To get technical about it, an aquarium is a water-based example of a vivarium, which is derived from Latin, literally meaning “place for life”. Most aquariums are decorative, in that they're intended to house water-dwelling creatures for the purpose of display and enjoyment, although some aquariums are used to keep protected or endangered species in the interest of preservation.
The first aquariums in history that are known to us were made of marble, created by the Roman Empire almost 2000 years ago to house a species of freshwater fish called sea barbels. Shortly after, the Romans introduced panes of glass to their aquariums, improving their view of the fish. Though aquariums developed throughout the intervening years, it wasn't until somewhere around the middle of the 19th century that aquarium-keeping started becoming widely popular as a hobby. This surge in interest was caused by the introduction of ornate cast-iron aquariums intended for consumers at the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the opening of the first public aquarium at the London Zoo in 1853.
Modern aquariums have gone absolutely through the roof in terms of scale and complexity, and not only in zoos and aquatic exhibits, but as features in hotel lobbies as well, as an example. The latest holder of the record for worlds largest aquarium is China's Ocean Kingdom, boasting an astounding 48.75 million liters of fresh and salt water to house its attractions. Its whale shark exhibit alone holds 22.7 million liters, making it the single largest fish tank in the world. Information on Victoria BC aquariums and where to view, learn about, and purchase, can be found by checking out our member offers below.