Karin J. Martinez
Command Information Officer
Crystal clear tanks, brightly colored saltwater fish, and 20,000-plus gallons of sparkling water make the AquaZoo stand out as a premier attraction in Alexandria Bay.
Owned and operated by Dave and Mary Roberts, the aquarium on NYS Route 12 features approximately 100 exhibits and is the only saltwater fish aquarium in the area.
The Roberts opened their business in the 1,000 Islands 11 years ago and have expanded each year. In past years, the aquarium has been open during tourist season only; this fall and winter, however, they will extend their hours to some weekends, offer classes for adults and children, and sell saltwater aquarium fish and supplies.
The business is a labor of love for the Roberts family. When asked how he would describe the AquaZoo, Dave Roberts said, “It is our dream come true.”
He enjoys telling the story of his honeymoon, when he and Mary came to the 1,000 Islands on a camping trip. Mary so loved the area, the story goes, that she made Dave promise they would live there one day.
“I made that promise in 1983,” Dave Roberts said. Twelve years later, they moved north from Pennsylvania and opened the only aquarium in the area. What makes the aquarium different from any other he has encountered, he added, is that most are public while theirs is single-family owned and operated. Their son Davey helps out, too.
Exhibits include African cichlids, barracudas, red-eared sliders, puffer fish, green tilapia, sea turtles, and a 12-year-old alligator named Alex—to name a few. Visitors are invited to pet a shark and touch live sea creatures
Dave Roberts said the most exotic exhibit is probably the saltwater trigger display, while Mary Roberts’ favorite creatures there are the moray eels.
“They have a face only a mother could love,” she said.
The AquaZoo is located across from Bonnie Castle Greens and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. A military discount is available. For more information, check out the website, www.aquazoo.com, or call 482-5771.