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

The research aquarium provides a constant supply of flowthrough seawater at ambient conditions pumped directly from Sydney Harbour. This system pumps up to 1.3 million litres of seawater a day and runs 24/7 providing experimental systems with a constant supply of fresh seawater for optimal husbandry of marine organisms.

The aquarium has various labs and experimental systems designed for flexibility in devising novel experiments. This includes an outdoor experimental area and three Controlled Environment rooms which use mixing chamber systems to offer temperature control accurate to + 1°C of the experimental aim and CO2 systems for PH manipulation.

In addition, the Aquatic Containment Lab has the same capability for manipulation of environmental parameters and additional systems for larval culture and microbial experiments in sterile systems. The Aquatic Containment Lab is designed for high-risk work including non-native and invasive species as all water leaving the lab undergoes UV and chlorine sterilization before being pumped into trade waste and treatment for safe disposal of seawater containing potential ecological or biological hazards.

SIMS dedicated team of technical scientists are experienced in consulting with researchers to aid in novel experimental design within the system. The team is rostered on call 24/7 to monitor experiments and primary systems remotely. If issues arise, the technician on-call will attend site to resolve it before experimental parameters are compromised to ensure maximal success rates.

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

  • Conservation through re-stocking of Hippocampus whitei while experimenting to optimise breeding husbandry through various temperature, feeding and density treatments.
  • Assessing habitat preference of juvenile Hippocampus whitei and determining the optimal size for transitional diet while raising for release.
  • Surgical spawning of Acanthaster planci for various experiments concerning their larval development and behaviour.
  • Use of microfluidics device to cultivate sponge-associated microbes in living tissue of marine sponges Scopalina sp. and Cymbastela concentrica.
  • Testing heat tolerance in Phyllospora comosa using juvenile specimens collected from four locations in NSW.
  • Testing heat tolerance as it compares to metabolic function in various macroalgae species’ larvae.
  • Investigating physio-chemical ocean conditions on a microscale level through water sampling and laboratory analysis.
  • Investigating the effects of sediment on growth and restoration success rates of Posidonia australis.
  • Effects of marine heatwaves on oyster denitrification and relevance of genotypes as a factor.
  • Identifying key predators of Centrostephanus rogersii and predatory variability in relation to urchin size/maturity.
  • Determining thermal limits of Sydney’s P. Aliceae population by carrying out acute stress heat assays while monitoring physiological parameters.
  • Effects of bioturbators on microphytobenthos and recolonisation of microphytobenthos in relation to environmental stressors including heat shock, eutrophication, density, etc.
  • Effects of microbial diversity and temperature in benthic substrate of seagrass beds on seagrass health.
  • Effects of ocean acidification and temperature on isopod reproduction physiology.