Stefan Betzenhauser, feeding his nearly 800 gallon "Nature Aquarium" reef tank.
Stefan Betzenhauser, feeding his nearly 800 gallon “Nature Aquarium” reef tank.

Tobias Neyer of the German marine aquarium blog Seefriendlyreef recently traveled to the home of Stefan Betzenhauser to film and showcase his nearly 4-year old reef aquarium.

The reef tank, a 210 x 135 x 90 cm (83 x 53 X 35 inch), 3000-liter (790-gallon) setup, was created in December 2016. The stand for the aquarium was built right into the foundation of the home. Filtration for the system is all located in another, separate fishroom.

Betzenhauser and the blank canvas that would ultimately become a German "Nature Reef".
Betzenhauser and the blank canvas that would ultimately become a German “Nature Reef”.

Out front, the reef is driven by 10 Aquaillumination LED lights (5 each Hydra52HD and Hydra26 HD), circulated by Aquamedic Ecodrifts (8). Behind the scenes, a rollermat fleece filter and Deltec 6000xi skimmer form the basis of the reef’s filtration system. Fauna Marine’s system of additives and supplements fuel the corals in this tank.

A view early on as the aquarium first filled out.

It took a few years for the reef to evolved and grow.

Further progress and growth in Betzenhauser’s reef.

Today, the saltwater aquarium is a very classic example of a “mixed reef.” Inside there’re SPS, LPS and numerous soft corals of many forms all living in a very natural setting. Corals have been allowed to grow large.

Unlike many reef aquariums, Betzenhauser has gone very light with the stocking of fishes, including some larger wrasses that might not always be at the forefront of choices for reef safe fishes.

Betzenhauser feeds his reef during the visit from Neyer.

Betzenhauser’s Sohal Tang (Acanthurus sohal) is the dominant member of the fish community, and certainly has room to roam in this large tank. A couple of Blue Tangs (Paracanthurus hepatus) are also present, along with a Klunzinger’s Wrasse (Thalassoma rueppellii), a smaller Lunare Wrasse (Thalassoma lunare), and what appears to be a Melanurus Wrasse (Halichoeres melanurus) or a similar/related species. Less prominent fishes noticed in the video include a Sixline Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia), Bristletail Filefish (Acreichthys tomentosus), what appears to be a Lawnmower Blenny (Salarias fasciatus), and a Red Scooter Dragonet (Synchiropus stellatus).

“It’s a huge mess, but yet everything still seems clean,” notes Neyer, reflecting on the way the tank has evolved. Betzenhauser’s decision to simply let the corals grow where they may, how they may, is different than most approaches. “Every coral is allowed to grow the way it wants to. Here, there are no rules and no order…I know especially the front glass, covered with Pulsing Xenia, is, for many, certainly an absurdity, but hey, that’s a matter of taste,” concludes Neyer.

Watch Now!

More details on Stefen Betzenhauser’s tank can be found at

Credit: Tobias Neyer | SeafriendlyReef / YouTube

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