Flow, circulation, turbulence… whatever you call it, the movement of water in a reef aquarium is important for many reasons. It is possible to achieve this movement using a variety of different devices, indeed we’ve already looked at a number of stream pumps on our reviews over recent months. In this review though we’ll take a look at a slightly different approach to the generation of turbulence as we get hands-on with Vertex’s Mocean wavemaker.
OK, so the term ‘wavemaker’ is used a lot these days, and it seems to be applied to a variety of devices. Frankly, its a bit of a nebulous term and we found ourselves struggling to work out exactly what the Mocean actually does. Vertex have a good website but what we really needed was to see how one of these devices actually worked in practice. Jump to Youtube and all we could find was a few brief videos showing the moceans nozzle rotating underwater.
We have to hand it to Vertex though, they aren’t afraid of putting their products in the testing arena and we were pleased when they offered us a unit for our trial. So how does it actually work then? Well, this unit is essentially a controllable motor that rotates an outlet pipe. The unit can be ‘fed’ with the outflow of a return pump which is plumbed in through the top of the unit. The mocean simply directs this existing flow. As an alternative, an attachment can be fitted to the rotating outlet and a powerhead or stream pump can be used directly attached. As a default, the rotating pipe (whether fitted with an elbow or powerhead) turns 360 degrees in one direction. However, using the controller box, start and end points can be set so the pipe sweeps through a fixed angle. It’s really very easy to set-up and adjust.
Going back to the controller for a moment, we were concerned about just how this would fit in with our existing system. To be honest, these worries were unfounded as the set-up is very simple. The control box just has a power adapter that plugs in to one socket and then the wire to the mocean device itself slots into another. That’s it. It’s not the most compact control box but it certainly is sturdy and uncomplicated and can be attached with velcro or screws. The mocean unit itself is pretty compact for what it is and we had no trouble fitting it into place even though we hadn’t planned to incorporate it originally, and our lighting system sits relatively close to the top of our tank. Take note that there are numerous bracket options that allow it to be mounted to either horizontal or vertical bracing. We’d suggest that if you have it hard plumbed to your return feed you may not even need a bracket. Ensure the unit doesn’t get wet though – it is water resistant but won’t survive submersion.
Now, we’ve only used this unit for a couple of weeks at the time of writing but it looks very durable. Unlike many similar devices we’d suggest it should cope well working in typical reef conditions. Make sure it can be removed for cleaning though. Our unit was very quiet from the off and stayed quiet throughout our test.
So, how effective is this device at making waves then? Well, a lot depends on what is actually attached or coming through this device really. Providing you have an effective flow generator (a good return pump or attached powerhead or stream) then the back and forth sweeping motion can create a really nice pulsing effect in your reef, especially if you have fleshy LPS/soft corals to display. The dispersal of current will also help keep detritus in suspension so it doesn’t break down, and this can only be good for your water quality. All-in-all we think this is a really versatile device and the level of quality is what we are used to with Vertex… excellent. There is actually a larger model, the 3500, and take note that the model numbers refer to the maximum recommended through-put in US gallons per hour. Take a look at out video summary below to see the unit in action.