IF YOU’VE EVER OWNED A PERSONAL AQUARIUM, you know how hard it can be to maintain. You’ve got to keep the water clean, you’ve got to make sure it has the right level of saltiness, and you need to ensure the fish you put into it won’t eat each other. I once made the mistake of putting a goldfish into a tank with a Siamese fighting fish (also known as a betta). When I woke up the next morning, the betta was gone, and my goldfish was incredibly fat. Even if the pet-store clerk hadn’t led me astray, it was not the outcome I would have expected for that fight.
So naturally, it’s infinitely more impressive when major aquariums put together million-gallon tanks with thousands of fish and hundreds of different species. It’s a feat of planning we typically don’t recognize, beyond looking at the fish and saying, “Oooh, that’s pretty!”
And with our oceans in the state they are, these aquariums are often hubs for research and conservation projects, spearheading the movements to save our seas — while others may be mistreating their animals or obtaining them through sketchy means. The list below includes both.