93 West Campbell Rd. Schenectady NY 12306

Via Aquarium FAQs

How long does a visit to Via Aquarium take?
We recommend giving yourself 90 minutes to 2 hours to get the full experience.

Are there any add-ons to general admissions tickets?
Yes, we offer additional activities that can be purchased with your general admissions ticket.

  1. Stingray Feedings – click here to learn more
  2. Reptile Shows – click here to learn more
  3. Guided Tours – must inquire via phone or email ahead of time
  4. Behind-the-Scenes – must inquire via phone or email ahead of time

Do you offer memberships?
Yes, we offer annual memberships to Via Aquarium for groups of one to four people. Memberships are good for 365 days from the day of purchase. Click here for more information on our membership prices and benefits.

Is VIA Aquarium wheelchair accessible?
Yes, all of our exhibits are accessible.  However, some of our add-on programs like Behind-the-Scenes Tours and Stingray Feedings may not be accessible to all.

Do you offer wheelchairs?
We have a transport chair available to borrow for free at the Admissions Desk on a first come first served basis.  VIA|Port Mall also has traditional wheelchairs available at their Guest Services desk.

Are food and drinks allowed in VIA Aquarium?
For the safety of our animals and exhibits, as well as the safety of other guests, we do not allow food, drink, or gum inside VIA Aquarium.  The only exceptions are special events hosted by VIA Aquarium.

Do animals in the aquarium ever have babies?

YES!  Our Seahorses and African Cichlids in particular have had multiple batches of offspring.  If you’re lucky, you may even be able to catch some of the babies or juveniles out on display.

How do you prevent the sharks/gar/piranha/etc. from eating other fish?

Keeping the animals fed on a regular schedule helps the most with this.  If an animal isn’t hungry, there are very few reasons for them to attack another animal.  Not to mention, being fed is much easier than catching your food.  Wouldn’t you rather spend every meal with a chef and waiter preparing everything for you instead of having to do it yourself?

So there are never any attacks in the aquarium?

While we would love to say yes, that isn’t true.  Even in a perfect world, animals will attack each other to show dominance and establish territory; even some mating behaviors can leave wounds on the partners.  So, despite our best efforts, injuries can occur.

What do you do when an injury occurs?

We take the health and safety of our animals very seriously.  When an injury does occur, we assess to see what is best for the animal to heal.  For some animals, healing on display is much less stressful than catching the animal, moving it to quarantine, and moving it back out to exhibit.  Other times, it is better to bring the animal off the exhibit to heal in more specialized conditions.

If an animal is off-exhibit does that mean it’s injured or dead?

No, there are many reasons to take an animal off-exhibit.  They may be sick, pregnant, too big for their current exhibit, or may need a break from daily interactions.  Sometimes we have the opportunity to show a new exhibit, like the Chain Sharks that were hatched by Berlin High School, and we will move an animal to the back temporarily to allow room for the new exhibit.

But didn’t you used to have a (or different) octopus, lobster, triggerfish, etc.?

Very possibly.  And just like we’d love to say injuries never occur, we’d love to say the same for deaths.  Unfortunately, some of our favorite animals, like cephalopods (octopus and cousins) don’t have very long life spans.  This means that by the time they are generally big enough to be put on exhibit, they have already lived half or more of their life.

Other times, some animals are just too big for our exhibits and we need to find them new homes with other aquariums.  Our nurse sharks were an example of an animal that got too big for their exhibit and were sent to Long Island Aquarium to live in a bigger home!

Does being in a touch tank hurt the animals?

When treated with care and understanding, no it doesn’t.  As long as guests follow the instructions of our Touch Tank Attendants, there should be no harm to the animals or our guests. There have even been recent studies that say Stingrays in touch tanks are no more stressed than stingrays in the wild, and many seem to actually be less stressed and happier!

Isn’t it wrong to take animals out of the wild for our pleasure?

It certainly can be.  We do everything we can to work with companies that captive breed and/or sustainably harvest their stock to ensure minimal impact on the environment.  Some animals, like the Lionfish, are actually incredibly invasive species and are routinely culled to save the ecosystem. By putting them on display, we are actually saving them. We also participate in programs such as the Grow and Release Program through the DEC.  In this program, a hatchery-born lake sturgeon is placed in our care until it is big enough to thrive in the wilderness.

It is our mission to connect people to the world beneath the water and the best way to do that is by seeing and feeling that world in real life.  We do our best to ensure our animals are healthy and well taken care of so more people will grow up to care about these animals and their environments.  If that means a guest grows up to believe that having animals in captivity is wrong, we understand their beliefs.  If they became that passionate about sea life because they fell in love with it at VIA Aquarium, we will gladly take that as a compliment.

What does my field trip to VIA Aquarium entail?
After being greeted by our Admissions Staff your school group will participate in a self-guided tour of the aquarium. Students are encouraged to engage in our interactive displays, various touch tank areas, and/or utilize the various scavenger hunts available. If your group needs extra assistance of any kind please let us know ahead of your visit.

How long does a field trip to the aquarium take?
We recommend giving yourself 90 minutes to 2 hours to get the full experience. Groups who choose to add a program/presentation onto their trip should expect to spend an additional hour within the aquarium

What times are available for field trips?
We try our best to fit your group in at your preferred time. We open to the public at 11:00am and can schedule field trips for as early as 9:00am, dependent on availability. Please email our Head of Education Department at shannonperrott.via@gmail.com for more information.

Are there restrictions on group size?
To receive the school group rate, field trips must have 15 or more individuals. Groups of over 125 individuals will have to be split into separate bookings, unless otherwise arranged directly through our reservationist.

What grade levels are more appropriate for a field trip and/or program?
VIA Aquarium is perfect for students of all ages!  While self-touring the aquarium guests will have the opportunity to learn both beginner and advanced information about the vast biodiversity of our planet’s aquatic ecosystems! We have 14 educational, interactive programs available to add to your field trip that are tailored to grade-appropriate educational content.  Stay tuned for updates as we develop more programming across various age ranges.

  1. ABC’s of the Ocean (PreK-K)
  2. Beach Detective (1st-5th grade)
  3. Behind-the-Scenes Tour (5th-12th grade)
  4. Conservation (6th-12th grade)
  5. Coral Reefs (8th-12th grade)
  6. Guided Tour (4th-12th grade)
  7. Marine Invertebrates (2nd-12th grade)
  8. Marine Invertebrates for Toddlers (PreK-1st grade)
  9. Reptiles & Friends (1st-12th grade)
  10. Sharks (5th-12th grade)

How do I schedule a field trip to VIA Aquarium?
You can submit a field trip request/inquiry through our website, hit the link! For all groups other than education centers, please click here to fill out a group trip inquiry form. You can also contact the Head of the Education Department at shannonperrott.via@gmail.com.

How far in advance should I schedule a field trip?
We recommend scheduling field trips with a program no less than two weeks in advance and self-guided trips at least one week in advance. For spring field trips, please schedule one month in advance to ensure the date is available.

How much does it cost to bring my class to VIA Aquarium?
School groups may tour VIA Aquarium at the discounted rate of $12 per student, $14 per non-faculty chaperone, and teachers are free. One free bus driver is allowed for every 20 students. Programs listed above can be added to field trips for an additional $5 charge per person (excluding teachers). 

What form of payment is accepted when booking a field trip?
VIA Aquarium accepts cash, all major credit cards, and checks made out to “VIA Aquarium.” When booking online you will have the choice to pay in full with a credit card or to be invoiced before your visit. Payment is required on or before the day of your trip. Group admission must be paid in one transaction.

May students bring a lunch?
Students may bring a lunch but eating is not permitted within the Aquarium. As the aquarium is within the VIA|Port Mall, there are tables available a short walk away at the food court.

Is there a place for our students to place their coats/lunchboxes?
Yes – we will provide bins in which students can store their belongings until the end of the trip.

How soon should I book my birthday party?

We recommend that all parties be booked at least 6 weeks in advance to secure your preferred party date.  Anything within 2 weeks may not be able to be accommodated.

What dates are available, and how do I book?

Visit https://viaaquarium.com/birthday-parties/ to fill out our birthday party inquiry form. Our Event Coordinator will reach out within a week of receiving an inquiry. Preferred party dates and times are considered, but are not guaranteed due to the first come, first served basis of party booking. 

What will happen after I book?

Our Event Coordinator will reach out to you either by phone and/or email to give you an overview of our party process, work out details, and collect a 20% deposit to reserve the party date and time.

What happens if my guest headcount changes before the party?

We understand that guest headcounts frequently are in flux and may move up or down. On the day of your party we will take a final headcount and either refund or bill for any differences.

What happens if I want to reschedule my party?

Any rescheduling of your parties date or time within two weeks of the event date will result in a $50 rescheduling fee. This will be due at the time of the rescheduling. Please note that a specific date and time cannot be guaranteed when rescheduling.

What happens in case of inclement weather?

In case of inclement weather, please watch our social media feeds to see if VIA Aquarium is closed and await a call from our staff. If the aquarium does close we will reschedule your party at no additional fee. Specific dates or times cannot be guaranteed but we will do our best to work with you in rescheduling.

What happens if I need to cancel my party?

Should you cancel your party fewer than two weeks before the scheduled date, your deposit will not be refunded.  If you’ve paid in full, VIA Aquarium will refund 80% of your party fee.  

When should I arrive?

Your party will start promptly at the time you have booked. Our staff will have everything set for you so you only have to show up 15 minutes prior to start time.

Where should I tell my guests to go when they arrive?

Your guests should meet at the VIA Aquarium admissions lobby. Please ask them to arrive promptly so that the party may start on time. Our staff will direct them towards our Party Room.

How does guest headcount work?

All guests over the allotted 10 guests (base package) or 25 guests (premium package) for your party are an additional fee ($25 per person). The birthday child, parents, and any siblings of the birthday child are not included in the party headcount. Guests that are members are free. 

How will the timeline for my party look?

On the weekends, we have two options for birthday party times, 11:00AM-1:00PM and 3:00PM-5:00PM

A typical* birthday party beginning at 11:00AM includes:

                ● 10:45AM: Party family arrives and is shown to the Party Room

                ● 11:00AM-11:15AM: Guests arrive and are shown to the Party Room

                ● 11:15AM-12:00PM: Guests are encouraged to explore the aquarium

                ● 12:00PM-12:30PM: Pizza and cake are served

                ● 12:30PM-1:00PM: Activity time, if applicable, otherwise parties can open presents or continue exploring.

Parents are responsible for getting all of their party items to their car after the party. VIA Aquarium is not responsible for holding gifts after each party.

* Please note that this is a general party outline and each party may look slightly different.  Your coordinator will work with you on the details.

Can I decorate the party room?

We provide and set up basic decorations, tablecloths, utensils, and all related paper products. Premium party packages include licensed décor. You may bring additional decorations, which must be dropped off no less than a week prior to the party date. When dropping off please have them in a bin or box labelled with your child’s name and the party date. We do not allow balloons within the aquarium (they’re a safety hazard for our animals and exhibits). Candles are permitted and we do have a lighter on hand.

Can I bring additional food and drinks?

We will provide pizza, juice, water, soda, and coffee for guests. Desserts and snacks are allowed to be brought in from the outside. Please contact us if there are any food related allergy concerns.

Who are sleepovers available to?

Any group that meets the minimum requirements; birthday parties, Scout groups, camps, families, etc.

Are sleeping materials provided?

No, for hygienic reasons, we don’t provide sleeping mats, sleeping bags, or blankets.

Where do guests sleep?

We highly recommend sleeping in front of our exhibits, but some groups choose to sleep in our theater.  Depending on group size, it can be up to the guests.

What movies are available?

The licensing company we work with has a wide variety of titles available, from recent DVD releases, to classic films, and educational features.

Is there a discount for VIA Aquarium members?
Yes!  For guests that are members we discount the cost of admission.


93 West Campbell Rd. Schenectady, NY 12306


(518) 280-5100

Contact Emails

General – viaguestservices@gmail.com
General Manager – tom@viaaquarium.com
Marketing – hunter@viaportusa.com
Education Dept. – shannonperrott.via@gmail.com

Via Aquarium Hours

Daily Hours of Operation:
11:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Important: Ticket window will close an hour before closing (5:00 PM). Please arrive before 5:00 PM to be admitted to the aquarium.

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