The Nero 5 pump is one of the most exciting pumps to hit the reef aquarium scene in a really long time. Not just because it’s the first pump from Aqua Illumination, not only because it was engineered by the same people who brought us the Vortechs, but for the combination of modern features that it manages to pack into a tiny powerful package.
The pumps we’re actually testing out right now are not our first encounter with the AI Nero 5 as you know, we were fortunate enough to get some quality time with them this summer at Ecotech/AI headquarters. But now that we’ve got some production versions, all the materials have been finalized and the software streamlined, we can actually take it for a literal spin on our own working reef tanks.
As we’ve come to expect from the company, the packaging for the Nero 5 is top notch with lots of useful information about what this pump does. Before you even get one you can see at a glance that the AI Nero 5 pushes up to 3,000 gallons per hour, it is controllable both wirelessly and manually with the integrated driver, it’s less than three inches in diameter and can mount to glass up to half an inch thick.
However once it’s taken out of the box you can immediately see that the pump itself is as carefully designed as the packaging it comes in. A broad front facing outlet gives way to a colorful teal propeller with a unique ‘inside-out’ design. The only water inlet for the AI Nero 5 is a hexagonal intake grill that is only on the rear of the pump, meaning that water travels very directly through the pump body. It’s a simple twist to remove the front grill and ‘free’ the propeller from its tiny internal stator to reveal just how simple the construction of the AI Nero 5 pump really is.
But with its in-tank placement there are many reefers are dying to know how big this pump really is, especially compared to popular water pumps in this size and flow category. The pump itself projects just a touch over two inches from the glass with a good half inch of that consisting of the magnet mount – it may only be able to pivot 15 degrees in any direction but that should be enough to direct the broad outflow in a general direction.
If there’s one feature which really differentiates the AI Nero 5 pump from any others it’s not its brauns but its brains. Since it uses Bluetooth LE the connection to the myAI app is seamless and instantaneous giving immediate access to all the fun control and programming options. As smooth as the setup of the ‘smart features’ is, we’re glad that the AI Nero 5 pump keeps some degree of manual control through the integrated driver like its Vortech cousins.
We did a cursory test of the functions and features in an empty tank of water and yes, it pushes a ton of water and yes, it can generate real waves with the best of them. Holding the pump in the hand while it starts up you can really feel the force that this pump creates at full blast, and it should be more than enough for tanks up to four feet long, and perhaps even bigger.
This is just our initial review of the pump outside the trade show environment, on its own but next we’ll be putting this pump to work! It’s going to be installed on our medium size 60 gallon cube tank which has been served by a pair of Vortech MP10s so stay tuned as it’s going to be very interesting to see how these two pumps types and models compare and contrast one another.