This Is What a P1 Million Aquarium Looks Like

IMAGE ADA Co Ltd and Wig Tysman

Back when we were kids, our dads would dote on their aquariums. Whether it’s just a small two-gallon tank or large 20 or so gallon aquariums, there’s usually one in the house of a typical household with a hum of an air pump buzzing in the background. From a small school of goldfish to a large single fish arowana tank, there’s always a guy we know who’s an aquarist.


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Some people would keep goldfish or arowanas for good luck, but there’s also a number of aquarists who are genuine hobbyists. Aside from having a variety of exotic fishes, these guys would have a backup power supply in case there’s a brownout so their air pumps can continue to keep pumping oxygen to their expensive fishes, special water quality testing equipment and other gadgets to make sure that they maintain the optimal aquatic environment for their beloved fishes.

Takashi Amano's residence

Photo by ADA Co Ltd.

These days, with the advances made in the aquarium industry, it allows aquarists to further enjoy this hobby and get the highest possible quality of equipment (and aquariums). In Japan, a country with a rich aqua culture and history of creating small environment landscapes like the art of bonsai and ikebana, there’s a pioneering artisan brand called Aqua Design Amano (ADA) founded by Takashi Amano, also known as the godfather of nature aquariums or the art of “aquascaping.”

Roots of aquarium culture

The Dutch were the first to develop the art of aquascaping in the 1930s, using a lush arrangement of different types of plans without the use of rocks and driftwoods. Using thick foliage and various plant types, almost 80 percent of the aquarium floor is covered with plant life.

In Japan, Amano started to introduce the Japanese and contrasting way of this “nature aquarium” and his compositions drew inspiration from traditional Japanese gardening techniques, mimicking natural landscapes with use of stones and driftwood.

“Nature aquarium” mimics natural landscapes with use of stones and driftwood

Photo by ADA Co Ltd.
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Since Amano is also a serious landscape photographer who often travels to the Amazon forest as his inspiration to design aquascapes. “As our Sensei Amano always says, it has to look at natural as possible, nothing artificial. Anything that blocks the view is unnecessary,” says Justin Uy, who was mentored by Amano in aquascaping and is the exclusive representative of ADA in the Philippines.

These hobbies don’t come cheap though. A very elaborate ADA creation comes with at least a seven-figure price tag. ADA uses ultra-clear crystal quality glass panels for its aquariums. No excess adhesive bonding material can be seen dripping on the edges, without any braces and the color of the glass is not green like regular glass. 

Aquascaping as a hobby doesn't come cheap

Photo by ADA Co Ltd.

For their filter pipes, glass is used instead of the unsightly plastic tubes. And instead of using artificial air pumps, ADA developed a system where carbon dioxide (CO2) is injected into the aquarium using glass diffusers that produce micro bubbles. The CO2 is then absorbed by the aquatic plants to produce oxygen for the fish.


Aquasoil Amazonia is also a proprietary substrate developed to replace sand or gravel. This gives aquatic plants nutrients and allows fish waste to be decomposed naturally. For lighting, ADA uses special LED lights that replicate sunlight so the aquatic plants can undergo photosynthesis.

Uy's home aquarium costs about P1 million

Photo by Wig Tysman.

Million-peso aquariums

Amano’s personal aquarium set up costs about P10 million pesos (or about $200,000) and Uy’s fater was one of the first clients of ADA. His set-up costs over P1 million but quickly clarified that there are starter models that are very budget-friendly. 

“We have had discerning clients who spend seven digits for their aquariums here in the Philippines,” says Uy. “They expect top quality products and we also provide the after-sales service and maintenance for their aquascapes.” Nonetheless, they have complete Nature Aquarium sets in smaller sizes that start below P50,000. Not bad for a home office desktop set up.



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Uy says that ADA Nature Aquariums are not just kept outside in the garage or at the back of the terrace these days. They are now made the centerpiece of homes and offices and have been incorporated by the country’s top architects and interior designers as the focal points of living spaces. His father’s aquarium was recently featured in a coffee table book about the world’s best aquariums that commissioned photographer Wig Tysman for the shoot. 

ADA aquariums can be viewed at Hobbes & Landes, Bonifacio High Street or for more information, follow ADA Nature Aquarium Philippines on Facebook and @ADAPhilippines on Instagram or or call 0998-998-8000.

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Alvin Uy
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