• Print
  • Email

Tank of the Month

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Sullivan Martin's (Sullivan Martin) Reef Aquarium



First of all I would like to thank everyone for considering my tank a candidate for Tank of the Month. My name is Sullivan Martin, and I live in Tenerife, one of the seven islands that forms the Canary Islands (Spain). For me, it's an honor to share my passion for marine aquariums with you all.


The Beginning

Five years ago, I was introduced to this passionate, salty, hobby by my brother, Brian. I remember my amazement and fascination upon seeing his 240 liter (63 gallon) aquarium. Those beautiful soft corals and colorful fish provoked twin sensations. The first was admiration, and the second was fear of what seemed to be a mysterious and complex hobby. In the design and management of the new system, I combined my vision and experience from my past fresh water discus tanks and previous marine tank. Despite my efforts, nine months after setting up and running my new aquarium, it suffered a major decline and I lost 85% of my SPS and LPS corals. I could never confirm the cause of this decline, despite several hypotheses. While there were suggestions on how to save the animals and entire tank, unfortunately, none did the trick.

Brian soon showed me the path to reefkeeping, sharing his knowledge, and offering a tremendous amount of help. My first marine aquarium was 350 liters (93 gallons).I managed this tank successfully for two and a half years, before tearing it down for the upgrade to my present tank. I upgraded to a 900 liter aquarium (238 gallons). This larger aquarium was a big dream for me, and I would like to share it with you all.

After seven months of anguish, the tank finally got through it and slowly began to show signs of stability. I was satisfied that progress and recovery were being made by June 2008, and it has continued to date. I can now proudly say I have a beautiful tank.

System Profile

Display tank: 250cm X 60cm X 60cm (98.4” X 23.6” X 23.6”) – 900 liters (238 gallons)
• Sumps: Sump 1 - 125 liters (33 gallons) 50cm X 50cm X 50cm (19.6” X 19.6” X 19.6”); Sump 2 - 180 liters (47.5 gallons) 120cm X 50cm X 30cm (47.2” X 19.6” X 11.8”) with refugium 40cm X 40cm X 30cm (15.7” X 15.7” X 11.8”) and full of Chaetomorpha.
• Lighting display: 1  Fauna Marin T5 8 x 54W and 1  ATI Powermodule 6 x 39W
• Photoperiod: 12 hrs - From 11am to 11pm
• Water circulation: 1 Tunze Wavebox, 2 Tunze 6200 and 2 Tunze Nano 6055 with Tunze 7095 controller; return pump -  Deltec HLP 5250 6000l/h (1585g/h)
• System filtration: Pure Berlin
• Skimmer:  Bubble King Internal 250
• Calcium reactor: Custom design made by Planctonite - Holds up 24 pounds of ARM extra coarse.
• Aditives: 1 ampoule Biodigest every 15 days; 2 ampoules weekly Prodibio Bioptim
• Chiller: Hailea HC 1000 - A
• Media reactor: Deltec FR 509 with Deltec AquaCrown Carbon.


The filtration system resides under the display tank. The water from the main tank goes through two pipes, to two connected sumps. In the first sump I have the skimmer for quick water processing. After that, the water goes in to the second sump, where it first goes through a refugium containing Chaetomorpha kept under a 24w PL – 6500K bulb. The refugium chamber retains nutrients by growing out the algae. I export the nutrients later by regularly pruning the algae. In this second sump there is also an active carbon fluidized filter, to help remove possible toxins and for nutrient export. It also prevents green water coloring from the fuge chamber due to the 6500K lighting. In the last section of the second sump I have a calcium/carbonate reactor, a 1000l/h (264g/h) pump for circulation in the fuge chamber, a pump for the chiller and a 5800l/h (1532g/h) return Deltec pump.



After going through a period with metal halide (MH) lighting, I decided to switch and give T5 a try. It seems to be working well, although I am still trying different bulb combinations to obtain the best results.


Water Parameters:
  • Specific gravity: 1.025
  • pH: 8.1 - 8.2
  • Calcium: 400 - 410 ppm
  • Alkalinity: 9 dKH
  • Magnesium: 1380 ppm
  • Nitrate: 3 mg/l
  • Phosphate: 0.001
  • Temperature: 27° C (80.6°F)

Maintenance, Feeding & Supplements

My tank was conceived with the idea that it would be enjoyed, and that I not be a slave to my maintenance system.  Maintenance routines where designed to be very simple. I change T5 tubes every six months. New activated carbon goes in monthly. Each week the tank gets a 5% water change, natural Atlantic Ocean water; I have plenty that surrounds the island. Prodibio Biodigest ampules are added every two weeks, with two ampules Prodibio Bioptim weekly. Corals are fed every three days with Prodibio Reef Booster and Zeovit aminoacids. Fish are fed with Ocean Nutrition flakes. I believe my fish make a highly beneficial contribution to coral feeding and health, thanks to their detritus.


The tank has a mixed combination of SPS, LPS, zoanthids and some soft corals like Discosoma and Ricordeas. As I mentioned above, I believe a good selection of fish in the tank is key to coral health, thanks to a balanced biological load.












I am fully convinced that research and acquired knowledge (experience), combined with loving devotion and just a little dedication is the best formula for obtaining a beautiful aquarium.

Also, I extend my gratitude to the "Comunidad Arresiferos" of  www.e-Coralia.net for their comradeship, daily advice and knowledge. And last, but not least, I would like to dedicate this article to my wonderful wife "Macu" and offer it to her, in the form of a bunch of colorful coral flowers.

Photography – All pictures were taken by myself, with a Nikon D80 with various lenses, including a macro lens.


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

Blog Widget by LinkWithin