The 12 Largest Aquariums in the United States

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: March 28, 2022
Image Credit eril Victory/Shutterstock.com
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The vast majority of the world is covered by oceans, and in those oceans are a lot of interesting creatures. From sea sponges to great white sharks, it’s only fair that humans are fascinated by these creatures of the deep. So, we have done what humans do best. We’ve created aquariums to look at some of these amazing animals. Building an aquarium is no small feat. That’s why we’re going to identify and celebrate the 12 largest aquariums in the United States. That way, we can see how big we’ve managed to get these aquatic zones!

What is an Aquarium?

Sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) swimming with other fish in an aquarium.
Aquariums are great places to see unique and exotic animals.

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An aquarium is best described as an artificial aquatic tank or series of tanks that house aquatic animals. Another way to put it would be the aquatic equivalent of a zoo. The idea is simple, but the execution is difficult. Water is heavy and difficult to store correctly. Also, not every sea creature can survive in the same area. Creating these artificial environments is difficult, so the biggest ones should be celebrated!

The Largest Aquariums in the United States

12. New York Aquarium

This Brooklyn-based aquarium takes up 14 acres in New York City

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The New York Aquarium is located in Brooklyn, New York. The newest version of the aquarium was opened in 1957, and it boasts a somewhat large size. It has 266 species of aquatic life, and the aquarium stretches out over 14 acres and has over 1.25 million gallons of water. The aquarium has many different exciting exhibits, like sharks!

11. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

This New Orleans-based aquarium has over 10,000 creatures

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The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is located in New Orleans which is close to the Gulf of Mexico but situated close to the Mississippi River. The aquarium has over 10,000 different animals from 530 different species. The aquarium has many tanks, and one of them has 400,000 gallons of water in it!

10. Newport Aquarium

The Newport Aquarium has shark rays which are considered very rare

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The Newport Aquarium is located in Newport, Kentucky, and it has over 20,000 animals as well as 90 different species. This aquarium is known for having over 70 exhibits and over 1,000,000 gallons of water throughout all the tanks. The exhibits include shark rays, very rare creatures, along with many different alligators. Newport Aquarium also hosts Scuba Santa and the seasonal Mermaid Cover.

9. Texas State Aquarium

The Texas State Aquarium is famous for its shark exhibit

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The Texas State Aquarium is operated in Corpus Christie, and it’s the largest aquarium in the state. This location has many unique exhibits like the 400,000-gallon shark exhibit, an aviary, and multiple sections dedicated to land and air-dwelling creatures. The aquarium is also known for its numerous educational programs and tours, allowing students to learn about the efforts that go into keeping the aquarium operational and the animals happy.

8. Florida Aquarium

Florida Aquarium has many interesting creatures and does a lot to help coral reef research

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As the name suggests, the Florida Aquarium is located in Tampa, Florida. The aquarium has 250,000 square feet of space and its largest exhibit has 500,000 gallons of water. This aquarium is famous for having over 7,000 species of plants and animals living on-site. Aside from being the home to sharks, snakes, alligators, and more, the aquarium also specializes in coral reef research. The aquarium’s research section has managed to reproduce and save native coral.

7. Tennessee Aquarium

This aquarium has a tank that contains 618,000 gallons

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Located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Tennessee Aquarium has been open for about 30 years now, and it continues to expand. The total volume of the tanks is about 1,100,000, making it a very large aquarium. The largest tank is 618,000 gallons and the aquarium contains over 12,000 animals from 800 species. The footprint of this aquarium is very large, measuring about 200,000 square feet.

6. Mystic Aquarium

Mystic Aquarium has an outdoor beluga whale display

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The Mystic Aquarium is located in Mystic, Connecticut, and it’s famous for having over 1,000,000 gallons of water in its various settings. This aquarium is famous for being home to an outdoor beluga display that takes up a tank of 760,000 gallons of water. The Mystic Aquarium is home to over 10,000 animals coming from a wide variety of different species including sand tiger sharks, clownfish, and African penguins.

5. Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium is famous for its large schools of fish

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This aquarium is located in Monterey, California. The aquarium is famous for having a single tank that is larger than the entire volume of tanks at other aquariums with 1.2 million gallons. The aquarium is home to 35,000 different animals that come from over 550 species. The total volume of water in this aquarium is about 2.3 million gallons of water. The aquarium is home to large schools of sardines, African penguins, anemones, sea otters, and many others. The aquarium is famous for its community outreach efforts and dedication to education.  

4. National Aquarium in Baltimore

The National Aquarium in Baltimore was once named the Baltimore Aquarium

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This Baltimore-based aquarium is famous for bringing in so many people as visitors each year, with over 1.5 million attendees. The land area of this aquarium is over 250,000 square feet and it contains 17,000 animals from 750 species. That might be smaller than Monterey Bay, but that aquarium boosts its overall numbers with large schools of small fish. Nevertheless, the National Aquarium in Baltimore has 2.2 million gallons of water in its tanks and 1.3 million of them are in a single tank. The aquarium has jellyfish, aviaries, sharks, coral reefs, arthropods, reptiles, and lots more.

3. Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium has a tank with over 2 million gallons of water inside

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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 the 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

This aquarium was remodeled for the Finding Nemo movie

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Disney owns and operates The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and it took over where The Living Seas used to be. This re-branded aquarium is atypical because a large section of it was turned into a ride. Nevertheless, this 185,000 square foot aquarium holds 5,700,000 gallons of water as well as 8,500 different creatures. Aside from all the different animals in the water, this aquarium offers unique experiences such as dolphin interactions and even SCUBA diving for certified divers.  

1. Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium holds over 11 million gallons of water

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The Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the United States. The attraction holds more than 11 million gallons of water. One of these tanks holds 6.3 million gallons of water on its own. More than 60 different animal habitats exist in the aquarium, too. However, the aquarium is more than a home to sharks and beluga whales. It’s a place where research takes place and where conservation is key. The aquarium doesn’t rest on its laurels; it constantly looks to expand, research, and turn its focus to the preservation of aquatic life for the future.

Ranking the Largest Aquariums in the U.S.

Determining which of the aquariums in the U.S. is the largest can be difficult. After all, not all of them publish data about how large they are, their total animal counts, or how much water they contain. All of those are great measures for determining which of the aquariums is the largest.

We’ve measured these according to various stats and ranked them accordingly. One thing is for sure, though: The Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the United States.

Final Thoughts about the Largest Aquariums in the United States

Both aquariums and zoos are integral parts of society. They are much more than attractions that people can visit and learn about animals. They’re a place where people can learn about what it means to take care of creatures and engage in conservation efforts.

 If humanity is going to guide the world into the future, then aquariums and zoos are a necessity. People need to see how important these animals are to the world and witness the raw power of nature in a safe manner. Any of the aquariums listed here would be great for that purpose.

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About the Author

I am a freelancer specializing in SEO content writing. I write in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I've been writing full-time since 2018, so I've been doing remote work before it was cool. When I'm not working, I can be found reading, trying to catch up on my tv show backlog, playing video games, and starting stories that I'll never finish.

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