Iggy Tavares photographs by the author
Thomas Siodmok’s coral reef aquarium.
Thomas Siodmok from Duisburg in Germany had been keeping freshwater fish for a very long time when, some five years ago, he decided he wanted something much more
challenging and decided to move to marine
In those days, he did not possess a
computer or even have access to the
Internet, which in some ways made
gathering information about marines a
little difficult. He had to resort to the good
old-fashioned method of reading books.
He was lucky enough to come across the
six-volume set of The Modern Coral Reef
Aquarium by Svein A. Fosså and Alf Jacob
Nilsen (Birgit Schmettkamp Verlag, 1996),
which he highly recommends.
Having read the books, Thomas decided
to design his first large marine aquarium
himself, as in those days there were no
other marine hobbyists he knew in his
area that he could call upon for help.
He made some drawings to scale for his
approximately 250-gallon, 200 x 60 x
70-cm ( 75 x 25 x 30-inch) aquarium
and its sump and gave them to a glazier
for production. The cabinet for the large
aquarium was also designed by Thomas,
but he, being a good craftsman, actually
built this himself.
In the beginning there was a very strong
growth of algae, which worried Thomas as
he tried to figure out what he was doing
wrong and what he should do to counteract
this problem. From the books, he learned
that some species of surgeonfish are fairly
robust and can be introduced to marine
tanks for the purpose of controlling algae.
He found that worked as a solution to his
When it came to first corals, there were
no half measures here, as Thomas’ selection
included hard corals such as a mushroom
coral Herpolitha limax, a trumpet coral
Caulastrea curvata, brain coral Cynarina
deshayesiana, and a net coral Alveopora
tizardi, while first soft corals were a finger
leather coral Lobophytum sp. and Kenya
tree coral Capnella imbricata. All these
corals, apart from the net coral, are thriving
in his show tank today.