Visiting public aquariums can be a hit-or-miss experience. There are many aquariums that are less than dazzling to the trained eye of a reef aquarium hobbyist. If ever there was a downside to our experience in this hobby, it is the fact that we have seen what really constitutes a great looking saltwater tank. Much of the time, public aquarium displays do not meet that lofty standard. The worst offenders make you not only regret the admission price, but also the parking fee.
The flip side of the coin is there are some amazing aquariums out there, and they make it all worth it. Very few of us have the expansive budgets a public aquarium has at its disposal. When that budget is paired with a talented aquarium staff, the final product can be breathtaking.
When I travel, I like to schedule some time to visit the local aquarium there, especially those that have a great reputation. Occasionally they will have a display or two that just blows my mind and makes me consider how I can incorporate parts of their design into my own systems.