So you have a beautiful reef tank and you want to share it with friends, family and fellow reef keepers who might not have a chance to see the tank in person. Taking great pictures does take a different skill set and to do so there are some best practices one can follow to take great photos of an aquarium.


Teal Stag


Once the basics are learned there is an accessory you can use to take those aquarium photography skills to another level. It’s called a top-down viewer or photo box.


Avast Marine Top-Down Porthole


A top down viewer is an accessory attached to a camera that makes it possible to safely submerge a lens underwater to take stunning photos or videos. Yes, there are water proof housings available for cameras used primarily by scuba divers but they can be expensive and are overkill for an aquarium. Top down viewers are much less expensive and are made specifically for aquariums, including a “porthole” viewer manufactured by Avast Marine.


Avast Marine Top-Down Porthole


Avast Marine’s original porthole, called the “shorty”, was designed to fit most standard DSLR lenses, although they now have mounts to fit smartphones and point and shoot cameras. Ok, what about a long macro lens? Well, they have a porthole for that as well.



As is the case with the original porthole, the extra long porthole has three thumbscrews that are used to mount the housing to the barrel of a lens. Slide the camera inside the porthole, tighten the screws, dip it in the water and you are good to go.


One thing I would like to see at the end of the thumbscrews is some sort of padding to prevent the screws from scratching the lens barrel. I have not noticed anything yet on my lens yet but it would give me more piece of mind if there was something there to protect it. There are rubberized pads at the end of the porthole that make it possible to set the camera down while it is still in the housing, a feature I like since it protects the end of the housing.


Avast Marine Top-Down Porthole


Overall, I am really pleased with both the pictures and videos I have taken with this top-down housing. It is simple to use and I have no worries about water getting inside the housing.



I would recommend turning off all re-circulating pumps to keep any water from splashing onto the camera. And make sure you have a good grip on the camera. You don’t want it to fall into the tank!



If you are looking for additional insights and information, please explore my many other reef tank and SPS related articles as well as my book, A ReefBum’s Guide To Keeping an SPS Reef Tank: A Blueprint For Success. And you can see all of my reef tank videos online now as well as my Live HD Webcam.


Happy reef keeping!