A tribute to Lee Chin Eng!


Dr. Fish
Premium Member
Back in the 1980s I used to read books/magazines all the time about the marine aquarium hobby. Most of the information was geared towards high powered filtration and keeping everything sterile. Most saltwater tanks were full of dead bleached coral skeletons, coarse sand and a single fluorescent tube for lighting. But one day I ran across a tidbit about Lee Chin Eng's "natural method" and investigated to learn more...

Lee Chin Eng was a man of Chinese descent living in Indonesia. Back in the 1950s-60s he designed and documented a "natural" system that was capable of keeping corals & inverts alive, AND some of his fish even spawned in captivity. He used live rock, airstones for circulation and utilized natural sun light so the corals could grow. His idea was that marine systems are more successful when using live rock/sand + natural seawater than a sterile environment void of the organisms that complete the nitrogen cycle. So maybe he is Paul B's long-lost brother or something?? :D I've dug up some articles (below) if you'd like to read more about one of our founding fathers:



Mr. Eng's "natural method" became the basis for the development of the Berlin Method: https://perrysaquaticscentrelincoln.com/understanding-the-berlin-method-of-marine-filtration/


New member
Pictures of Mr. Engels natural tanks were also featured in Axelrods “Saltwater Aquarium Fish”. I used to consider this book the Bible of aquariums. Circa 1975 or so, I saved my allowance for weeks to buy a copy, and pored over it endlessly. I still have the book and still like to look at it...

Those pictures inspired me to get to the level I am at today. That book also featured pictures of Rodney Jonklass diving and hand netting specimens, and was one of the things that led me to two decades of scuba diving...


I'm really very likeable
I remember reading about his method in marine aquarium mags back in the day.
The author of the article focused on a very sucessful display Lee Chin Eng had a hotel for a long time.


New member
I remember reading excerpts from his book in the mid 1990s. I wish I had come across it in the mid 1980s when I was a teenager. Back then I just threw some NSW in a 10 gal tank with an under-gravel filter and added fish and always wondered why the fish kept dying.