Tenji builds Amazon.com a jaw-dropping planted aquarium system

by | Jun 29, 2017 | Advanced Aquarist | 0 comments

Tenji (https://www.facebook.com/tenjiinc/) provides Advanced Aquarist with a description of their amazing Amazon.com freshwater planted build.  All photos copyrighted by Tenji and Daniel Sheehan.

Freshwater Planted Aquarium Display for Amazon.com


Amazon.com contracted with Tenji, Inc. to design and build a freshwater planted aquarium in 2016. They were aware of Tenji’s experience and background with planted aquariums and the intricacies and challenges such systems pose.  Tenji was hired to build the tank, stand and life support system (LSS).  The tank’s interior, both hardscape and live plants and fish were designed and tastefully executed by aquatic plant gurus Tom Barr (The Barr Report) and Steve Waldron (Aquarium Zen).



The aquarium is 18’ long by 2’ wide and 2’ high (roughly 550 gallons) and is shaped with a slight bend to conform to the contour of the building. The aquarium is located in one of Amazon.com’s new high rise office buildings in downtown Seattle.  There is a spectacular living wall as a backdrop that was built by living wall specialist Ben Eiben of Surface.  The fertilization system for the living wall and aquarium are on separate systems.

All of the aquarium equipment is located below the tank vessel. The system turn-over rate of every 10 minutes is generated using an Abyzz A400 pump.  The supply pump sends water to a large inline fiberglass CO2 reactor and UV sterilizer on it’s way to the display tank.  A fiberglass bio-tower built by Tenji is on a dedicated pump and sealed properly to prevent off-gassing of CO2.  Water leaving the tank is gravity fed to a custom MRC sump fitted with gravity flow filter bags.


The system is highly automated with a custom and modified by Tenji Neptune Systems apex controller that monitors temperature, pH, water level in sump, water level in tank and water on floor.  Several Flowline float switches in the sump and display tank keep track of water levels to allow the control system to perform daily small volume automatic water changes as well as top-off.  There are several levels of redundancy built into the plumbing and controls prevent flooding or other LSS problems.

Pressurized CO2 is introduced to the fiberglass reactor through an industrial quality regulator and needle valve.  CO2 dosing is controlled by pH through the apex system. The apex system also automates the proper nutrient dosing as well to ensure plants are never nutrient limited.  This, along with high CO2 level and proper lighting allows the plants to thrive while keeping algae at bay.  Batch solutions of macronutrients (primarily nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) and trace elements are mixed up in 5 gallon containers and precisely dosed to the display tank each day with Neptune System’s DOS pumps.

This entire system…the high flow rate, frequent water changes, high CO2, proper nutrient levels and sufficient lighting is an example of Tom Barr’s Estimative Index method for keeping planted aquariums.  It’s a system that when execute properly, truly works.


It doesn’t hurt that Seattle’s domestic water is soft, very plant friendly and ideal for nature aquariums.  All of the domestic makeup water runs through an activated carbon filter before being sent to the tank.

The acrylic tank and powder coated steel stand were built by CalAquaria .  All lighting for the aquarium display by Kessil’s A360 Tuna Sun.

Steve Waldron, owner of Aquarium Zen in Seattle continues to do a fantastic job maintaining the display for Amazon.com.  The team of Tenji, Tom Barr and Steve Waldron have created a unique and peaceful space in a dynamic workplace.






  • Leonard Ho

    I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.

    View all posts


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Upcoming Events