The Portal review

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Nathan Hill gets up close with a huge magnifying glass that could prove especially popular with coral specialists.

"What use have I for a gigantic eye?" That was my first thought when I examined the Portal. As it is I must already be an alarming sight for the fish in my tank without this nightmarish huge iris glaring down at them.

The Portal took a few minutes to grow on me, after I’d spent a while turning it over in my hands and wondering "why?"

In essence it’s a huge magnifying glass and you’d have to be a pretty hardcore marine enthusiast to want one — or a photographer looking for great close-up shots without spending many hundreds of pounds on macro lenses.

However, the real beauty of the Portal lies in how it can be used by retailers. Any store with pride in uber-quality corals will want one of these to show just how good its stock is.

The idea is that you can inspect corals prior to purchase, having a magnified scan at a distance that doesn’t physically involve interfering with corals. As such, any acro bugs or other invertebrate blight won’t have had due warning to scarper and should be clearly visible.

The model I’m playing with has the shorter of two lenses. Turning my attention to various objects, I can get a decent focus up to a distance of about 50cm/20”, but after that it gets a bit hazy. This may be down to my eyes, which are rubbish at best, but up to that distance detail is incredibly good.

The longer lens gives much more, so I’m told, but isn’t as much use over shorter viewing distances.

Both lenses are easy enough to change over, being held in place with a detachable ring.

To make life easier, the Portal connects to the tank via a magnetic holder. Think algae magnet, as this is what it doubles for, and clean the inner glass as you move the lens around on the outside.

Given the price tag, this will be something of a luxury rather than necessity, but I suspect that stores selling corals, as well as public aquaria, will buy these in by the bucketload.

Price: £84.95 from Reef-Eden-International.

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