125 years of experience in collecting and culturing marine species

With over 125 years of experience in collecting and culturing marine species, the MBA offers unparalleled expertise on the distribution, acquisition and care of marine species.   We have a versatile research aquarium with a wide variety of tanks and facilities for keeping and working with temperate marine species. Dedicated staff aboard the research vessel Sepia are on hand to provide live marine material whilst our expert aquarist team provide housing and husbandry for a diverse range of marine organisms.  

Our seawater laboratory provides unrivalled opportunities for scientists looking to conduct experimental projects in a modern research aquarium.  Researchers have the opportunity to use our long-established aquarium systems, or even design new experimental setups within the existing facility. Tank rooms can be occupied immediately or can be enhanced to suit the bespoke needs of a given project.

Our aquaria facilities are fully equipped with recirculating seawater, temperature and photoperiod control, racked and floor-standing tanks, wet benches, and preparation and laboratory space. Closed systems for freshwater, brackish and tropical species can be arranged and we consider all specialist culturing and rearing projects. 

Natural seawater is supplied via permanent pipeline from Plymouth Sound and is pre-filtered before entering our 145k and 300k litre underground reservoirs, where it is then circulated constantly to the holding tanks in the aquarium rooms. Our seawater maintains a salinity of between 33 - 36 ppt and a temperature of 12 - 19˚C following seasonal changes.  Precise temperature control of individual tanks or whole rooms is possible using air conditioning, aquarium heaters or chillers. Seawater on the main systems is unfiltered thus retaining a large quantity of plankton, allowing for the natural settlement of sessile invertebrates and effortless rearing of filter-feeding animals.  High water quality is maintained through large-scale water changes several times per week, whist individual tanks and experimental systems can be fitted with dedicated filtration equipment if required. 

We are proud of our long history of excellence in animal husbandry and welfare; we have particular experience working with marine fish, elasmobranchs and cephalopods.  Our expert knowledge of species biology and behaviour, excellent water quality, and ability to provide a high quality diet allows us not only to maintain specimens in peak condition but also to breed and rear many species including common cuttlefish, skates and catsharks. 

For more information about species or systems available at the MBA please contact head aquarist Alix Harvey

Staff List

Alix Harvey
Ecology laboratory and aquarium manager

Alix manages and maintains the ecology laboratory and research aquarium at the Marine Biological Association.

Email: Telephone Number:
+44 (0)1752 426360
Sophie Rainbird
CPR Survey Operation Assistant

Sophie is the CPR Survey Operations Assistant. Her role is to assist with the safe collection of CPR samples from a fleet of volunteer ships.

Email: Telephone Number:
+44(0)1752 426256