Nathan Hill takes a look at two new aquarium kits from Rolf C. Hagen.
Fluval Flora 30 l/7 gal plant kit
This kit claims to include everything necessary for a planted aquarium. It’s almost true, as nearly everything I need is here. However, significantly absent is… the heater!
A thermometer is included, in a tasteful design, but without a heater it’s all a little superfluous.
The tank is great, has 30l/6.6 gal capacity, smart curved front edges and a well-cut cover glass. A sealed foam rockwork background is included, although this is only siliconed in place and can be removed if necessary.
There’s a base mat, but this isn’t the easiest or tidiest of things to play with. Trimming may be required to create something that ends up looking smart.
Lighting is adequate, an 11w compact fluorescent in a Fluval-branded housing that connects to the tank.
My only reservation is the intensity of the bulb, and as our PAR meter is currently on loan, I can’t comment about how much light is being thrown in, once cover glass and water have been taken into account.
Ultimately, this isn’t the most intense light and so I’ll be shaping my plant choice accordingly. I can soon invest in extra lighting and remove the cover glass.
The filter is flimsy but functional. Ready to run, there’s plenty of scope for changing the media inside and the design lends itself to much play. A beginner shouldn’t worry, though. What’s included is adequate and alterations are a luxury. Return is via a spray bar, so surface disruption should be minimal, if done correctly.
The included substrate doesn’t allow for a thick base layer, but at least it’s an actual planting substrate. Instructions accompany, especially about cleaning, and it would be worth having an initial read.
I particularly like the fact that it comes with a Fluval CO2 20 injector and planting tongs, which aren’t the best I’ve come across, and not at a touch on some cutting edge brands but represent a step up from bare hands. For that I give Fluval much credit.
In tandem with planting scissors, which are sold separately, you have all the trappings of a professional aquascaper for a fraction of the cost.
Basic instructions are included, and, all in, I think the kit really good value — a cost- effective way of taking your
first steps into planted aquaria.
A bottle of plant food is included too.
If I could make one change it would be to include a heater, but, as the kit stands, I’d be happily buy one of these tanks — so much so that I’m keeping the test sample as a project.
Fluval Ebi shrimp package
The Fluval Ebi tank kit is essentially the same as the Fluval Flora, but with some subtle differences.
The same build quality is there, as is the background, lighting and base mat. However, there’s no CO2 unit supplied and a differing substrate claims to help young shrimplets hide.
Other differences include a bottle of water conditioner suitable for shrimps, and mineral supplement also in liquid form. Shrimp food comes as standard.
This package comes with a net — having a telescopic design with a rounded head that, aside from occasionally contracting when pushed against the side in shrimp pursuit, does what it should.
A tidy thermometer is included, but again there’s no heater! This is the only real downside, as I would be happy to pay a little more to have a dedicated tropical set-up.
Shrimp ornaments are available separately and, for the beginner, these could be an easy way to decorate. These tanks have huge scope as real aquascape and planted projects, so I’ll be opting for something more adventurous.
Price: Both tanks are £102.21 each (SRP), but most retailers will sell them cheaper.