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.