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February 2015 Tank of the Month



This Article Features Photo Zoom

Pawel Szember's (paszembe) 210 US-gallon Reef Aquarium






I have always thought of Tank of the Month as the most precious and recognizable distinction in the marine aquarium world. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that some day I would be able to present my reef aquarium, and be listed among the best tanks. But sometimes even our best dreams do come true. I got the message that my little piece of ocean was nominated as TOTM on my 35th birthday. Can you imagine a better birthday gift for a reefer? My name is Pawel Szember, I live in Poland and I’m addicted to SPS corals.




The funny thing is that in my parent’s house we always had at least a few fresh water tanks. My dad, as far as I know, was in this hobby for at least 50 years, but I was never really interested in keeping aquariums until 2010. At first I had two small 240L and 63L fresh water tanks (63 and 17 US-gallon respectfully). Two years later while I was on vacation with my family I was able to taste a little more of the marine world and then I realized that a saltwater tank is what I really wanted.











System Profile

• Main Display: 162x82x60 cm ~ 800L (64in x 31.5in x 23.5in 210 US-gallons)
• Stand: Steel construction that came with the display tank from the first owner
• Sump: 140x60x45 cm ~378L (100 US-gallons)
• Frag Tank: 120x50x25 ~ 150L (40 US-gallons)
• Skimmer: Bubble King 300 Deluxe
• Return Pump: Red Dragon 12000L/hr
• Water Circulation: 4x Tunze 6105
• Light: Ati Powermodule 10x80W
• Computer: Profilux 3ex
• Reactors: Zeovit Reactor Medium, Aqua Special Calcium Reactor with Knop media
• Temperature: 2x300W heaters, Teco TR20 chiller
• UPS: Orvaldi 500W + ~500Ah battery


Current System

 Many beginners in this hobby start with a fish only system, then they add some soft corals, LPS and eventually SPS. My approach was different. From the very beginning I knew that SPS is what I wanted to keep the most. Luckily, I met some very helpful people on a local Polish reef forum. After a few months I bought my first (and current) tank from a guy who was leaving the hobby. This was where my adventure with reef tanks began.

Fortunately I could place my filtration system in another room. It is located directly behind the wall so I could have my filter section separated from the display. This allows me to have additional space for frag tanks, water change, etc., while the display part remains clean and quiet. I have even managed to install my UPS system and chiller in the garage. This setup is something I would recommend to everyone.

As the time passed I realized that it’s not the hardware or money put into a tank that guarantees success. It’s more of an art than a science to create and keep a really beautiful reef aquarium.

The most important things I have learned so far:

  • Take advice only from one man at a time and from one who can show you his tank and you know his results
  • SPS – Stability Promotes Success
  • No one knows your tank better than you, read, ask, but decide for yourself
  • Think twice before you act
  • Good things don’t happen fast in a reef tank










When I started my tank I bought a LED+T5 combo fixture and used it for the first year, it was nice. But under the impression of the fantastic colors of the SPS corals (mainly in Krzysztof Tryc’s tank) I took a “step back” and got an ATI Powermodule fixture. This was the step I probably will never regret. My corals are more than happy and my colors are better than ever before.


My current bulb combo (front to back):

1.     ATI Blue Plus

2.     ATI Coral Plus

3.     FM Ultra Royal Blue

4.     ATI Coral Plus

5.     Giesemann Aquapink

6.     ATI Blue Plus

7.     ATI Aquaspecial

8.     FM Ultra Royal Blue

9.     ATI Coral Plus

10.   ATI Blue Plus


Bulbs are changed every 5-6 months.



Bulbs #3 and #8 – 12h/day from 10am-10pm

All other bulbs: 9h/day from 11:30am-8:30pm





Water Parameters:
  • Salinity: 35PSU 
  • pH: 8.1 - 8.4
  • Calcium: 410 ppm
  • Alkalinity: 7-8 dKH
  • Magnesium: 1260
  • Phosphate: 0.00ppm
  • Nitrate: 0.2 ppm
  • Potassium: 400ppm
  • Temperature: 25-27˚C
  • Redox: 400-420mV




From the very beginning, I based my filtration on a strong skimmer and biopellets. At first I had a DIY skimmer made by my friend, similar to a BK180, but after a short period of time I bought a used BK200, and finally decided to order brand new BK300. This is the model I like the most and I’m going to stay with it for a really long time.

When it comes to biopellets at first I used N/P reducing Biopellets XL and few months ago I’ve switched to All-in-One Biopellets from the same vendor. I must admit that both types of biopellets worked great for me, I never had any issue with NO3 or PO4 levels. However, since I am always trying to “chase the best looking rabbit” I wanted to try something different so I decided to give Zeovit system a try and check if for at least the next few months. At this moment, I have removed biopellets from my system and I am using only the basic Zeovit products.






Maintenance, Feeding, & Supplements

I feed my fish twice a day with mix of different frozen foods (6 cubes a day), seaweed every two days and sometimes ReefPearls dry food.

I strongly believe in regular water changes so I change 10% every week and from time to time (twice a year) I do a larger 30% water change. I also have a habit of regular testing my basic water parameters. I check my alkalinity level every day and adjust my reactor if needed and full tests every week before water changes.

I also try to keep my system as clean as possible so I clean my skimmer cup every 2-3 days to maximize its performance. From time to time I clean my pumps and other equipment to keep it in a good shape.


Zeovit supplements:

 • Zeolite: 2L changed every 6 weeks

 • ZeoStart3: 1.6mL daily split into 2 dosage (0.8 ml each)

 • Zeobak: 8 drops twice a week

 • Sponge Power: 8 drops every other day

 • Xtra: 8 mL twice a week

 • 700-800mL FM carbon in a filter bag changed monthly









Livestock Inhabitants


• Zebrasoma flavescens

• Zebrasoma xanthurus

• Acanthurus leucosternon

• Paracanthurus hepatus

• Pseudanthias squamipinnis – x10

• Chromis viridis – x2

• Chrysiptera springeri – x6

• Nemateleotris decora

• Synchiropus splendidus – x2

• Synchiropus picturatus

• Pseudochromis fridmani – x2

• Pseudocheilinus hexataenia

• Chelmon rostratus



Except a few LPS and Tridacnas almost 100% Acropora, more than 100 different types.








First of all I would like to thank all the Reefcentral and Reefkeeping Magazine users and staff for the ability to present my tank to such a great audience. Special thanks goes to Krzysztof and Irene Tryc, Robert K, and rest of my friends. All that I achieved in this hobby is mostly thanks to you. Last but not least I would like to thank my wife and my daughters for their constant support.








Feel free to comment or ask questions about my tank in the Tank of the Month thread on Reef Central.

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