Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Toronto

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]Nestled at the base of the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada opened to the public in fall of 2013 and has quickly become a major area attraction. Its downtown Toronto location makes it easy for visitors to explore, and their collection of more than 13,000 specimens attracts travelers in droves.

Featuring over 450 different species in several distinct themed sections, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is among the premier animal attractions in Ontario. It’s the perfect place for fans of aquatic life big and small, as you’ll find everything from tiny little jellies to marvelous tiger sharks.

The entire aquarium boasts more than 1.5 million gallons of water in various exhibits and tanks, arranged into fresh- and salt-water habitats that mimic real conditions around the globe. With themed areas that span the gamut from the cool Canadian Waters to the colorful Rainbow Reef, you’re bound to find your favorite sea creature here. And while Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada doesn’t feature larger sea mammals like dolphins and whales, they do have an impressive collection of sharks. 

What’s at Ripley’s Aquarium

There are several different themed areas that comprise Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. Visitors walk through the entire aquarium in sequence, so you don’t have to worry about missing anything.

Here’s an overview of each section and what it contains. The sections appear in the order in which you walk through them.

Canadian Waters

This is a unique exhibit to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada and it specifically focuses on specimens local to the Great Lakes and the surrounding seas. Although fish and marine life here are a bit less colorful, the massive size of some of the fish more than compensate for a lack of flashiness. There are seventeen different exhibits in this gallery, featuring everything from an octopus to sea stars to Pacific kelp. It’s a little difficult to take photos in here due to the low lighting in the tanks, but it’s not impossible.

Rainbow Reef

Bright and full of movement and color, Rainbow Reef mimics the vibrant and bustling environment of the Indo-Pacific. There are over 100 different species of fish that live in this exhibit, big and small. This exhibit also occasionally features a live diver or two who can communicate to viewers via microphone. It’s a fun experience to watch the fish swarm around the divers! This is also a great gallery for pictures, with well-lit tanks and colorful fish.

Dangerous Lagoon

Dangerous Lagoon is one of the most popular galleries in the entire aquarium. Stand on the moving walkway for a leisurely ride through a long underwater tunnel, featuring some of the attraction’s most beautiful and most fearsome creatures. This is also the largest gallery at the aquarium, with more than 660,000 gallons of water.  Here is where you’ll find their intimidating sharks, majestic stingrays, and colorful sea turtles. Another excellent place for photographs – be sure to look up, too!

Discovery Centre

An area designed specifically for younger children, the Discovery Centre features small-scale underwater viewing bubbles and a gentle touch pool with horseshoe crabs. There are others creatures in this gallery as well, including bamboo sharks and a variety of rays. There’s even an opportunity for visitors to touch rays in an employee-guided pool.

The Gallery

The aptly-named Gallery offers up six salt water and three fresh water exhibits for viewers to enjoy. A highlight of this section is the live coral exhibit and the vast collection of delicate and beautiful specimens that live in and around coral structures. Here you’ll find some of the most iconic fish in the world, from seahorse to lionfish to sea dragons and more. Bright lighting in these tanks also makes for easy photography.

SWARM: Nature by Numbers

This new exhibit features over 1,000 new creatures for visitors to encounter, from Halloween Crabs to Blue Blubber Jellyfish. You’ll also find the Lookdown viewing tank, and another touch exhibit featuring Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp. The emphasis in this exhibit is on the overwhelming nature of fish in swarms – a truly exciting and occasionally intimidating experience!

Ray Bay

This is another opportunity to see an amazing collection of majestic stingrays. There are dozens of rays from three different species, all swimming about in a massive tank alongside a variety of other small fish. There is also a daily dive show in this exhibit, where divers feed rays with their hands. It’s a pretty impressive sight! At the top of this section you’ll also find the Shoreline Gallery, which offers another touch tank experience in warm water.

Planet Jellies

Perhaps the most iconic exhibit at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Planet Jellies is an astonishingly beautiful series of tanks. With several backlit exhibits that offer changing colored light to highlight the beautiful structure of otherwise transparent jellies, this gallery features five different species of jellyfish. Among others, you’ll see the beautiful moon jellies, striking spotted jellies, and cute upside-down jellies. A walk through this exhibit truly does feel like you’ve been transported to a whole new world!

Life Support Systems

There’s not a whole lot to look at in this gallery, but the limited scope is balanced out by the fascinating properties of what you’ll find within. This gallery is where the life support systems that make the aquarium’s diverse habitats possible are located. Tanks, temperature gauges, and filtration equipment for different galleries are on view, emphasizing the hard work and delicate balance that goes into maintaining such a wide variety of environments for all of the aquarium’s creatures.

Aquarium Dining & Shopping Options

If you’re looking to eat while at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Ripley’s Café is a good option. Menu prices are quite reasonable (with combo options available), and the food is all tasty casual fare. You’ll find items like cheeseburgers, hotdogs, grilled cheese, and pizza – all kid-friendly and kid-approved. There’s also a healthy options menu featuring yogurt, salads, and fruit for the diet-conscious. Ripley’s Café even offers tea and coffee options if all you’re looking for is quick refreshment.

For souvenir shopping, the Cargo Hold gift shop is an excellent resource. Filled with toys, stuffed animals, t-shirts, models, and more, there’s a representation of your favorite animal somewhere! You’ll also find Canada-inspired options on top of aquarium and Ripley’s specific offerings, alongside real artisan craftwork. If you weren’t able to make up your mind while visiting but still want something later, they’ve got an online store as well.

Tips for Visiting Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

  • It takes about 2 – 2.5 hours to see everything, on the longer side if you have children who spend time in the kid-specific areas.
  • With CityPass, you get to skip the ticket line and go straight to the exhibits.
  • There is no map of the attraction available, but you simply walk through all of the exhibits in order so you won’t miss anything.
  • Photography is encouraged in all galleries, but be sure to keep your flash off for better pictures (and to avoid scaring away the fish!)
  • The attraction is busiest in the heart of the day, so arrive right when they open for the thinnest crowds.
  • While traveling through Dangerous Lagoon, it’s worth the time to wait for the moving walkway to wind you through. You’ll get the best photo opportunities that way.
  • Young children should definitely take advantage of the underwater bubble viewpoints in Discovery Centre – it will feel like being immersed in an underwater wonderland.

 

Where to Buy It

There are a number of ways you can enjoy admission to .

1. Purchase a ticket from  when you get there.

2. Purchase a Tourist pass. The  is available on the Toronto CityPass.