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Aquarium of Niagara

Aquarist I

I. Job Summary

Reporting to the Supervisor of Fish and Invertebrates, this position shall provide a supportive role in the operation and function of the Fish and Invertebrates Department, with final authority in such matters remaining with the Director of Animal Care.

 This position is responsible for taking an essential role in developing and providing innovative, attractive, educational and scientifically accurate living and non-living exhibits and displays that both support and reflect the educational goals and mission statement at the Aquarium of Niagara. The Aquarist I primary objective and responsibility is to function in primary and supportive roles in all animal care and husbandry including diet preparation, facility/habitat maintenance, accurate record keeping, and animal observations.

 II. Key Responsibilities

 The Collection

  • Primary role in all functions and tasks related to the acquisition, care and public display of the living collection under the charge of the Supervisor of Fish and Invertebrates Department, including fresh and marine fishes, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles and plants.
  • Possess a strong knowledge and understanding of the specimens’ natural history, biology, behavior, and husbandry requirements in the Fish and Invertebrates Department living collection, including individual animal histories.
  • Assist in the routine animal handling procedures needed to monitor the health and maintain the well-being of the collection under the Department’s charge.
  • Learn to recognize emergency conditions related to animal health and safety and to implement an immediate response with a sense of urgency, regardless of the day, time, and staffing limitation.
  • Provide sound general animal husbandry and tank maintenance procedures as well as perform tasks for upkeep of animal enclosures, and display/holding tanks.
  • Maintain working knowledge of water chemistry and water quality parameters needed for sound aquatic animal husbandry, and procedures to take when levels are out of normal range.
  • Maintain working knowledge of aquatic life support systems, their applications, operation, and upkeep.
  • Possess a working knowledge of dietary and nutritional needs of the aquatic animals under department’s charge.
  • Provide safe and creative environmental enrichment devices to the Fish and Invertebrates Department living collection.
  • Follow protocols for planning and implementation of training programs for appropriate species in the Fish and Invertebrates Department living collection.
  • Be aware of commonly experienced diseases, infections and parasite infestations of captive fishes, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles.
  • Communicate with Supervisor of Fish and Invertebrates Department and consulting veterinarian to discuss possible health concerns.
  • Learn to recognize symptoms, practice basic diagnostic procedures, administer medications and treatments under the direction of the veterinarian.
  • Follow strict procedures to minimize disease manifestations, localize outbreaks and prevent accidental transfer of infections and infestations.
  • Assist senior staff in performing necropsies on deceased specimens as needed.
  • Assist in sourcing additional or replacement specimens as needed. Implement and execute prudent quarantine procedures.
  • Assist in maintaining collection accession and deaccession records when appropriate.


  • Assist the Supervisor of Fish and Invertebrates Department in developing educational, innovative, attractive, and scientifically accurate living and non-living exhibits and displays.
  • Assist in the development of message delivery methods, including but not limited to graphics, signage, and labels, audio, and video presentations.
  • Always strive to maintain living exhibits and static displays in top quality and condition.
  • Maintain a strict schedule of exhibit inspections and records.
  • Assist in developing and executing creative and interesting animal interaction programs and exhibits for the public.
  • Provide programs or animal demonstrations as requested for special events.

 Regulatory Compliance

  • Responsible for assisting the Fish and Invertebrates Department in fulfilling regulatory, exhibition, and collection agency compliance, criteria, and permit regulations of animals under the charge of the department.
  • Maintain knowledge of the status of the public aquatic display industry at large, in addition to best practices and standard procedures within exhibiting intuitions.


  • Play a key role in maintaining the highest standards in the areas of husbandry/cleanliness, diet preparation, record keeping, animal observations, and facility maintenance.
  • Perform other duties as workload necessitates, regardless of time, day, or location.
  • Perform water quality and life support procedures on all exhibits and reserve tanks.
  • Provide direct support to the Supervisor of Fish, Invertebrates and Birds Department as needed or requested.
  • Maintain accurate and up to date information on all records for the department.
  • Act as a mentor and role model for interns and volunteers.
  • Attend conferences and regional workshops as requested.


  • Practice prudent safety procedures and policies for work within the department and animal enclosures.
  • Practice appropriate animal handling and restraint techniques to ensure the well-being of the departments living collection, paid and non-paid personnel and guests.
  • Be aware of the location and use of personal protective equipment, and ensure equipment is in good, working condition.

Volunteers and Student Interns

  • Responsible to recognize and treat volunteers and interns as staff.
  • Commit to providing them with a beneficial and positive learning experience.
  • Plan and direct volunteers, shadows, and interns in primary areas of responsibility.

 The Public/Customer Service

  • Always remain acutely aware of the presence of needs of guests of the Aquarium of Niagara.
  • Maintain a friendly, courteous, and helpful attitude towards visitors.
  • Model mutual support, excellent communication and joint problem-solving skills among directors, supervisors, staff, trustees, volunteers/interns, docents, and vendors. Support and maintain a culture of inclusion and engagement (positive morale) at AoN.

 III. Qualifications

  • Preferred: College degree in life sciences or biology, or equivalent training and experience (1-2 years).
  • Relevant experience and progressive growth in the field through hands-on work in aquatic animal care in husbandry, and exhibit development, with emphasis on fresh and marine fishes, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, and plants. 
  • Must have a current SCUBA certification through an accredited diving agency and documented 10 hours of recreational and/or facility maintenance diving.
  • Have knowledge of Life Support Systems: sand filtration, protein skimmers, pumps, UV sterilization and ozone.
  • Demonstrate the capability and capacity to exceed all expectations discussed in basic job requirements and go above and beyond in all areas of job/task performance.
  • Must demonstrate a proficiency in public speaking and guest interaction.
  • Must have good observation skills and be able to communicate both orally and in writing.
  • Must be able to work on a team, as well as function individually with no supervision when necessary.
  • Must possess and maintain a valid NYS driver’s license.
  • Must be able to walk, stand, sit, kneel, stoop, crawl, twist, reach above head, pull bend, and climb stairs and ladders.
  • Must be able to lift and carry fifty (50) pounds, work on un-even and slippery surfaces, withstand temperatures of hot and cold, and sit/stand for long periods of time when necessary.

Preferred Additional Training

  • Current DAN CPR/First Aid/AED Training
  • DAN Emergency Oxygen Certification
  • AALSO Level 1 Certification


How to Apply

Please send resumes and cover letters to Richelle Barnes, Director of Animal Care at

Aquarium of Niagara
701 Whirlpool Street
Niagara Falls, NY 14301
Phone: 7162869470

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