Detroit’s Belle Isle Aquarium adds octopus tank, the only one in Michigan

Dr. Paul Shuert, curator, Belle Isle Aquarium, unveils the new octopus tank at a Thursday reception. (Robar, Belle Isle Conservancy)

DETROIT – The Belle Isle Aquarium has a new resident -- and it has nine brains.

The Belle Isle Conservancy announced the addition of an octopus tank at the aquarium, the only octopus in an aquarium in the state.

The octopus tank, a gift from Jon Cotton, is the latest addition to the aquarium’s offerings which also include an array of animals from around the world, including air-breathing and local freshwater fish.  Other crowd favorites include seven species of gar fish, stingrays, piranhas, clownfish, electric eels and pufferfish.

In 2021, the aquarium added garden eels and the endangered axolotl.

The octopus doesn’t have a name yet so the Belle Isle Conservancy will be running a crowdsourcing contest on the non-profit organization’s Instagram account over the next week to name the animal.

“Guests continually ask if we have an octopus at the Aquarium,” said Summer Ritner, director, Belle Isle Aquarium.  “I’m sure this addition will become a favorite of visitors and school groups for years to come.”

The Belle Isle Aquarium was designed by famed Detroit architect, Albert Kahn, and opened on August 18, 1904. It is the oldest aquarium in the country and has served the Detroit community as a beloved attraction for generations.

The operating hours of the Belle Isle Aquarium are Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm, and admission is free.

Related: Belle Isle Giant Slide to reopen Friday


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Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.