Scroll To Top

Appalachian Rivers Aquarium

The Appalachian Rivers Aquarium at 117 Island Street is currently in the final stages of construction and is expected to be open in April, 2019.

Aquarium Update - December 2018

The museum has had wonderful attendance in the past two years in Bryson City. We had more than 15,000 visitors in 2017. We are pretty much at exhibit capacity in the museum, with many exhibits in storage pending setup in the second building.

All the large aquarium tanks have been delivered and are in place. Barn wood finishing construction is well underway. Video screen programming is now 90% complete. We hope to have water flowing and filling tanks by early February. Eight 75-gallon tanks and additional staging tanks of various smaller sizes will be delivered in January. All components for the Hellbender tank have been ordered and expected to arrive over the holidays. The Living Wall Tank is being assembled, tested  and expected to be operational before year-end. The hellbender tank will be ready soon. During the winter we will complete the construction, and have all the tanks in place except the two remaining to be sponsored. Our most recent new tank sponsor is Cooper Creek Trout Farm.

The room is 1000 square feet and is laid out to maximize the capacity for fish exhibits. The mountain stream is over 2500 gallons and comprised of 3 larger tanks and a waterfall reservoir tank on the second floor. The other tanks in the room will bring the total capacity at over 6000 gallons among a total of 16 tanks. We will be able to exhibit as many as 60 species of fish at the same time. The aquarium will have a small admissions charge and the revenue will fully fund all museum operations hence forth.

We plan a soft opening on March 27-28 (same weekend as the next Museum Hall of Fame Event) depending on how well the build goes. Each tank needs about 30 days running before fish may be added for display.

One final note. We now have 3 Satellite Exhibits - Wilson Creek Visitor Center, South Mountain State Park and Caldwell County Heritage Museum. Each of these exhibits replicate and share a small element of the museum in a public place where the visibility of fly fishing can "lure" folks to come to Bryson City and see the full museum. More of these are planned soon.


First tanks arrive and construction is underway. The first delivery of aquarium tanks arived on November 27. A large group of volunteers was on hand to unload, un-crate and move the large, heavy tanks into place.

We need your help

We have only one $5,000 and one $3,000 tank sponsorship remaining to fully fund the aquariums. We are offering joint sponsorships as a collective of donors. A tank sponsorship is $5,000, however we will recognize Platinum ($1000), Gold ($500), Silver ($250) and Bronze ($100) levels of sponsorship first-come, first-served grouped to a tank. One tank will be collectively sponsored by businesses and individuals ($1000 - Platinum, $500 - Gold, $250 - Silver, $100 - Bronze) and dedicated to the "giving back" non-profits - Casting Carolinas, Casting for Hope, Project Healing Waters, etc. We can always use more collective sponsors. Please consider a donation to bring this project to completion. Donation Form

Southern Trout Online Magazine (courtesy of Don Kirk) is running a operation to raise monies as a sponsor of the Mountain Stream.

We expect 50,000+ visitors to see these tanks and new exhibits annually. We finished 2017 with more than 15,000 visitors.

The future aquarium revenue will be the operating funds to perpetuate the fly fishing museum. Sponsorship assures that the museum remains open and viable.