Things seem to be going swimmingly at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium.

We rolled into the attraction on the West Side of the Flats on a recent afternoon and were greeted by a pleasant surprise, at least for the owners of the fish market.

The place was hopping.

There was a long line of cars waiting to fork over a few bucks to park in the lot.

The line was long enough for the old man to grouse about having to pay to park and wax on about Spaghetti Warehouse once having a restaurant on this side of the Flats.

This spring marks the seventh for the aquarium and the crowds keep coming to check out the displays of native and exotic fish and escape the Cleveland weather. The aquarium has been working to revamp and renovate some of its displays and has added some new fish and critters along the way.

• The Argentine black and white tegu lizard is new, along with the curl-crested aracari tropical bird.

• A crowd-pleaser, or one to make some squirm, is the green tree python.

• The colorful poison dart frogs, so called because of the use of their deadly poison to coat arrows and darts, are fun to watch.

• The weedy seadragon looks at first glance like an underwater plant, but is related to the seahorse.

• The final new resident is the Pacific spiny lumpsucker that uses its pelvic fins for suction to grab hold of rocks and kelp.

Display areas that have been revamped include Asia and Indonesia along with the Tropical Forest Gallery.

Parents of young kids can wander upstairs to the floor above the aquarium next to the Nautica Café to check out the new Imagiquarium.

The area is designed for pint-size guests to imagine what is it like to run an aquarium from preparing the food to feeding the sharks to creating the display space.

What makes the aquarium particularly cool is that it offers a glimpse of Cleveland's past. It is located in the brick Powerhouse building that was built in the 1880s to power the city's electric streetcars and railways.

Reminiscent of the days when Spaghetti Warehouses still dotted the landscape.

The best part of the aquarium is that it offers a respite from Northeast Ohio's finicky weather and is a heck of a lot cheaper than heading to the coast.

And if you are a cheapskate like me, you will still have plenty of time to hustle back to Akron and hit up Warehouse Wednesday ($5.95 for original recipe spaghetti, with bread and soup or salad) at Spaghetti Warehouse, where you can still park for free.

Aquarium admission is $19.95 for adults ages 13 or older, and $13.95 for kids ages 2 to 12. For more, visit greaterclevelandaquarium.com.

 

Craig Webb can be reached at 330-996-3547 or cwebb@thebeaconjournal.com