With the summer travel season looking promising, now might be a good time to explore new parts of the world. And why not include a few aquariums along the way as well! There are a few tanks out there that just might be more impressive than your own. So if you’re looking to travel, or prefer doing so digitally, check out the 8 largest aquariums in the world!
The 8 Largest Aquariums in the World
Here are 8 of the largest aquarium in the world along with gallon size and some of their inhabitants!
The Georgia Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the United States and was briefly the largest in the world, from 2005 when it opened until 2012. At which point, it lost its title to the Shanghai Ocean and Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in China. However, it remains an impressive display and world-class tourist destination for lovers of massive displays full of rare marine fish.
This aquarium was intentionally designed around its 6.3 million gallon Whale Shark Ocean Voyager display. In fact, the Georgia Aquarium is the only aquarium in the world outside of Asia that houses this fish. Considering they grow up to 60 feet in length as adults, only the largest of displays can house even juveniles. Four of them currently live at the Georgia Aquarium and visitors can not only view but even swim with them!
But if you aren’t in a traveling mood, the Georgia Aquarium website has an Ocean Voyager live stream, allowing you to enjoy the Whale Sharks and 50+ species they share their tank with.
With over 10 million total gallons of water volume behind its doors, the Georgia Aquarium was made possible thanks to a $250 million donation that The Home Depot’s co-founder Bernard Marcus, together with Atlanta businessmen, were willing to provide!
The Singapore S.E.A. Aquarium
The S.E.A. Aquarium is part of the Marine Life Park in Singapore, one of Asia’s most prosperous metropolises. From 2012 to 2014, the S.E.A. Aquarium was the largest in the world, with over 12 million total gallons of water and an Open Ocean tank holding 4,800,000 gallons and nearly 50,000 animals! The Open Ocean tank also held the previous world record for the largest viewing panel: 118 feet wide and 27 feet tall, which creates the perspective of standing on the ocean floor.
49 different marine and freshwater habitats are on display taking visitors on a journey across the diverse biomes of the world. At least 800 species are on display here, if not more, and while they don’t house whale sharks they do have several notable large ocean dwellers, including groupers, manta rays, and hammerhead sharks.
Some of the main attractions include IndoPacific biomes, which are right in the backyard of Singapore. East African, Red Sea, South China Sea, and Straits of Malacca displays help locals match fish to familiar geographic landmarks. And like the finest modern aquariums, the S.E.A. has rides, restaurants, and other attractions to ensure you get the most from your visit!
The Aquarium of Western Australia
When it originally opened in 1988, the Aquarium of Western Australia was the largest in the country. While there are several other competitors for that title today, the AQWA still has the largest tank on the continent!
Of the 1,057,000 gallons on display, 793,000 of them are held in the Shipwreck Coast tank. A 322 ft underwater acrylic tunnel allows viewers to get up close and personal with enormous grey nurse sharks, loggerhead turtles, and a collection of 70 other animal species.
There are five distinct areas on display at the AQWA. Along with the Shipwreck Coast tank, there are Perth Coast, Great Southern, Far North, and Marmion Marine Park; each one showcasing a coastal region of Western Australia.
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium plays a strong role in Japan’s recent history and rise to economic success. It was built on the site of the World’s Exposition held in 1975 and opened in 1976. Back then, it had the largest single aquarium in the world, with a 291,000 gallon display that was the envy of all.
Named the Okinawa Expo Aquarium, it was a major tourist attraction but attendance gradually faded over the years. In 2002, the facility was redesigned and reopened to attract new tourists. It was also rebranded as the “Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium.” “Churaumi” takes its inspiration from the Okinawan language, meaning “graceful” or “beautiful.” And “Umi” means “ocean” in Japanese.
The original main display also got an upgrade! The new Kuroshio Sea display holds an impressive 1,981,000 gallons (7,500 square meters) of water and features what was at the time the world’s largest acrylic panel.
This display exemplifies how warm, tropical water gets transported by the Kuroshio Current, the western arm of the North Pacific Gyre. Fish normally found closer to the equator, including manta rays and whale sharks, are found both in the Kuroshio Sea display and Okinawan waters!
Shanghai Ocean Aquarium
If you’re ever in Pudong, Shanghai’s bustling business district, consider checking out the incredible Shanghai Ocean Aquarium (SOA). Located near the Oriental Pearl TV tower, this aquarium was a joint investment by Singapore-based Straco Corp. and China Poly Group. You can join over 2 million yearly visitors in exploring all that’s on display.
The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium is world famous for holding the longest aquarium tunnel. At 551 feet, the view takes you through such diverse regions as a coral reef, the open ocean, a shark cove, and a kelp cave.
In total display water volume, this aquarium contains 1.29 million gallons, including a 580,000 gallon main display tank. Species from the Amazon, Australia, Africa, and other regions of the world are to be found, including the Arapaima, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish.
But what draws most viewers is the diversity of native Chinese species, many of which are critically endangered. The Chinese Sturgeon, Yangzte Alligator, and Chinese Giant Salamander are just a few of the vanishingly rare specimens found in this megadiverse country that you’re not likely to see anywhere else.
The Dubai Mall Aquarium
Dubai, UAE, is a city of extreme wealth and some of the most jaw-dropping architecture in the world. The Dubai Mall, where this aquarium is found, is the world’s largest in terms of total area. And the Mall Aquarium, at 2,770,000 gallons, is an incredible sight, housing around 140 different species and 65,000 individual specimens.
Opened in 2008, the Lost Chambers Aquarium is themed around the lost city of Atlantis. The fantasy element may not be as appealing for more scientifically minded viewers. But the majority of viewers are visitors on vacation who can afford the expensive luxuries on hand in Dubai.
Lunar cyclic lighting improves the deep sea experience for viewers near the bottom of the tank. Ticket holders have several viewing angles on this impressive 167 x 66 x 36 foot display. You can enter the 157 foot viewing tunnel, which allows for 270 degree views from 36 feet beneath the surface.
Glass bottomed boat tours from the surface are an option for the more claustrophobic. And the Dubai Aquarium even provides Shark Encounter and Dive experiences for those with the right training, bringing you within touching distance of sharks and rays.
The Aquarium of Genoa
Genoans have strong pride in their most famous local historical figure: Christopher Columbus, discoverer of the New World. The Aquarium of Genoa was built in 1992, celebrating that initial contact with the Americas in 1942. The building was intentionally designed to resemble a ship heading out to sea and is the work of Genoese architect Renzo Piano.
As the largest aquarium in Europe, the Aquarium of Genoa holds in total 1,600,000 gallons of water collected in 70 tanks and attracts 1.2 million visitors per year. While it doesn’t have million gallon displays like some of the other aquariums on this list the Aquarium of Genoa is still the finest European institution for viewing Pacific and Indian Ocean species as well as several Caribbean reef exhibits, which Columbus would have navigated through on his way West.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium
The Monterey Bay Aquarium, opened in 1984 in the struggling Cannery District of the city, is a place holding several “firsts” in the aquatic world. It was the first aquarium in the world to feature a living kelp forest, using seawater pumped directly from Monterey Bay, their natural habitat. Jellyfish care was pioneered here.
And it was also the first place on earth to successfully care for Great White Sharks, which are notorious for being too active and stressed by the confines of any tank. The first specimen was on display in 2004 and thrived for over 6 months before release.
Their 1 million gallon display tank proved suitable for the temporary housing of juvenile White Sharks for years until the last specimen was released in 2016. The Bay Aquarium found that keeping them alive was too resource intensive as these gigantic pelagic predators need a ton of food, attention, and space to prevent injuries. And perhaps unsurprisingly, the sharks were far too aggressive, regularly attacking and killing their tank mates.