Silverton Mermaid Aquarium and Jellyfish Exhibits - CODAworx

Silverton Mermaid Aquarium and Jellyfish Exhibits

Client: Silverton Hotel & Casino

Location: Ls Vegas, NV, United States

Completion date: 2007

Artwork budget: $2,000,000

Project Team


Julie Wignall


Brian Wignall


Artificial Reef Aquarium and Jellyfish Exhibits. When the Silverton Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada wanted to create a signature reef aquarium, I was contracted with my partner, Julie Wignall (marine biologist) to design an aquatic art installation that provided a healthy and nurturing home for animals that would captivate and enchant visitors. The result was a 117,000 gallon saltwater aquarium with a large artificial coral reef and a resident population of more than 4,000 fish, including small sharks and rays as well as complete back-of-the-house filtration, maintenance, and quarantine areas. When Management wanted to incorporate Mermaid Shows in the installation, I changed the design to ensure there was adequate room for choreographed water ballets complete with hidden areas for breathing hoses among the coral installation. Lighting was designed to accommodate the health of the animals while producing dramatic changes from day to night, and during Mermaid Show times. Excitement over the project led to the additional design and creation of Jellyfish Aquariums for an adjacent lounge where I used color-changing lighting effects to continue the underwater fantasy experience. The installation is continually voted “The Best Free Attraction in Las Vegas” and has been lovin


The goal of this project was to create a large-scale reef aquarium with an added entertainment feature of Mermaid Shows that could be enjoyed by visitors of all ages. The concept of adding live Jellyfish Exhibits was to enhance an adjoining adult-oriented lounge that has an open layout, allowing visitors of all ages to view the jellyfish without entering. While visitor entertainment was the goal of the installations, Company Executives were staunch supporters of prioritizing animal health and staff safety at all times. This commitment resulted in attracting a professional team of biologists and Olympic-trained swimmers which in turn, has led to the long-term health and welfare of the animals.


The Mermaid Aquarium and accompanying Jellyfish Exhibits was a $2 million project that required extensive research and collaboration with hotel and casino executives, architects, engineers, marine biologists, and veterinarians. When mermaids were incorporated into the project, Olympic-trained swimmers, coaches, and water ballet choreographers were consulted. Creating a scaled model of the structure at the beginning of the project allowed everyone to view the installation from all angles and perspectives. It was especially helpful in allowing professionals from different backgrounds to communicate needs and desires more easily. The open flow of communication continued to be helpful as the process moved to construction and fabrication and then to quarantining animals and adjusting filtration and lighting. During this phase, there was strong collaboration with State Fisheries Agencies and the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA). As the project came to a close, there was also a great deal of collaboration with the public relations and advertising departments within the corporation to provide the company with everything necessary to introduce the project to the public.

Additional Information

Establishing a great working relationship with Executive Management at the Silverton allowed me to return and enhance the installation a number of years later when I discovered ways to make pieces of the coral installation glow in different colors at night. The impact of housing live animals has a lasting effect on the Silverton, resulting in their becoming a strong supporter of marine education and beach and ocean conservation.