Vortech MP10 review

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Jeremy Gay reviews the Vortech MP10 marine aquarium flow pump - a product he says could change the way we look at aquarium pumps.

The highly-anticipated VorTech MP10 has finally been released in the UK. This is the smallest and latest model in a range of three marine pumps from American manufacturer Ecotech Marine.

Its larger brothers, the MP20 and MP40w, have been around for some time and have proved  incredibly popular, literally changing the way we think about pumps and the way we deliver water flow in the reef tank.

So what’s different about a VorTech pump? Several key factors make them different to anything seen before.

Firstly, it is fastened to the glass via a magnet fitting, though uniquely the pump motor and body remain stuck on the outside in the dry, with only the impeller, or in this case the propeller, on the inside and in the water.

This means you see less of the pump in the tank when viewing, making for a more pleasing vista, but also because the motor is outside the tank, the electrics are outside the tank.

There are no cables inside the tank and with the pump motor being external, no heat is released into the tank - a major benefit.

Control functions

The key function we expect from a modern circulation pump however, apart from wide, powerful flow, is control - and the MP10 has it available in abundance. Choose from short pulse, long pulse, reef crest, lagoon, constant, feed, pump disconnect and night modes.

Short pulse turns the pump on and off, as you might expect, yet you can control the frequency of the pulse to get it right for you. Adjust it, set it and it will pulse at your preference for evermore.

Short pulse can also be used to create a proper wave in the tank with strong undertow - a useful feature that drags detritus across the tank and helps to prevent slime algae - but you also get the visual appeal of swaying corals and your fish, and your water, swaying in the tank too.

Long pulse is longer as you might expect, but it also fades the power in and out to create a softer pulse. Again, its adjustable in frequency and you can set it and leave it.

Reef crest mode follows a pre-programmed pattern of chaotic flow designed to mimic the flow patterns on the top of the reef - definitely one for the SPS hobbyists.

This is probably my favourite mode at the moment as I am trying out an SPS tank and have a high rocky outcrop I consider my reef crest just a few inches below the surface. Blast chaotic flow over that with SPS securely glued in place and you have a great habitat. I’m sure I’ve noticed SPS polyps moving that I hadn’t noticed before.

Adjusting flow

Lagoon mode is slower and more gentle, lending itself to LPS corals, seahorse or seagrass tanks, and with both lagoon and reef crest settings you can manually adjust flow so the whole programme runs on less flow and wattage.

Constant sets the pump to work with no alternation in flow strength, though that itself is adjustable so you could have constant flow on any output from the pump’s minimum to maximum flow rate.

With all those options flow is well taken care of and from one small pump I reckon that in tanks up to 150 l/33 gal you won’t need anything else, as even with the pump on full whack you are achieving 40 times turnover per hour.

Aquarium volume recommendations are 9.46- 189.27 litres, which converts to 2.2-42 gallons. Flow rates are adjustable from 757-59,62 lph, or 166-1311 gph.

Got a nano and getting scared about that much flow? It’s all about how that flow is delivered. With an outlet delivering as broad as this the old ten times and even 20 times flow recommendations go completely out of the window.

The natural reef is all about water movement at all levels and this pump definitely delivers.

Vital statistics

Appropriate aquarium size: 10-190 l/2.2 -42 gal.

Energy consumption: 8-18w.

Maximum aquarium glass thickness: 10mm/0.4”

Dimensions: Wet side, 6.5cm/2.6” diameter by 4cm/1.6” long. Dry side, 6cm/2.4” diameter by 5cm/2” long.

Clearance needed behind aquarium: 6cm/2.4”

Output: 757-5962 lph.

Watts per litre: 94-331w/litre.

Features: Eight operational modes, including feed, constant speed, reef crest, lagoon, short pulse, long pulse, night and pump disconnect.

Extras: Compatible with VorTech Battery Back-up (sold separately).

The Verdict

The larger MP20 and MP40w are already legendary and I am sure that this smaller model will follow in their footsteps. Pumps are eyesores in reef tanks and VorTechs go a long way to removing such essential equipment from the line of sight.

It is powerful for its size, efficient, and the program modes make you wonder why all circulation pumps aren’t more like these.

The nano people have never had it so good, with TMC 1000HD lights and this superb little pump, one light and one pump will be all you need for a top spec little tank.

At £179.99 it’s not cheap, but compares well when you consider the controller that comes with it and although it costs a lot more than the average circulation pump with similar flow, it does a lot more.

Cramming all those features and design into such a small size was never going to be cheap.

Do you go for this or the Tunze Turbelle nano stream 6055 plus a controller? I cannot decide. The Tunze is quieter, with that lovely ball joint direction, yet the MP10 comes with controller, has no cables in the tank, less pump casing visible in the tank, is less money than the 6055, plus has an equivalent controller. In the name of progress, take the VorTech MP10!

Product: VorTech MP10

Price: £179.99

Reviewer: Jeremy Gay

Rating: 4/5

More info: Distributed by ITC Aquatics, 07970 109797.

Good

  • Powerful, adjustable flow.
  • Programmable with eight pre-sets.
  • No electrics, cables or heat in tank.
  • Small and compact.

Bad

  • You can hear it running at full power.
  • No directional movement, other than repositioning. The flow is very wide though.
  • May cost more than the tank itself.

This article was first published in the November 2009 issue of Practical Fishkeeping. It may not be reproduced without written permission.