Friday, July 20, 2007

Another Day, Another Product Review

The expression “don’t make waves” has no place in reef aquaria.

A quick Google search of the subject will yield countless sources that attempt to validate this claim.

But I say, “To heck with research!”

What makes this statement factual is that continuous body of water encircling our planet, commonly referred to as the ocean.

The saline waters of the ocean move. Thus, the saltwater in your reef tank should move.

Period.

This is an undisputable, basic truth. Like hair loss.

I know—just by looking—that I no longer have the brilliant, shining, shimmering hair I had two decades ago.

Sad but true.

But boy, what a head of hair it was.

The late 80s were my golden years: back when Southern California was a hotbed of smog alerts, earthquakes and drought.

I played with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures, entered the Konami code to score 30 lives in Contra and tore through my ‘hood on a Huffy Sonic 6. All the while whipping the bangs out of my face like Tony Hawk in a Bones Brigade video.

Fast-forward to the present.

I wake up, look in the mirror and … sigh. Where my totally radical bangs once hung is now just a bunch of barren forehead. So much forehead, I call it fivehead.

I know—just by looking—that ocean waters move. Just like I know that one day soon I will be as bald as Lex Luthor.

But why is this movement important? To find out, let’s go back and check out a couple of the sources that came up in the aforementioned Google search results.

According to NASA oceanographer Gene Carl Feldman, “Ocean waters are constantly on the move. How they move influences climate and living conditions for plants and animals, even on land.”

The water movement in my aquarium is not likely to influence my living conditions, but let’s read on.

“Currents flow in complex patterns affected by wind, the water's salinity and heat content, bottom topography and the earth's rotation.”

This is good information … but a little broad. How, specifically, does water movement benefit a nano reef?

To answer that question, let’s turn to a couple of experts who also happen to be an actual couple: Stan & Debbie Hauter of Animal Jungle in North Carolina.

The Hauters manage and care for the fish department at Animal Jungle in the Vernon Park Mall and previously ran a livestock business in Hawaii.

“The more your tank water is circulated and filtered, the better the water quality is in the aquarium. [Water circulation] keeps detritus and other tank matter from settling on the bottom of the tank … circulation permits the majority of these particulates to be circulated or suspended, allowing them to be filtered out by a mechanical filter.”

I recently invested in a Hydor Koralia 1 Circulation Pump/Powerhead for our 24-gallon AquaPod (see my June 11, 2007 post for more in-depth info) and the results have been nothing short of spectacular. So when one of my colleagues informed me that I could improve water circulation even more for a measly $13 bucks, I was sold.

Enter the FLO Deflector from Hydor (pause and hold for dramatic effect).

The Hydor FLO Deflector is propelled by the water flow from our existing pump and perpetually rotates 360° degrees. In layman's terms, it’s in a never-ending spit-and-spin cycle and does not require an additional power source.

That’s right… there is nothing to plug in.

So rejoice, fellow hobbyists, the last remaining outlet in your surge protector can now be saved for something else. I’m sure our accounting department will appreciate the few watts I’ve saved when the electric bill comes around.

The rotating water flow creates a natural and pleasant wave effect. This is beneficial to reef inhabitants and leads to increased oxygenation and surface gas exchange. Generally, this is where I would make a joke about gas exchange. Jokes aside, it is that release that will prevent the infamous “white line” effects from forming on the walls of your tank.

The FLO comes packaged with several adapters that would seemingly attach to the outlet of “any pump or filter,” or so the box claims.

The truth is that none of the included adapters would permit me to simply screw the sucker on our pump. Instead, I chose the adapter combination that worked best and held it in position to make sure it would spin. Next I unplugged the pump, siphoned enough water out to safely glue the FLO on to the pump and then simply waited for it to dry.

Today all of the tank’s inhabitants, from fish and crabs to clams and coral, are benefiting from increased water movement and circulation.

Of course, if the water movement in your tank is already sufficient, you can always pick one up for the fun-factor: the turbo snail in our web designer’s tank likes to ride the FLO round and round like a carnival ride.

Hurry, hurry, step right up! Get your Hydor FLO Deflectors here!