Ready to dive right into some Aquarium industry statistics? The 2020 Pandemic year slowed down many industries, but global aquarium trade value was about normal, driven by strong U.S. imports of live marine ornamental fish.
Here are the 50 Best Aquarium Industry Statistics: Global and U.S.
- The global ornamental fish industry, which includes both freshwater and reef aquarium fish, was estimated to be $10.15 billion in 2020 (Source: 1).
- The global ornamental fish industry is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.2% between 2020 and 2026, reaching $14.56 billion in 2026 (Source: 1).
- The global reef aquarium industry was estimated to be $4.89 billion in 2020 (Source: 2).
- The global reef aquarium industry is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.7% between 2021 and 2028, reaching a total of $11 billion by 2028 (Source: 2).
- 47% of 2020 revenue ($2.3 Billion) in the global reef aquarium industry was driven by the aquarium components segment, which includes display tanks, lighting, heating & cooling products, water movement, and filtration units (Source: 2).
- Residential reef aquariums contributed 43% of global revenue in 2020, approximately $2.1 Billion (Source: 2).
- The Zoo and Oceanarium sector of the aquarium market is the fastest growing segment, with an 11.5% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) (Source: 2).
- An estimated 700 million people visit a Zoo or Aquarium in a typical year (Source: 3).
- More than 1 out of every 12 people, worldwide, will visit a Zoo or an Aquarium in a typical year, on average (Source: 3, 4).
- So many people visit Zoos and Aquariums in a typical year that over a period of 12 years, the entire population of the planet could have visited at least 1 time (Source: 3, 4).
- Europe is the region with the largest share of the global reef aquarium market revenue, at 32.2% in 20202 (Source: 2).
- The Region expected to grow fastest from 2021 to 2028 in the global reef aquarium market is Asia Pacific (Source: 2).
- The global world production of ornamental fish was calculated to be 723,415 metric tons in 2015 (Source: 1).
- The top 10 producers of live ornamental fish account for only 2.45% of the market (Source: 1).
- The residential aquarium industry consumes 73% of the total world output of ornamental fish, equivalent to 529,467 metric tons in 2015 (Source: 1).
- Globally, over 46,000,000 aquatic organisms are traded annually in the ornamental fish trade (Source: 5).
- There are 2,500 known aquatic life species in the global trade (Source: 5).
- The value of live ornamental fish trade (exports and imports) was $330 million globally in 2020 (Source: 6).
- Japan exported the most live ornamental fish of all countries, exporting 13.1% of the global total, valued at $43.2 million in 2020 (Source: 6).
- The United States of America imported the most live ornamental fish of all countries, importing 19.3% of the global total, valued at $63.7 million in 2020 (Source: 6).
- The top 5 countries exporting the most live ornamental fish are Japan (13.1%), Indonesia (11.7%), Singapore (10.2%), Netherlands (6.65%), Thailand (6.64%) (Source: 6, Table 1).
- The top 5 countries importing the most live ornamental fish are United States of America (19.3%), China (9.13%), Germany (7.11%), United Kingdom (6.73%), France (5.9%) (Source: 6, Table 2).
- It is estimated that as many as 2 million households worldwide own a saltwater aquarium, approximately 40%, or 800,000 are in the United States (Source: 7).
- Worldwide, the average household that owns a saltwater aquarium spends generates approximately $1,050 in industry revenue (Source: 8).
- The global export of marine corals is estimated to be between $13 million and $39.1 million annually based on a projected range between 10 and 45% of marine fish exports (Source: 9).
- The global export of marine invertebrates excluding corals is estimated to be between $8.7 million and $21.7 million annually based on a projected range of 15 and 25% of marine fish exports (Source: 9).
- The top 5 best selling marine fish in the U.K. were 1) Blue cheek goby, 2) Chalk goby, 3) Green Chromis, 4) Cleaner wrasse, 5) Copperband butterflyfish (Source: 10).
- The Hengquin Ocean Kingdom aquarium in China holds the Guinness World Record as the largest aquarium in the world. (Source: 11).
- The Hengquin Ocean Kingdom aquarium in China holds 4 other Guinness World Records: the largest 1) acrylic panel, 2) aquarium window, 3) underwater viewing dome, 4) aquarium tank (Source: 11).
- Approximately 700,000-800,000 homes in the United States own a saltwater aquarium (Source: 7, 12).
- 35-40% of all global households with a saltwater aquarium reside in the United States (Source: 7, 12).
- Approximately 1 in 165 U.S. Households owns a saltwater aquarium (Source: 7, 12).
- The United States is the 11th largest exporter of live ornamental fish, exporting 6x’s more than Australia, home to the Great Barrier Reef (Source: 13, Table 1).
- The United States is the #1 largest importer of live ornamental fish, importing 19.3% of all live ornamental fish in 2020 (Source: 6).
- In 2020, The U.S. imported 5x’s more Freshwater live ornamental fish than Saltwater ($36.9M vs. $7.3M (Source: 14).
- The U.S. imported more live ornamental freshwater fish from Singapore than any other country in 2020. (Source: 14).
- The Philippines is the country that provided the U.S. With the most live ornamental saltwater fish in 2020. (Source: 14).
- California is the #1 destination state for both freshwater and saltwater live ornamental fish imports.
- The importation of freshwater fish is ranked as the 2926th largest of 5832 total importation categories tracked in 2022. That means the importation of live ornamental freshwater fish is more important to the economy than 50% of all other imports (Source: 14).
- The importation of aquatic plants is estimated to be between 5 and 15% of the value of freshwater aquarium fish, or about $12-$36 million (Source: 9).
- The U.S. and Australia do not import aquatic plants (Source: 9).
- The importation of saltwater fish is ranked as the 4324th largest of 5832 total importation categories tracked in 2022. That means the importation of live ornamental saltwater fish is more important to the economy than 26% of all other imports (Source: 14).
- The U.S. Zoo and Aquarium market was valued at $2.12 billion in 2020 and $2.26 billion in 2021 (Source: 15)
- The Georgia Aquarium, in Atlanta, GA, is the largest United States Aquarium, holding more than 11 million gallons of water (Source: 16, 17).
- 60% of the top 25 top selling marine animals in the United States are invertebrates (Source: 10).
- The top 5 best selling freshwater fish in the United States were 1) Neon tetra, 2) Goldfish, 3) Black Neon tetra, 4) Pleco, and 5) Tiger barb (Source: 10).
- The top 5 best selling marine invertebrates in the United States were 1) Blue leg hermit crab, 2) Astrea turbo snail, 3) Zebra turbo snail, 4) Emerald crab, 5) Condylactis Anemone (Source: 10).
- The top 5 best selling marine fish in the United States were 1) assorted damselfishes, 2) chromis, 3) Firefish, 4) Ocellaris clownfish, and 5) Royal Gramma (Source: 10).
- More than 22.9 million square kilometers of ocean are considered Marine Protection Areas (Source: 18, 19, 20)
- More than 6% (6.35%) of all the Oceans in the world have been designated as Marine Protection Areas, which is an area, in aggregate, that is larger than than entire Southern Ocean (Source: 18, 19, 20).
Aquarium Industry Statistics Table 1: Global exports of live ornamental fish in 2020
|Countries with the largest exportation of live ornamental fish in 2020 ($330M)||%||$|
|8. Sri Lanka||4.33%||$14.3|
|11. United States of America||2.19%||$7.2|
Aquarium Industry Statistics Table 2: Global imports of live ornamental fish in 2020
|Countries with the largest importation of live ornamental fish in 2020 ($330M)||%||$|
|1. United States of America||19.3%||$63.7|
|7. Hong Kong||3.82%||$12.6|
|14. South Korea||1.76%||$5.8|
Aquarium Industry Statistics Table 3: U.S. Freshwater Fish Imports 2016-2020 (HS: 030111)
|U.S. Freshwater Fish Imports HS: 030111||U.S. Freshwater Fish Exports HS: 030119|
Aquarium Industry Statistics Table 4: U.S. Marine Fish Imports 2016-2020 (HS: 030119)
|U.S. Marine Fish Imports HS: 030119||U.S. Marine Fish Exports HS: 030119|
Aquarium Industry Statistics Table 5: Estimates of the relative size of the Marine fish, coral, and other invertebrate trade 2016 data
Unfortunately, when using the HS Import/Export data to assess the live ornamental fish market, there is no way to determine with certainty the relative mix of corals, invertebrates or fish. Willis and Bakuwel speculated the range for the trade in invertebrates may be 15 to 25% and the range for the trade in corals may be 10 to 45% (Source 9).
The table below highlights the potential high, medium and low ranges for each variable to help present the range of potential values.
|Aquarium industry statistics: marine fish, inverts & coral||High fish||Med Fish||Low Fish|
|Marine inverts (not corals) 15%, 18%, 25%||$13.0||$15.6||$21.7|
|Marine corals (not other inverts) 10%, 25%, 45%||$8.7||$21.7||$39.0|
|Marine fish (excluding corals, inverts) 75%, 57%, 30%||$65.0||$49.4||$26.0|
|Marine fish HS: 030119 total||$86.7||$86.7||$86.7|
How big is the reef aquarium industry?
The global reef aquarium industry was estimated to be $4.5 Billion in 2021. With a projected compound annual growth rate of 10.7%, that means the industry is expected to reach $11 Billion by 2028. (Source: 2).
How many people have a Saltwater Aquarium?
It is estimated that as many as 2 million households worldwide, including 700,000 to 800,000 households in the United States of America, own a saltwater aquarium (Source: 7, 12).
How much of the world’s oceans are protected from fishing?
More than 22.9 million square kilometers of ocean are considered Marine Protection Areas, which represents an area of protected water that is more than 6.35% of all the oceans. That is an area, in aggregate, that is larger than the entire Southern Ocean (Source: 18, 19, 20).
Which country is the largest importer of live ornamental fish?
The United States is the #1 importer of live ornamental fish, importing 19.3% of the global supply or an average of nearly 1 in every 5 ornamental fish (Source: 6).
Does the U.S. export any live ornamental fish?
The United States is the #11 exporter of live ornamental fish, exporting 2.19% of the world’s live ornamental fish. Would you be surprised to know that the U.S. exports more than 6 times the amount of live ornamental fish as Australia, home of the Great Barrier Reef? (Source: 6).
How many people visit public zoos and aquariums worldwide in a year?
It is estimated that more than 700 million people visit public zoos and aquariums worldwide, in a given year. There are an estimated 7.9 billion people in the world, which means 8.9%, or approximately 1 out of every 12 human beings, of any age, on this planet visit a zoo or aquarium this year. WOW. Put another way, over a period of 12 years, as many people as the entire world’s population will have visited a zoo or aquarium, on average. (Source: 3, 21, 22).
Check out these other related posts for more information, including aquarium statistics and trends:
Coral care and saltwater fish statistics
20 Most popular saltwater fish
Saltwater tank for beginners (includes average costs, size of tank, etc.)
Sources for Aquarium Industry Stastistics
- GLOBAL ORNAMENTAL FISH MARKET REPORT, HISTORY AND FORECAST 2015-2026, BREAKDOWN DATA BY MANUFACTURERS, KEY REGIONS, TYPES AND APPLICATION. Published 06-Aug-2020. Kingpin Market Research.
- Reef Aquarium Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Product (Component, Natural), By End Use (Household, Zoo & Oceanarium), By Region (Europe, Asia Pacific), And Segment Forecasts, 2021 – 2028. Grandview research.
- Zordan, Martin. Progressive zoos and aquariums must be part of the world’s response to COVID-19. Published 13.01.2021. IUCN Zoo visits
- Saltwater Aquarium Blog original aquarium industry statistics: More than 700,000 million people visit a Zoo/Aquarium in a year. Global population is 7.87 billion. 700M/7.87B = 8.89%. 1 in 12 corresponds to ~8.5%.
- Palmtag, Matthew R. “The marine ornamental species trade.” Marine ornamental species aquaculture (2017): 3-14.
- HS: 030111 data visualized on OEC.world
- Lipske, Micheal. “Fill and Aquarium Without Emptying the Sea”. Dec 01, 2007. National Wildlife Federation
- Saltwater Aquarium Blog original aquarium industry statistics: $2.1 billion residential reef aquarium industry / 2 million homes globally = average of $1,050 per home
- Shane Willis (OFI President) and Paul Bakuwel (OFI Secretary General). Update on the ornamental aquatic export industry 2016: trade data and conservation. OFI Journal 86, February 2018, pages 26-28.
- Basleer, Gerald. The global ornamental aquarium industry: Facts and figures – Part 2. OFI Journal 78, May 2015, pages 14-16.
- Lynch, Kevin. “China’s Hengqin Ocean Kingdom confirmed as world’s largest aquarium as attraction sets five world records”. Published 31 March 2014. Guinness World Records
- New York Times
- Saltwater Aquarium Blog original aquarium industry statistics: $7.2M/ $1.2 = 6. Sourced from Table 1
- HS Code data retrieved on Flexport
- Zoo market: Statista
- Newsweek largest aquariums
- Georgia Aquarium
- MPAs: IUCN
- Introduction to Oceanography
- Saltwater Aquarium Blog original aquarium industry statistics: 6.35% of the ocean is MPA (Source: 18)* 361 million square km of Ocean (Source: 19) = 22.9 million square km
- World population
- Saltwater Aquarium Blog original aquarium industry statistics: 700 million zoo/aquarium visitors / 7.9 Billion global population = 8.9%, more than 1 in 12.