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Aquarium leak at Gulfstream Park closes two casinos

The giant saltwater aquarium stood 13 feet tall at Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino in Hallandale Beach, an unmistakable visual treat for visitors to its second-floor casino.

Until it sprang a leak Sunday, a little after midnight. Water damage closed the first- and second-floor casinos.

Work continued Sunday night to clean up everything. Director of gaming Mike Couch said he could not guess when the casinos would reopen or how much the clean-up might cost.

“We’re just working through things, like the games, one by one and making sure things are OK,” he said.

A seam in the 13,000 gallon saltwater aquarium in the second-floor casino cracked open, and about 10,000 gallons of water gushed onto the floor, Couch said.

“It just kind of gave out,” Couch said, “and the water came spilling on out.”

The cylindrical aquarium, 13 feet in diameter and 13 feet high, held more than a dozen fish, Couch said, including sharks, a lion fish, a puffer and various tropical fish.

After it burst, casino employees raced into action. They grabbed towels and other supplies from the bar area, Couch said, and used them to plug the leak.

When it stopped, about 3,000 gallons remained in the aquarium. It was enough to keep the fish safe and swimming until employees of the company that cleaned the tank came, gathered the fish and took them back to its headquarters to hold them, Couch said.

The casino was evacuated, and employees got to work soaking up the water.

The water affected two casinos — the second-floor gaming area as well as the one of the first floor. No other parts of Gulfstream were affected.

The buffet, simulcast area, dining rooms and shops went on as normal.

The aquarium’s future had not been decided Sunday.

“We haven’t gotten to that point yet,” Couch said. “Right now, our focus is in getting everything cleaned up.”