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Do you own a fresh or saltwater aquarium, or want to own one? Do you spend hours at the large commercial aquarium in your city or town? Are you a scuba diver, and love to spend hours floating underwater among the incredible aquatic flora and fauna?

If so, you might find an aquarium career just the ticket for future job satisfaction, or even a small business venture of your own. The tropical fish and aquarium industry is growing in the US, and is expected to keep growing well into the twenty-first century as consumers look to surround themselves with the beauty and tranquility of tropical marine life.

Many people can’t envision a possibility of working in an aquarium business or career, but there are more opportunities than you might think. Some of the options include working as an aquarist, or a keeper at a commercial aquarium, or as an animal curator.

If you’re interested in owning your own business, you could start an aquarium shop, or a tropical fish and aquarium rental business, or even raise and sell live coral to aquarium owners locally, or online.

A love of aquatic life can lead to a rewarding new career or business

Most people find aquariums fascinating to look at, these self-contained, mini-ecosystems full of colorful and exotic life. They are a window into another world, and a reminder that seventy percent of our planet is covered by oceans, and more plants and animals live beneath the wave than above them.

This explains the growing number of consumers who own fresh and saltwater aquariums. There are also a growing number of businesses with aquariums – from banks, to restaurants, to doctor’s offices and even casinos. And the large commercial aquariums are growning in number as well, as people in urban areas seek the escape of viewing large tropical fish in a tranquil, zoo-like setting.

Along with this growth comes the demand for specialized workers to set up and maintain these private and commercial fish tanks. As anyone who’s owned tropical fish knows, there’s a lot of time and effort involved in keeping these amazing creatures alive and healthy in captivity.

From maintaining the proper water salinity and temperature, to removing chlorine and other contaminants, proving the proper lighting, exercising population control, to feeding on the proper schedule, there are many tasks involved in the upkeep of a modern tropical fish environment.

The types of careers available in this industry

If you’ve decided that you’re interested in a career or business working with tropical fish and aquariums, then there are a number of options available to you. Some require a college degree in order to secure an entry-level position, while others do not. Here are a few of the choices available:

A Fish Keeper/Aquarist


An aquarist is responsible for the daily care of aquariums, both large and small, and the aquatic life within them. This includes design and setting up of the aquarium, diet preparation and feeding, cleaning of the tanks and changing out the water as needed, treating sick fish, and more.

General or Animal Curator

Large aquariums generally employ at least one curator to manage and oversee the organization’s collection of animals, and the staff that attends to those animals. Some large institutions also employ a curator of horticulture to manage the aquatic plant life, and the grounds at the facility as well.

Conservation Biologist

This is a biologist who provides a research and support role at large commercial aquariums. The conservation biologist is on hand to render technical and scientific assistance to the aquarium staff, and to aid in the management of the organization’s entire animal collection.

Office and administration staff

There are a variety of jobs available at large commercial aquariums that don’t have direct involvement with the fish tanks and life within them. These positions can include a marketing director, gift shop manager, visitor services manager, volunteer coordinator, personnel manager, public relations director and more.

Fish shop owner

This is the business owner of a small shop or store that specializes in selling aquariums and tropical fish. These shops normally have dozens or even hundreds of freshwater and saltwater fish tanks, and a wide variety of tropical fish, live coral, and other marine life for sale.

Renting and maintaining private aquariums

These days, many businesses such as restaurants and dental offices are interested in displaying tropical fish tanks for the benefit of their customers and employees, but they don’t want the hassle of setting the aquariums up and maintaining them. And so private aquarium rental companies fill the void, and provide this service on an ongoing basis.

These are just a few of the options avaiable in this growing industry. If you truly love marine life, and you want a job or career where you’re surrounded by these magnificant creatures on a daily basis, “think outside the tank” and get the education and training necessary to succeed in this animal career field.

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