more info on Japanese reef tanks


Premium Member
A few folks might remember this thread about Japanese reef tanks:

Being quite bored at work today, I decided to delve into a lot of japanese pages for some pics on how these things are set up. One particularly neat thing I found was that they place acrylic pieces in the sand to keep the rock of the sand bed. Here are some links to pics. These are pics of a tank being set up, start to finish:

Here is a url to a step by step page of another Japanese tank being set up:

page 1:


Another example of the acrylic stems:

Other things that I found interesting was their lighting. They seem to use fixtures that resemble the high tech german lights. But more notably, they use a lot of spotlights, which almost look like incandescent light bulbs. Anyone have any ideas on what kind of lights those are? Any Japapnese reefers here that can contribute?

I'm just trying to learn more about what folks in other countries are doing.

Ok, if I haven't bored you yet, here are some other cool pix I found while surfing away, including tank pics, crazy fish and corals that I never see in our pet shops:

Ok, I'm done.;) So if you're having a slow day, check out these links. :)
they all look like new setups with no coraline. the Japanese are famous for bonsai tree pruning, so they probably have alot to offer in their methods. i'd like to know also what type of lighting they use and what long term result. thanks for sharing the info and pics.
Thanks for posting those pics, they were very interesting. The acrylic supports to keep the rocks off of the substrate was talked about in TRAv1, but that is the first time I have seen pictures of it. I have no idea what those spotlights are, but the long strips are definately german HQI setups. Those reefers have some stunningly beautiful tanks don't they?
The question whether these were new tanks was brought up in the last thread. Many of the sites I visited, had pic of the newly set up tank, and yearly update pics. They also had growth sequence pictures for many acroporas over a several year period. So no, these are not new tanks. It is pretty amazing how meticulously clean they keep them.

Marinelife and dendronepthya, I am trying to find out what those lights are as well.

Other than the acrylic "stilts" and the peculiar spotlights, their setups are much the same as ours. I saw a lot of DIY downdraft skimmers on their pages, as well as some euroreef look-alikes. Chemicals used were often Kent, or other well known brands. I hope you guys enjoyed my finds as much as I did digging through a bunch of japanese that I couldn't read. I'm sure I missed a lot. I just went to the various sites and clicked on various hyperlinks, not knowing what page it was linking to.:D

I know, I know. I was really bored though.
Thanks for sharing those pictures. Absolutely stunning. I wonder myself what those lights are (the one looking spot light). I also noticed for the size of the tanks they do not have any kind of center brace/support. Amazing pic, imagine how much would somthing like this cost in Japan.
I notice most tanks do not have fish in them, just corals. Also noticed no canopies, lights suspended above with no tank cover, although they may have taken of a cover for the pictures. I loved the orange plate coral, very cool.
I've noticed that the majority of the Asian reef tanks I've seen seem to employ very similar aquascaping patterns. They typically have a "mound" (the word "mound" doesn't do the beauty of the structures justice but it was the most descriptive word I could think of) of rock on either side of the tank tapering towards a sandy area in the middle. They then affix the corals on the top of the structure (in a similar manner to North Americans) but then they also affix corals to the "bank" of the mound. This seems to be an underutilized (is that even a word?:D) portion of the rock work in North American reef tanks.

Considering I just set up my other tank the other day, I'm gonna go change my rock work in an attempt to mimic one of these tanks ("mimic" sounds so much nicer than blatantly copy doesn't it?!:))

[Edited by Canadian on 02-03-2001 at 02:07 PM]
I think these tanks demonstrate how much more creative one can be with a wide tank. I wish we had more tanks like that here. Heck these pics are making me think of redoing my rockwork. My corals would hate me though.
moviegeek said:
So, what are those small spotlight lamps? I don't think anyone has answered that question yet.

Working on it.;) Any Japanese reefkeepers please chime in.

Planoi, do they have these lights in your country as well?
You gotta love those open top tanks! All glass without bracing looks like you are slicing a chunk right out of the ocean. Check these out from a pet shop in France:


Those are very beautiful and interesting tanks! IMO, they could benefit greatly with the use of VHO actinics and canopies, as well as painting their back walls. Anyone figure out yet how they are getting away with no bracing or frames around the top edges of their tanks?
As far as I am concerned those tanks couldn't get any more beautiful. I think they know something we don't. I know I have said this before, but if you compare the majority of tanks over here with the majority of tanks over there, I would much rather own a tank over there :D And what is that gooey stuff? There has to be a secret that no one has told us. Anyone know a Japanese guy that could help us out?

BTW- I though thtose nautilus were just nifty powerhead covers, but now that I look more closely I am not sur. I think they could be real.....who can read Japanese!?!!?! That little download doesn't work for me.

[Edited by GOOD (G)REEF on 02-03-2001 at 10:07 AM]
Those are indeed Nautilus. What I admire about it, is that the owner understood the animals needs and set up a proper tank for it. I have seen Nautilus for sale from time to time, but they were often kept in reef displays at stores here. Nautilus come from much deeper waters. They require a dimly lit tank, with a chiller. The depths that they occur in are much much cooler than the temps we keep a reef tank at. This owner has both dim lighting and a chiller on the right.

Good (G)Reef,
I don't think there is any secret as to why their tanks are so beautiful. When it comes to lighting, they get their ideas from the German reefkeepers(which seem to make pretty hight tech lights), and also make sweet namebrand lights of their own. When it comes to filtration, they seem to get their ideas from the USA(judging from the numerous ETS look-alike DIY skimmers I saw), and of course the berlin/natural filtration methodology. When it comes to decoration/aquascaping, well, the Japanese have always had an eye for that. When it comes planted aquariums, koi ponds, and even bonsai trees, they are very creative and meticulous. I'm willing to bet that they scrape all four sides of the tank daily.:)

Combine these aspects all together, and you'll end up with a very beautiful tank. I only saw a couple of tanks with refugiums, but I think that will change soon too. It's funny, I never even bought a plane ticket. But from those pics, I think I have a pretty decent grasp of what reefkeeping is like over there. Ya gotta luv the Internet.
Mark, just watched a news piece about the cold-water reefs we have off the Nova Scotia shore. I was amazed that we even had any in the north atlantic - soft and hard corals, lots of color (almost like a tropical reef) and fish. Some fishermen were starting to holler about the destructive fishing practices in these waters (draggers) and the feds are finally taking notice and doing a little research.

Sounds like a great biotope tank for the Nautilus :)