Fluorescent Animals Reef

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Erwin Kerkenberg's spectacular corallimorpharian display. Alf Jacob Nilsen/Bioquatic Photo

Article & Images by Alf Jacob Nilsen

  • System Owner: Erwin Kerkenberg
  • Location: Varel, Germany
  • Tank Established: November, 2005
Erwin Kerkenberg image from his "fluorescent animals" reef.

Here is one of the most-talked about reef aquarium systems in Europe today, with a complex of three tanks and owner whose secondary hobby, taking photographs of luminescent or fluorescent marine organisms, produces amazing images of bio-art.

End of the main reef aquarium., which is plumbed to two smaller tanks, one a refugium and the other a lagoon-like setting for mushroom corals.

The reef aquascape was constructed with 600 kg (1,323 lbs) of live rock, with a sand bed that is 15 cm (6 in) deep.

Internal water movement is carried out by five 12,000 L/hour (3,170 gal/hr) Red Dragon pumps. Total circulation capacity of these pumps is 60,000 L/hr or 15,850 gal/hr -- turning over the entire volume of the system roughly 8.5 times per hour.

A 780-liter smaller aquarium containing fluorescent animals is connected to the main coral reef aquarium via a common sump.

Fluorescent light brings out the stunning fluorescent colors in disk and colonial anemones.

The Whiteray Shrimp Goby (Stonogobiops yasha): an unusual and delicate beauty that thrives in the placid environment of the lagoon-like corallimorph tank.

2837-D The female of a mated pair of Bluechin Triggerfish (Xanthichthys auromarginatus) does very well in Kerkenberg’s main reef aquarium.

111380-D Side view of the main aquarium

35085-D Sand-eating gobies, such as this Signal Goby (Signigobius biocellatus) constantly digs in the substratum for food and helps keep the surface of the deep sand bed stirred.


  • Tank for fluorescent animals: 780 L (206 gal)
    • 260cm x 60cm x 50 cm (gross)
    • 8.5 ft x 24 in x 20 in
  • Main aquarium: 5,200 L (gross) (1,374 gal)
    • 380cm x 160cm x 87cm
    • 13 ft x 5 ft x 3 ft (approx)
  • Refugium: 780 Liters
    • 260cm x 60cm x 50 cm (gross)
    • 8.5 ft x 24 in x 20 in
  • Water storage: 250 L (66 gal)
  • Two technical containers: 700 Liter (185 gal)
  • Total Water Volume: 7,700 Liters (2,034 gal)


  • 4x 250 W HQI (10000K)
  • 8 x T5 light tubes (Color 67)

Augmented by overhead natural sunlight.


  • A two-meter (6.5-ft) high H&S skimmer serves as the main filtration unit. The skimmer is operated with ozone.
  • The refugium contains a Jaubert Plenum filtration system and a large stand of Chaetomorpha linum green algae.


  • Live Rock - 600 kg (1,322 lbs)
  • Sand bed - 15 cm (6 in) deep coral gravel

Erwin Kerkenberg is an expert in fluorescent underwater photography, and his work can viewed on his web site: