The Aquarium is currently open to the public. In response to COVID-19, we’ve made some essential changes to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all.

Blacktip Reef

Discover the aquatic life that thrives in a colorful Indo-Pacific reef.

Welcome to the Reef

Blacktip Reef is an award-winning exhibit located in the heart of National Aquarium. Guests can experience this replication of an Indo-Pacific reef from multiple vantage points, including a breathtaking underwater viewing area. The reef habitat is buzzing with aquatic life—sleek blacktip reef sharks cut through the water’s surface as rays gracefully glide and stunning fish dart between branches of colorful coral.

69

different species

630

animals

270,000

gallons of water

Social Sharks

One of the unique characteristics about blacktip reef sharks is their camaraderie. These big fish often swim in schools in their natural habitats, and our school of blacktip reef sharks are no different. They lived together in our former Animal Care Center for 18 months before moving into their new home in Blacktip Reef, giving them plenty of bonding time before the big day.

Featured Animals Discover Life in an Indo-Pacific Reef

Learn more about the residents of Blacktip Reef.

Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus)

These sharks can grow up to 6 feet long.

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Clown Triggerfish (Balistoides conspicillum)

Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator)

Guineafowl Puffer (Arothron meleagris)

Putting the Coral in Coral Reef

Real barrier reefs can take 100,000 to 30 million years to fully form, so growing our own coral wasn't an option. Instead, we painstakingly crafted our own—all 3,000 pieces of it—from the molds of real coral skeletons. Now it serves as colorful shelter for our diverse array of Indo-Pacific fish.

Explore More Exhibits

Atlantic Coral Reef

Experience a bustling coral reef habitat with thousands of tropical fishes.

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Dolphin Discovery

Get a glimpse into the daily life of a colony of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

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Jellies Invasion

Get up close with nine species of mesmerizing jellies.

Learn More