The 650l Reef Tank of Pawel Szember

My name is Pawel Szember and I’m from Poland. First of all I’d like to mention that it is a great pleasure and honor for me to be able to share...
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    The 650l Reef Tank of Pawel Szember


    My name is Pawel Szember and I’m from Poland. First of all I’d like to mention that it is a great pleasure and honor for me to be able to share some of my thoughts and passion to such a large audience.

    At my parents’ home we always had some freshwater tanks but surprisingly when I was a child I’ve never had any interest in that hobby. I’ve started my first freshwater tanks in 2010 and then after 2 years after a family vacation when I had the opportunity to experience a variety of tropical marine world I’ve decided to move into saltwater addiction. My first saltwater tank was 800l (210 US-gallon) and after 3 years it became so overgrown by corals that I’ve upgraded to a larger 1400l ( 370 US-gallon) one. At first it looked like a good decision but after a year of struggling with high maintenance costs, lack of time and generally the fact that my tank was too big for the room I’ve downgraded it to the smallest tank I’ve ever had - 650l (172 US-gallons). This is probably the best decision I’ve made so far – new tank is easy to maintain, cost effective and since I’ve had already some experience from my previous tanks it is the best of my designs when it comes to dimensions, water flow and general ease of usage.


    System Profile:
    • Display tank: 650l (approx. 172gal) 160x75x55cm ( approx. 63x30x22 inch) – Optiwhite glass, blue background
    • Stand: stainless steel stand from my first 800l tank (lowered a bit from original)
    • Sump: 150x60x45 cm (60x24x18 inch)- in a separate room just behind a wall
    • Frag tank: 150x50x25cm (60x20x10 inch)
    • Protein skimmer: Bubble King 300 Deluxe
    • Carbon/phosphate filtration: 700ml of KZ carbon in a nylon bag changed every 30 days.
    • Return pump: Red Dragon 12000
    • Water circulation: 5x tunze 6105 (4x in display, 1 in wavebox) controlled by Profilux
    • Lighting (display): ATI Powermodule 10x80W T5
    • Lighting (frags): ATI Powermodule 4x54W T5
    • Calcium/alkalinity/magnesium dosing: Calcium Reactor with Knopp media inside
    • Auto top-off: RO/DI direct to sump controlled by profilux (2 sensors)
    • Heating/cooling: 300W heater, Teco TR20 cooling
    • System control: Profilux
    • Reactors : Manual reactor with 1.5l of KZ Zeolite stones
    Water Circulation and Flow Summary and Objectives:

    I’m a big fan of strong water circulation in a SPS tank. My objective is to distribute the flow around the whole tank yet avoiding direct strong flow into the corals tissue in order not to stress or damage them unnecessarily.

    Water Parameters:
    • Temp: 25-27C (profilux)
    • pH: 8-8.3 (profilux)
    • Specific gravity: 1026 (profilux)
    • NO3: 0.2 (Salifert)
    • Ca: 410 (Salifert)
    • Alk: 6.7 (Salifert)
    • Mg: 1320 (Salifert)
    • PO4: 0.00 (Hanna low range)


    Lighting Summary and Objectives:

    Best effects that I got came always from T5 bulbs. I’ve had a LED fixture for about a year at first but in my opinion switching to T5 gave my corals a real boost when it comes to color. I don’t want to start an argue what is the best light source – HQI, LED od T5’s – it is a matter of private opinion - you could probably have success with any of them and you should use ones that fits you best.

    In all my tanks I’ve used Ati Powermodule fixtures – in current one I have 10x80W (display) and 4x54W (frag tank) both non-dimmable. I don’t have any type of moonlight lighting.

    • Display tank: 12h of 2 blue bulbs, 8h of full 10 bulbs
    • Frag tank: 8h of full light

    Filtration and Water Quality Summary and Objectives:

    Since I aim for an ULNS system KZ’s Zeovite method is my weapon of choice in this tank. I use variety of their products and I dose them roughly according to the manual with some my own changes according to look of the corals inside the tank.

    Calcium/Alkalinity/Magnesium Summary and Objectives:

    As mention above I use a calcium reactor and the only parameter I test on a daily basis is alk. Over all these years I’ve never had any need to manually correct Ca or Mg – in my tank I’m sure that if Alk is in place so there must be also Ca and Mg.

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    Tank Inhabitants—Fish:
    • Acanthurus leucosternon
    • Zebrasoma flavescens
    • Chelmon rostratus
    • Nemateleotris decora
    • Pseudanthias tuka x4
    • Synchiropus splendidus – x2
    • Pseudochromis fridmani – x2
    • Pseudocheilinus hexataenia
    • Halichoeres melanurus
    • Halichoeres chloropterus
    • Valenciennea puellaris


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    Tank Inhabitants— Corals:

    Almost all of them are Acroporas – only a few exceptions like Duncanopsammia axifuga, one rainbow montipora or porites



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    Who was responsible for getting you into the hobby?

    It’s hard to mention a specific person but probably the most credits should go to my good friends Krzysztof Tryc and Robert K.

    How long have you been reefing?

    It’s been almost 5 years now since I’m addicted to reefing hobby.

    Who or what in the hobby most influences/inspires you?

    Probably one of my good friends mentioned above – Krzysztof Tryc and his beautiful tank.


    What are your future plans for improvement/upgrade of the tank?

    No plans to upgrade at the moment. I hope I finally reach the tank size that I really enjoy. A good balance between time and money needed and a flexibility in keeping the livestock I want.

    Final Thoughts?

    Once again I would like to thank all of R2R staff and users for giving me such a wonderful opportunity to share a little of my marine obsession with you. Special thanks goes to my wonderful daughters (3 of them now) and my beautiful and understanding wife for not divorcing with me while I was rearranging the house back and forth while moving from one tank to the other over the last years.

    And the last but not the least...

    I wish you all the success and happy reefing

    Pawel Szember



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