Aquariums have been around since the time of the Roman Empire. The first fish to be transferred to an aquarium was the sea barbel, which the Romans kept in small marble tanks under the beds of their guest rooms. Eventually, glass panes were introduced that allowed the Romans to replace at least one side of the marble tanks with glass, thereby improving the visibility.
On the other side of the globe, China was also able to develop porcelain tubs where they could keep their goldfish. However, it was only in the middle of the 19th century that fish keeping using an aquarium became a popular hobby. The very first public aquarium, called the Fish House, was opened in 1853 at the London Zoo. The following year, Philip Henry Gosse, combining the words aquatic and vivarium, coined the term aquarium.
The hobby boomed further in the 20th century as electricity became more widely used. It allowed artificial lighting, aeration, filtration and water heating. Today, it has become the second most popular hobby after stamp collecting.
If you really want to an astonishing view of aquatic animals, the best way is through the large public aquariums located in big cities around the globe. Here is a list of the top 10 most amazing aquariums in the world.
The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium used to have the distinction of having the largest acrylic panel in the world, though the aquarium in Dubai has since surpassed it. Still, this aquarium is a must-see for those visiting Japan. It opened in 2002 as part of the island’s Ocean Expo Park. In just the last three years, four manta rays have been born in the aquarium. It has regular surprises for its visitors, making a trip there can truly be something memorable.
9. uShaka Marine World, Durban, South Africa
The uShaka Marine World aquarium is located in Durban, South Africa. It was actually built to resemble a ship’s wreckage, making its ambiance really unique and different. Visitors to the place can enjoy up to 32 tanks that feature practically every sea creature on earth, from several large dolphins to tiny sea horses. When you get hungry, you can actually fill up while having an underwater feeling. The eateries in the aquarium allow you to partake not only of the food in the restaurant, but also of the sights in the tanks. Try out the Cargo Hold restaurant, which features a full-size aquarium with sharks roaming around inside.
8. Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, Shanghai, China
The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium in China features an underwater tunnel that is 155 meters long. Move around the place and you will see the usual sea creatures that have become a staple in aquariums all over the world. However, what makes this aquarium unique is the presence of several endangered species from the country’s Yangtze River, including the Yangtze alligator and giant salamander. Visitors are also treated to the sights of Chinese water dragons and even rare penguins from Antarctica.
7. Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California
The Monterey Bay Aquarium first opened in 1984, but it has maintained its status as one of the most amazing aquariums in the world. That is because it plays host to over 35,000 aquatic animals. These creatures come from approximately 623 different species. The impressive array of sea animals includes everything from whales, hammerhead sharks, stingrays and blue fin tunas, to sea otters, jellyfish, sea sardines and wolf eels. This magnificent aquarium is open the entire year round and provides not just amazing views of the animals, but also a lot of educational information and knowledge.
6. L’Oceanografic, Valencia, Spain
L’Oceanografic is located in Valencia, Spain. The place itself is already a sight to behold, with its impressive water lily-inspired structure. Considered as probably the largest aquarium in Europe and one of the largest in the world, it covers up to 110,000 square meters of space. It lies at the middle of the City of Arts and Sciences, a futuristic complex in the city. The aquarium focuses on sea creatures from three ecosystems, namely the Antarctic, Arctic and Mediterranean Sea. It is host to more than 45,000 aquatic animals from these three regions.
5. Turkuazoo, Istanbul, Turkey
The Turkuazoo aquarium in Istanbul opened in 2009 and is funded by the public. It is considered as the nerve center of marine and aquatic research in the region. The aquarium is located inside the Forum Istanbul Shopping Mall. It has around 30 exhibits and several different zones, including one exclusively for tropical seas, another for flooded forests, and a separate one for rain-forests. It is the home of around 10,000 sea animals, including giant stingrays, tiger sharks, and even piranhas. This aquarium is a great place to learn more about the inhabitants of the sea.
4. Aquadom, Berlin, Germany
The Aquadom is an aquarium located inside the Radisson Hotel in Berlin, Germany. The size of the area it occupies may not be impressive at first, but once you see it, you will certainly be mesmerized by the structure. The aquarium has a cylindrical shape and runs 25 meters in height and 11 meters in diameter. It has a capacity of around a million liters of water, providing a sanctuary to more than 2,600 sea creatures. If that still does not impress you, maybe you should try the transparent elevator that goes right through the entire tank as you head towards the upper observation deck.
3. Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, Georgia
The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is one of the largest aquariums in the world. The impressive facility opened in 2005 after a generous grant of $250 million from Bernie Marcus, the owner of Home Depot. The aquarium features several sections, including the magnificent Ocean Voyager section. This section features whale sharks housed in tanks that have capacities of up to 24 million liters of water each.
2. The Deep Aquarium, Hull, England
The Deep Aquarium may not be the most impressive in terms of size, but nevertheless, it is still one of the most impressive. Strictly speaking, The Deep Aquarium is actually a submarium. It has tanks filled with 2.5 million liters of seawater. It plays host to seven variety of shark species, as well as more than 3,500 different kinds of sea animals and creatures. The aquarium opened in 2002 and has been a major tourist destination since it started its operations. The general public funds the place, and it also plays an important role in marine research through its modern aquatic laboratories.
1. Dubai Aquarium and Discovery Centre, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The royalty of Dubai has certainly put all that oil money to good use as the Emirates tries to position itself as a major tourist destination. Aside from the construction of tall buildings like the Burj Khalifa and man-made islands like the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai also has the Dubai Aquarium and Discovery Centre located at the giant Dubai Mall. It boasts of the largest acrylic panel in the world. The aquarium also plays host to more than 33,000 sea animals belonging to 85 different aquatic species sourced from around the world.