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Marlins Stadium Aquariums: Design and Installation

By Leonard Ho - Posted Mar 16, 2012 08:00 AM
Play ball! The newly constructed Miami Marlin's Baseball Stadium is home to the world's only on-the-field tropical marine exhibit ... two 450 gallon aquariums as a matter of fact. Living Color Aquariums shares how they designed, fabricated, and installed this 'Aquatic Home Plate Backstop.'
Marlins Stadium Aquariums: Design and Installation

Grass ... warning track ... AQUARIUM?

The following content is provided by Living Color Aquariums.


Among the most unique features of the new Miami Marlins Stadium will be twin Custom Saltwater Aquariums that flank either sides of home plate. Designed and built in Florida by Living Color Aquariums, the aquariums have been manufactured utilizing the latest technology and incorporate features to ensure the safety and health of the many species of aquatic life that will inhabit them.

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The aquariums have been installed in place of standard backstops behind home plate and have been positioned to prevent disruption to players on the field.  Each aquarium is mitered and has a 13 degree angle in the middle to follow the dimensions of a major league regulation backstop. The twin aquariums each measure 22 feet long and hold over 450 gallons of water. The aquarium frames are constructed with durable fiberglass structures; while cast acrylic panels 1 ½” thick provide unobstructed  viewing windows running the entire 22 foot length of the aquariums.

To safeguard the animals and exhibits from unexpected impacts; Lexan- the material used in bullet proof windows, has been installed in front of the acrylic panels to protect the aquarium from foul balls, errant pitches or any other unexpected contact. An air gap between the aquarium acrylic and Lexan shield isolates the aquariums from vibrations should an object strike them. The system has been carefully engineered and extensively tested. A pitching machine and a Marlin’s player have hurled fast balls against the aquariums without leaving a mark.   The protective Lexan has been installed at a 2 degree angle to reduce the possibility of on-field glare.  Dimmable LED lights are controlled by the stadium’s central control room and allows officials to adjust the aquarium lighting as needed.  Protective covers are placed over the aquariums during non-game times to protect the panels and limit ambient light.

Design drawing (click to enlarge)
Design drawing (click to enlarge)
A live reef aquarium would be impractical for this application  for numerous reasons including maintenance. As such, Living Color’s museum-quality replica corals and reef inserts are used for the aquarium décor.  The artificial  corals  are cast  in urethane and epoxy from real coral skeletons and researched for biological accuracy.  In a further measure to ensure that the aquariums are as environmentally friendly as possible, the Miami Marlins Aquariums feature some  fish species that were raised in captivity from some of Florida’s leading aquaculture facilities including Porkfish from the University of Florida’s Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory.

The life support system

The advanced aquarium filtration systems that will keep the fish thriving in their new home are a technological marvel.  Living Color is renowned for designing and building aquariums in challenging locations, and the Miami Marlins Aquariums are no exception. Each aquarium runs on a separate system and water from the aquariums is pumped to a Life Support System Filtration room located behind the visiting team’s dugout. A window into the filtration room has been placed in the hallway leading to the visiting team’s dressing room which allows players to see the filtration room as they pass. Some equipment required to keep the fishes happy and the aquariums crystal clear are: foam fractionators, ultra-violet sterilizers, micron filters, titanium plated heat exchangers, bio towers, an RO/DI unit, water storage vats with automated top-off and electronic aquarium monitors.   All told, more than 30 separate types of aquarium filtration equipment plus hundreds of feet of piping are required to support the marine life in these extraordinary aquarium exhibits.    Additional fish-friendly features include: a remote feeder that pumps New Era Marine Pellets directly into each aquarium from the filtration room.  Polycarbonate lids on top of each aquarium prevent fertilizers or chemicals from entering the water.

To ensure the smooth operation of the aquariums and to monitor fish health, Living Color’s aquarium husbandry team inspect and service the aquariums 2 hours prior to each game.

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From design to installation


From artist rendering ...

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To scale models ...

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To tank fabrication ...

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To delivery ...

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To installation!

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The breathtaking Miami Marlins Aquariums will surely become a crowd favorite.

Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.

Website: http://www.advancedaquarist.com.

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