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.

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Welcome - WORDS AND PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: GE­ORGE FARMER

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.

Is­land aquas­cap­ing

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!

Christ­mas wrasse.

The Freckle face tang is the star of the show.

Scrib­bled an­thias.

Yel­low tang.

Com­mon clown.

Bub­ble coral.

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