Ammon Covino, 39, of Meridian, and Chris Conk, 40, of Middleton, were arrested Thursday and charged in Boise federal court with illegally purchasing marine life for captive display at the aquarium.
A Florida federal grand jury indicted the two in November.
The four-count indictment, unsealed Thursday, alleges that Covino and Conk, who helped found the Idaho Aquarium, purchased four spotted eagle rays and two lemon sharks and shipped them to Idaho. The marine wildlife were harvested illegally and without a permit, according to court documents.
Covino and Conk appeared in Boise federal court Thursday before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale. She ordered the defendants to appear March 15 in a Florida federal court in Key West.
The Idaho Aquarium, opened just over a year ago at Cole and Franklin roads. Its Facebook page Thursday said it was closed due to unforeseen circumstances and would reopen Friday.
In a separate case in December 2011, Conk pleaded guilty to illegally shipping protected coral from his Middleton home. In March 2012, Conk was sentenced to two years federal probation.
Conk is a straight-up guy and never, ever lies, Covino told the Statesman in 2011. If he was breaking the law, he didnt know. If someone caught him breaking the law, probably they should have just told him.
Covino is listed as the nonprofit Idaho Aquariums president and Conk its secretary, according to the Idaho Secretary of State.
Last year, Covino and his brother, Vince, opened a for-profit aquarium in Portland, Ore., and propose opening another in Texas.
Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell