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Hello Jonathan,

I have worked for several public aquariums and may be able to answer your
questions, most of the facilities now use a combination of fiberglass,
concrete and resins.  It depends on what you're trying to represent, cost,
availability, etc.  Much of the work in Chicago is done in house.  In Long
Beach we contract out most of our exhibits.  Substrate is usually natural,
and again depends on the habitat you're shooting for.  Some of the tanks
have poured concrete bottoms.  Some of the larger rocks are synthetic so
they can be made light weight.  The heavier ones tend to break up the
concrete.   Mammals and bird exhibits are usually concrete as they ingest
the substrate when they can.  We have  a very large number of volunteer
divers that do most of our algae management, feedings, collecting, shows,
maintenance, and observation of our exhibits.  As staff we also fill in for
the divers in addition to our other duties.

If you have any other questions I can help you with, please contact me off

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