Gatlinburg Aquarium


Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

aquarium in Gatlinburg TN/shark/coral

An aquarium in Gatlinburg, officially the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, is the newest attraction to open in the Great Smoky Mountain community. The Gatlinburg aquarium was built not to showcase the fresh water fish of the Smokies, but rather to showcase salt-water fish and sea life from every ocean. To do this Ripley's created 1.3 million gallons of artificial sea water which fills correspondingly large aquariums full of thousands of some of the most exotic fish and sea life on the planet.

Sea Life In The Smokies!

Crab crustacean in Ripleys Aquarium The Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies features marine specimens such as the giant Pacific octopus which grows to have eight-foot tentacles. It also has sharks of several varieties plus living coral and tropical fish. And leave it to Ripley's to bring a Japanese spider crab as an attraction to Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains. This crab species is the largest crustacean in the world growing to a near ten foot leg spread!


Added to the above Smoky Mountain newcomers, there are other attractions at the Gatlinburg aquarium where literally thousands of undersea creatures from around the world are displayed. Among them are sting ray, hammerhead sharks, moray eels, lion fish, sea dragons, poisonous frogs, and Amazonian piranha and other Rain Forest fish. There are Pacific reef fishes, groupers, horse shoe crab, green turtles, jellyfish and others.



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Gatlinburg's Under-The-Sea Look.

Aside from the fish themselves, most exciting part of the Smokies aquarium is a clear acrylic tunnel equipped with a moving sidewalk through which fascinated Smokies visitors glide. This attraction gives an under the sea look at the fish and aquatic life. This fabulous tank is home to several types of shark including the bonnethead, the sandtiger and nurse sharks. It is thrilling to see these otherwise dangerous sea creatures swimming with agility and grace. Often the exotic undersea life forms are only inches away!

Gatlinburg aquarium/shark swimming

Aquarium in Gatlinburg Is Very Popular.

As an attraction, the prestigious 45 million dollar, 115,000 square foot aquarium is expected to entertain 1.5 million Smoky Mountain visitors annually. In addition to the new attraction, the city of Gatlinburg spent $19 million to improve the infrastructure of the city including two multi-level parking garages to help accommodate the estimated million and a half annual visitors going to the aquarium. A new visitors center was created to help Smokies visitors and a pedestrian bridge was built across the Little Pigeon River to accommodate foot traffic.

Clearly Gatlinburg city fathers expect the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies to be a boon for the local economy and the city's visibility as a tourist destination. Ten to fourteen thousand visitors are likely to attend the attraction daily. The new visitors to the Smoky Mountain area are expected to bring as much as $76,000,000 to local business such as hotels, gift shops and restaurants as well as bring $20,000,000 annually to Ripley's. Believe it or not!