Visiting the aquarium is like taking a relaxing dip in a tropical ocean, minus the sandy bits. The calming atmosphere promotes a sense of tranquility, melting away stress and anxiety with each wave that passes by. As schools of colourful fish swim lazily by, you’ll find yourself sinking deeper into a state of relaxation. The beauty of the underwater world is breathtaking, as coral reefs and exotic marine life form an aquatic oasis in the indoor space.
The aquarium offers an opportunity to improve your mood. You’ll feel entertained watching the playful sea otters, the graceful stingrays, and the majestic sharks. These sea creatures evoke a sense of wonder in you. For those who wanna escape the hustle and bustle of daily life, the aquarium provides a sanctuary that feels worlds away from the chaos outside. The tranquil environment and natural beauty make it the perfect place to unwind and recharge your batteries.
Check out our list of the best aquariums in Canada.
What makes the best aquarium?
We’ll judge the best aquariums in Canada based on these four criteria:
Aquatic species are an important part of aquariums because they are the main attraction. Visitors come to see these exhibits, so it’s important that they are well taken care of. Aquariums have a responsibility to provide suitable living conditions, proper nutrition, and medical care for these species. There should also be a vast diversity of fishes, marine life, and aquatic species in the aquariums.
Aquariums have a duty to ensure that the creatures under their care are healthy, secure, and dwelling in appropriate surroundings, just like one would with any other animal. They must maintain ideal water quality, offer adequate feed, and keep their aquatic creatures healthy. Good animal welfare measures also include providing proper living conditions, reducing human contacts, and adhering to best animal handling standards.
Aquariums play a crucial role in educating visitors about the need for marine conservation efforts. They help people understand and appreciate the importance of protecting marine ecosystems. By involving visitors in these conservation efforts, aquariums can raise awareness of environmental issues. They can promote positive action towards protecting our planet.
Adequate navigation ensures that visitors can view the exhibitions safely and comfortably, while minimizing disturbance to the animals. What’s more, effective navigation allows aquarium staff to monitor animal behavior, maintaining the health and safety of their animals under care. By prioritizing navigation, aquariums can offer visitors a safe experience.
List of best aquariums in Canada
- Vancouver Aquarium
- Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
- Quebec Aquarium
- New Brunswick Aquarium & Marine Centre
- Canada’s Waterscapes
- Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea
- Calgary Zoo
- Toronto Zoo
Best Aquarium in Vancouver
Vancouver Aquarium is an indoor and outdoor attraction that showcases marine life from across the globe. Housing over 50,000 creatures, such as dolphins, beluga whales, otters, and penguins, the aquarium offers a fascinating insight into the underwater world.
As you wander through the exhibits, you’ll encounter interactive displays, touch tanks, and underwater viewing areas. Beyond being a popular tourist attraction, the aquarium is dedicated to research and conservation, striving to protect marine ecosystems and advocate for environmental sustainability.
Vancouver Aquarium – Aquatic species
The Vancouver Aquarium boasts the best aquatic creatures from around the world. Guests will be delighted with the opportunity to witness dolphins, beluga whales, sea otters, and an assortment of fish, invertebrates, and amphibians.
While some critics argue that certain exhibits are a bit tiny, the fact that the aquarium features local species, like Pacific salmon and rockfish, definitely deserves a thumbs up.
Vancouver Aquarium – Animal welfare
The Vancouver Aquarium has faced criticism in the past for the way it has treated some of its animals, specifically with regards to its cetacean program. Nonetheless, the aquarium has implemented sweeping changes in recent years.
Its animal welfare efforts include ending its beluga breeding initiative and gradually phasing out its dolphin program. While the Vancouver Aquarium still has room to enhance, their commitment to animal welfare is apparent.
Vancouver Aquarium – Conservation
The Vancouver Aquarium has displayed unwavering dedication towards marine conservation over the years. With research, education, animal rescue and rehabilitation initiatives, the aquarium has supported various sick and injured animals.
Additionally, the Ocean Wise program promotes sustainable seafood choices. Despite facing criticism for certain projects such as the proposed captive breeding program for endangered porpoises, the Vancouver Aquarium’s commitment to conservation remains evident.
Vancouver Aquarium – Navigation
The Vancouver Aquarium is set up well and easy to navigate, with exhibits categorized by themes, such as “Tropic Zone” and “Canada’s Arctic.” However, it can get quite busy during peak hours, making it difficult to fully appreciate some exhibits.
Additionally, due to its location in Stanley Park, parking can be a challenge, and admission prices may be considered high by some visitors. Nevertheless, with some planning, you can have an informative and enjoyable experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Best Aquarium in Canada
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is an amazing indoor aquarium located in the heart of downtown Toronto. This fantastic aquarium boasts an extensive collection of aquatic creatures, including fascinating sharks, graceful rays, and delicate jellyfish.
The aquarium takes visitors on a thrilling journey through its various galleries, each highlighting some of the most varied marine life found across the world. With exciting interactive exhibits and informative educational programs, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada offers an unforgettable experience for Torontonians.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada – Aquatic species
You’ll be swimming in stunning sights at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, where a wide variety of aquatic species reside! Admire the sleek sharks, graceful jellyfish, and chill sea turtles up close and personal.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada – Animal welfare
Rest assured, our finned friends at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada are being taken care of like royalty! The crew is full of animal experts who are dedicated to providing the best possible care for the creatures under their watch. However, some visitors have mentioned their enclosures could use more space.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada – Conservation
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada cares about our planet, and we’re doing our part! Through exhibits that showcase the importance of preserving aquatic habitats and protecting endangered species, they’re committed to making a difference. They’re also participating in breeding programs to aid conservation efforts!
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada – Navigation
Swimming from exhibit to exhibit at our aquarium is easy as pie. The aquarium has got clearly marked paths and signs to guide you through the fun. Be warned – it can get quite crowded during peak hours.
Best Aquarium in Quebec
Quebec Aquarium, also known as the fancy-sounding Aquarium du Québec, plunks itself down at 1675 Avenue des Hôtels in oh-so-charming Québec City, Canada. It’s a grand old place with both indoor and outdoor bits, housing all sorts of sea creatures such as fish, reptiles, mammals, and invertebrates.
Visitors get to spy on these critters in their natural habitats, thanks to the outdoor pools and enclosures. If you’re looking to learn, the aquarium has plenty of educational activities. Think animal encounters, behind-the-scenes tours, and workshops.
The Quebec Aquarium – Aquatic species
The Quebec Aquarium boasts a plethora of aquatic gems, from various sharks and jellyfish to vibrant tropical fish. Impeccably maintained, its exhibits transport visitors into the deep blue sea, granting an immersive experience.
The Quebec Aquarium – Animal welfare
Animal welfare is crucial to this aquarium, backed by a team of devoted caregivers who provide top-class care to the creatures. Having said that, some visitors have vocalized concerns regarding enclosures for the larger species.
The Quebec Aquarium – Conservation
Conservation remains a key area of focus at the aquarium, which showcases the significance of safeguarding water habitats and preserving endangered species. The establishment also contributes to breeding initiatives aimed at maintaining populations of at-risk animals.
The Quebec Aquarium – Navigation
Navigating the Quebec Aquarium proves a breeze, thanks to well-placed signage and an intelligible route through the exhibits. With educational displays and interactive experiences in abundance, visitors can make the most of their time here.
New Brunswick Aquarium & Marine Centre
Best Aquarium in New Brunswick
The New Brunswick Aquarium & Marine Centre, located at 100 Aquarium Road in Shippagan, New Brunswick, Canada, is an exciting indoor aquarium featuring marine life from the Bay of Chaleur and Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Visitors can enjoy many exhibits at the aquarium, including touch tanks, interactive displays and a unique underwater tunnel that provides an immersive viewing experience. The aquarium is also home to a research center and conservation programs that preserve the marine ecosystem.
New Brunswick Aquarium – Aquatic species
Prepare to be captivated by spectacular aquatic wonders, from diverse fish species and curious crustaceans to majestic sea turtles. Wander through the meticulously maintained exhibits and delve into the intriguing habitats and ecosystems of the nearby marine world.
New Brunswick Aquarium – Animal welfare
When it comes to animal welfare, the New Brunswick Aquarium & Marine Centre takes every stride to ensure the remarkable creatures within its care receive only the finest attention. The staff bring their dedication to life through insightful educational exhibits and captivating interactive displays.
New Brunswick Aquarium – Conservation
The New Brunswick Aquarium & Marine Centre grants visitors a glimpse into the challenges these fragile aquatic ecosystems face. From sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation to numerous conservation programs, the aquarium inspires everyone to play their part in safeguarding our invaluable marine habitats.
New Brunswick Aquarium – Navigation
A stream-lined and well-designed experience, the New Brunswick Aquarium & Marine Centre’s intuitive exhibit layout allows visitors to explore the various species with ease. There is a variety of interactive displays and exhibits, providing a unique insight into the aquatic life and ecosystems of the region.
Best Aquarium in Nova Scotia
Canada’s Waterscapes is Parks Canada’s big project going to bat for Canada’s freshwater and marine ecosystems. They got a lot of cool programs running to promote environmental sustainability and keep our aquatic habitats in tip-top shape.
This aquarium is working with local communities, stakeholders, and even Indigenous partners to make sure everyone’s on the same page. You can visit Canada’s Waterscapes at 25 Eddy Street in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada.
Canada’s Waterscapes – Aquatic species
Aquatic species are the main attraction of Canada’s Waterscapes, presenting an opportunity for the visitors to witness a diverse range of marine life. From the Pacific, Arctic, Atlantic to Great Lakes regions, the aquarium highlights sharks, jellyfish, and sea turtles in several exhibits. Interactive displays educate the visitors about each species, their natural habitats, and the significance of conservation efforts.
Canada’s Waterscapes – Animal welfare
A notable aspect of Canada’s Waterscapes is its commitment to animal welfare, evident from the well-maintained and expansive exhibits that provide ample room for the animals. In addition, the aquarium offers enrichment activities that keep the animals engaged and active.
Canada’s Waterscapes – Conservation
The importance of conservation efforts and sustainable practices is a core value of Canada’s Waterscapes. The aquarium partners with various organizations and participates in programs that promote conservation and the protection of aquatic habitats. Visitors are encouraged to play their part in preserving marine life and their habitats.
Canada’s Waterscapes – Navigation
Canada’s Waterscapes is designed to provide a seamless experience as visitors navigate through the aquarium. The logical flow and clear signage make it easy to explore the different regions represented in the exhibits. To further enhance knowledge and engagement, the aquarium also provides a map and educational tours.
Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea
Best Aquarium in British Columbia
Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea is a delightful Canadian aquarium celebrating the marine life and ecology of the Salish Sea, which graces the coastal areas of British Columbia and Washington State. Housing over 160 species of awe-inspiring marine critters, the aquarium is a haven for various fish, invertebrates, and marvelous marine mammals like harbor seals and adorable sea otters.
Visitors are treated to an engaging and enlightening journey as they uncover the secrets of the biology, behaviour, and conservation efforts of these amazing creatures and their habitats.
Shaw’s Centre for the Salish Sea – Aquatic species
The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea showcases diverse aquatic species native to the Salish Sea and beyond, including playful otters, graceful seals and sea lions, elusive octopuses, and a range of fish species. The exhibits are meticulously maintained and provide an unparalleled opportunity to learn about the wondrous and unique marine life nestled in this enchanting corner of our planet.
Shaw’s Centre for the Salish Sea – Animal welfare
At the Shaw Centre, the health and well-being of their animal residents is paramount. A highly skilled team of animal care staff work tirelessly to provide a stimulating and comfortable environment for the animals. And it shows – the animals radiate health and happiness, with ample living space to move around and explore.
Shaw’s Centre for the Salish Sea – Conservation
The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea is on the frontlines of conservation and education about the precious Salish Sea ecosystem. In partnership with multiple organizations, the centre is constantly engaged in ongoing research and conservation initiatives to safeguard the marine environment and its inhabitants.
Shaw’s Centre for the Salish Sea – Navigation
Navigating the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea is as delightful as it is educational. There is no shortage of informative signs and displays around the aquarium. Visitors can easily get absorbed in the animals and their habitats.
Best Aquarium in Alberta
The Calgary Zoo boasts an indoor public aquarium that showcases aquatic life from around the world. This delightful aquarium houses over 100 species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates, including everyone’s favourite, seahorses!
With immersive and enlightening exhibits, the aquarium strives to educate visitors on the importance of conservation efforts and the complexity of aquatic ecosystems. Located at 1300 Zoo Rd NE, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, make sure to add the aquarium at the Calgary Zoo to your bucket list of places to visit!
Calgary Zoo – Aquatic species
Illuminated with life and brimming with aquatic wonders, the Calgary Zoo offers an impressive collection of underwater species. From darting fish to critters that cling, this aquarium features a diverse array of both freshwater and saltwater creatures. Visitors can gawk at enchanting jellyfish, observe the enchanting seahorses, and marvel at the vibrant colors of clownfish.
Calgary Zoo – Animal welfare
Every effort is made to ensure the continued health and happiness of the creatures that call this place home. The tanks are immaculately maintained, the animals thriving, in part because of the knowledgeable and dedicated staff that work so tirelessly behind the scenes.
Calgary Zoo – Conservation
The Calgary Zoo promotes conservation through exhibits like “Penguin Plunge,” which focuses on the conservation of penguin species. It also has the innovative “Aquaponics” exhibit, which showcases sustainable agricultural practices. This aquarium is doing its part to ensure a brighter tomorrow for these remarkable creatures.
Calgary Zoo – Navigation
This sleek and well-designed aquarium is easy to navigate. Information is readily available about each species on display. There are touch tanks for visitors to interact with and immersive displays designed to fully engage and inspire. Though it can get crowded at times, this destination can open your eyes to an amazing marine world.
Best Aquarium in Toronto
The Toronto Zoo is one of the best zoos in Canada. Its African Rainforest Pavilion is a mesmerizing aquarium showcasing freshwater fish and aquatic creatures. With exhibits expertly designed to emulate various watery habitats, like the enchanting Amazon River and the mysterious Congo River Basin, visitors are treated to both an immersive and enlightening journey.
Prepare to be amazed by the likes of piranhas, electric eels, and stingrays, while uncovering their unique adaptions and fascinating behaviors.
Toronto Zoo – Aquatic species
The aquarium at the Toronto Zoo boasts a diverse range of aquatic species from around the globe. Freshwater and saltwater species, including fish, jellyfish and seahorses, can be observed by visitors. Moreover, the aquarium is a home for sharks and rays, which are usually the crowd-pleasers.
Toronto Zoo – Animal welfare
The Toronto Zoo aquarium adheres to top-notch animal welfare protocols, striving to create a pleasant and stimulating atmosphere for all the aquatic creatures in its care. Professional staff are well-educated and they are constantly working to ensure that their animals are healthy.
Toronto Zoo – Conservation
The Toronto Zoo aquarium is an active member of conservation coalitions that work towards protection and preservation of aquatic species and their environments. The aquarium collaborates with other organizations in order to encourage fishing practices that are sustainable. It also safeguards marine ecosystems, and raises communal consciousness about conservation issues.
Toronto Zoo – Navigation
The Toronto Zoo aquarium is designed to make it easy for visitors to navigate their way around. The aquarium is also wheelchair accessible. There are ample seating arrangements and benches placed throughout the exhibits for visitors to take a break and admire the scenes. Though it may not be as large as other aquariums with fewer exhibits, visitors will still find it worthwhile.