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    Yasuhiro’s Blue Lagoon, The Tank that Started it All

    October is here and the “Reefing Season” is back in full swing. In a quest for reefing motivation I turned to the Blue Lagoon, one of my favorite aquariums. This article was originally published on June 4, 2009–tanks this good never reach an expiration. I remember stumbling across the Blue Lagoon online. It was nearly [...]

    October is here and the “Reefing Season” is back in full swing. In a quest for reefing motivation I turned to the Blue Lagoon, one of my favorite aquariums. This article was originally published on June 4, 2009–tanks this good never reach an expiration.


    I remember stumbling across the Blue Lagoon online. It was nearly 10 years ago when I first laid eyes on this tank, and since then it, along with a number of other beautiful Japanese reefs, has shifted my ideas and thoughts on reefs aquariums. Mr. Yasuhiro Komatu, a Japanese aquarist, was a master at using multiple light sources to bring out the desired effect within his reef. He consciously thought about the spectrum, intensity, and UV qualities that these coral received in their natural homes and attempted to mimic that while also enhancing their natural beauty. Some call it disco lighting—I call it reef magic.

    japanese reef tank

    This stunning 200g reef (~60x36x26″) was illuminated by five MT-250 (250w) DE Metal Halide lamps; 3 of which were a 20-25K lamp (Coral Lamp used in the MT series), the remaining were 14K BLVs. In addition to this core lighting Yasuhiro utilized 3 Superkaru 150w metal halide spotlights, two deep blues (50K) and one pink.

    japanese reef tanks

    Love it or hate it, the Blue Lagoon is worthy of appreciation

    That’s not all. In addition to the metal halides, 50w and 75w warm Ushio Halogen spotlights and 8 CFL Spotlights (4x 20w & 4x 27w) were then used to pop highlights into the varied blue spectrum. The effect is captured beautifully in the first photograph. After learning about this tank, I remember saying to myself..  I must get a rimless aquarium and metal halides spotlights!

    japanese reef tanks

    Yes the lighting is overkill, but Yasuhiro showed what can be created in the confines of a glassbox and opened my mind into an entire new world of lighting. Aquarium lighting has historically been extremely limited, misleading, and often times ineffective. Thankfully times have changed and new developments in spectral / PAR analysis and metal halide reflector design have created vast improvements over the once standard 400w 6.5K Iwasaki and Spider reflector.

    japanese reef tanks

    Mr. Komatu’s Blue Lagoon emphasized to me the importance of planning in advance for the aquascape and coralscape. During this time period, I was frequenting the popular Chicago store Reef Dweller, run by RC legend Menard. While I had a beautiful collection of colorful  and rare SPS filling an entire 125g tank… I realized the big picture was not where I wanted it to be. It was not a display tank, it was a coral tank. For some that’s okay, but for me I realized I needed to balance the pleasure gained of keeping these animals with the optical experience of viewing a final product.

    I haven’t heard from Yasuhiro in years now, and I fear this system is no more. Hopefully these photos that I’ve kept with me will inspire you during this reefing “off-season”. If anyone has any updates on this beautiful tank, let us know.

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    4. Japanese Metal Halide with Internal Ballast
    5. Coloration | 20K is Not the Only Way to Make Corals Pop
    • Nick

      I really love that tank, always have.

    • http://www.nanoreefblog.com Curvball

      Jeepers ten years ago – time fly’s. I recall first seeing the Japanese reef tanks about 8 years ago and was blown away by their style. It is still something I keep in the back of my mind everytime I look at my own tank… but looking at my current lil12g, I’ve missed the mark and it has really become, as you say, a coral tank. But there’s always hope when the upgrade comes around :)

      Is there any way of trying to track Yasuhiro down? Would love to know what his new tricks are, as I’m sure we all do.

    • http://blog.fragd.it Vlad

      It sure looks like he uses a low nutrient philosophy. The colors are pastel. Are the corals even real LOL :)

    • http://glassbox-design.com eric michael

      @Vlad, Indeed it is more than just lighting. Yasuhiro also maintained extremely low levels of no3 and po4 via skimming and large waterchanges.

    • Nicholas Sadaka

      One thing I still find very frustrating with lighting and choosing bulbs and such is finding factual information about the actual intensity of each prospective bulb. These stats almost seem like they are hidden from us. I have seen Joshi’s charts about intensity and such, but everything would be so much easier if that information and minimally PAR rating was given information with each bulb. I find that aspect very frustrating and I know I’m not the only one because the internet is just packed with the question “which bulb should I use, which is the best”, and while I know there are MANY determining factors, given stats on these bulbs would make choosing much easier. I feel a little dumb saying this, but I really couldn’t follow Sanjay’s lighting charts and information very well and still couldn’t really determine which bulb was most intense. For someone like me who has limited funds and can’t afford all the fancy lighting (which I think is the case for many reefers), I personally just want to know which bulb is most intense for my use. Spectrum is the one stat they constantly want to send our way and for me personally, is the least important. I simply want my coral that have high light needs to receive the best possible intensity regardless of how it looks aesthetically (to a point). Anyhow, sorry for going somewhat off topic and those tanks are certainly spectacular, but all the light talk reminded me of that pet peeve I have. Stunning tanks and very interesting take on aquarium set-up and unique lighting styles.

    • http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&th Mike Clifford

      @Nicholas – I feel with you on this. The problem with a PAR rating system is that there are so many variables that come into play. PAR numbers can vary drastically based on the type of reflector and type of ballast used, not to mention distance from the tank, water clarity, etc. All this makes it very difficult to come up with a universal number.

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    • brad

      sickest tank ever. thanks for sharing!

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    • http://www.discus-fish-breeders.com Luke Discus

      I don’t think the light is overkill – I love the tank.

    • http://www.discus-fish-breeders.com Luke Discus

      I don’t think the light is overkill – I love the tank.

    • Designfate1988

      that is actually a 250g tank ;)