Aquascaping is a term that gets thrown around all sides of the aquarium ‘chloride divide’ but when it comes to putting the principles into practice, coral reefers can hardly touch the execution and presentation of nature aquarium gardeners. Part of the reason for this difference is two fold, on the one hand the freshwater scaping movement is well into its third decade of practice and refinement, and the second part is that it can be hard to acquire the necessary ‘aquascaping material’ to do a saltwater reef aquarium the same way you would with a nature aquarium scape.
Most reefers start a reef tank with tons of rock and slowly add coral to the mix as their budget and skill level allows, whereas in freshwater tanks it is actually recommended to start out the tank with practically all the different plants you intend to grow and use in your aquarium composition. But if you had access to lots of common, hardy and beautiful corals like an aquarium store setting you might be able to create the kind of Serence Softscape that was crated by Aquarium Design Group featured in the video below.
When we first spotted this reef tank we immediately knew two things: one was that this tank is precisely the kind of thoughtfully aquascaped tank we’ve wanted to see more of in the aquarium hobby for years and two, this tank looks like it was a contestant in a famous reef-scaping contest held in Japan by SplashSea in the early 2000s. The way this tank has a lot of negative space, both in the sand and above the bommies really adds to the feeling of tranquility and provides surface area and volume for the coral polyps to sway, and for the fish to swim around.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of this reef tank is that despite being filled with a wide array of colorful pink, green and other colored corals, all of these are of the common, bread and butter variety and not a single one goes by any recognizable trade name. A variety of ‘green polyped’ octocorals are employed so that the small differences between green star, Briareum, Pachyclavularia, green clove polyps, Knoppia daisy polyps, and even Tubipora pipe organ coral can be readily noticed and appreciated.
Other supporting actors include some pedestrian Alveopora and Goniopora flowerpot corals, red Zoanthus and off-green Palythoa as well as some Cynarina and Sarcophyton leather corals. Viewers of the video published two days ago commented at how tranquil and relaxing this particular reef tank comes across and we believe this is not just in the observation of this tank, but also in how it is constructed.
All of the equipment, the modest amount of rockwork, the ‘easy’ corals and the minimal amount of small fish and ornamental shrimp should make this reef tank incredibly simple and trouble free to maintain and care for over the long term. For sure the current generation of reefers who have been programmed by social media to believe that every reef tank needs to be a toxic level of fluorescence to be considered but for us Aquarium Design Group’s Serene Softscape reef tank is a model to be inspired by and we’ll be incorporating some of its design elements in future reef tanks of our own.