When it comes to aquarium equipment, it’s hard to demand instant gratification and not be disappointed. Certain items have a break-in period that can last days or even weeks in length, while others never live up to expectations and are doomed to fail on many levels. We’re happy to report, however, that neither of these is the case for the Vertex Aquaristik Titanium Ground Pole, which we recently got to spend a lot of time with. We were experiencing a great deal of stray voltage in one our systems, and the ground pole took care of them instantly. Not a few days down the road, not after a week of breaking in, but instantly. And for that reason alone, we are happy to sing its praises. For those of you who have been in the aquarium hobby for any real length of time, you are probably quite familiar with stray voltage. It comes from all types of equipment, both submerged and external, and can wreak havoc on all sorts of marine organisms. While it may be easy to pinpoint which equipment is throwing off the voltage, usually by process of elimination, it’s not always easy to just remove that item from operation.
Aquarium monitoring systems are becoming increasingly popular for hobbyists who are tired of testing water parameters manually with various test kits, but who are also not quite ready, or just don’t intend, to make the leap into the market of full blown aquarium control. Aquarium monitors do all of the water testing for you, but avoid all of the complex programming required to automate some of the simplest aquarium related tasks. Instead, they relay information so that the hobbyist can take care of the issues themselves. That’s where devices like the Seneye come into play. We recently got the opportunity to perform an extremely in-depth review of the Seneye monitor, and after more than a month on our nano aquarium, we’re happy to report that the monitoring device told us plenty of useful information about our aquarium and it was really simple to use. The Seneye monitor is an interesting device, to say the least. It measures pH, temperature, and ammonia, while at the same time doubling as a light meter that can measure PAR, LUX, and Kelvin. It fixes to the side of the aquarium with a suction cup, and for measuring light it can be manually turned on its side for taking measurements at various depths. LED lights indicate when the power to the unit is on, as well as any alarms for the water parameters and when the Slide, which is the disposable portion of the device that makes ammonia and pH monitoring possible, needs to be replaced. The Seneye connects to a computer and/or a power source via USB.
Innovative Marine has really been rounding out their Auqa Gadget lineup with some very useful products this year, and one of their most anticpated pieces of equipment has been the HydroFill auto top off system. We’ve been covering their entire lineup rather extensively, and we recently had the opportunity to get some significant one-on-one time with this ATO. While we haven’t finished up all of our routine testing, we wanted to just take a minute to share our initial overview and unboxing of the HydroFill, as well as discuss all of the product’s potential uses. Perfect for tanks of any size, the HydroFill system is composed of two independent components, the HydroFill controller and the HydroFill ATO diaphragm pump. Both products are packaged separately and can be used independent of each other, allowing aquarists a little more freedom with pump selection and use. The controller has a single power outlet that has a 1000W, 8Amp/120V capacity. That’s a ton of power, which may seem a bit excessive, but it allows hobbyists to use virtually whatever pump they want to top off their aquariums.
One of the many goodies we got from Vertex a few weeks ago was a Vectra and Vectra Lid to go with our Omega 150 protein skimmer. This device is one of the many accessories designed to make the day-to-day life of the average hobbyists a bit easier, as it is designed to keep the neck of the skimmer clean so that it can operate at maximum efficiency for as long as possible. It does this by rotating a silicone blade on the inside of the neck and collection cup, knocking significant amounts of crud that has built up in the skimmer. So how do we like the Vectra from Vertex Aquaristik? Well, if our unboxing is any indication of how things will go during our long term tests, then we expect it to be a solid performer. The Vectra is well built, with extra care given to protect all of the sensitive electronic components to keep them high and dry.
Have you ever had a piece of equipment that you thought just looked too darned pretty to be in that nasty saltwater with fish poop and gross algae? Well, such is the case for the Omega 150 protein skimmer, which Vertex so kindly sent our way. Unfortunately for the skimmer, we don’t plan on letting it stay eye candy for long, as we’ll put it through the ringer as we review it in an everyday aquarium environment. To start our review, we’ll first dive into a little product history. The Omega line of skimmers was first introduced at MACNA 2012 in Dallas, and we were told that it was meant to completely replace the Vertex IN skimmers. To keep its price down around that of the IN series and to better distinguish itself from the Vertex Alpha skimmers, the Omega used a Sicce pump instead of the Red Dragon. Additionally, the straight cone shape was ditched for the more elegant “whine glass” cone body.