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Value of Controllable Powerheads in Nano Reef tanks

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  • Value of Controllable Powerheads in Nano Reef tanks

    Looking for insight on just how "value-added" do folks feel upgrading to controllable powerheads (i.e. Vortech MP10, Aqamai KPS, etc) are in small reef tanks. In general I assume it never hurts, but since the controllable PHs carry a significant price premium over regular ones, is it always a noticeable benefit to the health of the corals to make the upgrade/investment worth it?

    I have a 6 gal nano and wondering if I should change out my Hydor Koralia Nano to something that has a wave program, etc. Looking at the Aqamai KPS.

    Appreciate any advice or thoughts!

  • #2
    I have used a Hydor controller for years, alternating between 2 different power heads in the tank, one on each end, one high, and one low. About 2 years ago, I found stray voltage leaking from one of them. Shortly after that, another member lost his entire tank due to stray voltage. Since then, I still have 1 powerhead on that controller, and the other was replaced with a vortec MP40. I feel that going to DC as the MP40 is would be a better benefit. The other is just to make sure you have movement throughout the tank, so there are no dead spots of water not moving.

    hope this helps
    Ken Higgins
    120 gallon reef
    125 gallon fresh water
    50 gallon fresh water

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    • #3
      I agree with Ken on stray voltage. I like the vortec as the actual motor is on the outside. I myself have a nano and use a two power heads with a wave maker. I try to avoid dead spots but to much flow pushs sand around.

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      • #4
        Like the others said the big benefits are to avoid dead spots and alternate current directions to mimic tides, currents, and waves. Dead spots will become established when using continuous flow power heads, even if two are being used. A an old school wavemaker will turn the powerheads off and on but they aren't good for the powerhead motors. And even with that a dead spot will usually establish. Now we are lucky to have DC wavemakers than slow down and speed up the pumps instead of turning them on and off which is much better for the life of the pump. It also allows the flow to randomized which helps prevent dead spots. They are not an absolute necessity but if my putting a power head in my tank, its going to be a controllable DC wavemaker. Even for a 6 gallon if I could find one small enough.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by igotmaddfish View Post
          Like the others said the big benefits are to avoid dead spots and alternate current directions to mimic tides, currents, and waves. Dead spots will become established when using continuous flow power heads, even if two are being used. A an old school wavemaker will turn the powerheads off and on but they aren't good for the powerhead motors. And even with that a dead spot will usually establish. Now we are lucky to have DC wavemakers than slow down and speed up the pumps instead of turning them on and off which is much better for the life of the pump. It also allows the flow to randomized which helps prevent dead spots. They are not an absolute necessity but if my putting a power head in my tank, its going to be a controllable DC wavemaker. Even for a 6 gallon if I could find one small enough.
          Got the advice and confidence I need to justify the upgrade........thanks much all.

          On the stray voltage concern above, how can that be detected/prevented? Is it less of a concern with the DC pumps? I get the Vortech MPs have an external motor but don't have the "wife approved" budget for that kind of upgrade right now.

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          • #6
            I detected mine when i put my hand in the tank, not once, or twice. After the third time I went to the work truck to get my digital meter! Anything that has electrical and goes in water has a possibility of leaking stray voltage. If the stray voltage leaks enough, it could take out all in the tank. I am slowly working on having my pumps goto DC voltage, but as you have seen, they cost more.
            Ken Higgins
            120 gallon reef
            125 gallon fresh water
            50 gallon fresh water

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Ken Higgins View Post
              I detected mine when i put my hand in the tank, not once, or twice. After the third time I went to the work truck to get my digital meter! Anything that has electrical and goes in water has a possibility of leaking stray voltage. If the stray voltage leaks enough, it could take out all in the tank. I am slowly working on having my pumps goto DC voltage, but as you have seen, they cost more.
              Got it, thanks.

              I ended up going with the Hydor Aqamai KPS. While its obviously a lot more than the Koralias, and really any other AC non-controllable pump, its less than half of the lowest priced Vortech MP while still retaining a lot of functionality and quality (or so Ive read from reviews).

              Should get the new pump this weekend....we’ll see how it goes.

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              • #8
                I wouldnt mind spending the money on the super premium products if I knew they would never break down. Problem is they do break down post warranty and then you have a super premium repair bill for the parts. A Ford and a Mercedes will both do a good job getting you from point A to B. As far as stray voltage, there is a huge debate online about electrical grounding that can get pretty heated. Alot of people say stray voltage wont effect fish if the tank is grounded and some people swear they have seen fish be electrocuted. I have personally felt voltage in a tank due to frayed pump cord but all the fish and coral are perfectly fine. There is also debate about whether grounding probes do anything. There is probably a textbook answer but I am not an electrical engineer. Both sides of the story are probably true depending on the way the tank is setup.

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                • #9
                  Yes, there is a grounding probe to remove the stray voltage from the tank. you can put in the tank/sump then ground the other side of it to the cover plate screw on your receptacle. So, 1) If I knew about it why would I want to have a piece of equipment continue to put the stray voltage in the tank, and possibly shock me if I put my hand in the tank, I could now be the possible path to ground. 2) a lot of older homes do not have grounds at there plugs, some are just have a floating ground so you can plug into, but its really not grounded, so the probe would be useless. I would rather nip it in the bud, and remove a piece of equipment that is putting out the stray voltage
                  Ken Higgins
                  120 gallon reef
                  125 gallon fresh water
                  50 gallon fresh water

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Copy, thanks Ken and igotmaddfish

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                    • #11
                      If the grounding probe was working properly, would it protect the other electronics in the tank? Those Neptune Apex probes would be expensive to replace if they got fried. Even worse if the probes carried the current back to the unit and fried the ports.
                      Lynne

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                      • #12
                        lil more info on this

                        http://angel-strike.com/aquarium/GroundingProbes.html
                        Ken Higgins
                        120 gallon reef
                        125 gallon fresh water
                        50 gallon fresh water

                        Comment

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