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5 Things I Learned: Red Terror Cichlid

This colorful, eye-catching fish is a red terror cichlid (Cichlasoma festae). It can grow to lengths of 12 – 20 inches and live somewhere between 12 – 20 years. But what else do we know about it?

The red terror cichlid in the Aquarium’s Tropical Forest Gallery is hard to miss. Stop by and see this and many other very different but equally intriguing cichlids at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. Nature. It’s a curious thing.

– Sam Fryberger

5 Things I Learned: Spotted Turtle

The  Greater Cleveland Aquarium is a partner in SPOTD, a cross-organization collaboration to boost the number of spotted turtles in Northeast Ohio. Learn more about these attractive little turtles here:


Nature. It’s a curious thing. To see a spotted turtle and learn about the Splash Fund, Wild4Ever Foundation and Terrestrial Brewing Company‘s “I Love It When I Save the Turtle Porter, visit the Greater Cleveland Aquarium’s Ohio Lakes & Rivers Gallery.

– Sam Fryberger


5 Things I Learned: Giant Pacific Octopus

The giant Pacific octopus comes by its name honestly—averaging somewhere around 16 feet across and 100 or so pounds. So , what else sets this cephalopod with eight arms, three hearts and nine brains apart? Find out here:

Nature. It’s a curious thing. You can see a GPO at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium—but you may really have to look to find him.


5 Things I Learned about the Green Moray Eel (Gymnothorax funebris)

Don’t be misled. With its long muscular body a green moray eel has a bit of a snake-like look but it is most definitely a fish. Often hidden away in crevices, caves and coral reefs, this nocturnal hunter ambushes its prey. Want to know more? I’m no expert but I do know experts and here are 5 things I have learned:

Next time you visit the Greater Cleveland Aquarium try to find the green moray eels hiding in the cracks and crevices of our 230,000-gallon shark exhibit. To learn more about its amazing pharyngeal jaws, check out this blog from Steph Q. (a member of our animal care team) here.

– Sam Fryberger

5 Things I Learned about the Harlequin Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides)

Adult harlequin sweetlips inhabit edges and caves can be found in lagoons and reefs of the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans. Although they live largely in solitude, sweetlips can benefit from symbiotic relationship with cleaner wrasse, a small, coral reef-dweller that dines on the parasites, food particles and dead tissue of other fish.

Here are 5 other interesting little tidbits about this fish with a romantic-sounding name:

See the harlequin sweetlips “sweet lips” for yourself at Greater Cleveland Aquarium.

– Sam Fryberger

JUVENILE PHOTO by Nhobgood/Wikimedia

MUSIC by Podington Bear, “Tropical Sunrise”


5 Things I Learned about the Ocellate River Stingray (Potamotrygon motoro)

The ocellate river stingray’s upper body is grayish-brown with black-lined yellowish orange spots and its underside is white. Its graceful undulations regularly stop young guests in their tracks. Unlike the ones you’ll see in the Aquarium’s touch pool and shark gallery, this stingray lives in fresh water. Here are 5 facts about this beautiful creature native to the basins of the Paraná-Paraguay, Orinoco and Amazon Rivers.

Visit the Greater Cleveland Aquarium to see this and other amazing animals up close.

– Sam Fryberger

What Happens in Winter?

People who live here know it can get pretty cold in Northeast Ohio. Luckily, we can wrap up in a cozy scarf, pull on some lined gloves and add another layer of clothing when temps start to drop. Those animals that live in cold weather year-round have adaptive features to help them through the cold winter months. But what about the animals that don’t have an extra layer of blubber or plans to fly south . . . how do they survive a deep freeze?

Some Ohio animals, like groundhogs, hibernate. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, groundhogs hole up much of the winter in a state where their body temperature lowers their heart rate slows significantly. When it gets really frigid other creatures such as skunks, raccoons and chipmunks will seek shelter to sleep a few days until things warm up.  Birds that don’t migrate might put on some weight and change their diets. But what happens to fish?

“Cold-blooded animals, such as fish, maintain body temperatures to that of their surroundings,” explains Greater Cleveland Aquarium curator Stephanie White. “Therefore fish move to the deepest, warmest spots within the water body during cold winter months.” Fish can enter torpor, which is shorter than a full hibernation. Torpor includes a body temperature reduction, slowed metabolism, slowed reaction times, a reduction in breathing rate and primary body functions. During the state of torpor, a fish will not actively seek prey, instead allowing food to come to them, saving their energy. With slowed activity and conserved energy, their dietary needs decrease in the winter.

And what about Fido in your backyard? How cold is too cold for our own domestic animals? While a specific answer cannot be determined across the board, consider your dog’s size, fur thickness and breed. Owners that have clothing for their animals are advised to not leave them unattended in case the sweater gets hooked on an object outdoors. PetMD suggests that once temperatures drop under 20°F, all owners should limit time outdoors and be aware that their animals could potentially develop cold-associated health problems like hypothermia.

Animals have their different adaptations to survive inclement weather, both warm and cold. Their bodies know what they can stand and will give signs of if they cannot. To learn more about our animals and their adaptations, don’t hesitate to ask any members of our curation team during your next visit!

– Morgan Wright, Marketing Assistant


5 Things I Learned about Candy Cane Coral

What I don’t know about underwater creatures could fill, well, an aquarium. That’s why I am on quest to learn more about the fascinating aquatic animals I now see every single day at work. Here’s what I learned about the colony-forming candy cane coral that is also sometimes called trumpet, torch or bullseye coral. (Of course, those names don’t sound quite as festive).

Population growth, pollution, weather events and rising temperatures are damaging and destroying coral reefs globally. Learn more about the benefits coral reefs provide and see living coral up close at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, where curiosity is natural.

— Sam F. 

5 Things I Learned about Emperor Angelfish

As you walk through Aquarium, you might notice that there is a variety of angelfish represented. This one, understandably, caught my eye. I set out to learn more about the richly colored fish native to the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Naturally curious yourself? You can get a closer look at Emperor, Blue, Queen, French and Gray Angelfish 363 days a year at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium.

– Sam Fryberger