The Atlanta Aquarium contains between 100,000 and 120,000 fish and other sea creatures, representing more than five hundred species. On June 14, 2005, the total number of specimens was unveiled after having previously being reported as "over 55,000". Marcus was quoted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as saying: "I have been saying that we would have more than 55,000 fish; I just never said how many more." The fish were transported from Taiwan to the aquarium by UPS in 42 tanks aboard an MD-11 airplane. UPS donated the cost of the shipping, estimated at over $200,000.
The aquarium's most famous specimens were four young whale sharks from Taiwan named Ralph, Norton, Alice and Trixie, after the primary characters from The Honeymooners. Ralph died from peritonitis on January 11, 2007, and Norton, after he stopped eating and began swimming erratically, was euthanized on June 13. Ralph and Norton were with the Georgia Aquarium at its opening; Alice and Trixie joined the aquarium June 3, 2006.
The Georgia Aquarium is the only institution outside of Asia to house whale sharks.The sharks are kept in a 6.3-million-US-gallon (24,000 m3) tank, and the aquarium was actually designed around the whale shark exhibit. The importation of the whale sharks from Taiwan, which was overseen by Jeff Swanagan and staff biologists, was "top secret" and had never been attempted previously. The move required the use of large aircraft, trucks and boats to ship the massive aquatic animals to Atlanta. The four whale sharks were taken from Taiwan's annual fishing kill quota, which the country has since abolished. Under the quota, the whale sharks would have been killed and eaten if they had not been purchased by the Georgia Aquarium.