An aquarium is a specially designed device that acts as an artificial habitat for water-dwelling animals. Although most people associate an aquarium with tropical fish, aquaria can also be used to house amphibians or large marine mammals. In addition, many aquaria contain a variety of plant species.
Public aquaria are popular tourist attractions throughout the world and frequently found in zoos or marine parks. They are made from reinforced concrete and plastics to create a tank that is large enough to hold an entire underwater ecosystem. For example, the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois has a capacity of approximately two million gallons (7,570,823.6 liters). The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia is the world's largest aquarium with more than eight million gallons (30,283,294.4 liters) of marine and fresh water.
Most public aquaria can be considered biotopes, ecotypes, or ecotopes since they house plants, fish, and invertebrates that would only live together in a natural habitat. Sharks and whales are some of the most common species found in public aquaria, although otters, penguins, and other semi-aquatic animals are often quite popular. An aquarium that is designed to hold dolphins is called a dolphinarium.
If you want to enjoy observing fish and other marine life on a daily basis, you may wish to purchase a small home aquarium. Over 60 million people around the world own home aquaria, with almost 40 percent of hobbyists maintaining more than one aquarium. The smallest aquarium that is practical for home use is three gallons (11.36 liters), although you may choose to purchase a larger aquarium if you have the necessary space. Novelty aquaria designed to look like coffee tables, sinks, or other household items are another option to consider. If you wish, you can even make your own “MacQuarium” out of an old Apple Macintosh computer.
A home aquarium typically contains a water filtration system, a climate control device, and an artificial light. Most also have a hood available to reduce water evaporation and prevent debris from entering the tank. A home aquarium is typically made from glass panels joined with silicone, although acrylic and laminated glass aquaria are becoming increasingly popular since these materials are both durable and lightweight.
Home aquaria in a variety of styles can be purchased from any pet store. Prices will vary according to the size of the aquarium, the quality of materials used, and whether or not a stand is included. The store employees are typically trained to provide any assistance you need in selecting compatible fish for your aquarium.