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The 12 Largest Aquariums In The United States in 2024

The Earth’s oceans cover the majority of its surface, teeming with a diverse array of fascinating creatures. From sea sponges to great white sharks, humans have long been captivated by the inhabitants of the deep. To bring these underwater wonders closer to home, aquariums have been established, showcasing a variety of marine life. Constructing an aquarium is a significant endeavor, highlighting humanity’s dedication to exploring the depths of the ocean. In this article, we will highlight and commemorate the 12 largest aquariums in the United States, providing insight into the scale of these aquatic marvels.

What Is An Aquarium?

An aquarium can be defined as a constructed aquatic enclosure or a series of enclosures designed to house marine animals. It serves as the aquatic counterpart to a zoo, providing a controlled environment for observing marine life. While the concept may seem straightforward, the implementation is complex. Water is heavy and challenging to manage effectively, and not all marine species can coexist harmoniously. Consequently, creating these artificial ecosystems is a challenging endeavor, making the largest aquariums in the U.S. worthy of celebration.

What is the purpose of the Aquarium?

Aquariums provide an opportunity for numerous individuals to explore and appreciate the diverse array of species inhabiting the marine world, many of which are challenging to observe in their natural habitats. Indeed, traversing the globe to encounter the myriad ecosystems and creatures concealed within it can be a daunting task!

Largest Aquariums In The United States

12. New York Aquarium

Situated in Brooklyn, New York, the New York Aquarium was inaugurated in 1957, showcasing a relatively expansive facility. It hosts a diverse collection of aquatic life, boasting 266 species. Spanning across 14 acres, the aquarium features over 1.25 million gallons of water. Among its captivating exhibits is the shark display, occupying the largest tank in the facility, containing 379,000 gallons of water.

11. Newport Aquarium Audubon Aquarium Of The Americas

Situated in Newport, Kentucky, the Newport Aquarium boasts a rich collection of marine life, housing over 20,000 animals spanning 90 different species. Renowned for its extensive showcase, the aquarium features over 70 exhibits and encompasses over 1,000,000 gallons of water across all tanks. Among its highlights are exhibits featuring shark rays, rare creatures, and various species of alligators. Notably, the main shark tank stands as the largest, accommodating 385,000 gallons of water. Additionally, the Newport Aquarium hosts special events such as Scuba Santa and the seasonal Mermaid Cove.

10. Audubon Aquarium Of The Americas

Nestled in New Orleans, near the Gulf of Mexico and in proximity to the Mississippi River, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas showcases a diverse array of marine life. Boasting over 10,000 animals encompassing 530 different species, the aquarium features numerous tanks, including one with an impressive 400,000 gallons of water capacity.

9. Texas State Aquarium

Situated in Corpus Christi, the Texas State Aquarium stands as the largest aquarium in the state. Offering a range of unique exhibits, including the impressive 400,000-gallon shark exhibit, an aviary, and multiple sections dedicated to land and air-dwelling creatures, this location provides diverse experiences for visitors. Renowned for its educational programs and tours, the aquarium offers students insights into the operational efforts and care practices involved in maintaining the well-being of the animals housed within.

8. Florida Aquarium

Situated in Tampa, Florida, the Florida Aquarium boasts 250,000 square feet of space, featuring its largest exhibit with 500,000 gallons of water. Renowned for its diverse ecosystem, the aquarium is home to over 7,000 species of plants and animals, including sharks, snakes, alligators, and more. Notably, the aquarium is a hub for coral reef research, with its research section successfully reproducing and preserving native coral species.

7. Tennessee Aquarium

Situated in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Tennessee Aquarium has been welcoming visitors for approximately 30 years and remains in a state of continual expansion. With a total volume of approximately 1,100,000 gallons across its tanks, it stands as a sizable aquatic facility. Its largest tank, holding 618,000 gallons, is a prominent feature among its exhibits. The aquarium is home to over 12,000 animals representing 800 species. Spanning about 200,000 square feet, its footprint is expansive, providing ample space for exploration and discovery.

6. Mystic Aquarium

Nestled in Mystic, Connecticut, the Mystic Aquarium is renowned for its expansive aquatic environments, boasting over 1,000,000 gallons of water across its various exhibits. Notably, it features an outdoor beluga display occupying a substantial tank holding 760,000 gallons of water. The aquarium is home to a diverse array of marine life, with over 10,000 animals representing various species such as sand tiger sharks, clownfish, and African penguins.

5. Monterey Bay Aquarium

Situated in Monterey, California, this aquarium boasts a singular tank that surpasses the combined volume of tanks found in other aquariums, with an impressive 1.2 million gallons of water. Housing a diverse array of marine life, it is home to 35,000 animals spanning over 550 species. With a total water volume of approximately 2.3 million gallons, the aquarium features captivating displays of large schools of sardines, African penguins, anemones, and sea otters, among others. Renowned for its commitment to community outreach and educational initiatives, the aquarium is a beacon of marine conservation efforts.

4. National Aquarium In Baltimore

Located in Baltimore, this renowned aquarium draws over 1.5 million visitors annually. Spanning a land area of more than 250,000 square feet, it houses an impressive collection of 17,000 animals representing 750 species. While its size may be smaller compared to Monterey Bay, the National Aquarium in Baltimore boasts a substantial water capacity of 2.2 million gallons across its tanks, with a remarkable 1.3 million gallons contained within a single tank. The aquarium offers a diverse range of exhibits, including jellyfish, aviaries, sharks, coral reefs, arthropods, reptiles, and more, ensuring a captivating experience for visitors of all ages.

3. Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium is a large public aquarium in Chicago. This aquarium is known for its vast number of animals, over 32,000, and for its large collection of species, numbering over 1,500. To house all these creatures, the aquarium has 5 million gallons of water. The largest tank contains 2 million gallons of water.  The aquarium is home to a wide assortment of animals and award-winning exhibits. Also, this aquarium stands out for its Greek architecture, giving the aquarium a unique, historic look.

2. The Seas With Nemo And Friends

Operated by Disney, The Seas with Nemo and Friends now occupies the space formerly known as The Living Seas. This reimagined aquarium incorporates a unique blend of aquatic exhibits and interactive attractions, including a dedicated ride section. Spanning 185,000 square feet, the aquarium boasts an impressive water volume of 5,700,000 gallons, housing a diverse array of 8,500 creatures. Beyond the captivating marine life, visitors can enjoy special experiences like dolphin interactions and SCUBA diving opportunities for certified divers, making it a truly immersive destination for ocean enthusiasts.

1. Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium stands as the largest aquarium in the United States, boasting an impressive capacity of over 11 million gallons of water. Among its remarkable features is a single tank holding 6.3 million gallons. Housing more than 60 distinct animal habitats, the aquarium is not merely a sanctuary for sharks and beluga whales but also a hub for research and conservation efforts. With a steadfast commitment to expansion, ongoing research initiatives, and a focus on preserving aquatic ecosystems, the Georgia Aquarium remains dedicated to safeguarding marine life for future generations.

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