Idaho Aquarium

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Idaho Aquarium
Date opened 2011
Location Boise, Idaho, United States

The Idaho Aquarium is a non-profit aquarium in Boise, Idaho, United States. It opened to the public in 2011.


The nonprofit organization that built and operates the Idaho Aquarium was founded in 2008. After several attempts to find a location, the aquarium was built in a remodeled 10,000 square foot warehouse in Boise. The aquarium opened to the public on December 16, 2011.[1] It draws about 25,000 visitors per month, including school groups and researchers.[2] It was opened as a work-in-progress, with some exhibits still unfinished.[3] The aquarium was built with roughly $300,000 in small donations and season pass sales.[4]

The Idaho Aquarium is owned by Lary Smith and Vince Covino, who also operate the Portland Aquarium in Oregon and the Austin Aquarium in Texas.[5]


An Idaho Aquarium mermaid shortly after her "Mermaid Tales" presentation to pre-schoolers.

The Idaho Aquarium is designed primarily around interactive touch tanks.[6] Its main exhibits feature a shark nursery, coral reef habitat, shark and stingray pool, a jellyfish tank, a giant octopus tank, and tide pools.[7] The interactive exhibits include opportunities for visitors to touch or hold animals such as coral, starfish, crabs, sharks and rays.[4] The aquarium also exhibits terrestrial and arboreal animals, such as lories, tree frogs and chameleons.[7]

The Aquarium plans to add larger exhibits as funding becomes available. A seal tank is under construction.[6] Among the planned future exhibits is a walk-through shark tank.[3]


On February 21, 2013 in the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, Ammon Covino, the president and owner of the aquarium, Christopher Conk, its secretary, and the aquarium itself as a corporate entity were accused of buying $6,300 worth of protected fish in violation of Florida law and the federal Lacey Act, namely four Spotted eagle rays and two Lemon sharks.[8] (In a separate case, Conk had pleaded guilty in 2011 to shipping live coral globally, and hence was under supervised probation.) The aquarium was closed for that day, guarded by agents of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,[9] but reopened the next day with new protocols in place to ensure that, according to staff biologist Stephanie Leonard, that "...our suppliers have all their proper permits in place." She also noted that " If anything, it's been an educational opportunity for us, a learning experience." All passes will continue to be honored.[10]


  1. ^ Gibney, Grace (January 31, 2012). "Idaho Aquarium reels in audiences". Borah Senator. Retrieved August 30, 2012. 
  2. ^ Harbarger, Molly (July 15, 2012). "Idaho brothers eye Clackamas County site for potential children's aquarium". The Oregonian. Retrieved August 30, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Brennan, Ty (November 7, 2011). "Idaho Aquarium set to open; some remain skeptical". KTVB. Retrieved August 30, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Green, Nate (November 15, 2011). "Idaho Aquarium plans December opening". Idaho Press-Tribune. Retrieved August 30, 2012. 
  5. ^ Drake, Sarah (6 June 2013). "Portland, Boise aquarium owners bringing one to Austin". Austin Business Journal (Austin). Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Deeds, Michael (February 17, 2012). "Kids can get up close and personal with fish, reptiles and more at Idaho Aquarium". Idaho Statesman. Retrieved August 30, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "Idaho Aquarium Exhibits". Idaho Aquarium. Retrieved August 30, 2012. 
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