When we think of public aquariums, we usually think of someplace interesting and educational, a destination to take your kids for an afternoon.

However, more and more, public aquariums are contributing to the scientific knowledge base. They are often affiliated with institutions of higher learning, and older ones typically have larger endowments which contribute to larger research budgets.

Today, many of the peer-reviewed studies on conservation of both freshwater and marine organisms originate from public aquariums.

Among the most spectacular public aquariums are some of the world's largest aquariums. Some you may learn are "accredited" and some or not. However, most of these would merit a trip to visit as they each offer something special and different and unique to explore.

For public aquariums, the accrediting bodies are, in the United States, the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Worldwide, the governing body is WAZA, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Public aquariums that are accredited are held to a higher standard than others in the care of the animals and in how they are managed.

This article lists for you the 10 largest public aquariums in the world at the time of this writing. Hopefully you will learn something that you didn’t know and feel inspired to visit one or more. Public Aquariums can be beautiful to see and experience.

If you have occasion to travel to some of these far-flung places, make a point of visiting these beautiful aquariums. They are awesome, mind-blowing, and especially because you're aquarists, you will likely be impressed.

We start out our list with the largest public aquarium in the world, in Zhuhai, China, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom.

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A screenshot taken from the

1. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, Zhuhai, China

Chimelong Ocean aquarium is located in Hengqin, Zhuhai, China (Macao). This aquarium was constructed on 28th November 2010 and officially opened on January 2014.

According to the engineering company, AECOM, and TEA, the Themed Entertainment Association, Chimelong is the tenth most visited aquarium in the world with approximate 10.83 million visitors annually.

Chimelong contains an overall water volume of 48.8 million liters or 13 million gallons. It has been ranked as the biggest aquarium on the continent of Asia as well as in the world.

Chimelong won the Thea Award over 169 international competitors for remarkable achievement, and Chimelong holds five Guinness World Records because of the following:

Being the biggest aquarium in the world: It has 7 themed areas in the park, each of them representing a section of the ocean.

Chimelong has the biggest aquarium tank in the world: This tank contains 22.7 million liters.

• It has the largest underwater viewing dome: The whale shark display tank has a diameter of twelve meters.

Chimelong has the largest acrylic viewing panel: It measures 39.6 meters, by 8.3 meters, by 2.77 meters.

• Has the largest aquarium viewing window.

2. Marine Life Park, Singapore

Marine Life Park is located in southern Singapore. It is divided in two parts, the actual aquarium (the S.E.A. Aquarium), and the adventure cove water park. Marine Life Park was previous the largest aquarium in the world until Chimelong Ocean Kingdom opened. Chimelong also took several of Marine Park's world records.

The aquarium has an overall volume of 45 million liters of water or 12 million gallons. Marine Life Park is a habitat for more than 100,000 sea creatures.

The most notable sea animals that overwhelm everyone who visits are hammerhead sharks, manta rays, goliath groupers, and other gorgeous sea giants.

They've had one major controversy. Several animal rights groups tried to prevent the catching of wild dolphins in the Philippines, and then shipping them to Singapore to Marine Life Park. The process was started and delayed, and sadly, three dolphins died during the trip.

A dolphin.
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Photo is courtesy of @Seawitch ©2019, All Rights Reserved.

Marine Life Park covers 20 acres of land, which may not sound like much. But in densely populated Singapore, Marine Life Park uses every inch the most effective way possible.

3. L’Oceanografic, Spain

This exquisite aquarium is situated in an exhibition hall called the City of Sciences and Arts. It holds around 42 million liters or 11 million gallons of water and is home of 45,000 specimens which belong to five hundred dissimilar species.

Some of the eye-catching sea animals in this aquarium include dolphins, beluga whales, rays, walruses, sharks, penguins, and many more.

L’Oceanografic aquarium water is pumped from the Mediterranean Sea.

4. Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, Georgia

Bernard Marcus, with his wife Billi Marcus, started this famous aquarium in November 2001. Jeff Swanagan, the executive director and president of Georgia Aquarium, is credited with its creation. His excellent leadership in procuring sea animals and the designing of Georgia aquarium structure has been noticed and appreciated by many.

Georgia Aquarium was opened in 2005. The most notable sea creatures that are in this aquarium: manta rays, whale sharks, bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, and beluga whales.

The Georgia Aquarium considers itself a research institute first and everything else second. It encompasses over 38 million liters of water or 10 million gallons, and it’s a home of more than 100,000 animals.

The aquarium is involved in research surveys in the eagle rays Sarasota Florida, Yucatan Peninsula, loggerhead sea turtles on the coast of Georgia, beluga whales in Alaska, Manatees in Quintana Roo, Mexico, and penguins in South Africa. That aquarium offers many ways for the public to get involved, including going on trips with them when they are out collecting animal specimens for the aquarium.

5. Moscow Aquarium or Oceanarium, Russia

A map to show you where the Aquarium is in Russia.
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A screenshot of GoogleMaps showing the location of Moscow's Oceanarium.

This aquarium is in downtown Moscow. It holds 6.6 million gallons of water, and boasts a terrific store where you can purchase anything needed for a home aquarium

6. The Seas With Nemo and Friends, US

The Seas With Nemo and Friends is a public aquarium that is part of EPCOT center at Walt Disney World, Florida. There is a massive viewing area and children's rides that showcase the enormity of their 21-million liter or 5.7-million gallon tanks. There are some children's activites that center around learning about the sea.

7. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, IL, US

The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois (USA) has a number of illustrious things about it. It is one of the earliest public aquariums in the US, opening in 1930. It was the first inland public aquarium that had a permanent display of marine animals.

Shedd holds about 5 million gallons of water or about 19 million liters. They are heavily involved in research and conservation activities and welcome volunteers in the aquarium and in the field.

8. uShaka Marine World, Durban, South Africa

uShaka Marine World is a sixteen-theme park, opened in 2004 in Durban, South Africa. This theme park was designed by Creative Kingdom Company. uShaka is home of cobia, ragged-tooth sharks, kingfish, hammerhead sharks, potato bass, geometric morays, honeycomb morays, and local gamefish.

uShaka Marine World has thirty-two tanks with an overall volume of 17.5 million liters or 4.6 million gallons of water. It holds a wide variety of sea animals that attracts massive tourists annually.

9. Atlantic Sea Park, Alesund, Norway

Atlantic Sea Park was started in 1951 and officially opened on 15th June 1998. This Sea Park is constructed into the coastline of Tueneset.

The Sea Park has over 20 aquariums showcasing numerous aquatic environments, sea depths, and life forms. Atlantic Sea Park attracts a high number of tourists. A high number of individuals enjoy the Sealbay with an underwater adventure that shows the seal's life unfolding in a unique way.

Atlantic Sea Park contains a beautiful lunch, coffee, or dessert restaurant where tourists enjoy a fascinating view of their 15-million liters of water or 4-million gallons.

10. Ambassador Lagoon, UAE

The Ambassador Lagoon in Dubai holds 11-million liters of water or 3 million gallons. It is part of a hotel/resort called Atlantis The Palm. There are some activities associated with the aquarium, but perhaps because of the language barrier, there isn't a lot of information available online.

Wrapping Up

The article has shown you the biggest public aquariums in the world, and we selected them based solely on the volume of water held at each aquarium.

There are many aquariums that we did not include--aquariums that are beautiful and worth visiting anyway. For example, the Honolulu Aquarium is beautiful and existed long before Hawaii became a state. The aquarium in Okinawa is supposed to be magnificent, but it didn't make our top 10 in size. We were sad not to include the Monterey Aquarium because that's where Carlson Surge Device was born.

Thank you for reading, and in the comments tell us if you have ever visited any of these aquariums or others.



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Author Profile: Joseph Keenman

Harvard-educated Joseph Keenman is a freelance science and business writer based in the UK.