My visit to Japan aquariums

tiger15

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Japan has the most public aquariums of any country, but most are tiny and tend to specialize in certain theme. I have the fortune to visit several on my recent trip to Tokyo and Hokkaido and will show case some pics here.

The first one I visited is the Sumida Aquarium in Tokyo, where the world’s biggest Nature Aquariums were installed by Takashi Amano in 2012 before he passed away a couple years later. There are many documentaries on how he set up these tanks, but seeing them in person is different from watching videos and pictures. The two tanks Amano personally directed installation are a 7m and 4m tanks, estimated to be 2400 and 1400 gallon. The 7m Iwagumi style tank, claimed to be the world’s largest Nature Aquarium, has the smallest fish, hundreds of cardinal tetra. The 4m jungle style tank has more varieties and size of fish and plants. There are two other Terrarniums in the hundred gallon range, probably not installed by Amano but by his ADA staff. The plants choice are mostly easy plants: trident and narrow leaf java ferns, bolbitis, hygrophila pinnatifida, anubias, cryptos, glossostigma elatinoides for carpet, and a few stem plants. As in Japanese gardens, very few colored red plants are used.

What is impressive in person is not the length of the tank, but the immense height and depth proportional to the length. It’s not that hard to set up a long but shallow tank, but setting up a tall and deep tank is hard and maintaining it is harder. There is a documentary that described how the big tanks were maintained during night hours when the aquarium is closed to public, using specially made extended pruning tools and occasional stepped in on suction cups on the walls to protect delicate carpet plants.

There are other exhibits including a marine big tank, reef tanks, jelly fish, and Penguins. I like to show case only the goldfish exhibit which is unique. Goldfish were originally developed in China for top view, and the exhibit coupled top view with lined patterns on the bottom in an artistic design.
 

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tiger15

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The second aquarium I visited is a themed aquarium in a Hokkaido lake I cruised where the mysterious Marimo balls were named after. We can’t dive into the lake to see the Marimo balls, but a small aquarium explains how the balls are formed in nature. They range in size from a peanut to basketball. Marimo balls cannot be replicated as those sold in aquarium shops are made of different algae species.
 

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tiger15

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The third aquarium I visited is a museum in northern shore of Hokkaido, showing some strange marine life in the sea separating Japan from Russia known as Okhotsk Sea. The sea is frozen every winter and receives flux of ice from Amur river. The tiny slugs look and flap wings like fairy angels. There are conch shell dwellers analogous to Tanganyikan shell dwellers, but stranger. There are cold water shrimp and a strange wolf eel.
 

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three-fingers

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The second aquarium I visited is a themed aquarium in a Hokkaido lake I cruised where the mysterious Marimo balls were named after. We can’t dive into the lake to see the Marimo balls, but a small aquarium explains how the balls are formed in nature. They range in size from a peanut to basketball. Marimo balls cannot be replicated as those sold in aquarium shops are made of different algae species.
I've kinda suspected this for a while now, the "moss balls" we buy for aquariums do look a bit different (longer/courser algal strands) and less uniform than pictures of examples collected from nature. I guess true Marimo algae needs colder water with less competition from other algae and plant species.

Thanks for sharing your pictures, looks like a dream holiday to me! :)
 

TBRO

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Thanks so much for sharing, would love to visit Japan one day. T


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tiger15

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In addition to visiting several public aquariums, I also visited a couple fish stores. Unlike major cities in China, Hongkong, Taiwan and SE Asia, I am not aware that Tokyo has a fish street where fish stores are congregated in one place. Two stores I visited, AquaForest, located in different districts of Tokyo, are franchise of ADA and the name says that they specialize in plants and fish.

I have hard time finding the stores. Google map only guided me to the horizontal position, but not the vertical position as the stores are hidden among many stores in multi story mall complexes. Both stores are small, but what made up for the smallness is display of many meticulously scaped tanks as if I were attending a nano tank show. There are complete nano tank setups for sale one can take home to plug in. Price is not cheap as you can figure out by the exchange rate of approximately 100 Yan to 1 Euro or US$.

Amazingly, even though I looked hard, I could not detect any sign of algae in both stores and Sumida Aquarium. The troop of algae eaters I saw in Sumida are Otto and Amano shrimp with the obvious absence of molly, live bearers and plecos.
 

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Thanks again for taking the time to post these. All good but I particularly like the shot of the outside of the shop! ;)
 

Ed Wiser

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Here is a video of the Aquaforest store.
Don't Aquaforest is nothing more than a 300 ADA stocklist store. Which means they carry 300 of ADA products.:)
 

tiger15

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ADA is a brand name that runs many stores in Japan, sponsored conventions, and sells many products. I don't know if Japan has mom and pa stores that dominate the scene in fish streets of other Asian countries. The fish street stores in HK and Taiwan I've visited carry amazing variety of exotic tortoise, stingray, arowana, discus, goldfish, plants, reef and nano fish you named it. I am not sure if Japanese hobbyists are interested in tank busters and other variety and even if they do, the stores that carry them are likely located in residential districts outside Tokyo.
 
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TBRO

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Again thanks for posting, some exquisite nano tanks there! Not the average LFS in the UK


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