When I first came across this aquarium, it caught my eyes for a variety of reasons. First and foremost was the variety of color in its inhabitants. Next is the fact that it is a room divider (something I’ve always wanted to build) and the whole setup is really sleek, very clean, and well executed. Each tank profiled here on Saltwater Smarts has its own personality, and this young reef is no exception!
This reef aquarium is the handiwork of Marco Pardun of Dortmund, Germany. As is common for many salties, Marco got his start in the aquarium world on the freshwater side of things, though a long-time fascination with the dark, I mean saltwater, side of the hobby would eventually become too powerful to deny. He was (un)wise to lower his defenses!
Four years ago, Marco started a 21-gallon (80L) nano, which (no surprise here) quickly made way for a 71-gallon (270L) cube aquarium. He was hooked!
The Room-Dividing Aquarium
Last year, the itch to upgrade was insatiable and Marco started on the 104-gallon (60x20x20in, 394L) reef he calls “KingsLand.” Interestingly enough, it was taking the place of a very nice aquascaped freshwater aquarium he called “KingsTree” (pictured on right).
Marco’s main goal with this setup was to build an optical division between two rooms in his home that was free of unnecessary obstructions, as these would hurt the illusion he was working to create. The first step was to design a clean, rimless tank as the centerpiece. Even the overflow box and plumbing was designed unobtrusively to one side of the aquarium.
The Supporting Equipment
His philosophy of cleanliness and simplicity came through in his equipment selections, as well. In fact, he turned to his DIY skills for the lighting because he wasn’t able to find anything commercially available to fit his needs. This custom-built, slim LED fixture features a slick white composite and aluminum case filled with a variety of LEDs (106 in total).
The rest of the equipment list is rounded out with a Bubble Magus Curve 5 protein skimmer, Jebao DC-3000 return pump, Jebao RW-8 wavemaker, Eheim Jager heater, DIY activated carbon and GFO reactor, and sump. I wasn’t lying when I said keeping things simple was part of his mindset. All the equipment that’s out there can be fun and helpful, no doubt, but you can succeed with a straightforward system, too!
Tank Parameters & Maintenance
The tank was originally filled with natural sea water (NSW), and Marco continuously strives to keep the parameters of his reef stable. Here’s a peek at some of the important params:
You probably expect regular water changes are part of maintaining a nice reef system such as this, right? Well, that’s not the case. Marco follows the Triton Method (a relatively new development in the hobby). It calls for regular testing of aquarium water, which is done at the Triton laboratory and provides incredibly accurate results. Marco uses these tests to make informed decisions about what his aquarium actually needs, with [globally averaged] natural seawater parameters as a goal. This goal is achieved by the use of a proprietary 4-part solution containing calcium, alkalinity, and balanced trace elements. From there, with an established dosing regimen, Marco utilizes quarterly water test results to add only the specific trace elements that are deficient.
As this reef is only around 7 months old, I’m eager to see how it matures and the corals fill out over the coming years. Time will also speak volumes for how effective this new methodology is in maintaining modern reef aquaria.
- Diverse variety of SPS
- Mix of assorted LPS, soft corals, and zoanthids
- 8x Resplendent anthias (Pseudanthias pulcherrimus)
- 8x Blue-green chromis (Chromis viridis)
- Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus)
- Yellow tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)
- 2x Flame hawkfish (Neocirrhites armatus)
- 2x Red saddleback anemonefish (Amphiprion ephippium)
- Bluestreak cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus)
- 2x Scarlet cleaner shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)
Marco’s Advice For Other Hobbyists
During the last few years, I have been lucky to get to know some really great people who have become very good friends. We help with each other’s projects, especially when one of us is building a new system, and each Saturday we head out to the local fish stores. I encourage everyone to become more involved in this hobby and meet new people. It’s definitely worthwhile. These friends make the saltwater aquarium hobby even more special to me.”
Below is a great video George Mavrakis put together of this breathtaking aquarium:
Photo credits: Marco Pardun