Fish tanks and aquariums uniquely combine engineering and creativity. You have to blend form with function to create an environment where fish can thrive, but you also have a lot of design freedom.
Don’t limit yourself, or your fish, to a standard, rectangular aquarium. Think outside the box with inspiration from the ten most insane aquariums and expensive fish tanks. From large commercial enterprises with sharks and whales to smaller options you can put in your house or even wear on your head, here’s a look at the most amazing aquariums:
Everything you will learn here
- Top 10 Most Insane Aquariums and Expensive Fish Tanks
- A Few Other Aquariums Worthy of Mention
Top 10 Most Insane Aquariums and Expensive Fish Tanks
The world of creative aquariums is vast, so we’ve rounded up a wide selection of the coolest places and designs.
Rare and valuable, the Aquavista Dinosaur Gold aquarium is considered the single most expensive aquarium in the world. While it’s a fully-working home aquarium, it’s also a work of art. Aquavista UK of London commissioned high-end artist Stuart Hughes to build a unique fish tank, and he delivered something decidedly dino-inspired.
Three main factors help determine the tank’s dino-sized $4.8 million price tag. First, it has extensive veneers made from 24-carat gold. But the gold body is actually the most “normal” aspect. The aquarium is also made from, and this is true, the bones of a T-Rex and the tusks of a Woolly Mammoth.
As an aquarium, it’s a top-of-the-line model with a dual filtration system, air pump, heater, auto feeder, and more. But not just any fish can call this place home. Only three of these aquariums were ever made, making finding one about more than a question of money.
While aquariums for home use can get expensive, public buildings certainly up the price tag. With over 100,000 fish, 12,000 viewing windows, and a price tag of over $290 million, the Georgia Aquarium is one of the most expensive aquariums in the world. Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus covered a significant amount of the costs as part of his quest to give away much of his fortune.
What does one of the top aquariums in the world look like? It’s split into five galleries: Georgia Explorer, Tropical Diver, Ocean Voyager, Cold-Water Quest, and River Scout. You can view fish of all types, rays, otters, penguins, sharks, and even five whales – Nice, Gasper, Natasha, Maris, and Marina.
If you have the money to spend, you can have a custom aquarium created in practically any shape. They’re a new trend in high-end homes, combining the beauty of live animals with modern design.
While prices vary based on the details, you’re looking at about $5,000 for a 10-gallon custom tank. On the high end, expect to spend $1 million or more for a 5,000-gallon tank. Keep in mind that’s just the initial price. A custom home tank takes about $1 per gallon to operate each month.
However, the design of a custom tank is limited basically by your imagination. You can create an ideal environment for your favorite type of fish while adding unique décor to your home.
4. Dubai Aquarium
Home to over 33,000 living animals, and over 2.64 million gallons, the Dubai Aquarium is one of the largest, most popular, and most expensive aquariums in the world. Until 2023, it even held a Guinness record for the largest acrylic panel, which measures 8.3 by 32.88 by 30 inches thick.
As you’d expect from an aquarium this size, you’ll find practically every type of aquatic mammal, including fish, penguins, and even 400 sharks. Plus, the experience is incredibly interactive, with diving opportunities, shark cage experiences, and more.
Located in Okinawa, Japan, the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium was the largest and most expensive aquarium in the world until 2005 when the Georgia Aquarium surpassed it. Of course, even if it’s no longer the biggest globally, it still has tons to offer for fans of aquatic wildlife.
The aquarium is divided into several tanks. The Coral Sea Tank features a naturally-lit reef. The Kuroshio Sea Tank contains some of the biggest fish in the world, as well as the world’s first captive-bred manta rays. Finally, the Deep Sea tank takes you deep underwater to view some of the ocean’s more mysterious inhabitants.
Comedian/actor Tracy Morgan takes one thing seriously: His home aquarium. His current pet project is a 35,000 tank in his New Jersey home. It’s not filled with just any aquatic life, either. Morgan’s aquarium is filled with sharks and venomous fish.
Of course, unless you know Tracy personally, you won’t be able to check out his home aquarium. But if you live in Idaho, you can check out two of his former pets, two platinum alligators that outgrew his home fish tank. He donated the two alligators to the East Idaho Aquarium, where they’re currently thriving in an environment appropriate to their size.
Spending big money on an aquarium doesn’t necessarily mean choosing style over substance. The Monterey Bay Aquarium features 500 different species of marine life, 45 interactive exhibits, and a commitment to education and conservation.
While the Monterey Bay Aquarium is big, it’s not the biggest body of water in the area. The aquarium building connects directly to Monterey Bay, used as a field laboratory for staff scientists.
Visitors of all ages will find that learning is fun and easy during a visit to the aquarium. Two years ago, a $42 million education center was added to the Aquarium, featuring exhibits geared towards students and teachers.
The largest aquarium in Australia features everything from coral reefs to a tropical wonderland and more. With a focus on kid-friendly fun, young ones can be a Marine Scientist for a Day or enjoy the Mermaids, Fairies, and Unicorns exhibit, which features underwater swimmers dressed as fantasy creatures.
With a focus on animals found in Australia’s coastal waters, visitors can view crocodiles, a variety of sharks, stingrays, and more. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take a deep dive with a divemaster to explore the animals up close.
While not the biggest tank on our list, it’s certainly the most unique because it’s the only one you can wear. About ten years ago, artist and designer Eric Staller invented an elaborate costume called the Fish-O-Vision.
Featuring a clear dome that completely covered his head, the Fish-O-Vision held 20 live goldfish that swam around freely. He typically wore the costume to help teach children about creativity and aquatic wildlife.
Wisconsin resident Bill Wann is the proud owner and designer of one of what’s called the world’s largest private indoor aquarium. In a sense, he didn’t build an aquarium to fit his house. Instead, he built his house to fit his aquarium, which holds 20,160 gallons of water and includes several miles of piping.
The tank is 24 feet long, 10 feet high, and 10 feet deep. It holds a variety of tropical fish and coral. He estimates the total project took at least a dozen helpers with a total production cost of $700,000 and a monthly electric bill of around $1,200.
Interestingly, Wann isn’t a particularly huge fan of fish. Instead, he prefers the challenge of building the aquarium plus the challenge of keeping the fish alive. He’s currently in the planning stage of building a new aquarium four times the size of his current one.
A Few Other Aquariums Worthy of Mention
While the ten aquariums listed above are awesome in every sense of the word, they’re not the only crazy aquariums you can find. Here’s a closer look at several others you’ll want to check out:
- The Air Aquarium – Designer Amaury Poudray has created a cylindrical aquarium on a black frame that almost appears to hover in the air.
- The Aquadome – The largest cylindrical aquarium in the world is found in Berlin. It holds 238,000 gallons of seawater, 2,600 fish, and even has a working elevator.
- Submarine Aquarium – Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada features a submarine-shaped aquarium that guests can stand in to view a panoramic view of the underwater exhibits.
- Underwater Tunnel – London’s Sealife Centre at Chessington World of Adventures has an underwater tunnel that allows fish to float over your head.
- Kayne West’s Aquarium – The rapper is another celebrity fan of aquariums, with a 250-gallon setup that includes chocolate Oranda goldfish.
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Aquariums are more than simply a home for fish. They’re works of art in their own right, capable of amazing feats of architecture and design. Whether strolling through one of the largest aquariums in the world or building a stylish custom fish tank for your house, there are many amazing ways to share space with undersea creatures.
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