"Tanked" Inspired: How We Built the Great Ocean Tank | South Carolina Aquarium

“Tanked” Inspired: How We Built the Great Ocean Tank

Sep 27

“Tanked” Inspired: How We Built the Great Ocean Tank

We are incredibly excited to be part of the Animal Planet network TV Show “Tanked.” Our curator, David Wilkins, collected freshwater fish for an Aquarium at the Horry County Museum for the episode which airs tonight (Sept. 26, 2014) at 10 p.m. on Animal Planet. All of this was documented by a TV crew who followed David on his fishing expedition to South Carolina’s Upstate region. Being part of the TV show “Tanked” had us thinking about the tanks under our roof, specifically the largest one — the 385,0000-gallon Great Ocean Tank, which is also the deepest aquarium tank in North America. We dug into our archives, dusted off some photos and spoke to some original staff members to get the details. We discovered that installing the Great Ocean Tank was not an easy task!

First, crews had to figure out how thick to make the tank’s walls and acrylic, what type of concrete to use, the number of pilings necessary and how deep to drive them into the ground to ensure the Great Ocean Tank would safely hold more than three million pounds of water (which is equivalent to 214 elephants).

Once those initial steps were taken, a hole was dug into the ground and a wood frame was assembled for the tank. Metal bars were placed inside the frame for extra reinforcement. Next, concrete was poured until the frame was full. Once dried, the frame was removed and the concrete was waterproofed.

The acrylic windows, which are 18-inches thick, were put into place by a large crane and sealed to the concrete walls. The artificial reef, which you see inside the tank, was then constructed and the walls were covered in colored epoxy. Finally, after much fine tuning and tweaking the saltwater and animals were added. Voila! The ocean came to life inside the walls of the South Carolina Aquarium!

Be sure to check out the Great Ocean Tank on your next visit to the South Carolina Aquarium. You won’t be able to miss it along with the more than 700 animals that call this tank home.

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