The ocean comes to a mountain city

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Center in the Square in downtown Roanoke expects a large delivery on Friday:  a 5,500-gallon, living coral reef aquarium that will serve as one of the new focal points for the downtown attraction.
The aquarium, coming from California, is expected to arrive at 2 p.m. tomorrow.  According to downtown officials, it will be the largest of its type in the mid-Atlantic region. 

A team plans to lift the tank from delivery trucks to an installation site in the atrium of Center in the Square, which is undergoing renovations. It will be positioned over a large block of ice.  As the ice melts, the tank will be lowered gently into place. The process of bringing the aquarium to life will occur over the next several months so that the aquarium can make its debut during the opening of the new Center in the Square scheduled for May 2013. 

Reef Aquaria Design, the Florida firm hired to design the tanks, will be onsite installing what will be the first of four tanks. The living coral reef will be home to 250 marine fish and 150 live soft and stony corals, including marine sponges, sea cucumbers, snails, sea biscuits, and sea stars. The reef system will grow and change over time, offering educational and entertainment opportunities as Roanoke updates Center in the Square.

Two large, 500-gallon cylindrical aquariums will be installed at a later date and will hold as many as 36 moon jellyfish each. These aquariums will be connected to another tank, holding a seahorse display.

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