The creativity of the Final Fantasy 14 community knows no bounds. I’ve seen theater productions, open mic parties, bard bands, DJ sets and PR rooms, but I’ve never seen a full-fledged aquarium. The Eorzean Aquarium, with all the game’s fish on display, finally crossed this off my list of things to do in Final Fantasy. It has over 180 fish on display in 24 different rooms, and also features a touch exhibit, a Shark Encounter attraction with a fully functional shark cage, a bar with a stage and, of course, a gift shop.
The aquarium uses private rooms within the Free Company house to create themed exhibits, showcasing the fish in uniquely decorated aquariums that reflect the game region the fish call home. So, for example, you’ll find Il Mheg’s fish in an ornate room with Fuath and Mandragora decorations, while one of the Dravania rooms features Moogle pom-tastic furnishings.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Fruity Snacks, the player who came up with the idea for the Eorzean Aquarium, and several staff members to discuss the work that went into creating the place and the incredible community response they have received.
“Originally, I wanted to create a small place where anglers could just hang out and hang out in the game, like a real angler’s guild,” says Fruity. “People could come, learn how to catch fish, get free tackle and bait, and advice if they needed it. Then, one day, I realized that you could get around the aquarium housing limit if there was an enterprising enough Free Company. By using the private rooms you could show off even more aquariums than the house itself would allow and being able to decorate each room with a unique theme.
“So I posted this comment in a channel on the Fishcord – the FF14 Fishing Discord called Fisherman’s Horizon – and about three hours after that we had a tonne volunteers are already making alts to build the rooms and a house that was donated that we could use.
Fruity came up with the idea in early April this year, and the aquarium opened 28 days later on May 1.
“It involved about 20 people split into two groups, Fishcord and Little Sun,” says Fishcord and aquarium staff member Kyrie Overdrive. “Many people from Fishcord provided the fish that went into the tanks, and Little Sun helped us arrange the decor and accommodation. Many people donated money, items and time to help us prepare things. We needed the materials to craft over 100 level 4 metal aquariums, and those are just the tanks. We come from all over – Eorzean Aquarium has people from the Americas, European Union and Oceania regions helping the staff so sometimes coordination was a pain but if there was a will there was a way.
Aside from the water exhibits on offer, the use of private rooms is one of the most notable things that sets the Eorzean Aquarium apart from other community venues. As a result, individual players were responsible for creating displays, unlike the main FC home space, where more than one player can freely decorate.
“A model was developed for people to follow,” says Beans, a staff member at the aquarium. “And there were a few requirements, like having a tabletop orchestrion and a message book in every room, and of course the fish were meticulously planned to make sure every species was displayed and in the right area, but in overall, the members had a lot of creative control over their own rooms.
The aquarium has already hosted several notable events for the community and has even more exciting plans for future events. To start, later in the day they will organize a style of hide and seek Namazu Hunt event to celebrate the implementation of data center moves.
“So far we’ve had a few events,” Carol, a staff member at the aquarium, tells me. “We had our opening event which wasn’t really planned, but more of a blast that we weren’t expecting. The next one we held was our sea fishing event, where we found a few slots for sea fishing trips in the game and taught people the best way to get enough points to earn a specific achievement that rewards a shark mount. That day we discovered that there was a limit to how many people could be in a house at a time.
“The last event we held was a fishing event for the Guardian of the Seven Shades, a rare and hard-to-catch rainbowfish with a complicated setup that is popular in aquariums. The event was a celebration of the pride, where staff wore colors representing our pride flags, and we had so much people show up. It was amazing! We had a wonderful collaboration with the streamers, Spofie, we hired a bard for the music and did our best to teach people how to catch the fancy rainbow fish. Honestly, even without catching it, it was an amazing moment.
The launch of the new Data Center Travel feature saw an influx of players jumping in to experience the aquarium. The venue proved so popular that during my visit the fish shop (a means of enabling donations) was out of stock and had to be replenished.
“It was a blast!” Aquarium staff member Lucerna talks about the increase in visitors. “We may be an aquarium, but I’m proud of my fellow volunteers who didn’t ‘flounder’ when they took on the challenge.
The team has been inundated with kind messages and comments from others, with so many players writing in the FC message book that the team regularly has to clean them up to free up space. However, they keep an archive of every comment on their Discord.
“We’ve received a wide variety of positive feedback, including heartwarming and funny comments and screenshots that we love,” said aquarium staff member Mizuki. “We get suggestions every now and then to improve the place, which we also appreciate, but most of the messages we get are just enthusiasm for the fish themselves, as well as the exhibits they The first post that touched us deeply was from someone named Jack Henry, who mentioned he couldn’t go to a real aquarium due to Covid, so that encouraged him to come to our aquarium virtual.
“People really appreciate that and it makes us really happy!” Proto Hropken, a staff member at the aquarium, adds. “We did not expect such a response and we are blown away. There are people who visit several times a week. Many people have date nights at the aquarium. A couple even came for their honeymoon. A raid party came to visit after the clearance. Our house was at capacity during the shark event and we estimated over 100 people for the Pride event. It was amazing!
In fact, the aquarium staff have achieved some celebrity status, with other players recognizing them when they go on adventures elsewhere in the game. The flood of community support has touched the staff, who are thrilled to making an impact, not only as a cultural venue, but also as a learning experience that teaches various tricks and techniques to FF14 anglers.
“We’re overwhelmed by it all the time,” Kyrie says. “Sometimes we will fish on our aquarium characters and people will recognize us in the overworld or in our functions. Either I’ll be on my main character and someone will talk about the aquarium during a roulette because we meet a fish boss in a dungeon.
“After our events, we get people saying ‘oh, I didn’t get the mount’ or ‘I didn’t get the fish,’ but they come back and tell us later that they made it. And it’s the best feeling. A lot of people think fishing is really hard. And it is, but we give them the basics to tackle it like any other content in the game.”
The team began building another full-size aquarium on Spriggan (Chaos) and a smaller location on Sophia (Materia). As well as expanding their aquaristic empire, they have begun to build a network of museums and cultural venues, with a Fine Arts museum currently in the works. Fruity also tells me that he would like to “spearhead an Eorzean natural history museum one day” and that he also plans to hold lectures and conferences in the aquarium in the future. .
“I would like to personally thank everyone who visited the aquarium and appreciated the work of myself and the team,” says Lucerna. “And an extra thank you to the rest of the staff – without our teamwork we would be without ‘kelp’. Thankfully we are not ‘seashells’.
“And if anyone is interested in starting their own educational/community resource place, please don’t hesitate to contact the Eorzean Aquarium team! We’d love to extend a helping fin!”
You can visit the Eorzean Aquarium on the Marlboro world, Crystal Data Center in Plot 59, Ward 16. You can also follow the Dedicated DiscordCheck websiteor follow Fruity on Twitter for news and updates.
NEXT: Final Fantasy 14 Community Spotlight: The Lucky Sevens Casino & Gentleman’s Club