A public aquarium (pl. aquaria) or public water zoo is the aquatic counterpart of a zoo, which houses living aquatic animal and plant specimens for public viewing. Most public aquariums feature tanks larger than those kept by home aquarists, as well as smaller tanks.
Since the first public aquariums were built in the mid-19th century, they have become popular and their numbers have increased. Most modern accredited aquariums stress conservation issues and educating the public.
The first public
The old Berlin Aquarium opened in 1869. The building site was to be Unter den Linden (along a major avenue), in the centre of town, not at the
The Artis aquarium at
Before its closing on 30 September 2013, the oldest American aquarium was the
Public aquariums today
Modern aquarium tanks can hold millions of litres of water and can house large species, including
For marketing purposes, many aquariums promote special exhibits, in addition to their permanent collections. Some have aquatic versions of a
The largest public aquarium is the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom theme park, opened in 2014 in Hengqin, Zhuhai, with a total of 48.75 million litres (12.87 million US gal) of water. The second largest is the Marine Life Park in southern Singapore with a total of 45 million litres (12 million US gal) of water for more than 100,000 marine animals of over 800 species.
Most public aquariums are located close to the ocean, for a steady supply of natural seawater. An inland pioneer was Chicago's Shedd Aquarium that received seawater shipped by rail in special tank cars. The early (1911) Philadelphia Aquarium, built in the city's disused water works, had to switch to treated city water when the nearby river became too contaminated. Similarly, the recently opened Georgia Aquarium filled its tanks with fresh water from the city water system and salinated its saltwater exhibits using the same commercial salt and mineral additives available to home aquarists. The South Carolina Aquarium pulls the salt water for their exhibits right out of the Charleston harbour.
In January 1985,
According to Samantha Muka, creating new public aquariums is an expensive process, that can become so expensive as to render the project economically unsustainable, due to the logistical demands of creating environments in which aquatic animals can survive.
Public aquariums are often affiliated with oceanographic research institutions or conduct their research programs, and sometimes specialise in species and ecosystems that can be found in local waters. For example, the
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- Case Studies in Aquarium History
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- Public aquariums in the United States
- A map of public aquaria around the world