The Braves star who lives in an aquarium

Ozzie Albies is surrounded by fish, turtles and sharks at his Georgia home

August 16th, 2023

pulls up a video on his phone, pushing it excitedly into my line of view.

He's not showing me some big home run he hit or some diving play at second base or even the time he whacked a ball so hard he tattooed his name on it. It's something he seems even happier to talk about.

The clip starts off with his finger swooshing around in a pool of fish -- his, I learned, 10,000-gallon pool of fish at his suburban Atlanta home. A chubby grey creature starts making its way over to his hand.

"When I call him, he always comes to me," Albies tells me, staring at his video. "You splash the water to give him the sign like, 'Hey, I'm here.'"

Sure enough, the grey koi fish kisses Albies' finger and then swims away. Albies swishes his finger in the water again in the video, telling me the same exact fish -- out of the various others in the tank -- will come back. Seconds later, it does.

"He's like a -- he acts like a puppy," the three-time All-Star says. "I pet him and everything."

Albies first became interested in fish and fish tanks growing up in Curaçao -- a Dutch Caribbean, baseball-loving paradise with some of the clearest waters and busiest reefs on Earth.

"My grandfather used to keep koi fish back in 2001, 2002 -- when I was a little kid," Albies said. "I always had that in my family. We always loved animals."

So as soon as he settled into his own place in Marietta, Ga., and had signed a long-term contract with the Braves, Albies got to work getting his own tanks built around the house. It was a reminder of home 1,178 miles away.

Along with the koi fish pond, Albies has three tanks inside -- measuring 550, 300 and 450 gallons. All fresh water. The biggest is 12-feet long, while the other two are eight feet.

Although he uses a local service in Marietta for construction and installation, the 26-year-old is very hands-on in the process. You can see him in clips reviewing the finished product, helping to change the water or, sometimes, getting in the tank himself. If it's good enough to hold a Major League Baseball player, it should be good enough to hold his beloved sea life.

Albies' tanks include turtles, various kinds of tropical fish (he'll get new ones delivered overnight) and a long arowana, or, as Ozzie says, "lucky fish."

"You see that, that's a shark," Albies points in a video on his phone. "Freshwater shark. Right now, it's 12-14 inches but it can get to like two-and-a-half feet."

A few of the fish even have names: There's Orange -- a fish he rescued from a corner store when someone came in at the same time as him and wanted to get rid of it. There's Mango because it's the color of a mango, and there's Oreo because, yes, you guessed it: it's black and white.

Albies, his wife, Andreia, and his mother-in-law all help with the feeding and maintaining of the tanks. They've added reefs, driftwood and other underwater familiarities to make the fish feel at peace. The maintenance is a part of the experience that Albies thoroughly enjoys.

"It's relaxing, actually," he told me. "It's not a hard thing to do. It's easy."

Screenshot via Premier Aquatics

But Albies, of course, has another very full-time job: He's a two-time Silver Slugger on a first-place Braves team. He's on the road for much of the year. How can he check on his acquatic buddies back in Georgia? How can he make sure everything is going OK?

Screenshot via Premier Aquatics

"I have a ring camera," Albies laughed.

Yes, before or after a game, Albies will check a doorbell camera on his phone to see how things are faring under his homemade sea.

Even though he knows a lot already, Albies would like to continue furthering his knowledge on preserving tanks and learning about marine life. Luckily, one of the best places for that is nearby: The world-renowned Georgia Aquarium.

"I've been there three times already," Albies said. "Maybe on an off-day, I'll try to get something where they explain to me how to do filtration. I'm planning a day to do a behind-the-scenes tour."

What about adding more tanks to his collection?

The second baseman has no immediate plans to add on. Right now, it seems to serve as a comfort away from his busy life. His own little island creation he can escape to during MLB's rigorous, 162-game grind.

Still, maybe someday.

"I'm keeping it right here," he told me. "But maybe when I'm finished with baseball completely, I'll build something bigger ..."