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Alexander Silvioni’s spectacular 1.500 liters marine aquarium

Lo spettacolare acquario marino da 1.500 litri di Alexander Silvioni

Last month we had the honor to visit Alexander Silvioni in Brunico in his, I have to say, absolutely amazing apartment. And we saw his beautiful reef aquarium of 1.500 liters.

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This article in also available in: italiano

I have known Alexander for some years, being him a member Reef Club – Acquariofilia Marina in Trentino Alto Adige that was very active some years ago on our forum too. Moreover, I knew about Alexander‘s passion for automation products of Neptune Systems, of which I’ve always been a fan even though I never had, unluckily, one of their products. So, after I contacted Alexander and I went to visit his house in Brunico, I found myself in front of an incredible system.

We are talking about an aquarium of 1500 liters, managed in a fully automatic manner, and with a majority of SPS corals, Alexander‘s favorites. But let’s analyze every aspect of the system before leaving you to the comments.

Alexander Silvioni’s 1.500 liters reef aquarium

As usual, we shoot the video in 4K, so you just have to set it full screen and enjoy, maybe on a tv or a projector with a big diagonal. The video is in Italian, but you can turn the English subs on.


Alexander is the owner of a series of driving schools in Alto Adige, and we met him at Atollo Uno Service in Bronzolo, in the province of Bolzano, before going at his’, where we had the honor, among others, to taste the delicious biscuits of Riccardo‘s wife.

Before starting with the aquarium, I want to spend some words about the context in which it is. We are in a small building in Brunico: the aquarium is built in a big open space in Alexander’s apartment on the last floor. As you can see from the pictures, the aquarium is enormous but the area is even bigger. Moreover, the space is finely furnished and the aquarium nobilitates the living even more. Really beautiful. The aquarium is also the line between the living and Alexander’s study, so that it’s visible from three angles: from the living room, where you see a side of 2,40 meters; from the kitchen, where you see the 90 cm side; from the study itself, where you see even 180 cm of the aquarium. The technical part is in line with the aquarium and it’s mainly inside the office.

Lo spettacolare acquario marino da 1.500 litri di Alexander Silvioni

Given the weight, the size and the space, the aquarium has been carried into the house by a crane and it has been placed on a concrete support in order to avoid any possibility of collapse.

The numbers of the aquarium

The aquarium is 240x90x65 cm, it has been built with a glass of 19 mm of thickness and it’s counter-tiranted so that it doesn’t break or detaches. We are talking about 1.404 gross liters, to which you have to add the sump volume for a total of, more or less, 1.500 liters. This isn’t Alexander‘s first aquarium, who came from a reef aquarium of 500 liters and a smaller one of 100 liters, and even earlier a freshwater aquarium of 30 liters. So, as many of us, Alexander began with a small freshwater aquarium to get to an enormous marine aquarium.

L'acquario marino di barriera da 1.500 litri di Alexander Silvioni

Well, maybe we stopped before the enormous one! But congratulations to Alexander for his achievement.

The project of the aquarium, that progressed in step with the project of the new house, has occupied Alexander for about two years, so that he could get all the construction details right and to leave nothing to change. Unluckily, due to the pandemic, the times delayed for another year, for a total of three years of work. The luck was having brought everything in his house before the complete closure for the coronavirus.

Centropyge multicolor nell'acquario da 1.500 litri di Alexander Silvioni
Centropyge multicolor in Alexander Silvioni’s 1.500 liters aquarium

The stylistic choice of not showing the surface of the water, to me, is fantastic. The aquarium is like a living painting. The fish give a lot a movement, but leaving aside every disturbing element, like the open surface. Moreover, the top can be opened to have access to the lamps, to feed the corals and the fish, so there’s enough space to move anyway. The only problem, maybe, it the height of the tank, which is 65 cm: you need a small ladder to do the maintenance on the bottom.

L'acquario marino di barriera da 1.500 litri di Alexander Silvioni

The technical part

The aquarium is managed by high level equipment. The skimmer is a Royal Exclusiv Bubble King Supermarin 250, that during the day is used with ozone suction. The skimming pump is a Red Dragon mini 3 that reaches a suction of 1.500 l/h of air.

The drain, unlike what we are used to, is a slipway of 60 cm of width that takes the water via a grill. In this way is impossible that there are some obstructions, and the system, if properly treated, can also be very silent.

The managing of the return pump

There are two return pumps: the main one is a terrific Abyzz A200. The pump is adjustable and guarantees a costant flow of 14.500 l/h, a hydraulic head of 8,8 meters and a power consumption of 200 watt. The system provides a recycling of 3.600 l/h, and the Abyzz A200 fulfills the task without a problem. It’s incredible that the rigid PVC pipe in the foreground, connected to the pump, doesn’t have the slightest vibration if touched. It seems there is no passage of water inside.

Acropora sp. nell'acquario da 1.500 litri di Alexander Silvioni

The other pump is a small Sicce 2.5, with maximum rate of 2.125 l/h.

The power of Radion above the whole tank

The lighting of the aquarium is managed by 8 Ecotech Marine Radion X30W G5 PRO (we did many reviews of Radion products here). According to our measures, a XR15w alone at 40 cm can produce about 1.150 μmol m-2 s-1, so one XR30w, which is the exact double, can reach 2.200-2.300 μmol m-2 s-1. We, as usual, measured the PAR in Alexander’s aquarium and obtained, with his current settings, a maximum value of 280 μmol m-2 s-1. It’s extremely low: we’re going to deepen this value in the final part of the article. When we were collecting data, Alexander were using the AB+ mode with 12 hours of light using a very low intensity, around 30%.

Acropora sp. nell'acquario da 1.500 litri di Alexander Silvioni

There are other filters: a UV JBL lamps and a fluid bed filter Royal Exclusive loaded with active carbon and a flow of 500 l/h.

The movement signed by Tunze

For the movement of the aquarium, Alexander chose Tunze. So, there are 4 Tunze Turbelle Stream 6125 coupled on the short sides. This means having a movement of about 25.000 l/h per couple. Considering the volume of 1.400 liters, it means that the movement is about 18 times the volume. A very elevated number and close to that “20 times the volume” that usually is recommended as minimum for hard SPS corals.

L'acquario marino di barriera da 1.500 litri di Alexander Silvioni

The core of the system is completely managed by Apex by Neptune Systems, through which everything that interacts with the aquarium is controlled. Then, Apex Trident allows to measure the KH 4 times a day and the value of calcium and magnesium twice a day.

There are almost 120 kg of living rocks. The Maths tells us that there’s 1 kg of rocks every 12 liters of water. A great ratio, especially for an aquarium of this size. Actually, in the tank there are about 300 corals that add volume for the bacterial growth, besides the biodiversity.

Acanthurus sohal: un pesce chirurgo non comune negli acquari domestici, qui con 1500 litri ha spazio da vendere
Acanthurus sohal: a surgeon fish unusual for home aquariums. Here, with 1500 liters, it has all the space it needs

The water recycle is semi-automatic: it’s enough to connect a hose, after preparing the water, and the system changes up until 150 liters. The operation is done every two weeks. So the changed volume is the 10% every 15 days. Even in this case is a textbook value.

What’s impressive, looking at the sump, is the extreme cleaning: all the cables are grouped and hidden, everything the eye sees returns a perfect overall picture. We’d like to be as meticulous! Everything is the result of hours and hours of planification, otherwise it would be impossible to reach such a level.

The technical management of the aquarium

But things get very interesting when we speak about the technical management of the aquarium.

The whole aquarium is managed via the Balling method using Tropic Marin All For Reef. For those who don’t know it, Tropic Marin All For Reef is a single solution that contains the most important minerals consumed by reef inhabitants and that have to be regularly integrated. In addiction to calcium, magnesium and strontium, it has the principal trace elements: iodium, bromine, fluorine, selenium, molybdenum and vanadium.

Zoanthus sp. nell'acquario da 1.500 litri di Alexander Silvioni
Zoanthus sp. in Alexander Silvioni’s 1.500 liters aquarium

Then the values are corrected through the dosometric pumps and with Fauna Marin‘s products, as you can see in the video, using KH, Ca and Mg to balance the small discrepancies. Moreover, Alexander doses 3 ml of Color Elements Green Blu and Red every day, always by Fauna Marin, and 1 ml of iodium. Then, every 2 weeks, he administers the bacteria in the form of Bacto Balls.

Acropora sp. nell'acquario da 1.500 litri di Alexander Silvioni

For the safeness of the system Alexander Silvioni uses a UPS, the Smart UPS by APC (we have talked a lot about it on our pages). In this way the Apex system can be continually supplied, as well as the return pump that keeps the aquarium oxygenated.

Centropyge flavissima nell'acquario da 1.500 litri di Alexander Silvioni
Centropyge flavissima in Alexander Silvioni’s 1.500 liters aquarium

Directly asked, Alexander has no doubts: no matter how beautiful the fish are, and he loves surgeon fishes, he prefers corals, and especially the SPS which are the main part of the corals in his aquarium.

The problem is, in a aquarium of this size, that even a medium sized coral seems to be very small, as you can see in the pictures. In live, the aquarium is simply amazing, but it’s less noticeable the size of the corals. And consider that in photograph, with the perspective a bit squashed, everything looks much smaller than the real thing, but I assure you that the pieces aren’t as small as they seem.

Fish and corals’ diet

Fish are fed three times a day with soft spirulina, soft protein superfood and soft multimix all by Fauna Marin. There’s an automatic feeder and in the video you can see the moment when a dose of feed is administered.

Acanthurus leucosternon e Labroides dimidiatus nell'acquario da 1.500 litri di Alexander Silvioni
Acanthurus leucosternon and Labroides dimidiatus

Right now there isn’t a specific food for corals, which I, otherwise, strongly suggest, even if Alexander is oriented towards Coral Sprint.

The values of the water: Alexander’s biggest worry

Alexander, as we’ve seen, keeps absolutely perfect the triad values (calcium, kh and magnesium). They are continuously tracked and constantly reintegrated thanks to Apex, that manages automatically the dosometric pumps. The problem occurs with the organic values: nitrates and phosphates.

Euphillia spettinata

On one hand, the phosphates are so low as to be unmeasurable, so they always have to be supplemented; on the other hand, the nitrates are too high, around 15 ppm, but this isn’t the target: it’s the actual value of the tank. The target value should be between 1 and 5, considering the coexistence of SPS and LPS.

Here below there’s the practical summary of the values Alexander keeps.

Alexander Silvioni’s valuesValue
Salinity33,5 per thousand
Calcium420-430 ppm
Magnesium1.350 ppm
KH7,5 dKH
Nitrates15 ppm (to be lowered)
Phosphates0,00 ppm
Acropora sp. nell'acquario da 1.500 litri di Alexander Silvioni

The tests for the organic values are by Tropic Marin, while for the non organic Alexander relies on the tests of Apex Trident.

Un pesce lima molto particolare, il Pervagor janthinosoma nell'acquario da 1.500 litri di Alexander Silvioni
A very particular orange spotted fish, the Pervagor janthinosoma

Final thanks

We’re now at the end of the journey, and the last question I have for Alexander is if there’s someone he wants to thank for the suggestion and the support in the setup of this beautiful tank. He immediately indicates Riccardo Baldo of Atollo Uno Service, whim we had met in the morning, as his mentor and his personal coral dealer. That’s because behind a great aquarist there’s often a great shopkeeper. We also want to congratulate Riccardo, not only a shopkeeper, but a great lover, a competent and cultured aquarist himself.

Montipora sunset nell'acquario da 1.500 litri di Alexander Silvioni
Montipora sunset

Our final comment and suggestions

The aquarium is marvelous. The context in which it’s set maybe even more. When you enter Alexander’s apartment in Brunico immediately something hits you right at the stomach. There surely are some incredible nanoreefs, but an aquarium of such sizes can provoke sensations that you wouldn’t normally have. The movement of the fish is incredible, but also their harmony: I didn’t see any fight or tension, even if there were many hotheads.

Speaking of coals, there are for all tastes! It’s a pity that for these sizes the corals seem smaller than they are, even though there are some extraordinary spawns.

There were many peculiar corals, both among SPS and LPS.

As we said, there is still room for improvement the aquarium. We measured 280 μmol m-2 s-1 of light on top of the Acropora, also the nitrates are close to 15 and Alexander tells that he finds difficult keeping them low. I think that these two problems are connected. We worked together to change the sets of the Radion in order to reach at least 500-550 μmol m-2 s-1 on the top, with the consequent decrease as we get close to the bottom of the aquarium. But this also brings a slight shift to warmer colors, given the kind of the lamps, so I suggested Alexander to integrate with a couple of Orphek Sky Blue bars that I think could add a fluorescent touch and a good number of PAR under them.

The last thing I’d do would be increase the salinity from 33,5 to 35 per thousand, exactly as it is in tropical seas, in order to obtain a better balance of the elements dissolved in water.

Acanthurus japonicus nell'acquario da 1.500 litri di Alexander Silvioni
Acanthurus japonicus

Alexander had already set the Radion with the new program when I took the photographs. It has a period of adjustment of a month, so, now that you are reading these pages, the months is almost passed. Remember that the light intensity has gradually grown and the initial desired setting should have been reached a week ago or so. Well, Alexander confirmed that with the new setting the consumption of calcium and carbonates has doubled, that the nitrates has begun to get lower and that the Acropora are coloring and are growing faster.

We couldn’t be happier for these successes! We promised Alexander that we’d be back in a year when the aquarium had reached its maximum glory. We give our best compliments to Alexander Silvioni for such an amazing aquarium and for allowing us to see and share it with all of you!

Alexander Silvioni posa a fianco del suo spettacolare acquario marino da 1.500 litri
Alexander Silvioni poses next to his spectuacular 1500 liters aquarium

On page 2 you can see all the photographs we took of the aquarium, the sump, the fish and the corals of this spectacular reef aquarium of 1.500 liters.


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