The freshwater aquarium, one of the largest in the world, was built to be a place for environmental education, research, protection, culture, and leisure and was opened on March 28, 2022. With a floor area of 19,000 m2, the aquarium holds about 5 million liters of freshwater and 220 fish species, of which 80% are from the Pantanal. It also holds crocodiles and snakes. As well as the Amazon, it holds fish from Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Entry is free, but you have to register and make a booking on the website. There are different types of bookings, for individuals and groups for families, schools, and so on.
Entry is split into the morning and the afternoon sessions, which allows you to take your time in the aquarium for 4 hours per session. Up to 300 people can visit each day.
They are planning to add a library to the aquarium, but it has not opened yet. It also includes a museum, environmental education lab, and convention center.
The late Ruy Ohtake, a leading Brazilian designer and architect, designed the aquarium. The signature use of curves and impactful color are distinctly Ohtake. He passed away 4 months before the opening, so unfortunately was not able to attend the opening ceremony.
The tank settings were designed by figurative artist, set designer, and environmental activist Roberto Alves Gallo.
Starting with the headwaters, the aquarium features the Formoso River in the Pantanal, then finally the waters of the Paraguay River.
The piranha is a carnivorous fish that lives in rivers such as the Amazon. Large shoals of piranha attack livestock if they fall in the river, soon turning them to bones, and are also called the “killer fish.” Piranhas do attack humans who have fallen in the river, so they are very dangerous. Once they get the smell of blood, the piranhas will gather straight away and bite off flesh with their sharp teeth in a flash.
The riverine fish of the Pantanal include the pintado, arapaima, dorado, and pacu. You can watch giant fish like these slowly swimming about in the aquarium. There are also crocodiles.
The pintado is the catfish that grows the largest. It is a big fish that reaches 40 kg. “Pintado” means “painted colors.”
Singapore has the largest freshwater aquarium in the world, but a guide told us that once the Bioparque Pantanal is registered, it will become the largest freshwater aquarium in the world. As well as being a very worthwhile place to see, I was amazed at how impressive the wonderful building is. Its opening was reported in the news, but being a resident of São Paulo, not one of the people I know there knew of the aquarium’s existence. I hope more people find out about it.
The Bioparque Pantanal should have been completed in 900 days, but construction took 11 years and cost about 40 million US dollars. Unfortunately, it is common in Brazil for large construction works not to proceed as planned.