtles have a beak like a hawk for crushing coral and shell fish and will eat almost anything, including poisonous coral and sponges. Hawksbill sea turtles come to New Zealand waters every year from Fiji. If the water temperatures drop quickly the sea turtles may get sick and not be able to return home. They are sometimes rescued from our waters and flown back to Fiji.