My experience with VIPs ...

Very Important Fish !
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©smbmsm Soigneur Au Grand Aquarium Thomas Blog©smbmsm Soigneur Au Grand Aquarium Thomas Blog
©©smbmsm Soigneur Au Grand Aquarium Thomas Blog

… as a caretaker for a day at the Grand Aquarium de Saint-Malo.

Welcomed by the smile of Thomas, one of the 5 caretakers of the Grand Aquarium, who feels here like a fish in water, then I enter with the group in the backstage, today we are VIPs (Very Important Persons) in the land of VIPs (Very Important Fish). THE privilege!

©smbmsm Profil Blog Cécile Format Ok©smbmsm Profil Blog Cécile Format Ok
©©smbmsm Profil Blog Cécile Format Ok

"I discovered what goes on behind the scenes, I learned the names of some of the residents, I played little chemists... a complete experience that allowed me to see the Grand Aquarium differently!"

In the heart of the Grand Aquarium of Saint-Malo!

First step:

The presentation of its main workplace, which we will call here the backstage! Behind the scenes, there is water. So far so good, water in an aquarium, logical! There are also machines, which filter the water and renew the air in the aquariums. It should be noted that air is crucial for the well-being of the occupants as much as water. And to use a famous advertising slogan:

Water, air, life!


Backstage, there are also the kitchens with the feeding schedule for all the boarders. Because VIPs don’t just live on love (from their caretakers and visitors) and fresh water (provided by these machines), they have to be fed too! Here it is a 4-star service, each one his diet, each one his schedule.To finish the presentation of the backstage, Thomas shows us the resting rooms for the sick fish, which also serve as nurseries for the VIP babies, all darling !

The Main Stage & Abyss

Returning to the main stage, where VIPs present a ballet each day for visitors to the Grand Aquarium. Continuous show, with their finest finery. First, the Abysses, the place glagla!! Where flutter the jellyfish Aurelie and other small and large VIPs. Thomas is at home, he introduces us to the various residents. He explains his morning ritual: check all the aquariums and make sure that all the occupants are fine. Today, I have the privilege of not being just a spectator! Thomas asks us to observe the different species. I put myself in his shoes, and I really understood what the job of a caretaker was all about. He asked us to specifically observe the occupants of one of the aquariums. We looked carefully and we saw small white spots on the pine cone fish. Obviously we would never have noticed it if Thomas had not been there to accompany us. He reassures us, explaining that it is not too serious but that his attention is focused on these fishes at the moment. And that of course, like us the fish can be sick and that like us, we go to work even with a little cold! “The Show must go on”, let’s not forget it!A stop in front of the crabs of Japan, to admire the beauty of their shells. Thomas tells us that as they grow their shells become too small. They escape by creating a hole in it. Then over time, a new shell is formed to their size. To put it more simply, they grow and change clothes… just like us when we go from size 8 to 12! Then my gaze goes to a majestic blue lobster, Mr. Lobster, who is missing a claw … The whole group has the same reaction as me: “Oh no the poor guy”. Thomas explains to us that his moult did not go well. Yes, he waited too long to change his costume and during his moult, his clip got stuck in the sleeve. He reassures us at once by explaining us that the claws of lobster grow back! Phew! And there my thought was: “humm a claw of lobster with a little mayonnaise! Then another aquarium with three small sharks, two females and one male, the lucky one you might say! Thomas asked us again to observe and we noticed that one of the females had very damaged fins, but why? Isn’t the poor girl happy in this ménage à trois ? Well no, it’s just the opposite, it’s going great, mating in sharks is quite violent and this female became a happy mother of 7 baby sharks! This was the Carnet rose moment of this article!”A final hello to the roommates of these sharks, the barracudas. Obviously we are not talking about Mister T of the A-Team, we greet them even if they did not want an interview!”The discovery continues and we go to meet the horseshoe crabs. We go back to the back of the set where there is a whole system allowing to filter the water, to remove the bacteria, to pass this water to the filters UV, for a deep cleaning and the last stage, a system of putting back to the good temperature. This is the system that we find for all the basins of the large aquarium, all residents are housed in the same place. All VIPs!!

The warm seas

Our immersion continues inthe warm seas, and there it is quite hot! Direction the ring of the seas with the big boarders of the Great Aquarium, the Bull sharks. Big beasts, which are taken in respect by “Martine” the turtle and her friends, as well as “Jojo” the grouper. Here the hierarchy is not always what we think! If one of the sharks dares to take “Martine’s” food, she gets out her little teeth! Moreover, “Suzie”, the nurse shark, is also caught if she dares to rest in the turtle’s favorite place! Second stop, in the warm seas, the seahorse aquarium. The whole family is there. The future seahorse fathers keep their offspring warm. And yes gentlemen, in the seahorse family, it is the fathers who are “pregnant”… nice example of equality !

Back to the backstage

Thomas introduces us to the different rooms: the main room with the filtration machines, the hot and cold quarantine rooms and the kitchens. In the quarantine rooms, we find several babies of different species, which are quite wisely growing. This is also where the caretakers do their cultivation. Coral plants and vegetable and animal plankton. This culture will allow them to feed some of the residents of the Grand Aquarium. Another important point in the job of a caretaker is to check the quality of the water in the aquariums. So we will play the little chemist and do tests to make sure that everything is in order.

The feeding

Then comes the preparation of the food; we cut apples, we go and get animal plankton and also shrimps… without forgetting vitamins so that everyone feels at the top of their form! Today, the feeding program is animal plankton, seahorses, horseshoe crabs and to finish with the cousins of piranhas and their roommates: turtles.We start with the smallest, with the plant plankton we feed the animal plankton, with the animal plankton we feed the seahorses. It’s beautiful, the circle of life!”I take care to check that everyone is eating. We must not forget anyone! Seahorses are small but they eat three times a day! Unlike sharks who eat only twice a week! And yes, it is not the biggest ones that eat the most. Then I take the shrimps, that we had prepared and with the help of a long rod I give the peck to the horseshoe crabs. Experience of individual feeding which allows to get closer to the animal, it is really another thing than just putting the food in the basin there we give to each horseshoe crab, a shrimp. We take the time to live the moment, to let the horseshoe crab catch the shrimp.My feeding session ends in the mangrove part of the aquarium, this is where we give apples to the piranha cousins because unlike their cousins, they are vegetarians! I stop to watch a turtle munching her apple with her mouth full. When she realizes that I am watching her, she stops eating… Oops! I disturbed her during her meal. What a pleasure to be able to observe closely these VIP’s. The experience ends with the tactile basin, where Thomas allows us to caress the Koi carps. It was a curious feeling, as we are not used to touching fish, and that’s when I realized that the fish were soft! A quick cuckoo to the scallops, which try to water us because of disturbance and it is already time to say goodbye!”

Clap of end!”

A big thank you to Thomas who also thanks us and there, supreme pleasure, gives us a diploma! Great honor, we become carers for a day. Thanks to this experience, we are aware, involved! Now, I am going to admire the ballet of the VIPs (Very Important Fish) while realizing the importance and the commitment of the job of carer.

Goodbye, VIPs! Continue your ballet, and keep the little ones and the big ones dreaming!

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