What Does an Aquarium Diver Do?

Rebecca Harkin
Rebecca Harkin
Aquariums divers are charged with ensuring the well-being of fish and other marine life.
Aquariums divers are charged with ensuring the well-being of fish and other marine life.

An aquarium diver usually performs a variety of tasks such as feeding and surveying the aquatic animals, as well as cleaning and maintaining the aquarium tank and plant life. Not only does an aquarium diver need to be a certified in self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) and often cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), but he also needs to be physically fit to handle the exertion required for this job. Often aquariums will require, in addition to the SCUBA and CPR certification, a degree in zoology, marine biology, chemistry or a related field. Some aquarium divers may also supervise guest divers who pay the aquarium to dive in the tanks and help with the maintenance of the aquariums and animals.

Care of the animals is the primary job of an aquarium diver. This part of the job consists of preparing the food by thawing, gutting and cutting up the meals in appropriate sizes for the marine animals. The diver then enters the tank with the food in a bucket or case and either hand-feeds the fish or distributes the food around the aquarium.

During the feeding, the aquarium diver will also observe the behavior of the animals to see if the marine life are feeding well or look sick or hurt. Animals that look or act ill will be netted, called to the veterinarian’s attention or observed and the behavior recorded. Occasionally, the diver will perform surveys to catalog the numbers of animals in each tank.

The other job of the aquarium diver is to maintain the tank. This involves cleaning the algae from the walls of the tank using a brush or scraper. Divers will also check and clean the filtration system to be sure they are well-maintained. During a dive, the plants in the aquarium will also be surveyed. Any dead or dying plant life will be removed so it does not foul the tank.

Each of these tasks needs to be done correctly or the lives of the marine animals and plants could be in jeopardy. As a result, many aquariums require their aquarium divers to have, in addition to SCUBA certification, a degree in marine biology, zoology or chemistry. A degree in these areas will ensure that the diver will be able to handle and maintain the animals, plants and the water in the aquarium.

Many aquariums have guest diver programs that help to bring in additional funds to the facility. Often the aquarium divers are also required to oversee the safety and training of the guest divers. When this is part of a diver’s job, he may also be required to have CPR training in case of an emergency.

Discussion Comments


@irontoenail - I would imagine that the majority are pretty good when it comes to aquariums, simply because fish are quite delicate. If you don't take care of them properly they will simply die on you and that's not a good look. It's the mammals that get really mistreated because unfortunately dolphins and whales can live even in awful conditions.


@Ana1234 - I've been to a few aquariums that were big enough for divers and it's always a pretty cool experience to see them floating around on the other side of the tank. It must be an awesome job, although I guess it would have its downsides as well.

I've heard that some of the aquariums are pretty terrible about taking care of the fish properly, and if you are someone who really loves animals then that could be very difficult.


When I was a kid, we used to fly to New Zealand to visit family and there would always be a stopover in Hawaii so the plane could refuel. One time we were asked to stay there overnight because there was a problem with another plane and they wanted to give our seats to someone.

I don't remember much about it, except that the hotel we stayed at would usually have been far outside our price range and it had a massive aquarium in the restaurant. Us kids were completely amazed when we saw people scuba diving in there and waving to all the diners.

It made me want to be a marine biologist when I grew up. Of course, then my dad started teasing us about how the fish were mad that we were eating their cousins (fish sticks) which kind of ruined it a little bit.

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    • Aquariums divers are charged with ensuring the well-being of fish and other marine life.
      By: Michal Adamczyk
      Aquariums divers are charged with ensuring the well-being of fish and other marine life.