The original Art Deco building opened to the public on June 6, 1936, to coincide with the festivities of the Texas Centennial celebration. The saltwater section was added later and opened on May 6, 1964. The Aquarium is part of the City of Dallas Park and Recreation Department and is managed by the Dallas Zoo.
The Aquarium is home to a varied collection of approximately 6,000 aquatic animals, including marine and freshwater fish, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. The Aquarium also participates in a number of national and international conservation and research projects. It is a leader in the breeding of critically endangered Texas species, such as the Texas blind salamander and several desert fishes that are already extinct in nature.