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?
- You need more? Really? 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)
There are several really quite impressive tanks. For example:
- The Atlantic Tunnel puts you into 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.
- 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, there are the hammerheads 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 a huge albino Indian python that looks like it came straight from the Harry Potter set. It’s not the only snake.
Fans of the venomous varieties will enjoy the western taipan (the world’s most venomous land snake), the rattlesnake, and the green mambas.
And if that’s not enough poison for you, there are tarantulas, scorpions and even poison arrow frogs.
Floor 2 has a simple tank filled with Cannonball jellyfish who perform a never-ending flowing dance that is quite mesmerising.
Next to them is a large tank that mimics the roiling water and shafts of sunlight found near the water surface in tidal areas – equally mesmerising!
There are no bug-eyed bundles of fur to admire, as you can imagine. But I did 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 to appear within their walls. At the time of writing, for example, they had just welcomed some charming venomous pit vipers (Agkistrodon taylori) into the world. Not for cuddling mind you.
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 fruit bats, 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°
- The perfectly-camouflaged scorpion fish
- Or the giant Chinese salamander (and when they say giant, they mean Giant. They can reach 1.8 m in length)
The Haus des Meeres grows and changes all the time, so these are just a few examples of what you might see on a visit. Like Schönbrunn zoo, it’s come on leaps and bounds in recent years. 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.