The announcement that EcoTech Marine is releasing an EcoSmart Live compatible return pump in the form of the Vectra L1 & M1 caused quite a stir in the aquarium community. It wasn’t just the device itself that drew a lot of attention, but it was also the notion that Ecotech Marine is pretty close to having an entire ecosystem of products that can work together to create a completely smart reef aquarium system.
The current status quo of engineering a totally controllable marine aquarium is to have one single marine aquarium controller that can act as the brain for the multitude of basic (dumb) devices such as pumps, lights, skimmers and various sensors and switches. On the surface this approach can work well, but unfortunately it requires a bevy of modules and interface devices which adds to complexity and cost, and doesn’t always work seamlessly.
Ecotech Marine’s approach to the smart controllable aquarium hasn’t been apparent all this time because, before a few weeks ago, they really only had two core product categories with which to run a reef tank; the Vortech flow pumps and the Radion LED lights. Ecotech has released plenty of other products like the battery backup, the Radion Mounting System, the Reeflink and EcoSmart Live. All of these are simple accessories that make Ecotech devices work better, except EcoSmart Live which is the lynchpin of a greater strategy that has become much more visible with the launch of the Vectra DC Pumps.
Return pumps are the heart of any modern reef aquarium system and with their Vectra pump, Ecotech Marine is now positioning itself to take over one of the most critical functions of the reef aquarium. The features of the controllable Vortech and Radion LEDs lights have been mostly flourishes to high performance products, but the advantages of having a smart return pump to power a reef tank are much more valuable.
The Vectra, Vortech and Radions represent the trinity of reef aquarium needs: circulation between the sump and tank, flow inside the aquarium, and powerful broad spectrum lighting. You can now have smart devices from Ecotech Marine running the most important aspects of a reef tank and control and monitor them all through EcoSmart Live.
With these three lynchpins in place, it begs the question as to what other major reef aquarium functions are left for Ecotech Marine to bring to market to have a reef tank completely controlled by EcoSmart Live? We don’t expect to ever see an Ecotech Marine sump, glass aquarium, or niche products like a fish feeder. However we can speculate that EcoTech is working on several other crucial pieces of aquarium equipment which we would all love to have under the same umbrella ofEcoSmart Live.
With the release of the Vectra, and different modes in ESL for whether this pump is installed as a return pump or a closed loop pump, it’s not a far leap of the imagination to envision a Needle Wheel Vectra, perhaps the Vectra NW1, or L1NW. Before we ever see an Ecotech Marine protein skimmer, we could expect to see a needle wheel version of their Vectra pump which we believe would be one of the most revolutionary advancements in protein skimming on the horizon. The crop of controllable DC pumps that have entered the marine aquarium market in the last five years have already proven themselves to be very effective protein skimmer pumps, and we therefore believe that creating a Needle Wheel version of the Vectra pump would be low hanging fruit for Ecotech to swing at.
Dosing pumps have exploded in popularity on the reef aquarium scene in recent years and it seems like every major manufacturer has a new and/or improved version of a dosing pump system on offer. Ecotech Marine’s strength is in developing and applying technologies that use DC motors, like those which power all dosing pumps. Therefore an EcoSmart dosing system is also a shoe-in for a product category we can expect from Ecotech in the future.
The “intelligence” of an aquarium is only as smart as its ability to react to various conditions of the aquarium environemtn. So if Ecotech ever wants to have a complete EcoSmart Live aquarium they will have to come up with a device that monitors at least the basics of aquarium water parameters including pH, temperature, orp, conductivity and water level.
The real leg-up of current aquarium controllers is all the different sensors and switches they have to report back about what your aquarium is doing. The Apex has hands-down the best suite of sensors and detectors for the home aquarium making it the best in class monitor for the home aquarium.
Finally, Ecotech Marine can’t make every device for the reef aquarium, and there’s always going to be some basic devices that are good enough for standard aquarium functions like a standard powerhead for top off water. This is where an EcoSmart switching outlet or power strip would really tie things together. In fact, what makes the most sense for a “final” major piece of the Ecosmart Live ecosystem would be to have the monitoring and switching outlet combined.
The EcoSmart Power/Sensor would look very much like a mash-up of an Apex base station together with one of their powerstrip, but in one neat package. The EcoSmart Power/Sensor would have perhaps only four to six switchable outlets since, presumably, users would already have wirelessly controllable Vectra, Vortech and Radion pumps that can plug directly into the wall. The final touch would be to have this supposed ecosmart-live capable power strip and sensor/monitoring package also include the ReefLink hub for an even more seamless experience with the whole product line.
At this point all of these products are mere speculation on our part, and it’s anybody’s guess as to if and when any of these imagined devices ever become tangible products. The Vectra hasn’t even begun shipping yet but when it does, we will have one more window into how Ecotech sees its products being an even greater part of the completely smart aquarium.