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How Did Public Aquariums Develop

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While interest in ornamental fish increased in Europe with greater access to wealth and contacts with China, the main development that made public aquariums took time to develop. The major development was the innovation of the Wardian case, which was a type of glass container used to house plants initially so that they can be studied and observed. Although this development by Jeanne Villepreux-Power in 1832 was made for the study of plants, it was soon realized that live fish could be contained within these glass enclosures along with the plants for long periods. Soon after, others began to experiment with a variety of fish species, where they were placed in tanks to see how they would respond. It was evident to scientists that plants that lived in water provided oxygen that fish could use, allowing may types of fish to be kept indefinitely so long as the number of plants was sufficient for the number of fish.<ref>For more on early fish tanks, see: Hibberd, S. (2017) <i>The Aquarium and Water-Cabinet.</i>Nikosia, TP Verone Publishing.</ref>
Mostly, until about the 1850s, fish keeping in aquariums was the privy of scientists or those wealthy enough to have such interests. Things changed after the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. The first large public aquarium was built at the London Zoo (in 1853) in Regents Park, where the tanks were mostly metal-framed structures created by Phillip Gosse, who used the term aquarium for the first time. The so-called "Fish House" in the London Zoo pioneered the use of a series of fish tank containers along the walls and other exhibits in the main floor of a dedicated building to fish, which now provided the odel for other zoos and dedicated aquariums to emulate. Now it became fashionable to collect exotic and strange species for public display, particularly as public curiosity fueled interest. By the 1850s and 1860s, other cities in Europe, such as Paris, and North America began to build large public aquariums (Figure 2).<ref>For more on the early public aquariums, see: Kisling, 2000</ref>

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