Why Aquariums Should Be Illegal


Hakai Maganize

Thousands of fish are taken out of their natural habitat every year and are forced to live in artificial environments.

Arya Banerjee, Photo Journalist

People have tried to dominate nature for centuries. Society has the mentality that they need to try and conquer everything they see, and its consequences are becoming more apparent every day. The environment is suffering on all fronts. Whether it be from a huge, unfathomably destructive flood or an invasive species, the ecosystem is thrown off. Part of what’s causing these problems are institutions like aquariums and zoos. These institutions encourage human control over nature and disrespect its natural boundaries. “Animals aren’t meant to be in isolated cages miles away from their natural habitat” (Lauren Jo 11) fervently shares. Pro-aquarium supporters claim that aquariums help with animal conservation. I agree to a certain extent, but I also believe that there’s a better way to do it. For example, states can instate laws that make it illegal to hunt these animals in the first place, that way they won’t need saving.


I understand that it takes years for legislation like this to pass, but if people truly want to make a change, this process is something that is crucial to helping the environment recover from the damage people caused. Aquariums put a bandage on a problem that requires a stitch. And the bandage is only going to fall off if we continue to ignore the root of the problem. 

Animals aren’t meant to be in isolated cages miles away from their natural habitat.

— Lauren Jo (11)

According to freedom for animals.org, an estimated 79% of animals are taken from the ocean to fill aquariums in the UK. This is over half the wildlife in the ocean. They’re taken from conservation-sensitive areas like the Great Barrier Reef and are packed into plastic bags and forced to travel thousands of miles. This journey is often too much on their bodies and many die on the way, especially since this whole process begins by injecting cyanide into the animals, which results in injury and death. During capture, it’s estimated that 30% die, and during transportation, a further 5-10% of fish are estimated to die. Then, 30% die following importation. The fact that the process alone is killing such large amounts of fish should be enough to rethink this process. 


Aquariums sell themselves as saviors and philanthropists who are fighting against extinction. When in reality, they are the ones contributing to extinction. Very, very few animals have ever made it back into the wild and the vast majority are bred simply to restock the tanks. This is wrong and action should be taken against it. It’s important people educate themselves on these types of topics so that society can stop allowing it to happen.