Five Signs of Spring You Can Observe at the Aquarium


Enjoy the sights and sounds of a Southeastern spring on your next Aquarium visit!

1) Native Plants Blooming

Whether inside the Aquarium or standing outside on the plaza, our area’s plant life gets even more gorgeous in the spring. Check out the Cove Forest– a living forest right inside the Aquarium’s peaks – for beautiful blooms from plants like Rhododendron, wildflowers and more! 

2) Colorful Southeastern Fish at Their Brightest

Fish fans will delight in the heightened saturation of hues on some of our area’s native fishes in early spring. This is most noticeable in the Aquarium’s darter exhibit (located in the Tennessee River gallery) where these small scaly wonders outshine the most brilliant of tropical fish.

3) Courtship Behavior

One reason for all the luminous shades that pop up in the spring months — it’s time for a lot of animals to attract their mates! And the animal kingdom gets this done in a lot of interesting ways. Watch Red-Eared Slider males wiggle their long fingernails in the face of their love interests and hear tree frog mating calls in Discovery Hall. 


Over in the Ocean Journey building, penguins start to put on extra weight and stake out the best nesting spots before pairing up. Keep an eye out for Gentoos bowing to their mates and Macaronis “trumpeting” as they wave their heads back and forth.

4) Nesting

Keepers introduce rocks into our penguin habitat in early April, kicking off a frenzy of nest building activity as Macaronis and Gentoos begin to stack their carefully chosen pebbles into perfectly formed piles. This can sometimes lead to some entertaining antics when some birds steal rocks from other nests.

On the freshwater side, you might also catch trout spawning. Look very closely in the African Cichlid tank to spot a cloud of hundreds of tiny fry swimming close by their parents.

5) Local “Spring-Loving” Animals Close Up

Aquarium guide with visitors and butterfly

As days get longer and the natural world awakens, salamanders begin their spring migration to vernal pools while butterflies emerge to feed and lay eggs on native plants and countless creatures like snakes, frogs and turtles become more active. Here at the Aquarium, visitors can get up close to these and more animals throughout our galleries and during daily animal programs that highlight some of the unique seasonal behaviors.


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