Review: EcoTech VorTech MP40w ES stream pump

If you’ve been following our stream pump reviews over the last few months you’ll see that we’ve already taken a look at some of the major players in this competitive and sometimes controversial area of reef tank design. With each brand having its own often die-hard fans, comparisons between stream pumps almost always spark lively debate. In this piece we’ll avoid direct comparisons and focus solely on the form and function of EcoTech Marine’s offering – the MP40wES.

Already highly-regarded by many, this pump exemplifies EcoTech’s innovative approach and is unique in that the motor element of the assembly is located completely on the outside of the aquarium. Using a magnetic coupling, the ‘dry side’ motor is able to drive the propeller ’wet-side’ through the glass (up to 19mm thick). This means of course that the pump motor isn’t heating the water in the tank, and that the physical presence of the device within the aquarium is minimal. This DC driven pump is also efficient, consuming just 9-28watts (depending on the setting) while pumping around 3,785 – 12,100 liters per hour.

Out of the box, the pump impresses immediately. Just from handling this item it’s clear that you are dealing with a high quality, precision piece of kit. Heavy in the hand it’s clear that this is a well-built and robust pump on which little, if any, expense has been spared. Instructions are also some of the best we’ve seen with clear text and easy-to-follow diagrams supplemented with links to useful instructional videos on EcoTech’s excellent website. It’s also nice to see some extras coming with the pump and this includes a useful foam screen that fits the wet side really nicely.

It’s clear a lot of research has been put into this product and this translates through to the installation and operation of the pump too. We found the pump extremely easy to attach using the fittings provided but make sure you get the placement of the sticky cable holder pad right first time as it doesn’t come off easily! In operation, the pump held steady under 100% output. On the subject of output, take note that unfortunately, the flow stream isn’t directional at all. That said, and this is perhaps where the MP40 comes into its element, it is the clear leader of the pack in terms of controllability. Although relatively expensive, the MP40 comes with its own controller and this offers a variety of different modes to simulate all kinds of flow conditions. It’s also exceptionally intuitive and setting your ideal output is really easy. There are even control options for reduced flow at night and for feeding. Take note that this pump is also compatible with EcoTech’s battery back-up system which offers a fantastic safety-net in the event of a power-cut.

So how effective is this pump at moving water anyway? Well, let’s say that the MP40 is one powerful pump that is easily capable of generating significant turbulence around 5 feet away. The spread is ‘moderate to wide’ based on our observations of other similar pumps. It’s worth mentioning that a detailed analysis into this pumps performance is available online at Advanced Aquarist incidentally. Essentially silent at up to around 50% power, noise gradually increased and at 100% the pump was notably audible. Aesthetically though, the pump looks great indeed it was almost a shame to have the dry side at the wall end of our system so it wasn’t on display! On this subject though, as our glass is just 10mm we were able to slide it into a gap off just 2.5 inches. While it is larger than the dry sides of competitor pumps it still isn’t too obtrusive and the controller box was also easy to mount and operate.

In conclusion, despite its relatively high initial price, we think the MP40 represents one of the very best options for providing powerful and flexible flow options for your reef aquarium. If you want a pump with an incredibly low profile in your tank and value enhanced controllability over ‘directionability’, this may well be the pump for you. Although not the quietest pump we’ve used, the MP40 is a true enthusiasts pump where form and function have been combined to stunning effect!

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