The 12 Largest Aquariums In The United States in 2024

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: November 17, 2023
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Key Points:

  • The Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the United States holding more than 11 million gallons of water.
  • Located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Tennessee Aquarium has been open for about 30 years now with a total volume of tanks at about 1,100,000 gallons
  • The Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut, is famous for having over 1,000,000 gallons of water and for being home to an outdoor beluga display that takes up a tank of 760,000 gallons.
One tank at the largest aquarium holds 6.3 million gallons of water!

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 biggest aquariums in the U.S. 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.

©Valeri Potapova/Shutterstock.com

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 aquariums in the U.S. should be celebrated!

Largest Aquariums In The United States

12. New York Aquarium

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

©David Shankbone / CC BY 2.5 – License

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, which is the largest tank in the aquarium and holds 379,000 gallons of water.

11. Newport Aquarium Audubon Aquarium Of The Americas

The Newport Aquarium has shark rays which are considered very rare.

©yvonne n / CC BY 2.0 – License

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. The main shark tank is the largest, holding 385,000 gallons of water. Newport Aquarium also hosts Scuba Santa and the seasonal Mermaid Cover.

10. Audubon Aquarium Of The Americas

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

©MusikAnimal / Creative Commons – License

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 of 530 different species. The aquarium has many tanks, and one of them has 400,000 gallons of water in it!

9. Texas State Aquarium

The Texas State Aquarium is famous for its shark exhibit

©Smcafee87 / Creative Commons – License

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

©Palmount45 / Creative Commons – License

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

Tennessee Aquarium at Chattanooga

This aquarium has a tank that contains 618,000 gallons.

©Ɱ / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

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

baby beluga whale

Mystic Aquarium has an outdoor

beluga whale

display.

©Luna Vandoorne/Shutterstock.com

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

©iStock.com/santalechuga

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

©ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com

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

©Sea Cow / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

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

This aquarium was remodeled for the Finding Nemo movie

©Jedi94 / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

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

Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium holds over 11 million gallons of water

©Connor.carey / 1.0 Generic – License

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 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.

Aquariums in New Hampshire

Aquariums are a great place for people to learn about marine animals and engage in conservation efforts.

©NDAB Creativity/Shutterstock.com

Honorable Mentions: Other Large Aquariums in the U.S.

New York Aquarium, Coney Island, Brooklyn

The New York Aquarium is one of the oldest in the U.S., first opening its doors in 1896.

©David Shankbone / CC BY 2.5 – License

While we took a look at 12 of the largest aquariums in the United States, there are many other notable aquariums that didn’t make the list but are worthy of planning a trip to.

  • New York Aquarium Located in Coney Island, New York, this aquarium is one of the oldest in the nation, first opened in 1896. The aquarium holds a total of 550,000 gallons of water, and animals visitors can view include penguins, sea lions, sea otters, and even coral reef exhibits.
  • OdySea Aquarium The largest in the southwest, OdySea is an aquarium situated in Scottsdale, Arizona that houses more than 6,000 animals in over 65 exhibits. The aquarium’s combined tanks hold 2 million gallons of water, and notable animals to see are rays, sharks, sea turtles, and there’s a penguin interaction program.
  • Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies You may be familiar with the Ripley’s franchise, but who knew that their aquarium in Gatlinburg, Tennessee was a contender for one of the best in the nation? With 1.4 million gallons of water running through its tanks, this aquarium features ‘Shark Lagoon,’ the longest underwater aquarium tunnel in the world, measuring 340 feet long! The moving walkway allows guests to view sawfish, eels, 10-foot-long sharks, and more.

Final Thoughts about the Largest Aquariums in the United States

Both aquariums and zoos are integral parts of society. There are many more 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.

Summary Of The 12 Largest Aquariums In The United States

RankAquariumLocationLargest Tank Size in Gallons
1Georgia AquariumNew York Aquarium6.3 million
2The Seas with Nemo and FriendsEpcot, Orlando, FL5.7 million
3Shedd AquariumChicago, IL2 million
4National AquariumBaltimore, MD1.3 million
5Monterey Bay AquariumMonterey, CA1.2 million
6Mystic AquariumMystic, CT760,000
7Tennessee AquariumChattanooga, TN618,000
8Florida AquariumTampa, Fl500,000
9Texas State AquariumCorpus Christi, TX400,000
10Audubon Aquarium of the AmericasNew Orleans, LA400,000
11Newport AquariumNewport, KY385,000
12New York AquariumBrooklyn, NY379,000

The photo featured at the top of this post is © eril Victory/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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