The Haus des Meeres “zooquarium” features thousands of fish and other animals and a lot of well-designed tanks and enclosures. But what should you definitely not miss?
- The sharks
- You need more?
- Ok, then check the list below
- See also: Haus des Meeres visitor information | Vienna zoo animal highlights
The big fish tanks
(The Atlantic tunnel. Photo courtesy of & copyright: Haus des Meeres / Daniel Zupanc)
Several really quite impressive water tanks catch the eye. For example:
- The Atlantic Tunnel lets you walk through a deep sea environment, with little shoals of fish, small sharks, rays, and even a moray eel.
- The Shark Aquarium takes up two floors. And the reef sharks are not even the most impressive animals within. That honour probably goes to the two giant groupers and the green turtle (“Puppi”), already in her 40s and the grand old dame of the Haus.
(At the time of writing, the Haus des Meeres had already constructed a new, huge shark tank which was still going through biological checks before moving day.)
- The Pacific Eye offers a view into a kelp-filled sea floor with horn sharks and other denizens of the Pacific ocean. And if you’ve not had your fill of sharks, some hammerheads live on the tenth floor.
(Jellyfish. Photo courtesy of & copyright: Haus des Meeres / Günther Hulla)
Cuddle a Koi (sort of)
Just beyond the ticket counter is a tank of Koi carp. Wash your hands, then trail your fingers in the water (it’s OK, it’s encouraged).
The fish come up for a little playful nibble and you can pet them. They’re remarkably friendly. Or perhaps just hungry.
The reptile floor in the Haus des Meeres includes huge green anacondas like something from a 1950s adventure film, plus an albino Indian python that looks as if it came straight from the Harry Potter set.
Fans of the more venomous snake varieties will enjoy the inland or western taipan (the world’s most venomous land snake), the rattlesnake, the green mambas, and other such species.
Talking venom, one floor has a small grotto with some small glass cabinets embedded into the cave-like walls. No sign of a cuddly Santa and reindeer, but plenty of tarantulas, scorpions, and cockroaches for your amusement.
Floor 2 has a simple tank filled with Cannonball jellyfish who perform a never-ending flowing dance that is quite mesmerising.
Next to them, a large tank mimics the roiling water and shafts of sunlight found near the water surface in tidal areas – equally mesmerising!
Few bug-eyed tiny bundles of fur seek your admiration, as you can imagine. But I did once see baby seahorses no longer than a fingernail, and they’d give any puppy a good run for their money. Not to mention the coral breeding rack with its baby corals.
Obviously, babies don’t stay babies for ever, but the Haus des Meeres sends me regular updates on the latest offspring and new additions to appear within their walls.
At the time of writing, for example, they had recently welcomed some Cotylorhiza tuberculata, also known as the Fried Egg Jellyfish (you’d understand why if you saw one), as well as a female Guitarfish (a species of ray) and crowned hornbills (Lophoceros alboterminatus).
(The tropical house. Photo courtesy of & copyright: Haus des Meeres / Günther Hulla)
The tropical house
Built on to the outside of the flak tower, this multi-level walk-in enclosure has wooden walkways and rope bridges, waterfalls, ponds and tropical vegetation.
Various water tanks house fish and turtles. And numerous fruit bats, brightly-coloured birds, and monkeys move freely among the visitors. The animals aren’t shy, so you’ll get some close encounters.
The weird and the wonderful
And then, mixed in with all the sharks, snakes, lizards, clown fish and octopodes (oh, yes, that’s another form of the plural) are the truly unusual animals. For example:
- Spotted garden eels that poke up from the sea floor like little periscopes
- Razorfish that swim along vertically as if someone shifted their world 90°
- Japanese spider crabs that do full justice to their name
- Upside-down jellyfish (ditto!)
The Haus des Meeres grows and changes all the time, so these are just a few suggestions of what to look for. For example, they recently put in two multi-level enclosures for ring-tailed lemurs and Komodo dragons (the largest lizard species on the plant). See here for more visitor tips, directions, ticket details, etc.
P.S. One of the absolute highlights of a visit to the Haus des Meeres has nothing to do with sharks or any animals at all: go up to the roof terrace for fantastic views across Vienna and a fine restaurant.