Nathan Hill takes a look at this new in-pond filter combo from Fish Mate.
I’ve a lot of time for Fish Mate. They seem to toil away with their R&D departments tinkering about quietly, and then it’s like they sneak good products on to the market.
The 5000 S-UV submersible pump, filter and UV is one of their more recent offerings, and it’s a good one. At a glance, it has that characteristic Fish Mate look, with the token green plastic (always surprisingly unobtrusive in the bottom of a pond) and an exterior design that isn’t unnecessarily frilly. I mean, it’s going in to the bottom of a pond to clean up sludge — I don’t need designer insignia and ergonomic connection points.
The design and function mimics a lot of the in-pond filters currently available. There’s a large straining surface area (great for removing solid particles of waste), a long fountain stem (mine stretches comfortably to a total length of almost 50cm with tap and rose fountain head attached). Combine that with the (roughly) 12cm tall filter depth, and you’ve got something that’ll both filter and give you a fountain effect in a 60cm deep pool. Unless you stand it on something, of course.
The pump is capable of shifting 1,200 lph and is rated for a pond of between 500 –1000 l, based on a stocking level of 15cm of fish per 500 l of water and depending on whether the pond is in the shade or full sun — 500 l in full sun with 15cm of fish or 1000 l in the shade with a maximum stocking level of 30cm of fish. I found the information on the packaging a tad confusing here, as elsewhere on the box it states that it is only recommended for a 500 l pond in either case. On contacting PetMate to clarify, they agreed that that this could cause confusion and would look at this when the carton was next reprinted.
Either way, the flow to the fountain can be controlled via a ‘purge’ style valve that will also lead off to a waterfall if necessary.
There’s a gutsy 11W UV tucked up inside, which isn’t the easiest thing to get inside, but then none of these designs ever are. As a big plus point, the pump and UV separate easily, meaning you can get inside the pump to the impeller and clean it (a feature that’s actually omitted in at least one rival model). It’s one of the easiest to clean I’ve met so far.
Either charmingly or annoyingly (pending your stance) the 5000 S-UV requires two power sources, one for UV and one for the pump, but there’s a good reason for this, as Fish Mate explain: “Given that in most smaller ponds, this will be the only filtration, we decided to offer the option of keeping the biological filter alive and the pond aerated even if the UV is turned off. As you are aware, most medications and blanketweed treatments require that the UV is turned off, as do filter maturation products containing active bio cultures. Many fish retailers recommend a prophylactic treatment when adding new fish and again it is important not to lose biological filtration at this time.”
Personally I’d prefer just one cable and a switch option, but hey.
Media wise, there’s lashings of coarse foam, and what turns out to be inert quartz chippings innet bags. Fish Mate tells me that this is to provide some extra weight to stop the unit toppling in winds — which makes sense, to be fair. Accessing it all is as easy as unfastening two click-fit retainers and removing the top panel — you’ll need to pull off the fountain stem for this, too.
Four different fountain heads come as standard: bell, column, plume and tiered. There’s a three-year warranty as standard, and a clearwater guarantee — as long as the device is used in accordance with the instructions.
It’s not going to reinvent the way we keep ponds, but it’s a good contender in a somewhat niche area of pond filtering. The 5000 S-UV is rugged and reliable, and pretty easy to use, too.
Ease of use: 4/5
Value for money: 4/5
Overall score: 4/5
Price: Currently on offer from the Fish Mate website for £132.23 (usual RRP £264.43).
More info: www.fishmate.co.uk