Review: Fluval Reef M60 aquarium

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Levi Major checks out this attractive new reef tank from Rolf C. Hagen.

It’s good…

The boffins at Hagen have put their heads together to offer us the Fluval Reef aquarium that comprises an attractive two-tone cabinet topped with a frosted rim frame aquarium equipped with the majority of items you’ll need to create a successful marine reef.

The Fluval Reef M60 comes in two boxes, the second of which contains the flat-packed cabinet. Those a little weary of DIY should not fret, as the cabinet is very straightforward and easily assembled in less than half hour.

When built, you will see that it is very sturdy and somewhat elegant in its design.

The main goodies are found with the aquarium in box one. The 91 l (24 US gal) aquarium itself has been specifically designed with an integrated rear compartment (23 l or 6 US gal) that discreetly houses a Fluval Sea protein skimmer and submersible M-series heater in addition to an integrated drain valve designed to permit convenient water changes by connecting to a simple valve system inside the cabinet.

Water movement through the rear compartment is handled by a near-silent circulation pump that pulls circa ten times the total system volume through the rear compartment per hour for a mere 7w. Additional flow within the aquarium is provided via the circulation pump, which offers a further 1,600 litres per hour of a stream type flow for a mere 4w of power!

Lighting is provided by the Marine and Reef Performance LED lamp that features six unique LED bandwidths including essential actinic blue wavelengths to provide full spectrum coverage suitable for all but the most demanding of coral species. The slim light unit fits neatly to the top rim of the aquarium, and despite punching in a lot of light, there is very little, if any, heat transfer from the unit to the water of the aquarium.

The icing on the cake is offered by the acid-etched edges to the aquarium that neatly hide the water level in the display, prevents light strike as you view the aquarium and hides the edge on view of the substrate layer, as well as the rear compartment.

But…

Despite being an attractive, compact and well-built aquarium supplied with quality equipment at an affordable price, I still have several issues with this aquarium.

Although the cabinet is attractive and sturdy, there is no access for the power cables, which accordingly forces the owner to either stand the aquarium away from the wall to allow the cables to hang down the back or to have the power cables trailing down to one side of the aquarium. To me the latter would have been the preferred option; however, the cable length on either the skimmer or the circulation pump is only long enough to reach half way to the floor depending on which side you decide to locate your power supply. A simple hole in the back of the cabinet would have overcome any such issues and allowed the user to locate the electrics away from the risk of accidental splashes!

The key selling point for this system lies in the introduction of the rear compartment with its integrated drain feature. Firstly, the partitioning of the rear compartment appears somewhat pointless with the baffles acting as no more than stiffeners rather than compartmentalising the rear compartment and controlling the water flow dynamics, as one would do with a sump.

As the aquarium stands, water enters the rear compartment on the left hand side of the tank where it encounters the skimmer. From here, water then flows through the top of the next baffle to where the heater is housed and again through the top of the next baffle to the final compartment where the return circulation pump and integrated drain are located. Granted, water flows freely through the rear compartment; however, as the baffles have not been arranged to alternate between an under and over flow through the rear compartment, the first two compartments permit settlement of detritus, which firstly defeats the object of having a drain in the last compartment as very little detritus makes it to here, and it’s quite awkward to get in and clean the first two compartments.

That brings us onto the all-important integrated drain. It is designed to allow a water change without dropping the water level in the display, which sounds great but as outlined above, very little detritus has been observed to make it into the final compartment in the rear chamber, thus the aquarist still has to get out their siphon to clear detritus from chambers one and two, as well as any within the main display. This not only makes the drain seem somewhat pointless in its current configuration, but also means that any maintenance within the display poses the risk of splashing water all down the sides of the aquarium and potentially over your electrics because the water level in the display is held too high for maintenance purposes and your electrics cannot be placed within the cabinet out of harm’s way.

Equipment wise, there is very little to complain about as Hagen knows how to produce quality equipment; however, I do foresee an issue with the skimmer 12 months down the line. On first glance, it appears the skimmer is a great little design and it has certainly proven to be relatively quiet and performs quite well. The issue I have is with the clips that hold the two halves of the skimmer body together. These clips need a fair amount of force to install and being plastic in saltwater will become brittle and easily breakable; this, however, is only my personal 'gut' feeling.

The verdict

Having visited all my local fish stores to see what other aquariums are available, it is clear that the Fluval Reef M60 is one of the best looking and well-equipped aquariums for its price and size. On the whole, the build quality is superb and the aesthetics are sure to suit the majority of homes.

My only reservations lie in the fact that to run this aquarium long-term I will need to drill the cabinet to allow me to get the plugs out of sight and away from my splashing. I will probably have to ditch the supplied cover over compartments two and three to relocate the skimmer to compartment two to permit mechanical filtration in compartment one. And, given that it turns out I have no real use for the integrated drain, I may just use this as the intake to a canister filter or other closed loop system.

Pros:

  • Attractive and affordable.
  • Complete with the majority of required equipment.
  • Easy to set up and get going.

Cons:

  • No access to cabinet for electrics.
  • Poorly thought through rear compartment.
  • Water change system could be better.

Price: £479.99. More info at www.fluvalaquatics.com

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