55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco CA
Regular Hours:


9:30 am – 5:00 pm


11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Members' Hours:


8:30 – 9:30 am


10:00 – 11:00 am

The Academy will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Planetarium will be closed Sep. 22, 23, 24

Rainforests of the World 

March 27, 2011

New Ricefish Species on Display

Below is a photo of one of my absolute favorite exhibits here at the Academy, our 400-gallon southeast Asia community display:

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Hundreds of small, colorful and peaceful fishes call this tank home, including a brand new and quite rare species of ricefish, Daisy’s ricefish Oryzias woworae. The ricefishes are a family (Adrianichthyidae) of small fish that are found in fresh and brackish waters from India to Japan and out into the Indo-Australian Archipelago, most notably Sulawesi. The fact that many species are found in Japanese rice paddies gives this group of fishes its common name.

Named after Indonesian crustacean expert Daisy Wowor (who collected the fish), Daisy’s ricefish was collected from a freshwater stream on Muna Island, off the southeastern coast of Sulawesi in Indonesia in 2007 and was just described last year!

Photo by: Rachael Tom

The Academy currently has about 30 of these rare fish on display in the rainforest. These beauties are about an inch long and can usually be seen schooling together. They can be identified by their remarkable color pattern of a steel blue body (in males), highlighted with brilliant red stripes on its abdomen, pectoral fins and caudal fins. They also have striking, iridescent blue eyes which are very visible against the slightly murky, sediment-laden water of the exhibit. Our specimens are doing wonderfully and, if you’re lucky, you might see a female carrying eggs attached to her body between the pelvic fins. This unusual method of spawning is thought by some to be an evolutionary precursor to internal fertilization and, even, livebearing.

Sulawesi is a unique center of global biodiversity that has very high numbers of species found nowhere else in the world. This is in part because it is tropical and made up of many islands and, in part, because of a complex geological history. In addition to countless endemic species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and marine fishes there are over 50 species of endemic freshwater fishes, including this one. It is a very poorly documented and understood ecosystem that remains critically threatened. Ricefishes as a group, and in particular this stunning new species, are fantastic icons to generate interest in and encourage conservation of the endemic freshwater biota of Sulawesi.

Come by the Academy and check them out!

Filed under: Fish — rainforest @ 12:01 am

March 21, 2011

Giant spiders eating butterflies! Oh my!

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Since the Academy reopened in Golden Gate Park, our Rainforest Exhibit has always had orbweaver spiders (Nephila clavipes)- it’s just that they were inside tanks. Recently, biologists have been gradually releasing individual spiders in key locations on the Costa Rica level of the exhibit. This allows visitors to witness the sheer magnitude of their webs which can be over a meter in diameter, and watch them capture prey throughout the day. Here is an informative video about our orbweavers previously filmed at the Academy with one of our biologists:

On almost any given day, our Rainforest Exhibit has roughly 200 butterflies that fly freely inside the exhibit. Occasionally these butterflies will fly into our orbweavers’ webs and become food, just as they would in the wild.

Photo by: Rachael Tom

After being released, the orbweaver below is looking for a prime location to build its web:

Photo by: Rachael Tom

If a spider decides to build its web a little too close to visitors, we simply relocate the spider so it can establish a web elsewhere. Oftentimes the spiders make their way to higher planters on their own.

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Be sure to check out these beautiful spiders the next time you’re on the Costa Rica level of our Rainforest Exhibit. They might just be wrapping up freshly caught butterflies in their silk for a snack, eating their prey, building a new giant web or repairing their current one!

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Filed under: Insects & Arachnids — rainforest @ 2:19 am

March 9, 2011

New Addition

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Of all the cichlids living inside the Flooded Forest, the Apistogramma eunotus is the smallest. These dwarf cichlids are one of the newest additions to this display. In order to increase their chance of survival in a tank full of predators, the Amazon Flooded Forest team released a large number of Apisto juveniles into the tank hoping that they would immediately seak cover.

Photo by: Rachael Tom

The fish remained in hiding for several months while they grew and adapted to their new surroundings. These juveniles were bred in-house and when they numbered in the hundreds, it was time to experiment. Now, fully grown at around 3 inches, the feisty Apistos have secured territories in the nooks & crannies of the tank and have started to breed.

Photo by: Rachael Tom

If you look closely around the complexities surrounding the tunnel, you may see a bright yellow female in brooding coloration leading her fry to forage. Even though she may only be an inch, she shows all the characteristics of being cichlid – she will defend her fry against the much larger inhabitants of the tank.

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Filed under: Fish — rainforest @ 4:02 am

The Rainforest Team


Academy biologists share the inside scoop on the Academy's 'Rainforest of the World' exhibit.

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