Aquariums at Rainbow Reef

Dive into The Strong’s Rainbow Reef exhibit and discover delightful activities inspired by the museum’s underwater residents.

  • Step up to a larger-than-life digital aquarium. Design and draw shapes on a fish coloring sheet. Then, scan your drawing onto a monitor and watch it come to life on a projected fish tank filled with coral reef.
  • Marvel at the fascinating behaviors of saltwater fish and coral in the 1,700-gallon coral reef aquarium featuring a large and low viewing surface that provides even the littlest ocean watchers an amazing view of brilliantly colored animals.
  • Gaze at sparkling freshwater fish found in tropical rivers from all over the world. The smaller tank in the exhibit is the perfect place to watch tiny reef fish and other inhabitants that might be missed in a larger saltwater aquarium.

Digital aquarium created in collaboration with Workinman.

Underwater Residents in Rainbow Reef

The aquariums at The Strong are home to many different species of fish and invertebrates. Here are some facts about some of them.


Ocellaris Clownfish
Scientific name: Amphiprion ocellaris

What tank would be complete without a Nemo? Look closely because false percula clownfish rarely leave the protection of their favorite anemones or coral. You’ll find our clownfish living in our smaller reef aquarium.

Flame Angelfish
Scientific name: Centropyge loricula

In the wild, flame angelfish love to nibble on corals and clam mantles. Rainbow Reef's flame angelfish are well fed, so there is no concern for them to be in the tank with corals and clams.

Hippo Tang
Scientific name: Paracanthurus hepatus

More affectionately known as Finding Nemo’s Dory, hippo tangs are a favorite of many museum guests.

Lipstick Tang
Scientific name: Naso lituratus

Some people think the lipstick tang looks beautiful; some think it looks plain silly. But one thing is for sure, its unique coloration definitely makes it stand out in a crowd!

Red-Toothed Triggerfish
Scientific name: Odonus niger

Triggerfish get their name from their two moveable spines. When the larger, forward spine is upright, the smaller one behind it (the trigger) can drop down, so the fish can secure itself in a hiding spot.

Whitemargin Unicornfish
Scientific name: Naso annulatus

Hercules, the museum’s unicorn tang, is the largest fish in the tank. The function of the “horn” at the front of their face is still unknown to science.

Yellow Tang
Scientific name: Zebrasoma flavescens

With a brilliant yellow color rivaled by few other fish, Rainbow Reef’s yellow tangs are always a crowd favorite.


Brain Coral
Scientific name: Favia sp.

The green brain coral in Rainbow Reef has to be placed far away from other corals or, in the nighttime, it will send out tentacles called “sweepers” that will sting and kill neighboring corals.

Zoa Coral
Scientific name: Zoantharia sp.

Zoas come in many different colors and look like little circles ringed with tentacles. Several different colors of zoas can be found in the aquarium.

Cap Coral
Scientific name: Montipora capricornis

Cap coral is one of the fastest growing corals. It comes in many different colors including red, orange, purple, green, and brown.

Hammer Coral
Scientific name: Euphyllia paranchora

Hammer corals are closely related to torch corals. Some people have given them the name anchor coral. Look at the coral’s tentacles and decide what name—hammer or anchor coral—is most fitting?

Mushroom Coral
Scientific name: Actinodiscus sp.

Mushroom corals are actually closely related to anemones and grow very fast. The coral seen in Rainbow Reef have spread all over the tank, and even climbed up the sides.

Staghorn Coral
Scientific name: Acropora sp.

Staghorn coral is a favorite of many reef keepers. It can grow in many shapes and sizes and even though it looks like a colored rock, it is actually a living animal. This coral is one of the major reef corals responsible for building the substructure that supports the entire reef!

Torch Coral
Scientific name: Euphyllia glabrescens

Torch corals have long, thin tentacles that flutter in the current of the water. Think about why they are called torches as you watch them.