Third Paris International Exposition of 1878

France, the country of technology and art

Column: Aquarium

In the middle of 19th century, there was a boom of raising animals and plants in glass cases. The case for keeping aquatic living things was called "Aquatic Vivarium." Such cases were exhibited at the first London International Exposition of 1851. In 1853, the world's first structure to display aquatic life was constructed at London Zoo. In the structure, an array of water tanks was placed on pedestals. This structure was called the "Fish House."

Although there are various theories as to the coining of the term "aquarium," significant contribution was made by P. H. Gosse, who provided his coral and sea anemones when the structure for displaying aquatic life was constructed at London Zoo. He observed the living things that he kept, drew intricate, colorful pictures of them, and published the pictures in a work entitled The aquarium. Featuring unprecedentedly realistic depiction, this became a best-selling book. It is assumed that this led to a wide use of the term "aquarium" to refer to all apparatuses for keeping fish. The beautiful water tank of the upper right picture was exhibited as an "aquarium" at the exposition.

It did not take long before structures for displaying aquatic life began to be built across Europe. Behind such development was the contribution made by A. Lloyd, an Englishman who devised a water-circulation system with a sand filtering tank for keeping aquatic life. One of the pictures on the right depicts such a structure in Trocadero at the Paris International Exposition of 1878. Featuring a magnificent water tank decoration like the bottom of a natural sea, the structure was called an "aquarium." It took only 20 years before the exhibition of aquatic life developed from the simple installation of a water tank on a pedestal to displays making use of the wall surfaces.


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