By Bob Goemans
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David Saxby's Reef Aquarium

I've personally seen David's tank in the late 90's and it was among the best hobbyist system in the world then, if not the best, and still is a world class aquarium. That original tank (Photos 1 - 10), has recently (early 2003) been drained and refurbished. Not because something serious happened or the system failed, but simply because its 150 corals and 200 fish outgrew the aquarium. The new system, (Photos 11 - 17) will contain less livestock. As David said in a recent phone conversation, the corals in the original aquarium no longer had any growing space and some of his cardinalfish had grown to about nine inches and during the night were feasting on other smaller fishes. It was time to redo the system! And I must say he has succeeded as you can see in the latest photos.

It is evident that David has spared no expense to make sure the animals in his aquarium have the finest environment possible. Almost all his equipment is computer controlled, and his personal maintenance time involves about one hour daily, which includes feeding, monitoring chemical parameters, and cleaning the glass every two to three days. (All Photos by Jeremy Simmonds)

Bob Goemans


Owners Name: David Saxby

Location: London, England

Year the tank was set up: Photos 1 -10 Set-up in 1995, Photos 11 - 17 Set-up in 2003

Size and Volume of the Tank: J-Shaped - 3 feet (1m) x 8 feet (2.7m) x 6 feet (2m) and 47 inches (117cm) high - approximately 1700 US Gallons

Sump Size: 1500 US Gallons

Pounds of Live Rock: 2000 Pounds

Sand Type/Depth: ROWAlith/4 inches (20 cm)

Type of Biological Filtration: Berlin


Main system pumps: Eight 3200 GPH circulation pumps

Additional pumps: An additional 3000 GPH for filtration, and direction of flow is alternated with electronic ball valves - Total water movement per hour is approximately 15,000 gallons.

Reactors: Deltec Fluidized Bed Calcium Reactor; Deltec Calcium Hydroxide Stirrer

Protein Skimmers: Two Deltec (Self-cleaning) and one Sanders Helgaland

Monitoring Equipment: IKS Computer

Wavemakers: Three IKS pumps controlled by the IKS computer

Doser: Deltec Peristaltic Dosing Pump

Chillers: Two outdoor chillers and two under the courtyard floor, and one large Deltec Eco Cooler (Swamp cooler)

Refugium: Small 40 gallon tank, one inch of sugar sand and Caulerpa

Denitrator: None

Trickle Filter: Used to speed up the nitrification cycle


Lamps: 5000 watts - Three 1000W 10 K MH, one 1000W 20K MH, one double 400W MH containing one 5K and one 20K lamp.

Photoperiod: 1000W lamps on for eight hours, and 400W lamps on for ten hours - all lamps replaced every nine months - lamps are 24 inches (60cm) above water surface


Water Temperature: 76 - 78-F

Specific Gravity: 1.026

PH: 8.1 - 8.4

Calcium: 470 - 480 ppm

Redox: 450

Alkalinity: 7.8 dKH

Nitrate: 5 - 10 ppm

Nitrite: 0.02 ppm

Ozone: Infrequently used

Phosphate: Below 0.015 ppm - uses two large swimming pool sand filters and places a large quantity of ROWAphos between sand layers in each filter. Each filter is serviced as needed by testing its effluent.

Additives: None

Water Changes: 10% once per month

RO/DI water: RO - yes, DI - no

Brand of Salt Mix: Reef Crystals


Generally feeds the fish three times per day with live river shrimp and various frozen foods, e.g., cyclops, brine shrimp, and mysis, along with various greens. Marine Deluxe is automatically added every few hours for the inverts.

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