Now that it's too cold and dark for most outdoor activities, it may be a good time to take your children to the twilight world of an aquarium.

Many-armed attractions

Little terrors can encounter tentacled terrors in a new display of octopuses and their relatives, including the deadly blue-ringed octopus from Australia. In the SeaLab area children can get to grips with crabs and starfish (under supervision) or explore nursery units filled with baby sharks and rays in their see-through egg cases.

The Scores, St Andrew's, Fife (01334-474786) Adults pounds 4.25, children pounds 2.95 Family (2 adults and up to four children) pounds 12.50

Walk among the fish

This state-of-the-art aquarium offers visitors a walk through the world's largest underwater tunnel. Swimming within the million gallons of water around you are 9ft sand tiger sharks. From tomorrow until Christmas children get in free; around Christmas they can see the unusual spectacle of a "diving Santa".

North Queensferry, Fife. Open 11am-5pm; Sat and Sun 10am-6pm. Adults pounds 5.80, children pounds 3.50, u4s free. Family ticket (two adults and up to four children) pounds 15.95

An aquarium for the future

Climb a set of stairs which carry you from sea level to tropical rainforest, and lift a flap on a monitor to see how elephant fish communicate. A display area shows how children themselves can contribute towards pond conservation.

The Horniman Museum, 100 London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 (0181-6991872) Mon-Sat 10.30am- 5.30pm, Sun 2-5.30pm free

Virtual reality inland

Britain's biggest aquarium and the only inland sea life centre features a walkthrough tunnel, traversing an ocean display teeming with sharks, stingrays, conger eels, giant skate and 100 other marine species. There are also freshwater creatures from ponds, rivers and lakes, and a virtual reality room.

The Water's Edge, Brindley Place, Birmingham (0121-633 4700) Open every day 10am-5pm Adults pounds 6.50, children pounds 3.95, u3s free

Sharks in the classroom

Children are enrolled in a shark academy, where the desks contain sharks' teeth and stomach contents. After watching sharks swim in a giant tank, the cadets are given a push-button quiz, and a certificate if they pass. And if playing Jaws gets boring, they can always go and have a look at the un-deadly penguins.

Lodmoor Country Park, Weymouth, Dorset (01305- 761 070) Open every day 11am-3pm. Adults pounds 5.75, children pounds 3.50

Seal hospital - and restaurant

Every year Europe's largest seal rescue centre rescues, rehabilitates and releases around 30 sick or abandoned pups. Follow the pups from hospital to outdoor nursery and convalescence pools. Seals are fed at 11am, 11.30am, 3pm and 3.30pm.

Gweek, Cornwall (01326-221 361) Open every day, 9am-5pm. Adults pounds 4.50, children pounds 3.25, u4s free

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