Your tanks: Luc Loyen


We simply had to interview Belgian reefkeeper Luc Loyen about his stunning creation which includes several rare and valuable fish.

This mature system from Luc Loyen is teeming with life and colour. Tanks packed with fish and corals are always the most difficult to maintain because the fish need lots of food, yet the corals need very low nutrient water. 

Luc’s system makes the two look easy, even to the point where he has set up another larger tank for a future project.

What are the tank’s dimensions and what is the system’s volume?

The main display tank is 200 x 70 x 70cm/79 x 28 x 28”. 

Other tanks are connected to it, including a 140 x 80 x 60cm/55 x 31 x 24” sump, a 120 x 80 x 30cm/47 x 31 x 12” frag tank, a 90 x 80 x 40cm/35 x 31 x 16” equipment tank and a 90 x 80 x 50cm/35 x 31 x 20” tank for holding new fish. Total volume is some 2,300 l/506 gal.

How long have you had it? 

The tank has been set up for around four years.

What is the circulation turnover in the main tank and what pumps do you use?

I use two 12,000 lph Tunze Turbelle Stream 6100s controlled by a Tunze multi-controller. 

What lighting do you use and for what photoperiod?

I have a Giesemann armature with four 9w PL tubes and three 250w metal halide bulbs. I also use five 80w T5 and four 24w T5 PL tubes. Duration is from 9:00 to 23:00 hours, with the T5s on from 10:00 until 22:00 and the halides from 12:00 to 20:00. Total lighting equates to 1,282w.

What skimmer do you use? 

I use a Bubble King Supermarin 300 powered by two Red Dragon pumps that can create up to 3,600 lph of air. Retail price of this skimmer is just over $2,000/£1,190.


How do you add calcium, magnesium and KH buffers? 

I used a Dastaco extreme III calcium reactor, with a seven- channel GroTech TEC III NG dosing system. I raise calcium and alkalinity with the Balling method.

With all that lighting do you need a chiller?

I’m lucky. The tanks connected to the main tank, in the basement, act as my chiller because it is around 18°C/64.4°F down there.

What is your water change regime and what are the water parameters?

I change around 200 l/44 gal every three weeks. Temperature is 24-26°C/75-79°F, with salinity held at 35ppt. The pH is 7.7- 7.9, alkalinity 8dKH, calcium 430mg and magnesium 1350mg. Phosphate is undetectable.

How do you remove/control nutrients? 

When started I used a phosphate remover called Ultrasil, but for the last three years I haven’t used anything. I put this down to fast growth of the corals.

I also use activated carbon renewed every 14 days for optimum water clarity.

What salt do you use?

A mixture of Tropic Marin, Reef Crystals, and KZ Reefers’ Best.

Was it difficult to start?

This tank had Reef Ceramic background material because we did not want to see glass on the back. It also has a bridge and a pillar of the same material to bring depth. We have about 150kg of living rock, but the first two years were difficult because the materials were not as good as hoped.

A lot of silicate was released, so I had a lot of undesirable algae. Corals were dying in the first six months and the calcium level was very high.


Any rarities of note?

The rarest fish in my tank is the Blue-striped orange tamarin wrasse (Anampses femininus), pictured above. This species can grow quite large to 24cm/9.5” for an adult male, though it is a stunning fish.

What’s your feeding regime?

I have a lot of fish so give them plenty of food, normally three times a day. 

The first two meals comprise a mixture of frozen krill, Artemia and Mysis, then a mixture of Cyclops, lobster eggs and red plankton. I offer dry foods for the third.

Do you have any natural pest control? 

I have a Bristletail filefish, Acreichthys tomentosus, to control Aiptasia and other small anemones. 

How is your new tank better?

My new, bigger tank has OptiWhite glass with a low iron content. I again decided to aquascape with Reef Ceramic but mix it directly with live rock.

I tried to make it more open, so corals can grow and fish have more space. I also switched the Bubble King to an ATB skimmer because the design is very interesting. The new tank is lit with four 400w HQI metal halides and 16 80w T5s.


The coral collection

I guess I’ve got around 100 corals. I love SPS so they dominate, with around 80% of the tank housing these species. LPS numbers are low as the angels may nip them.

Acropora: suharsonoi, millipora, prostrata, granulosa, loripes, humulis, nasuta, carduuz, formosa, panona, solitariensis, efflorescens and gemmifera




Montipora: digitata, danae, stellata, australiensis and confusa

Acanthastrea lordhowensis







The fish collection


Two Sunset anthias, Pseudanthias parvirostris

Six Bicolor anthias, Pseudanthias bicolor 

Six Tiger queen anthias, Pseudanthias lori 

Two Bartlett’s anthias, Pseudanthias bartlettorum 

Three Checked swallowtails, Odontanthias borbonius


Two Goldflake angels, Apolemichthys xanthopunctatus 

One Regal angel, Pygoplites diacanthus 

Two Bellus angels, Genicanthus bellus 


One Mystery wrasse, Pseudocheilinus ocellatus 

Two Red-striped fairy wrasse, Cirrhilabrus roseofasciatus 

One New Guinea wrasse, Anampses neoguinaicus 

Two Banana wrasse, Halichoeres chrysus 

One Blue-striped orange tamarin wrasse, Anampses femininus


One Yellow tang, Zebrasoma flavescens 

One Tomini bristletooth tang, Ctenochaetus tominiensis 

Dottybacks and grammas

Two Royal grammas, Gramma loreto

Two Springer’s dottybacks, Pseudochromis springeri

Other fishes

Two Janss’ pipefish, Doryrhamphus janssi

Two Maroon clownfish, Premnas biaculeatus 

Two Mandarins, Pterosynchiropus splendidus 

One Bristletail filefish, Acreichthys tomentosus

One Blue-trigger fish, Xanthichthys auromarginatus

Fish in other tanks

One Yellow tang, Zebrasoma flavescens 

One Scopas tang, Zebrasoma scopas 

One Two-spot hogfish, Bodianus bimaculatus 

Three Pyjama wrasse, Pseudocheilinus hexataenia 

Two unidentified blennies

Two unidentified Halichoeres wrasses 


Owner focus

How long have you kept marines?

For nine years.

Which are your favourite fish? 

Angels and wrasse.

Which are your favourite corals? 

SPS and zoanthids.

Have you had any problems along the way?

In the start-up I had some issues with the ceramic in the tank.

What would you change about your existing set-up?

I want a bigger tank for my corals as I have a growing collection.

Is there anything on your wish list?

One day I would like to see some of the outstanding tanks in the United States and England.

What of the future?

The future has already started! I have had a bigger tank running for a few months now. It is 320 x 90 x 80cm/10’6” x 3’ x 2’ 8” and has a volume of 2,304 l/507 gal.

What is your key to success?

Every introduction is made very slowly and the key is to provide a stable environment. 

Of course, there are always ground rules to follow — like lots of light, strong water current and good water quality. 

What we think

The tank is packed with corals and some 45 fish, giving a lush effect of colour and movement. It also embraces modern trends, using the Ultra Low Nutrient system(ULNS), Balling method, and holds many rare fish and corals, including a pair of Goldflake angels priced at over £300 each, a Mystery wrasse worth over £100 and a whole host of other rare wrasse, anthias and angels.

We can see why Luc has opted for a larger tank for his next project as there is no more room for any more corals in this featured tank.

The lack of phosphate remover is interesting as this illustrates a new trend towards using zeolites and bacteria to tightly cycle nutrients instead of traditional removal resins. 

Either way, the results have proved spectacular!

This item was first published in the Christmas 2009 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.