The great divide
Keeping an aquarium looking great when it’s viewable from three sides can be tricky. But this superb room divider reef set-up shows just how effective it can be when it’s done well.
This superb reef set-up shows just how effective a room divider tank can be when it’s done well.
When I was introduced on social media to selfemployed carpet guy and reefkeeper, Mark Angold, I politely requested to see a photo of his aquarium. Mark sent me a quick phone snap and from that alone I knew that this reef aquarium was going to make an interesting feature. Viewable from three sides, it serves as a stunning room divider in Mark and Paüla’s modest family home in Surrey. This is one of the most impressive home aquariums I have ever seen.
Third time lucky
This is Mark’s third reef, his first a 200 litre, all-in-one system followed by the predecessor to his current system. This previous version partly employed the Triton method but lacked sufficient space for an algae bed, which the Triton method heavily relies upon. The set-up lasted for three years but after a huge parasite outbreak that saw the corals stripping and several fish suffering from whitespot, he decided it was an ideal time to upgrade to his current system.
Mark first heard about the Triton
method of reefkeeping from his local Maidenhead Aquatics in Windsor. The work undertaken by the Horniman Museum’s Project Coral, which uses the Triton system, inspired Mark due its groundbreaking work on coral conservation.
The system relies on providing a very stable system by not water changing but adding supplements consistently over a 24-hour period to ensure all elements are available in sufficient quantity. This is in conjunction with efficient protein skimming, chemical filtration (phosphate removal in particular) and a large algae bed that removes nutrients while providing food for the corals via amino acid production and various microfauna. Every month or so, or if a problem is spotted, a water sample is sent off to Triton in Germany to be tested by an ICP machine, an incredibly accurate way of testing for every element in the water. The result of this ICP dictates any changes that need to be made.
A room divider with taste!
Mark’s set-up looks incredible. It dominates the living space by acting as a room divider between the kitchen and lounge, but does so with taste. A nice touch in particular was the cabinet doors, matching the colour and style of the interior decor, that are also completely removable but child-safe, as Mark and Paüla have an 18-month-old son, Morgan. Mark has also done a good job at keeping wires and other ancillary kit as neat as possible.
What I found most impressive was the
aquascape itself. Any aquarium that’s viewable from three sides presents challenges from both a practical and aesthetic perspective. Mark had the system designed by Aquarium Connections. It has a floating base that allows water to be circulated across the entire length of the aquarium from one side to the other. With powerful circulation and return pumps the laminar flow that’s created gives a high turnover without excessive turbulence. The water also flows through the algae bed, which is an essential component to the overall water quality, as it removes harmful nutrients but also provides benefits such as various microscopic foods and increased oxygenation. The algae is lit on a reverse light cycle to the main display tank, lighting for 11 hours. This helps to keep the ph stable, otherwise the photosynthesis and respiration cycle would cause a ph drop at night, as the algae consumes oxygen and produces acidifying CO2.
To get the best out of being viewable from three sides, Mark has gone for an aquascape layout consisting of two islands. Measuring over 90cm/3ft in width this provides ample space for the islands to have an effective open space all over the base of the aquarium.
My favourite view was looking through the aquarium from end-on. The sense of depth is incredible, as you are effectively seeing an aquascape that’s over five feet deep! I didn’t know where to look with so much going on!
Dominating the layout is a beautiful five-year-old Euphyllia at the far end of the tank when looking end-on, as well as a
It’s incredible to think that Mark’s aquarium is only six months old. See Mark’s set-up on PFK’S Youtube channel by clicking HERE!
The Freckle face tang is the star of the show.