Zoo & Conservation Science Program: Aquarium Track

The new Aquarium Track is part of Otterbein’s preeminent undergraduate program in Zoo and Conservation Science and the only program of its kind in the Midwest.

Students in the Zoo and Conservation Science program’s Aquarium Track will:

  • Learn water quality and aquatic life support while working hands-on to keep Otterbein’s reef tanks thriving.
  • Become certified as an Open Water SCUBA diver.
  • Maintain a salt water tank and visit local aquariums and conservation facilities.
  • Gain professional aquarium certifications.
  • Intern at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium or Reef Systems Coral Farm.
  • Conduct undergraduate research with professors on freshwater mussels, tadpoles, and coral reef ecology.
  • Travel to see coral reefs first hand from an island on the Belize Barrier Reef.
Carly Lech ‘23 feeds the anemones, in the anemone tank she has spearheaded.

Quote RedI learned about the chemistry that goes into running and sustaining aquariums, making sure certain tanks have appropriate pH levels and salinity, and monitoring the presence of nitrates. I acquired a new level of respect for the biologists and just how much they are responsible for in the aquarium. I’ve been splashed by a shark ray, scratched by a sea turtle, and stepped on by a crab. I learned and witnessed so much that made me look forward to being in this career.

Jill Keefer ’16

Interned at Newport Aquarium, Newport, KY

Why Study Aquarium Science at Otterbein?

A major opportunity

The Aquarium Track capitalizes on Otterbein’s well-respected Zoo and Conservation Science program, while providing students a chance to focus on aquariums and freshwater and marine life. The Aquarium Track is the only program of its kind in the Midwest, with its unique blend of science and theory with hands-on experience. Students work in Otterbein’s own aquarium facilities, and in partnership with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, one of the nation’s most respected zoos, and Reef Systems Coral Farm, a pioneer in sustainable coral farming and the hobby industry. This unique, cutting-edge program allows students to explore aquatic life hands-on from day one while developing the critical thinking skills needed to frame and solve problems associated with aquariums and the conservation of marine and freshwater ecosystems world-wide.

Personal attention

The Aquarium Track is limited to 12 students per year, so students quickly develop close relationships with the faculty and receive individualized attention. From the first semester, students are encouraged to work in the aquarium lab helping to maintain the reef tanks; some students can adopt a tank and design and populate it according to their interests. Through small specialized upper level courses, internships, and research and field work with faculty mentors, students become part of a close-knit and supportive community.

Facilities and Location

Otterbein’s state-of-the-art Science Center features more than 96,000 square feet of classrooms, laboratories, and research space. The Department of Biology and Earth Science and the Zoo and Conservation Program have several specialized facilities including an amphibian lab, aviary, greenhouse, and the Aquarium Lab featuring a 300 gallon reef tank with over three dozen stony coral species, and a host of other invertebrates and fish. The lab also includes an expandable system of reef tanks for student labs and projects. While enjoying the benefits of Otterbein’s safe and picturesque campus, students have access to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and Reef Systems Coral Farm within close proximity.

Science at Otterbein is more than an education, it’s an experience.