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Tenji redefines "dive bar" with 7,500 gallon custom aquarium

By Leonard Ho - Posted Aug 19, 2014 08:15 AM
A plant-less, coral-less aquarium isn't what we usually write about, but this unique build is a remarkable engineering achievement. And considering where it's located, it's probably a good idea it isn't filled with fussy livestock.
Tenji redefines "dive bar" with 7,500 gallon custom aquarium

The world's biggest look-UP tank?

Lauren Barbati wrote the following article for Advanced Aquarist.  All photo credits belong to Juan Ayora Photography.

Dive Bar Mermaid Aquarium

Tenji, the team that designed the spectacular walk-through jellyfish aquariums Advanced Aquarist wrote about a couple of months ago treats us with another cool aquarium build. They recently created a stunning 7,500 gallon custom aquarium in one of Sacramento’s trendiest clubs.


The aquarium at the Dive Bar appears to be magically suspended as it hangs cantilevered over the bar 15 feet off the ground. The elaborately themed tank looks like a bar aboard a sunken ship complete with antique-looking bottles and other casino artifacts.

Brilliantly colored marine fish, including exotic French Angelfish, Batfish and Lookdowns, make the tank come alive. However, the main attraction in the aquarium is undoubtedly the pair of live mermaids that glide through the aquarium seducing patrons with their curvy tails.


Completing this remarkable feat of aquatic engineering required extensive planning and design from Tenji. From the first drawing to adding the first fish took nearly 18 months. The 48ft long aquarium was so big that street traffic and the Sacramento City Light Rail System had to be stopped while the tank was lifted into the building. With water, the aquarium weighs a whopping 71,000 lbs! Coming up with a safe way to suspend all that weight 15 feet above the ground, in a busy night club, was one of the biggest challenges for Tenji’s three co-founders Andy Case, Mark Faulkner and Edward Seidel. Being situated in California, the aquarium and mounting system had to be engineered to withstand substantial seismic activity.

Another unique challenge for the Dive Bar aquarium project was to design a filtration system that would keep the water clean and crystal clear for both fish and the regular mermaid performances.  To address this, the aquarium has a total of 12HP of pumps that filter the entire water volume through an elaborate filtration system in the aquarium every 60 minutes.

The three co-founders of Tenji were all once aquarists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) before forming the company. MBA is renowned for being at the cutting edge of aquarium display techniques and husbandry skills. The Tenji trio had a hand in creating some of the facility’s most popular displays during their years working at the institution.

Word is that Tenji is busy completing a number of exciting and innovative aquarium displays and we can’t wait see what they have in store.



Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

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.


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