Although a key component in a variety of reef system designs, the return pump is one of those pieces of equipment that often doesn’t seem to get the attention it deserves. For many, as long as their pump is obviously running, it’s not something that is given special thought. However, when we consider that flow can ‘make or break’ a reef system biologically, and that a return pump is often one of the most costly items overall to run on a reef tank, we begin to understand that it is worth paying close attention to your choice of pump. For this review, we’ll be taking a look at the recently released Vertex V6 return pump.
Built around a highly-regarded and proven Askoll AC motor block the V6 comes out of the box partly assembled. Assembly to completion is very simple but we took this opportunity to strip the pump right back and in this process found all components to be well-machined and evidently high quality. Each V6 impeller shaft is said to be individually custom-machined from a special corrosion-resistant hard alloy resulting in a resilient and long-lasting impeller. The impeller housing itself is also customised and offers a 32mm intake and 25mm outlet. All-in-all, this makes it easy to use either hard or flexible pipe-work to plumb in the unit. It would have been nice for the outlet pipe to have featured a bayonet fitting for the attachment of flexible pipework but, provided hose is attached firmly, we can’t see this being an issue. Fitting it all back together, the unit assembled very nicely, not too tight or with any bits rattling around. Aesthetically, this unit looks beautiful too… by far the best looking pump we’ve seen. It certainly compliments other Vertex equipment very well and would look fantastic plumbed in with Vertex red and white pipework. One thing we will say is that this is quite a large pump (compared to our outgoing Eheim 5000+ anyway). The intake is quite high off the floor so if you are running this ‘internally’ in a sump return section you’ll need quite a high water level to avoid it sucking in air, or running dry. The other option is to add a short piece of pipe and a downward facing elbow so water is drawn in from lower down. This solves the issue but of course adds cost and effort, and impacts on the aesthetics of the pump. Run externally of course and this isn’t an issue.
Moving on to our operational test, when we switch the pump on, it is evidently in working order – so that’s the first hurdle overcome! In operation the pump is clearly shifting a lot of water and our electricity monitor suggests our particular model is consuming less than the stated 65watts – more like 52watts. We also tested the noise level generated with the phone app we’ve used for other reviews and this gives us a reading of 1-2db. Obviously this isn’t silent but it’s certainly not intrusively noisy. At less than 2db we’d class the appliance as ‘very quiet’ as it is honestly barely audible. No doubt the rubber feet and solid, heavy construction contribute to this. Run internally, the unit doesn’t seem to heat the water excessively and, comparing it by touch to our Eheim whilst in operation, we can’t feel any detectable difference. We can’t comment on heat generation if run externally.
Along with efficiency and quiet operation, reliability and ease of cleaning are important factors to consider. After running our unit for several weeks we’ve certainly had no issues and suggest the motor block in this unit is generally highly durable. We would be surprised if reliability proved to be a significant issue with this model and even if a small percentage did experience problems take note that there is a 2 year warranty on these units. We’ve always found Vertex to be excellent in terms of communication and attitude also and they are represented on major online forums. Breaking the unit down for cleaning once it has been extracted from its operational position is also very easy.
So that rounds-up our review of the V6. Currently retailing for around £300, this pump isn’t the cheapest option available but it offers superb build quality and looks, promises reliable quiet operation and is flexible in terms of installation options. For us, it therefore ticks all the boxes and we’d certainly give it our ‘highly recommended’ rating. More stats below.
Length: 20cm/ 7.9”
Width: 10.5cm / 4.15”
Height: 17cm / 6.8”
Power Consumption: ̴ 65W
Input: 32mm / 1.25”
Output: 25mm / 1”
Flow < 6000LPH / 1584 US-Gallons
Pressure < 2.5meters / 8’
Construction: PVC Base, Pump head
Shaft: Hardened Alloy
Fasteners: M6 / Grade II Titanium
Warranty: 2 years
Designed and Assembled in Germany