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AquaDom at the Radisson Blu in Berlin, Germany - Photo by Vxla.jpg
The AquaDom as viewed from a room on the sixth floor of the hotel
Date opened2 December 2003
Date closed16 December 2022 (rupture and collapse)
Location Berlin, Germany
Coordinates 52°31′11″N 13°24′10″E / 52.51972°N 13.40278°E / 52.51972; 13.40278
AQUADOM Latitude and Longitude:

52°31′11″N 13°24′10″E / 52.51972°N 13.40278°E / 52.51972; 13.40278
No. of animals> 1,500
No. of species> 100
Total volume of tanks980 m3 (35,000 cu ft)
Owner Union Investment

The AquaDom (mixed Latin and German: 'water dome', more formally 'water cathedral') was a 25-metre-tall (82 ft) cylindrical acrylic glass aquarium with built-in transparent elevator inside the Radisson Collection Hotel in the DomAquarée complex at Karl-Liebknecht-Straße in Berlin-Mitte, Germany. [1] The DomAquarée complex also contains offices, a museum, a restaurant, and the Berlin Sea Life Centre aquarium. On 16 December 2022, the AquaDom aquarium ruptured, destroying itself and propelling the 1,500 fish inside into nearby streets, killing the majority of them.


The AquaDom was opened on 2 December 2003 [2] at a cost of about 12.8 million euros. [3] The acrylic cylinder was manufactured by International Concept Management, Inc. using Reynolds Polymer Technology panels, with architecture drawings provided by Sergei Tchoban. It was located in the same building as the Berlin Sea Life attraction but was owned and operated by Union Investment. [4] [5]

The aquarium was constructed from 41 acrylic panels – 26 panels for the outside cylinder and 15 panels for the inside cylinder for the elevator – which were bonded together on site. [6] With a diameter of about 11 m (36 ft) and a height of about 16 m (52 ft), resting on a 9 m (30 ft) tall foundation, it held the Guinness World Record for being the world's largest cylindrical aquarium. [7]


A scuba diver at work in the tank

The water column was 14 m (46 ft) high. [8] Filled with 1 million litres (260,000 US gal; 220,000 imp gal) of saltwater, it contained about 1,500 tropical fish from over 100 species. To feed the fish, 8 kg (18 lb) of other fish were needed daily. Both the feeding and the cleaning of the tank were performed daily by a team of scuba divers. [6] According to Union Investment, the owner [9] of the building complex, the wall thickness of the outer acrylic cylinder was 22 centimetres (8.7 in) at the bottom and 18 centimetres (7.1 in) at the top. The water temperature was kept at 26–27 °C (79–81 °F). [10]

In 2020, the aquarium was refurbished and upgraded, with all the water drained from the tank and the fish temporarily relocated to a breeding facility in the basement. [11] According to the owner, seals were renewed at the base and an additional sealing level was fitted. The cylinder was repaired and polished in places. Maintenance work on the elevator was carried out. [10]

View from above of the AquaDom in the DomAquarée complex in Berlin
AquaDom in late night colour

Rupture and destruction

The cylindrical tank burst at 5:45 am local time (4:45 am GMT) on 16 December 2022. Approximately 1 million litres (260,000 US gal; 220,000 imp gal) of water poured into the hotel and street, together with the 1,500 fish it hosted, devastating the interior of the hotel and eliciting a large-scale deployment of rescue workers. [12] Two people were injured and hospitalized, with officials and the media noting that the collapse would have likely resulted in several fatalities had it taken place later in the day. [12] [13] [11] The majority of the 1,500 fish were killed as a result. [14] Hundreds of smaller fish in the facility's breeding tanks were endangered as power was lost but they were successfully rescued. [14] [15] The Technisches Hilfswerk (THW) rescue team completed their operation after 12 hours but the hotel's lobby and atrium remained devastated – "It looks like a battlefield". [15]

The rush of salt water damaged several nearby businesses, including a Lindt chocolate shop, and was powerful enough to be detected by local seismographs. [12] Most of the seawater drained into the street's storm drains and sewers. The basement of the DDR Museum was also flooded and it is expected to remain closed for a few months. [16] Sandra Weeser, a member of the Bundestag who was staying at the hotel at the time, described being woken up by "a kind of shock wave". [17] There was no suspicion of foul play, with a spokesman for the owners of the tank stating the reason for the collapse was not yet clear. [12]


Failures and major leaks have occurred at several large acrylic aquaria before, those accidents including the T-Rex Café at Disney Springs in Orlando and the Dubai Aquarium at the Dubai Mall. [18] [19] In advance of a safety investigation, material fatigue has been named as a possible cause, [20] and the large temperature difference (the night-time temperature in Berlin was −9 °C (16 °F), while that of the water was 26 °C (79 °F)) was identified as dangerous for the material. [21]


  1. ^ "Radisson Collection Hotel, Berlin". Radisson Hotels. Archived from the original on 3 November 2022. Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  2. ^ Aulich, Uwe (2 December 2003). "Im Panoramalift durchs Fischbecken: Heute öffnet das Sea Life Berlin mit dem weltweit größten Aquarium: Fünf Minuten Karibik" [In the panoramic lift through the fish tank: Sea Life Berlin opens today with the world's largest aquarium: Five Minutes of the Caribbean]. Berliner Zeitung (in German). Archived from the original on 18 September 2020. Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  3. ^ "Hotel-Aquarium in Berlin". Die Welt (in German). 24 December 2003. Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  4. ^ Grantham-Philips, Wyatte. "Giant aquarium 'completely destroyed': Tank with 1,500 fish bursts, floods Berlin street". USA Today. Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  5. ^ "Berlin AquaDom aquarium: Police not seeking suspects over explosion". BBC News. 17 December 2022. Retrieved 17 December 2022.
  6. ^ a b Aquadom, Reynolds Polymer Technology
  7. ^ "Largest cylindrical aquarium". Guinness World Records. Archived from the original on 16 December 2022.
  8. ^ "Aquadom Custom Built Aquarium". Reynolds Polymer Technology. Archived from the original on 18 May 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
  9. ^ Diese Unternehmen stehen hinter dem Aquadom in Berlin, Thomas Krause, Stern, 17 December 2022
  10. ^ a b Aquadom geplatzt, B.Z., 16 December 2022
  11. ^ a b Ellrodt, Oliver; Schlie, Tobias (16 December 2022). "Huge Berlin aquarium bursts, spilling 1,500 fish onto road". Reuters. Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  12. ^ a b c d Solomon, Erika (16 December 2022). "Berlin Hotel's Huge Aquarium Bursts, With 1,500 Fish Inside". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  13. ^ "Sea Life: Riesenaquarium am Berliner Dom geplatzt". Die Zeit (in German). Deutsche Presse-Agentur. 16 December 2022. Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  14. ^ a b "Huge Berlin aquarium bursts, unleashing flood of devastation". CTVNews. 16 December 2022. Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  15. ^ a b Hotelgebäude nach "Aqua-Dom"-Havarie nicht einsturzgefährdet – THW beendet Einsatz, Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, 16 December 2022
  16. ^ Groß-Aquarium geplatzt - Materialermüdung könnte Ursache sein, Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, 16 December 2022
  17. ^ McNamee, Michael Sheils; Hill, Jenny; Steininger, Michael (16 December 2022). "Berlin's giant AquaDom hotel aquarium containing 1,500 fish explodes". BBC News. Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  18. ^ Paul J. Gramann (13 July 2018), "When acrylic aquariums fail", Plastics Today
  19. ^ Paul J. Gramann (9 July 2018), Investigating Acrylic Aquarium Failures (PDF), The Madison Group Alternative URL
  20. ^ "Sea Life Berlin: Großaquarium Aquadom zerstört – Wasser in benachbarte Keller geflossen – Ein Dutzend Fische gerettet". Die Welt (in German). 16 December 2022. Retrieved 17 December 2022.
  21. ^ RTL aktuell, 16 December 2022

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