CPE2.17 - Aquarist

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Posted: 15/03/2017 14:58
Start Date: Not Available
Salary: £21,991 (£22,400 after probation)
Location: Horniman Museum and Gardens, Forest Hill
Level: Experienced (Non Manager)
Deadline: 29/03/2017 10:00
Hours: 35.00
Benefits: See "Working for us" on the Home menu
Job Type: Full Time

Job title and reference:        Aquarist Ref: CPE2.17

Salary:                                    £21,991 pa (rising to £22,400 after probation)

Hours of work:                      35 hours per week – 8am to 4pm, on a fixed rota working three weekends in four (including bank holidays on rota basis)   

The Horniman Museum and Gardens in south east London has been open since Victorian times, when the tea trader and philanthropist, Frederick John Horniman first opened his house and extraordinary collection of objects to the local community. Since then, our collection has grown significantly and includes internationally important collections of anthropology and musical instruments, as well as an acclaimed aquarium and natural history gallery – all surrounded by 16 acres of beautiful Gardens offering breathtaking views across London.

The Horniman’s acclaimed Aquarium aims to inspire people to respect the natural world. It has 15 living displays representing geographically correct biotopes from around the globe, including an historic Victorian Parlour display, a Fijian Coral Reef, Jellyfish, London Pond and a multi-taxa Amazonian Rainforest. Our collection is made up of approximately 250 species of fish, invertebrates (aquatic & terrestrial), amphibians and plants.

We are looking for an Aquarist to join our busy aquarium team in caring for our diverse living collections through display maintenance, livestock feeding, maintaining life support systems, conducting water testing, updating computerised records and answering queries from the public, all to the highest possible standard.

You’ll ideally have an aquatic biological qualification, and will have maintained aquaria in a public aquarium, museum or zoo setting. You’ll have proven experience of running successful tropical coral systems, with a knowledge of coral propagation and husbandry, and water chemistry management. It would be an advantage to hold a Dive Master or equivalent certificate.

The closing date for completed applications is 10am on Wednesday 29 March 2017.  Interviews will be held on Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 April 2017. 

The Horniman is committed to equality of opportunity and welcomes applications from all sections of the community. 

How to Apply

Click on “Apply Now” at the top or bottom of this page. When you apply you will be asked to upload a covering statement in Microsoft Word format (the document must be in .doc  format and the maximum file size is 2 MB). Please also ensure that you have uploaded your CV as a separate document which you can do when you create an account or login.

In your covering statement please provide an overview of no more than 2 pages describing your experience relevant to the role as outlined in the Job Description and Person Specification.  


Job title                      Aquarist

Section                       Aquarium

Reports to                  Aquarium Curator

Responsible for        No responsibility for staff

Hours of work           35 hours per week – 8.00 am to 4.00 pm, on a fixed rota working three weekends in four (including bank holidays on rota basis)

Main purpose of the job           

To maintain the highest standard of aquatic displays (fish, invertebrates, plants, amphibians) through informed, careful and safe husbandry, in order to contribute to the enjoyment and education of our visitors.

Section description

The Aquarium section is responsible for the smooth running of the aquarium, ensuring that a high standard of living displays are maintained and developed for the enjoyment and education of visitors.

The job is varied with daily tasks ranging from feeding the livestock, cleaning exhibits, conducting water chemistry analysis, filtration system maintenance and record keeping.

In addition to the ongoing maintenance and development of the displays, the aquarium team are also involved in research and breeding programs with a view of improving livestock husbandry practices within a captive environment.

Main responsibilities

Collections care (70%)

  • Carry out all routine duties required to enable the aquarium to run to the highest possible standards. This will include: livestock feeding, animal health monitoring, filtration maintenance, water chemistry analysis, display maintenance and development
  • Conduct manual handling tasks associated with the maintenance of the aquarium - including climbing ladders, lifting and carrying sea salt and moving life support equipment
  • Identify livestock diseases and perform medical treatments with minimal supervision
  • Coral husbandry – assist in the management of the museums coral collection, ensuring the highest standards of animal health are maintained at all times, including all maintenance aspects required to successfully run a complex tropical invertebrate system.Develop husbandry knowledge of coral propagation via asexual and sexual reproduction to facilitate the broader research aims of Project Coral within the department
  • Maintain complex Life Support Systems (LSS) and promptly rectify all non-functional life support equipment
  • Consult closely with the Aquarium Curator or Deputy Aquarium Curator on all non-routine aspects of the job and undergo training to develop skills
  • Conduct occasional fieldwork to procure specimens, display materials, foodstuffs, ensuring compliance with the relevant legislation, using the Horniman’s vehicles
  • Perform regular snorkel cleaning within selected aquarium displays

Record keeping / compliance with legislation (20%)

  • Conduct routine water quality tests using laboratory equipment and manipulate water chemistry parameters in appropriate ways.
  • Regularly update and maintain computerised livestock, medical and water quality records
  • Maintain an accurate log of routine and non-routine procedures/events in the work areas
  • Ensure relevant information is available to colleagues on the following work shift

Professional development: (5%)

  • Develop skills and expertise by keeping abreast of current practice and attend appropriate conferences, seminars, courses or undertake further training as required
  • Build positive relationships with other related institutions in order to exchange information

Interface with the Public (5%)

  • Cooperate with students, researchers, aquarium professionals and other visitors to the Museum. Actively work with volunteers, supporting them in the delivery of their work within the Aquarium.

General responsibilities

  • Provide out of hours “on call” support to the Aquarium on a rota basis with other members of the team

  • Act in a professional manner and uphold the Horniman’s Code of Conduct

  • Follow and promote safe systems of work and observe health and safety regulations

  • Any other duties that may be required to ensure the effective running of the Aquarium and the Horniman Museum & Gardens


Job activities may vary and evolve over time to meet business needs


PERSON SPECIFICATION - items are essential (E) or desirable (D)


  • Aquatic biological qualification e.g. degree in biological sciences or equivalent animal husbandry qualification (D)

Knowledge and experience

  • Experience of maintaining high quality aquatic displays in a museum, zoo or public aquarium setting, with an excellent knowledge of aquatic biology and husbandry (E)
  • Experience of conducting routine water quality tests using laboratory equipment and to manipulate water chemistry parameters in appropriate ways (E)
  • Experience of monitoring animal health and behaviour, identifying health problems and conducting treatments (E)
  • Ability to predict and resolve problems associated with LSS functioning and display maintenance and experience in fixing the filtration plant (E)
  • Proven experience in managing coral systems including culturing and husbandry techniques (E)
  • Experience in breeding aquatics and/or research projects (D)
  • Understanding of zoo licensing requirements (D)

Skills and abilities

  • Outstanding observation skills and ability to pay attention to detail (E)
  • Good working knowledge of MS Office suite (E)
  • A practical understanding and application of health and safety in the work place (E)
  • The ability to work independently and with minimal supervision using a systematic, orderly and responsible approach to routine duties, security, storage, and computer record keeping (E)
  • Able to carefully monitor livestock and equipment, anticipate, recognise and resolve problems at an early stage and, where necessary, respond effectively under pressure (E)
  • Able to use hand tools to carry out aquarium maintenance (E)
  • Excellent teamwork and good interpersonal skills and able to deal with enquiries from the public and build effective professional relationships with staff at all levels (E)
  • A full current driving licence (E)
  • Ability to carry out the manual handling aspects of the role (E)
  • PADI Dive Master or equivalent certified diver (D)

Personal attributes

  • An empathy with the Horniman mission and an interest in its exhibitions, activities and events (E)
  • Commitment to equality and diversity (E)
  • Willingness to work flexibly to achieve corporate objectives (E)
  • Commitment to own learning and professional development (E)


  • This role will involve working three weekends out of four in a fixed rota pattern along with participating in the aquariums emergency on-call cover split across the aquarium team
  • Provide absence cover if required
  • A basic DBS check is required for this post.

March 2017


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