The largest coral reef in Europe

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Burgers’ Ocean is part of a large zoo in the Netherlands and is a tropical coral reef aquarium containing eight million liters of water. A crucial component is the living coral reef, which holds 750,000 liters of water. This living coral reef is the largest in Europe. The tropical coral reef ecosystem is meticulously replicated in the Ocean. Achieving this is not easy at all, as corals have exceptionally high demands for water quality, water flow, light intensity, and the availability of the right food.

Large diversity

Burgers’ Ocean showcases life in a coral reef in the Indo-Pacific region, one of the most species-rich habitats on Earth. In such a reef, life thrives in otherwise nutrient-poor warm seas. Numerous fish species and various other animals such as sea urchins, shrimp, sea cucumbers, worms, and anemones inhabit and surround the reef. Due to the diversity of species, ecological niches are narrow, meaning each species has its own specialization. Each animal species plays a unique role in the ecosystem, contributing to a biological balance.


At Burgers’ Ocean, visitors can enjoy the impressive living coral reef, abundant with corals. But are corals plants or animals? A coral is actually an animal; not just one animal, but a whole colony of tiny animals called polyps. In most coral species showcased in our Ocean, each polyp lives symbiotically with a plant: a single-celled algae. The algae produce sugars through photosynthesis, with a portion of these sugars shared as ‘rent’ to the coral polyp. Corals can be divided into two main groups: soft corals and hard corals, which form the basis of a coral reef.

Planktonic algae are crucial for the ecosystem, serving as food for many fish species and other animals. Undesirable algae must be removed from the glass by divers. Additionally, we ensure that algae do not have the opportunity to overgrow the coral and block sunlight.


As humans, we are learning more and more about marine life, but much remains unknown. Therefore, in the Ocean, we conduct a lot of scientific research and gather various data from our animals. The knowledge and ability to cultivate corals, for example, could be important in the future for protecting coral reefs in the wild. Cultivating corals is very challenging because a coral colony consists of tens of thousands of very small animals that are highly sensitive to minor changes in their environment. The amount of light, water quality, water flow, and the type and quantity of available food—all must be perfect. Small deviations in these factors can have fatal consequences. The team of biologists and animal caretakers at Burgers’ Ocean has been successfully cultivating both soft corals and hard corals for many years.

Go see it! 

As residents of the Netherlands and huge reef tank enthusiasts, we visit this beautiful aquarium monthly. So, if you ever find yourself visiting The Netherlands, it’s definitely recommended to admire Burgers’ Ocean with your own eyes!
In the article, you’ll find a few of our personal photos to give you a good sense of the atmosphere.

About author

Picture of Daan van Dijken

Daan van Dijken

Ten years ago, I started setting up a freshwater aquarium. Since then, I always have been fascinated by the underwater world. Together with my wife, we have been fortunate to discover this on many beautiful journeys and explored the magnificent underwater world through diving. In 2023, we have started a 60-liter saltwater aquarium. Soon, we realized that we wanted to further expand our saltwater aquarium hobby, so we switched to a Red Sea Peninsula 650. It's a fantastic aquarium that brings daily joy to me, my wife, and our daughter. I enjoy keeping up with the latest developments in the saltwater world and love exploring how to make my tank even smarter and easier to maintain. As a newcome, I would like to share all my experiences in setting up a saltwater aquarium with you!

About author

Picture of Stefan van Beek

Stefan van Beek

Salt has always run in my blood. From birth, aquariums surrounded me, first at my grandfather's and later at my parents’ place. Now, at the age of 30, I've been able to set up my dream tank, a 160x70x70 peninsula. Corals hold the second spot for me; fish and the entire ecosystem are the reasons I have an aquarium. Nearly a decade ago, I started with my first aquarium, making plenty of mistakes and learning a great deal from them. Since 2021, I've been working at Ocean&Lake in the Netherlands, where I am now fully responsible for the saltwater department.