There comes a time when you feel you just might need more flow. Afterall, Jake Adams would tell you Flow > Water. Now maybe we can’t forgo water completely but yes, flow is important. The Ecoxotic 25 gallon LED Aquarium System that was set up a few months back had plenty of built-in flow with a circulation pump at 400 gph, but I wondered about the lack alternating currents and the stagnant areas that might create. So when extra funds showed up, I splurged and picked up a MP10w ES — I wanted to see why so many aquarists view this product line as the best of the best for internal water movement, perhaps only rivaled by a Tunze Wave Box?
I also picked up the battery backup option — itself more expensive than most circulation pumps on the market! That said, since this was going on the tank that houses the one and only Lightning Maroon Clownfish, having a power-failure backup that could run for 30 hours was an attractive feature and definite added layer of insurance. When I finally received my goodies, I made sure to give it the full tantalizing unboxing treatment as I peeled away the layers of packaging to reveal the goodies inside.
This last part — that this isn’t the “full” instructions, irked me just a little bit. Yes, it’s probably uncommon these days that a customer wouldn’t have internet access, but really, I want the full instructions in the box when I buy something. Maybe just a poor choice of wording, as there is a lot of info packed into the tiny color booklet. Overall, the instructions still could have been better and clearer. I’ll say from experience now it took a little while to get the hang of things.
Warranty info on one side…
After 3 months of use I can happily say “I get it.” I understand the general sentiments about this pump line. It’s not hype. The first time I plugged it in the amount of debris that came out of the gravel and woodwork was astonishing. Having alternating currents and some random flow certainly has to help in keeping the tank cleaner and getting waste into the filtration where it can be dealt with.
Programming and controlling the MP10w ES was tricky the first time, largely because the directions are so short and so much information jam packed in that small space, it takes a little bit to understand the series of steps you have to take to get it to do what you want it to do. I now can set it up with ease to do anything I want. The feed mode is a nice touch but I found that the wave settings were a bit coarse — I can’t get the fine control I need to get a real good standing wave going in the Ecoxotic tank (as per Ecotech’s instructions, I checked with Ecoxotic to ensure that the tank could take the wave before I tried to create one with the MP10). It’s either a little too fast, or a little too slow. The other drawback I found was that you are limited to running any one mode at a given time — part of me wanted a truly “random” mode that would cycle through all the other modes. Or even better, cycle through my preferred modes. While you can’t do that with the controller, you COULD do that if you added on the WMX (Wireless Expansion Module) on a Neptune Controller (provided you bought the Wireless Version of the MP10) , I may just do that someday.
The battery backup was pretty self explanatory and works great when I test it. The only downside is that it is big, bulky and heavy. I opted to place it outside of my stand completely. I must admit, I didn’t get the feeling that this backup would last for a decade — that seems to be the one failing of backups in general.
While I haven’t been able to play with the synching and slaving of multiple pumps that can be done with the wireless capabilities, I’m generally quite pleased with the feature rich nature of the product. It creates PLENTY of flow – the SPS in my tank seem to appreciate the Reef Crest mode the most, so that’s typically what I have it running. The concept behind the Nutrient Transport Mode, alternating between a static wave and full bore current to loosen waste and blow it away, is very interesting as well and I’ve used it on occasion.
I can wholeheartedly recommend the MP10w ES on the basis of ease of use, quality and performance. I should also mention that unlike some used equipment, the Vortech Pumps do hold their value pretty darn well — something to consider if you’re in the habit of trading up. Of course, part of the reason they seem to hold their value so well is that people don’t tend to sell them off in the first place — that speaks volumes to the overall satisfaction people have with the Vortech line of products.
Update – May 31st, 2011, we experienced our first power outages here in Duluth, two back-to-back ones in fact, the later one lasting 2 hours. The battery backup on the MP10 performed as expected and kept the water moving. Kicking myself for still not having my UPS’s set up, but feeling pretty good about my decision to invest in this system for the Lightning Maroon’s Reef Tank!