Matt continues his review of the Ecoxotic 25 gallon LED aquarium system which will be the future home of the Lightning Maroon Clownfish. Following up on his unboxing of the stand, here is Matt’s take on the 25 gallon, 18″ Cube Aquarium from Ecoxotic.
The other day we starting revealing the Ecoxotic 25 Gallon LED Aquarium System we are putting through the paces, starting off the the review unboxing the stand. This next post goes into detail on the rimless aquarium included in the kit. Right of the bat, Ecoxotic wanted Reef Builders to convey that these tanks are manufactured by Current-USA for Ecoxotic. We know how internet-savvy aquarists love to start a juicy rumor — nope, no Solana rip-offs happening here.
There is plenty of cooperation at work between Ecoxotic and Current as demonstrated by this aquarium. The big difference is the size — the Ecoxotic is an 18 in. cube holding 25 gallons and the Solona aquariums are 20 in. cubes rated at 34 gallons. So in reality, a lot of what I have to say about the Ecoxotic cube is fully applicable to anyone looking at a Current Solana setup. One quick look online tells me that Solana cubes get pretty solid reviews, so what I have to say about the smaller Ecoxotic version probably shouldn’t come as any surprise.
We all get nervous about shipping glass boxes. A few of you may even recall that the first aquarium sent to me by Ecoxotic actually wound up crushed by the freight company (it wasn’t the standard tank, so it didn’t come FedEx). So how did Ecoxotic’s 25 Gallon Cube fare with FedEx-approved packaging and shipping?
we have to say, Ecoxotic did well with this tank. The beveled glass is beautiful. The construction is immaculate with truly the biggest flaw is a tiny dab of black silicone on the back plastic panel making up the filter compartment. The black felt on the exterior bottom was totally unexpected and a touch that got interest (and high marks) from more than just me. The Loc-Line type returns are cool for those who like them. Me, I’m a fan of less is more when it comes to stuff visibly in the tank and it was very easy to reconfigure the returns into a single flared outlet.
Another eye-catching innovation is the glass top on a rimless tank. I mean, seriously, how do they pull it off? Don’t make the mistake I did of initially trying to rest the glass top on the tank, balancing between the front pane and the filter box – that’s NOT how it works. There are actually four little black clips that function as supports — you simply place those on the tanks rim, and then the glass top rests on them. If you don’t want a glass top, then simply don’t install those little clips.
The filtration is designed with the marine aquarist in mind (freshwater enthusiasts may have little need for the protein skimmer). The water runs through a built in surface skimmer with prefilter sponge into the first chamber, which is for the protein skimmer and heater. This is my one area of concern, the heater area barely accommodates a new Ehiem Jager 100 watt submersible heater. It’s a tight fit but on the upside the water level in this compartment will always remain constant, keeping the heater fully submerged.
The second chamber is the smallest and is designed with another prefilter, a “drip plate” that is really more of a just a coarse divider and a duplicate at the bottom. Talk about nice little thoughtful things, a simple ring made out of a black zip tie is all it took to make removal of these trays extremely simple.
This middle chamber was packed with four sacks of mini bioballs and two sacks of carbon. While new fishkeepers may use these items, especially if doing a fish-only type tank, many reefers will eye this chamber with all sorts of ideas. One of my local reefing buddies suggested this is a good chamber for placing a pump to drive an external media reactor. Me? I’m currently musing about the refugium possibilities, possibly utilizing a small white Ecoxotic Stunner Strip to light the middle chamber on a reverse photoperiod, maybe growing a mass of Chaetomorpha in there. Maybe I’ll do both.
The last chamber is the pump chamber and auto-topoff chamber. I found this to be a very simple and ingenious design. Two small reservoir bottles will work just like the office water cooler or your automatic cat waterer to keep your water running at the proper salinity and water level in the filter area. It’s a nice touch.
Overall, it really looks like the crew at Ecoxotic thought this through pretty well. The pumps are Current water pumps according to the tags on the power cords (mental note if you’re like me and always want to have a backup on hand). I should note that flow-through is slightly higher than my old Nanocubes — the Ecoxotic is set up with a pump that runs roughly 400 GPH through the filtration system.
If I had to point out things I’d like to see changed, first I’d simply point to the filter box’s external materials. The rough plastic is going to be difficult to clean if someone wants that “clean background” look. Black glass would be my first choice (I like cleaning with a razor blade) but perhaps it’s not practical (or we’d be seeing them on all tanks!). I’d like to see a bit more space for a heater. Another observation is the cover for the filter box (yes, it’s that black plastic polygon visible when I first opened the inner box). The one shipped out is simply flat, which makes it difficult to keep it resting in place on top of the filter box. We’ve been told by Ecoxotic that this has already been addressed, and future filter lids will have a slight lip that allows for positive placement of the cover.
Of course, I’d encourage Ecoxotic to look at the possibilities of tanks without integrated filtration as well for those who want sumps — that would be a variation I’d be very interested in. I’ve seen an 18 in. cube on their Facebook page sans filter…very very pretty! That said, after seeing how local reefer Jay Hansen runs his SPS frag tank (and more importantly, the impressive results within), I’m confident I’m going to be able to do some impressive things with the built-in equipment.
After an initial water test, as everyone will want to know, there were no leaks. My initial comments are that the protein skimmer is perhaps a bit loud (but many skimmers are, that’s just the nature of the skimmer) but it may run quieter when I’m running saltwater in the tank (finer bubbles with saltwater, so possibly less noise). I thought the filter cover would help dampen the noise more than it did. I’m not 100% sure about the auto-topoff and leveling yet. When draining from my water test, they didn’t empty their contents. Saltwater may act differently than FW though, and the fix would be just drilling out the holes slightly larger.
The flow through the filtration is pretty fast, which gives this cube very good base circulation in the event that a newer hobbyist isn’t looking to shell out additional funds for in-tank circulation. A tip — double check the hose attachment from the pump to the outlet; two minutes after plugging it in, the pump became disconnected and the water level in the filter began to rise. Which brings me to my last observation, if the power goes out and you’re running the skimmer cup at a low placement, the water might overflow into the skimmer cup causing some intermingling of tank water with skimmate. I’m not sure there is any way to outright prevent this, as any out-of-sight internal skimmer would probably suffer the same issue. For now, I’m running the skimmer cup as high as it can be while still covered by the glass.
In all regards, Ecoxotic avoided providing cheap filtration that would just get you by. There was certainly some thought put into delivering a well-rounded setup that could perform in step with their flagship LED lighting. And when it comes to looks, well, the water tested tank speaks for itself!
In Part 3, we’ll unbox Ecoxotic’s 17.5 in. Panorama LED Aquarium Light Fixture.
FTC regulations require that we inform you that we were given this product for review, but our opinion of a product is never affected by how we acquire them.