Albert’s Poon’s Incredible 160 Gallon Reef Tank

Albert Poon’s 160 gallon reef aquarium is a dense forest of corals and incredible growth! The first thing you notice when you see Albert’s 6ft reef tank is how mature the system is. Many of his corals have been in the tank since he set it up in 2010 and have been growing well over the last seven years. The density of the corals growing in his tank is truly impressive. Most of these incredible corals have been grown from frags. Albert’s long term success with this system is largely due to two simple things: regular testing and water changes. He keeps a close eye on his alkalinity, calcium and magnesium levels. With consistent lighting and good water movement, Albert’s recipe for success is one we can all learn from.

  • Setup Date: April 2010
  • Display Aquarium: Miracles Aquariums 72″ x 22″ x 23.5″ – 3/4″ Low Iron (Starphire) front glass, the other panes are standard glass 5/8″ thick.
  • Stand: Stainless Steel 72″ x 22″ x 39″
  • Sump: 2 x 15 gal Sumps: 1 x houses the skimmer, carbon & TLF 150 reactor running GFO, UV Sterilizer and ATO Reservoir. 1 x houses the return & closed loop pump, plus a DIY frag rack.
  • Skimmer: Vertex Alpha Cone 200 with Vertex Vectra Engine with Universal Cleaner.
  • Dosing: Profilux Standalone 3 -Channel Doser running BRS Soda Ash, Calcium, and Sodium Bicarbonate. Kent Tech-M Magnesium dosed manually.
  • Return Pump: ATB Flowstar 1500 Pump.
  • Internal Flow: ATB Flowstar 4200 Pump & Oceans Motions 4-way Wavemaker on closed loop. Tunze Nano Wavebox, Tunze Turbelle Stream 6085 & 3,500 gph Propeller Pump.
  • Main Lighting: 72″ Vertex Illumina SR200 LED, 4 x Royal Blue, 4 x UV & 3 x Multi-Colour Auxiliary modules.
  • Supplement Lighting: 1 x 60″ Reef Brite Actinic Blue XHO LED, 1 x 60″ Reef Brite Actinic Blue TECH LED, 1 x 72″ Reef Brite Actinic Blue TECH LED
  • Reactors: 2 x TLF 150 Reactors for Carbon & GFO.
  • Temperature Control: Eheim Jager 300 watt heater & 3 x Profilux Breeze 4 fans.
  • Other Equipment: Coralife Turbo Twist 18W UV Sterilizer, 2 x APC Smart-UPS 1500, Rena LG100 Auto Feeder controlled by Apex Controller.
  • ATO: 10 gallon RO/DI reservoir with float switches controlled by Apex Controller.
  • RO/DI: Vertex Puratek Deluxe.
  • Frag Tank: DIY Rack in Sump. AI Prime HD LED & 12″ Reef Brite Actinic Blue TECH LED, with 1 x Oceanic Biocube Circulation Pump.
  • System Controller: Neptune Systems Apex Controller.
  • Salt Brand Used: D-D H2Ocean


Surprisingly this system only has 30 gallons of sump to house the mechanical filtration, auto-top off and even a small frag area. The location of the tank did not allow for a rear external overflow, so the external overflow was placed on the right side of the tank. Due to space limitations the sump system was also placed on the right side of the tank, allowing a custom cabinet space to be utilized underneath the tank. The two 15 gallon sumps sit on top of one another. When designing the system, Albert wanted the display tank to be as large as possible. So the small area to the right of the tank was utilized for a split sump system. The top sump sits about 1/2″ under the external overflow and holds the skimmer, UV sterilizer, ATO and GFO reactor. The bottom sump beneath it, houses the return pump, a closed loop pump for internal flow and a DIY frag rack. Even the dosing pump reservoirs are carefully lined up in the space behind the tank. This is an extremely tight space for so much equipment, but with careful planning, Albert has made it work.

15 Gallon top sump sits at eye level and is packed with the tanks mechanical filtration.


Nitrates (N03) and phosphates (P04) are controlled independently. Bulk High Capacity GFO is used in conjunction with diluted lanthanum chloride to control phosphates. The GFO is placed in a fluidized reactor and runs 24/7 in the sump. Lanthanum chloride is dosed manually, binding the phosphate and forming small insoluble ‘balls’ that must be removed from the tank. To accomplish this, Albert doses the lanthanum chloride directly into the external overflow and uses a 10 micron filter sock to catch and remove the ‘phosphate balls’ that are created. With weekly 10 gallon water changes, the tank remains relatively stable and he has the growth and colouration to prove it!

Fish & Corals

As you look across the tank there are several show pieces that grab your attention with increasing amazement. A large closed brain coral (Platygyra) under a shelf of bright pink and blue cyphastrea. An encrusting sunset montipora that looks like a river of lava flowing down through the acropora colonies. Or the enormous zoanthid colonies that smuggle away a collection of colourful leptoseris, favites and symphyllia corals. The layered growth of corals growing over corals gives the tank a unique dimension. Whether Albert deliberately planned this with careful aquascaping or if it was just a fortuitous accident, I’m not sure. But it is definitely something we want to strive to recreate in our systems. Gazing at the colorful montipora growing over-top a bright purple watermelon chalice perfectly pictures why we fell in love with this hobby and dedicate so much time to our aquariums.

Stable parameters combined with high flow and consistent lighting has given the coral growth a chance to really take off. With lots of new technologies, it’s hard to resist ‘upgrading’ our equipment regularly, but Albert’s success shows the advantages of stability. The acropora in this system grow very quickly and require regular trimming due to this stability. The coral growth is so dense you almost miss the purple montipora capricornis covering a large portion of the back wall of the tank.

Fish List

1 x Black & White Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris var.)
1 x Gold Nugget Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris var.)
1 x Lightning Maroon Clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus var.)
1 x Hippo Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus)
1 x Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)
1 x Purple Tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum)
1 x Chevron Tang (Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis)
1 x Flame Angelfish (Centropyge loricula)
2 x Masked Swallowtail Angelfish (female) (Genicanthus semifasciatus)

1 x Purple Tilefish (Hoplolatilus purpureus)
1 x Skunk Tilefish (Hoplolatius marcosi)
3 x Lyretail Anthias (1 x male, 2 x female) (Pseudanthias squamipinnis)
1 x Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus)
1 x Flame Wrasse (male) (Cirrhilabrus jordani)
1 x Labout’s Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus laboutei)
1 x Lineatus Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus lineatus)
1 x Yellow Coris Wrasse (Halichoeres chrysus)
1 x Melanurus Wrasse (Halichoeres melanurus)
2 x Yellow Assessor (Assessor flavissimus)
1 x Magnificent Foxface (Siganus magnificus)
2 x Mandarin Gobies (1 x male, 1 x female) (Synchiropus splendidus)

It was difficult to photograph all the fish in the system as they would dart in and out of the coralscape so quickly. As the tank was so captivating, we decided to grab a quick video to show you!