REEF OF THE MONTH - June 2021: Takaki1980's Beautiful Japanese Style SPS Reef!!

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R2R Username: @Takaki1980
Build Thread:
Japanese Style Reef Tank



Hello everyone. I'm very honored to have my tank featured in Reef2Reef's ”Reef of the Month". I would also like to send a big thanks to @[email protected] for the shout out. I'm afraid I'm not as experienced as the legendary people in the previous articles, but I hope I can give some insights to everyone reading this article.

First, a little about me. My job was originally as a product designer with a focus on interaction design, but now my work has become more about business design. I am now working as a business designer at the University of Tokyo. I live in Japan with my wonderful wife, 10 year old son, 4 year old daughter and 13 year old male cat.

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2 years ago we built our long awaited house in the old capital of Kamakura. With the new house, I started planning for a reef tank, which I have been longing for. It was my first time to have a saltwater aquarium, so I spent about a year preparing for it. I remember how exciting it was during this time of research and worrying. The tank is located in the loft above the living room, and it is placed in symmetry with the nature aquarium (planted freshwater aquarium).


I started keeping my tank with SPS from the beginning. It has only been a little over a year since I started, so I can't say that things are going well. I have lost a lot of corals in the past year. The acropora coral in particular is difficult to keep and even when things seem to be going well, it can suddenly go bad. It is my responsibility to take care of these precious creatures, and I am filled with regret, but I am making an effort to keep them well little by little while repeating my mistakes.

This is my plan.
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This is what the inside of the aquarium stand looks like, with the HVAC ducts in the way on the right side.I made a plan to avoid the ducts.
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and Now.
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System Profile Questions
  • Display tank: 90x50x45 and 45x45x50(cm)
  • Glass or Acrylic: Glass
  • Stand: A wooden built-in stand (space is limited due to the house's air conditioning ducts inside)
  • Sump: 50x45x36cm(Original sump myself )and Refugium tank 45x35x26cm
  • Grow-out tank: The smaller tank on the 45cm side could be called that.
  • Protein skimmer: RedSea reef skimmer 600.
  • Carbon/phosphate filtration: Nothing
  • Return pump: Hsbao DEP10000(Chinese DC pump)
  • Water circulation: AI Nero 5 x 3
  • Lighting (display): AI Hydra 32HD x 3
  • Lighting (refugium): ADA aquasky 451
  • Calcium/alkalinity/magnesium dosing equipment: Reactor ReefLive V-cal800
  • Auto top-off: Chinese products
  • Heating/cooling: TECO TK-500
  • System control: Nothing
  • Trace Element Dosing pump: JEBAO dosing pump 4.1 and 3.1
  • Trace elements : RedSea Trace color ABCD
  • Coral foods : RedSea Reef energy plus and some Phytoplankton foods
Water Circulation and Flow Summary and Objectives:

I have a powerhead (nero5) set up facing each other with alternating pulse operation. 85% power output is more than enough for a 45cm wide tank. The water flow seems to be a little too strong for the fish, but I think the corals need a strong water flow. At night we turn the power down a bit (70%) so that the fish can sleep better.

Water Parameters:
  • Temp : 24.0~24.2℃
  • pH : 8.2
  • Specific gravity : 35 ppt
  • Ca : 420 ppm
  • Alk : 9.0 dkh
  • Mg : 1360 ppm
  • NO3 : 0.0 - 0.2ppm
  • PO4 : 0.00 - 0.01ppm
  • Ammonia and nitrites : 0 ppm
  • Salt: For the salt, I use RedSea salt. I used to use Coral Pro salt a while ago, but I heard that it was too thick, so now I use normal salt.


Pipe work (I love it)

Built-in (Left side : Sump)

Built-in (Right side : Refg)


The layout is made from the skeletons of dead corals. I created it by collecting skeletons sold as decorations for home interiors, etc., little by little at auctions. When I think about it now, it's a bit of a unique method, but when I started, I was a beginner who really didn't know anything. I had heard that live rock is the carcass of a dead coral, so I figured that using coral carcasses would not be a problem. As a result, I was able to create a unique layout with overhangs and I really like it. I'm sure I'll do it this way again next time. (Unfortunately, I've collected a lot of dead coral skeletons in the past year, so I don't think I'll need to buy them at auction.) I really recommend using coral carcasses because it's easy to create a flat stage and overhangs, there are microscopic holes for the biota to live in, and the water flow is good. I would like to recommend this method to others.

Layout made form skeletons

Layout of main tank

Layout of sub tank

Layout of FTS at the beginning

and here it is today!

For the big three (alk/calcium/magnesium)

I use a calcium reactor. When I started, I was using an additive to adjust the alkalinity, but I had trouble stabilizing the alkalinity, so I switched to a reactor.

The following additives are used
  • Amino acid: Amino acid made in Japan
  • Trace elements: RedSea coral colors ABCD by dosing pump
  • Bacteria: KZ zeo bac and soil bacteria
my dosing system

Lighting system

I am using AI Hydra 32HD for lighting, which may seem a little underpowered for SPS, but I feel it is sufficient for a small Japanese aquarium. In the U.S., most aquariums are 60cm in diameter, but in Japan, where houses are small, 45cm is the norm. So far, I have not felt any lack of light. The settings are as follows.

My Setting of Hydra 32 HD


I add a little filtration material for filtration, but mostly rely on a skimmer. I also use Refugium for nutrient control, but I may remove the seaweed in the near future as I feel that the environment has become too low nutrient lately. Low nutrient salts make corals look lighter in color and less healthy. I feel that corals need some nutrient salts.

What is your maintenance routine?

  • Clean the glass
  • Feed the fish and corals
  • enjoy the tank!
  • Test alkalinity
  • Clean the skimmer
  • 80ℓ water change(2weeks)
  • Clean powerheads as needed
  • Replace calcium media as needed
  • Replace CO2 as needed

Tank Inhabitants—Fish: (Please List)

90cm tank :
  1. Clown anemonefish
  2. Black ocellaris
  3. Yellow tang
  4. Flame angelfish
  5. Bicolor blenny
  6. 2 Royal gramma
  7. Bluestreak cleaner wrasse
  8. 3 purple queen anthias
  9. 2 Red scooter blenny
45cm tank
  1. Regal angelfish
  2. Barred angelfish
  3. Mandarinfish





Other Invertebrates:
  1. Hermit crab
  2. Eyespot Shrimp
  3. Topshells
  4. Strawberry Conch
  5. Emerald green Crab
Tank Inhabitants— Corals: (Option to List)
  1. Acropora tenuis
  2. Acropora millepora
  3. Acropora gemmifera
  4. Acropora digitifera
  5. Acropora nana
  6. Acropora granulosa
  7. Acropora humilis
  8. Acropora nasuta
  9. Acropora carduus
  10. Anacropora sp. green goblin
  11. Bubble gum digitata
  12. Forest fire digitata
  13. grafted monti cap
  14. Red monti cap
  15. Green monti cap
  16. Blue Staghorn coral
  17. Emerald green Staghorn coral
  18. Green Slimer Staghorn coral
  19. Pink birdsnest coral
  20. Green birdsnest coral
  21. Yellow birdsnest coral
  22. Pachyseris coral sp. branch type
  23. Pachyseris coral
  24. Purple Smooth Cauliflower coral
  25. Pink Smooth Cauliflower coral
  26. Green Smooth Cauliflower coral
  27. Yellow Cauliflower coral
  28. Green Cauliflower coral
  29. Pink Cauliflower coral
  30. Torch coral
  31. Hammer torch coral
  32. Frogspawn coral
  33. Brain coral
  34. Button coral
  35. Acan Lord
  36. Leather coral
  37. Zoa sp. Rasta
And more ...o_O




Fish and Coral Feeding:

I feed my fish frozen food. I give them a piece of copepoda and a piece of white shrimp every day. I have tried many different coral foods, but it is hard to know which one is best. Right now I am trying raw phytoplankton food.

Any stocking regrets?

I was very excited to buy a very expensive Australian gold torch coral, but the day after I put it in the tank, it started to dissolve and I regretted it terribly. The more expensive the coral, the sooner it dissolves. This is Murphy's Law.


Any fish, invert, or coral you will NEVER keep?

There is no creature that I have decided not to keep. I'm interested in all creatures. But there are many creatures that are difficult to keep. I'm sure I'll never be able to keep the peppermint angelfish.

What do you love most about the hobby?

I find coral husbandry to be very difficult. But that is the main attraction of this hobby. How can I make sure that the corals I keep grow healthily? My greatest enjoyment comes from researching and studying what I can do to make this happen, and considering and challenging myself in various ways.


How long have you been doing this?

I have only been keeping corals for one year and three months. But I've been keeping aquatic plants for 15 years. I hope to create new stimulation by using the techniques I learned at Nature Aquarium, such as layout techniques, wabi-sabi philosophy, and how to make the most of sparseness, in my participating aquarium.

Who or what in the hobby most influences/inspires you?

The person who has influenced me the most is Mr. Amano. Although Mr. Amano was not a coral breeder, I was greatly influenced by him. Mr. Amano is known as the person who pioneered a new way to enjoy aquatic plants called nature aquarium.He brought the idea of nature-like aquatic plant layout to aquariums, where most of the layouts were like flower beds.

My Nature Aquarium Tanks

If you could have any tank, what size would it be and why?

A coral tank is not only for you, but for your family as well. For that reason, it needs to be part of your interior design. For now, the concept is to have symmetry with the aquarium, so there is no plan to change the size. Instead, I would like to set up a pardarium that recreates a tropical rainforest in the empty space between the two tanks.

Favorite fish?

I have a favorite fish, or rather, a fish that I have tried and failed with twice: copperband butterfly fish, the first of which I lost in about a month, and the second in about three months. They were cleared to eat, but I guess I didn't feed them often enough, and they both died. The size of the fish I introduced was smaller than 5 cm, so I would like to introduce a slightly larger fish if I ever try again.


Favorite coral?

This is a difficult question. Right now I'm just starting out and all the corals look fascinating. I'm also interested in named corals, but I'm holding off on trying expensive corals until I have the skills to grow them healthily first lol.

How do you typically get over setbacks?

I try to investigate the cause of failure and solve the problem by thinking about it. There are still a lot of superstitious products in the Japanese aquarium industry, so R2R's experimentalism and logical discussions are very helpful for me. I think the best part of this hobby is to challenge while learning.


Have you faced any major challenges with this particular tank, and if so, how did you overcome?

Just in January of this year, I had a problem with my aquarium. We think the direct cause was the year-end cleaning. When I washed the flow pipe, I didn't rinse it well enough, and I guessed that it was contaminated with scientific substances. I also think that refugeum was too effective and the ultra low nutrient environment was not good.

Little by little the zooxanthellae in the corals decreased, they lost their color, and there was a lot of cyanobacteria and dinos. It is now coming under control with the addition of live sand and the introduction of zooplankton, but we lost a lot of acropora that we grew for over a year.
I have learned that restoring the water quality and thickening the bio-layer is the way to avoid failure. The amount of organic matter as well as trace elements is an important factor in diversifying the bio-layer. In addition to feeding, we need to be careful not to take in too much nutrients. In my system, I believe that refugeum is too effective. Seaweed itself is useful for biodiversity, so I am not removing it, but rather reducing the amount of seaweed to counteract the problem.

What's the best thing you ever bought for your tank?

Instead of answering this question, I would like to introduce you to the Japanese overflow system. because I think it is not the best one, but also the most common one for us Japanese aquarists. but rare in the US. I think this is a method that can be applied to nano-tankers because it is a method to achieve overflow in a space-saving manner that is adapted to Japanese housing conditions (rabbit hutches!).
In the Japanese overflow system, a triple pipe is used: the first inside pipe is used to absorb water into the tank and the second pipe is used to drain the water. The outermost pipe serves as a cover to prevent clogging, so in principle it is not necessary. In the cabinet under the tank, a special pipe called a pistol. The pistol is used, which serves to bring the inner water intake pipe outside the drain pipe. This allows for an overflow system that provides both water supply and drainage with just one hole in the bottom of the tank. For more details, please see the diagram below.
The Japanese style overflow system is very useful when you don't have enough space to install a side flow or a flow box at the back or side of the tank, because everything is completed in the space under the tank.

The disadvantage is the drainage noise, but there are many known ways to eliminate this. If you are interested, please check them out.


What are your future plans for improvement/upgrade of the tank?

I think the most important thing in keeping SPS is to keep the water quality from changing rapidly and to stabilize it. Therefore, I am considering installing a KH controller.

Any special tips for success or advice you'd like to share with other reefers?

I'm still a beginner, so I don't have enough experience to give you advice. What I can tell you is this. Just enjoy this hobby! I think having fun is the best tip!

Final Thoughts?

It was very difficult for me, as a Japanese, to compose such a large amount of English. But I enjoyed writing it very much. I am very honored to be able to introduce my aquarium to you! I would like to thank the R2R staff for giving me this opportunity, and I would like to thank all the R2R members!


Peace River

Thrive Master
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Apr 29, 2014
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Central Florida, USA
WOW!!! Absolutely stunning! Well deserved Reef of the Month selection!


Valuable Member
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Dec 28, 2015
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I enjoyed reading this thread, congratulations to you on Reef of the Month! Spectacular looking set up and inhabitants!


Active Member
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Oct 22, 2019
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Very inspiring and very humbling, its not everyday that someone is thankful jus being able to share their reef with us, but it definitely very humbling that someone from overseas has such a appreciation for this forum and took the time and patience to type everything up in English, Thanks again Takaki for sharing with us all. Arigato gozaimasu!

Lowell Lemon

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May 23, 2015
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Washington State
Love both the sea water and freshwater aquariums! What beautiful composition! So clean and we'll planned. Followed your build for awhile and you are an inspiration for your designs. Well done.


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May 4, 2021
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Thank you for sharing your beautiful tank and experience, it takes strength to admit mistakes for others to learn from. If my tank ends up half as beautiful as yours I will be happy.


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Jan 8, 2013
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Congratulations! Your tanks are beautiful. I also like how you designed them to fit the room and how it all blends together so well. Well done!
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