Aquarium Pioneer - Philip Henry Gosse

Do you know who invented the marine aquarium?

Well as it happens a very early pioneer in Victorian England was a man named Philip Henry Gosse - and he literally lived down the road in Poole, Dorset!

Henry Gosse Naturlaist

P.H. Gosse (known as Henry to his friends) was an accomplished naturalist and author - he wrote the 1st ever book on keeping marine aquariums way back in the 1800's - Gosse had 39 books published and is remembered as a pioneer of the glazed marine aquarium.

'Following his experiments, glass boxes filled with salt water, plants, and animals became vital pieces of scientific apparatus. At the same time, a crystal clear aquarium tank also became a ‘must have’ display case of sea creatures for the fashionable Victorian conservatory.'

He was known to keep sea anemones in jars on his window sill. In those very early days there were no electric pumps or aeration - water had to be changed frequently and unfortunately many animals perished quickly. However there was an understanding of biological processes and Philips discoveries went on to inform the likes of Charles Darwin!

PH Gosse was an avid artist and drew some fantastic drawing and paintings of sea life - most of which had never been seen by people of the Victoria Era.

A true pioneer and the fist person to really coin the phrase 'aquarium'. He sparked interest in marine life and the first craze in marine fish keeping. Some of the old Victorian aquarium designs are stunning and elaborate. The Horniman museum in London has a permanent exhibit dedicated to PH Gosse's work and includes a reproduction of large aquarium (as well as other beautiful marine life to see)

To learn more about the man get yourself a copy of the book 'Glimpses Of The Wonderful' by Anne Thwaite - an interesting biography that includes some of his drawings of life from the ocean. Better still visit The Horniman Museum in London where they a have a dedicated Philip Henry Gosse exhibit to enjoy.

Philip Henry Gosse - Biography

Those local to the Dorset area may have spotted a huge mural painting in honour of the man - only recently completed,  its on the side of a shop at the very end of Poole High Street so next time you visit go and take a look. (see link below)

info articles on Philip Henry Gosse:


PH Gosse Victorian aquarium