The Ian Potter Research Aquarium was opened on 3rd August 2011, by Lady Potter AC, Life Governor of The Ian Potter Foundation.

The aquarium includes facilities which allow researchers to experimentally manipulate temperature, light and pH levels.

A new purpose built pump house delivers up to 1.3 million litres of pristine filtered seawater to the aquarium where it is fed to the hundreds of experimental tanks in the facility. Additional mechanical filtration down to 1 micron and UV filtration is available for research where the removal of all biological material in the seawater is essential.

SIMS is also home to one of only two Physical Containment Level 2 (PC2) seawater aquarium laboratories in Australia. This lab allows researchers to safely work with marine microbes as well as exotic (non-native) marine organisms.

Recent projects which have been conducted in the SIMS research aquarium include: