The 20,000 gallon reef tank in Long Island NY designed and maintained by Joe Yaiullo has long been the apex of large reef aquarium displays. Featuring luxuriant coral growth and a dense and eclectic mix of large and colorful reef fish, for a decade this reef tank has been an artful work of inspiration. Having seen this tank again in person recently, we can tell you that Joe Yaiullo has been working hard to keep this tank at the cutting edge of husbandry, health, coral growth and overall successful presentation.
The 20,000 gallon Long Island Aquarium is so large that it can easily be thought of as two large displays with each pane creating a window into the aquarium world, each of which is almost supernatural in its representation of the wild reef environment. The entire aquarium grows through cycles of growth spurts and intensive re-aquascaping and right now the right pane of Joe’s 20K reef is in long-term development phase.
The right pane is more open with a better view of the sandbed and more accessible viewing to the back of the overall reefscape. In this right side there is a myriad of different corals, just about every single type you could think of, but the feature we want to bring to your attention is the one that will come to dominate over the next year.
There’s a nice patch of a thin-branching blue tip staghorn, each individual coral would make for an impressive show colony in a typical aquarium. But this isn’t Joe’s first stony coral aquascaping rodeo and he’s really playing the long game to create what will be an incredibly impressive thicket of this coral, it’ll practically be a localized monoculture by the time it grows out completely.
No matter how you look at it though, the left side of the twenty thousand gallon reef tank is a postcard unto itself. With a huge living pile of yellow scroll coral, Turbinaria reniformis, on the right side, and a climbing hill of various colorful and diverse stony coral shapes and species, the ensemble comes together to create the kind of ‘reef experience’ for visitors to the Long Island Aquarium which is otherwise unavailable to non-divers.
We simply couldn’t take enough pictures of thie entire display to adequately convey how luxurious this coral display has become, and there’s certainly no other public aquarium which can boast the level of success and expertise that is showcased in this huge reef tank. For crying out loud there’s even a huge bommie of Ritteri anemones which have been self-propagating a perfect backdrop to Joe’s SPS coral curtain.
Seeing pictures of this exquisite live coral display doesn’t even come close to being able to experience this reef tank in person, the entire scale of which will overwhelm home reefkeepers who are used to seeing much smaller coral colonies and frags, and much closer too. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be sharing a rundown of how this reef tank came together, in terms of flow, filtration, lighting and other techniques that Joe has employed to create an aquarium that is easily the top contender for one of the best reef aquarium displays in the world.