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20 Fascinating Aquarium Industry Facts and Statistics

beautiful planted tropical freshwater aquarium with filter

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in fishkeeping skyrocketed, with people checking out library books, reading blogs, and purchasing fish and aquarium supplies. The world of aquariums and fishkeeping is an exciting market that has shown significant growth and value, and it is expected to continue to grow over the next few years. Here are some of the top statistics about the aquarium industry.

These statistics have been organized into the following categories:

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20 Fascinating Aquarium Industry Statistics

  1. In 2020, the worldwide aquarium industry was worth $13.17 billion.
  2. In 2020, the US aquarium and zoo industry were worth $2.59 billion.
  3. In 2020, the worldwide reef aquarium industry was worth $4.89 billion.
  4. By 2028, the worldwide reef aquarium market is expected to be worth $11 billion.
  5. 2% of the worldwide reef aquarium market was held by Europe in 2020.
  6. In 2019, the global ornamental fish trade was worth $348 million.
  7. Japan’s ornamental fish export market was worth $41.8 million in 2019.
  8. In 2019, 17.6% of the global ornamental fish imports went to the United States.
  9. 43% of all reef aquarium sales are for residential reef aquariums.
  10. The average reef livestock sells for $5–150.
  11. 15% of the global ornamental fish industry comes from saltwater fish sales.
  12. 98% of the ornamental marine fish on the market are wild-caught.
  13. The CAGR of the residential aquarium industry in the US was 1.5% between 2016 and 2021.
  14. The CAGR of the worldwide ornamental fish industry is expected to be 8.5% between 2022 and 2030.
  15. As of 2015, 73.19% of the ornamental fish in the aquarium industry were sold for home aquariums.
  16. In the US, 14.7 million homes own at least one fish.
  17. 8 million US households own freshwater fish, while 2.9 million own saltwater fish.
  18. 60% of the most popular marine animals in the market are invertebrates.
  19. Of all of the homes in the world that have a saltwater aquarium, the US accounts for up to 40% of them.
  20. Every year, there are over 46,000,000 animals sold or traded within the aquarium industry.

Global Industry Stats

1. In 2020, the worldwide aquarium industry was worth $13.17 billion.

(News Channel Nebraska)

Home aquarium with background
Image Credit: Jumpstory

Across the world, the entire aquarium industry proved to be quite popular, having a value of $13.17 billion in 2020. It is expected to achieve a value of $21.15 billion by 2027, leading to approximately 7% growth every year from 2021 to 2027.


2. In 2020, the US aquarium and zoo industry were worth $2.59 billion.

(Statista)

In the United States alone, the aquarium and zoo industry was valued at $2.59 billion in 2020. This showed a growth of 1.8% from 2019, when the market was worth $2.55 billion. The COVID-19 pandemic is believed to be a driving factor behind this increase due to the increased number of people attempting fishkeeping for the first time.


3. In 2020, the worldwide reef aquarium industry was worth $4.89 billion

(Grand View Research)

two guppies in aquarium
Image Credit; panpilai paipa, Shutterstock

Reef aquariums require very specialized care, and this market only accounts for a small portion of the world’s aquarium market. The worldwide reef aquarium market was worth $4.89 billion in 2020.


4. By 2028, the worldwide reef aquarium market is expected to be worth $11 billion.

(PR Newswire)

Between the COVID-19 pandemic increasing aquarium and reef sales and the number of childless adults with expendable income, reef aquarium sales are expected to rise steadily. By 2028, this market is expected to be worth $11 billion.


5. 2% of the worldwide reef aquarium market was held by Europe in 2020

(Grand View Research)

Algae in the aquarium
Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

In 2020, 32.2% of worldwide reef aquarium spending was done in Europe. This makes Europe the largest reef aquarium market in the world, with North America and Asia Pacific accounting for the second and third largest markets.


6. In 2019, the global ornamental fish trade was worth $348 million.

(OEC)

Between 2018 and 2019, the export of ornamental fish increased by 1.53%. This increase brought the value of the ornamental fish market for both freshwater and saltwater fish to $348 million.


7. Japan’s ornamental fish export market was worth $41.8 million in 2019.

(OEC)

guppy in aquarium
Image Credit: Zucky123, Pixabay

In 2019, Japan took the top spot as the world’s largest ornamental fish exporter, with a market worth $41.8 million. $5.99 million worth of ornamental fish was exported from Japan to Hong Kong, making it the largest purchasing market.


8. In 2019, 17.6% of the global ornamental fish imports went to the United States.

(OEC)

With 17.6% of the global ornamental fish imports going to the United States, the US is the largest international importer of ornamental fish. This put the total value of the ornamental fish imported to the US at $61.3 million. China was the second largest importer of ornamental fish in 2019, but it spent much less than the US.

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Sales Stats

9. 43% of all reef aquarium sales are for residential reef aquariums.

(Grand View Research)

Aquarium decoration_RKPhoto_Pixabay
Image Credit: RKPhoto, Pixabay

In the $4.89 billion worldwide reef aquarium market, 43% of all sales are for residential reef aquariums. This means that people keeping reef tanks in their own homes account for almost half of the global market in this space.


10. The average reef livestock sells for $5–$150.

(Grand View Research)

While some reef livestock can be extremely pricey, most of these animals sell for $5–$150. The favorable conditions for both sales and exports from Europe are what allow it to take such a large percentage of the market. One coral farm in Europe alone grows around 5,000 corals annually.


11. 15% of the global ornamental fish industry comes from saltwater fish sales.

(Bassleer Biofish)

plastic plant aquarium
Image Credit: Bk87, Shutterstock

From the large ornamental fish industry, 15% of sales come from the sale of ornamental saltwater fish and invertebrates. That means that 85% of the ornamental fish sales come from freshwater fish and invertebrates.


12. 98% of the ornamental marine fish on the market are wild-caught.

(Bassleer Biofish)

Of the ornamental marine fish sold in the saltwater aquarium market, 98% are captured from the wild and then sold or imported for sale. Only 2% of these animals are bred in captivity.


13. The CAGR of the residential aquarium industry in the US was 1.5% between 2016 and 2021.

(Business Wire)

goldfish in aquarium
Image Credit: seaonweb, Shutterstock

Between 2016 and 2021, aquarium supplies and fish sales showed a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.5%. This means that these sales showed consistent upward growth during this time. Of all pet categories outside of dogs and cats, the pet fish category has the highest sales. The top demographic for US homes that contributed to the sales within the pet fish market is a family with a female child.


14. The CAGR of the worldwide ornamental fish industry is expected to be 8.5% between 2022 and 2030.

(Grand View Research)

The CAGR of the global ornamental fish industry was expected to be 6.2% between 2020 and 2026. However, it is expected to be 8.5% between 2022 and 2030. This rapid increase in CAGR is due to multiple factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, more expendable income, and an increased interest in fishkeeping.

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Aquarium Ownership

15. As of 2015, 73.19% of the ornamental fish in the aquarium industry were sold for home aquariums.

(Kingpin Market Research)

a Comet Goldfish in the aquarium
Image Credit: smspsy, Shutterstock

In 2015, 73.19% of the ornamental fish sold in the aquarium industry went to home aquariums. That was approximately 529 billion tons of ornamental fish. The ornamental fish industry doesn’t account for fish that are sold as food.


16. In the US, 14.7 million homes own at least one fish.

(Business Wire)

There are 90.5 million households in the US, with 14.7 million of those households owning at least one fish. Fish come in at third place for pet ownership, with dogs coming in at the top spot and cats coming in at second place.


17. 8 million US households own freshwater fish, while 2.9 million own saltwater fish.

(Business Wire)

Freshwater Rock Aquarium_TimMossholder_Unsplash
Image Credit: TimMossholder, Unsplash

Of the 14.7 million households owning fish in the US, 11.8 million keep freshwater fish, and 2.9 million keep saltwater fish. There are multiple reasons for this large gap, with the cost and difficulty of maintaining marine and reef tanks being the primary reasons that more homes don’t keep saltwater fish.


18. 60% of the most popular marine animals in the market are invertebrates.

(Bassleer Biofish)

Only nine of the 25 most popular marine animals in the market are vertebrates, leaving 16 invertebrates on the list. Invertebrates account for 60% of the most popular marine animal sales and ownership. The top marine invertebrate in the US is the Blue Leg Hermit crab.


19. Of all of the homes in the world that have a saltwater aquarium, the US accounts for up to 40% of them.

(The National Wildlife Federation)

aquarium with cichlids
Image Credit: Frantisek Czanner, Shutterstock

While there are a large number of households in the world that have saltwater aquariums, the US is believed to account for 35%–40% of those homes. That means that the United States has more than a third of the world’s residential saltwater aquariums.


20. Every year, there are over 46,000,000 animals sold or traded within the aquarium industry.

(The Marine Ornamental Species Trade)

There is a vast number of aquatic organisms traded globally every year, with over 46 million changing hands. Interestingly, there are just over 2,500 species in the global aquarium trade.

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Frequently Asked Questions About the Aquarium Industry

How many people visit public zoos and aquariums globally every year?

Woman Sitting Near Aquarium
Image Credit: abdulmomen bsruki, Pexels

Over 700 million people will visit public zoos and aquariums across the world annually. That is so many people that if the world’s population stayed the same, it would only take 12 years for every person in the world to visit a public aquarium at least once. These facilities provide plenty of opportunities for people without aquariums to see fish, as well as providing opportunities to see endangered and unique animals. (IUCN)

Is it legal for marine wildlife to be taken from everywhere?

No. There are laws protecting the oceans, endangered species, and living things that are essential to the survival of their ecosystems. Wildlife may not be taken in protected areas, even if captured alive and with the intent of keeping or selling them. Over 22.9 million square kilometers are considered Marine Protection Areas. (IUCN)

What has led to the increase in aquarium ownership?

aquarium glass cleaning
Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

More people are waiting longer to have children, so they have more expendable income. Many people are opting not to have children at all. The COVID-19 pandemic left people bored, stuck at home, and lonely, so fishkeeping became a popular hobby to keep people busy. There have also been health benefits noted from watching fish, and fishkeeping can also benefit mental health. (NCBI)

What are ornamental fish?

Ornamental fish are defined as fish that have been bred and raised specifically for their appearance or other characteristics. This is opposed to fish bred and raised for food or sporting purposes, like fishing. The regulations surrounding the importation of ornamental fish aren’t the same as other types of fish. However, these regulations can be applied if it is determined that imported ornamental fish pose disease risks to native animals. (Law Insider)

What are the most popular fish in the United States?

Ember Tetra or Hyphessobrycon amandae
Image Credit: nektofadeev, Shutterstock

For freshwater aquariums, the most popular fish are Neon Tetras, Goldfish, Black Neon Tetras, Plecostomus, and Tiger Barbs. For marine aquariums, the most popular fish are Damselfishes, Chromis, Firefish, Ocellaris Clownfish, and Royal Gramma. (Bassleer Biofish)

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Conclusion

The United States is a hot spot for importing aquatic life, and sales within the aquarium market are showing steady growth globally and within the US. Some fish have consistently stayed popular, like the Goldfish and Neon Tetra, while others are increasing in popularity, like marine fish and Black Neon Tetras. Many people have found a great deal of relaxation and fulfillment in taking care of their aquariums. With the general health benefits that fishkeeping can provide, it’s no wonder aquariums are increasing in popularity, and people are willing to spend more on their aquariums than ever before.


Featured Image Credit: M-Production, Shutterstock

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