Visit Belgium's revolutionary TODI
Indoor diving centres in Europe are becoming more popular during the cold season. These are places where you savour the benefits of diving – with new attractions and most of all, at greater depths. Nemo33 and YS-40 are the leading indoor diving centres regarding depth so far. If you start an indoor pool with a maximum depth of 10 metres, you need to offer something that other operators don't. This is where TODI in Belgium stands out – within its indoor pool are 2,300 tropical fishes that accompany divers as they take a dip in the pool.
According to our navigation system we have reached our destination. However, we were not completely convinced, as we found ourselves standing between a garbage dump and a run-down industrial building, which had been renovated. But a small sign pointed the way to two round concrete buildings. Formerly a water storage facility for coal mining, one of the buildings now serve as an indoor pool, while the other smaller one functions as a giant filter for the new project. A large display in the entrance hall shows how the area looked alike in the zenith of the coal mining. It appeared that we had indeed arrived at TODI.
The complex transformation had taken a long time and involved a large monetary investment. A new concrete rim was installed in the old funnel, and one can walk within the interior and view the activity in the pool through viewing windows. The visitor lounge has its own staircase. The surrounding infrastructure was not preserved. An elevator brings divers from the changing room to the surface level, enhancing the divers' convenience. So, it's off into the pool to swim with the fishes – but what would they say to that?
Divers are not really fans of keeping fishes in aquariums, in which the fishes are confined and the living conditions not ideal. But here? Holding as much as 6.5 million litres of fresh water, the basin has a diameter of 36 metres and a depth of 10 metres. The fishes range from one to sixty centimetres long, and none of them have been wild-caught. Some were taken from aquariums in which the living conditions were not ideal, while others had simply grown too large. The population is subject to limits and this is monitored by a biologist. The water quality is kept at an optimum level, thanks to a huge filter system. To prevent the water from being contaminated, all equipment brought in by divers are cleaned with a hydrogen peroxide solution before it enters the water. We asked the fish if they were happy...
Cichlids and tilapias swim freely in the pool. A complete list of the fish species in the pool can be found at the TODI's website (www.todi.be/en/fische/). The silver arowana rotates on the surface and the Iridescent sharks hide under the car wrecks. The first own offspring are born. It seems as if the fishkeeping is in perfect order.
Of course, the pool is not bare. There are tubes and canyons in it, a bar with a beer tap, a diving bell and many other structures in the water.
TODI is a test centre for Mares, and equipment can be easily rented here. About thirty cameras have been set up in the pool, so the lifeguards need not get their feet wet to monitor the divers in the pool ;-)
Seminars and other events can also be organised at TODI. What better way to top off your event with a dip in the pool – that's a real bonus!
In the end, we did like the facility. The journey to get there was easy – it was just 75 km beyond the border – and the experience of diving with the fishes was really nice. If you have time and sip some “After dive deco beers” in the restaurant, you can quickly get to know some Belgian divers.
3582 Beringen, Germany
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Tel .: +32 (0) 11 36 40 40
Prices: From 27 € -
For more information, visit: www.todi.be/en/prijzen
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