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DNR renovates popular fish exhibit at State Fair

One of the Minnesota State Fair's perennial favorites has gotten a major facelift that should make it even more popular with visitors.

The indoor fish exhibit at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources building has been completely redone. Five new fish tanks will illustrate the habitat and fish found in different Minnesota waters: a southeastern trout stream, the St. Croix River, and lakes typical of central, southern and northern Minnesota. Nine new terrariums featuring live snakes and amphibians in climate controlled cells also were added.

"By focusing on fish communities and their habitat, we hope people will gain a better understanding of how good angling depends on healthy ecosystems," DNR East Metro Fisheries Manager TJ DeBates said. The DNR's east metro fisheries crew stocks and manages the State Fair fish exhibit.

The tanks that previously offered fair visitors a close-up look at native fish were nearly 30 years old and in poor condition. The new tanks are lower to the ground, making them more accessible to viewers of all sizes and abilities. They also have new heaters and pumps to maintain healthier conditions for their aquatic inhabitants.

The $460,000 renovation was funded by bonding money approved by the Minnesota Legislature and appropriated to the DNR to maintain safe and accessible facilities. An estimated 800,000 people visit the DNR's State Fair exhibit, which also features an outdoor fish pond that is slated for renovation. Nearly 2 million Minnesotans fish, making it one of the state's most popular pastimes.