EcoTech Marine - Revolutionary Technology for Aquariums

The Glassbox

“The most impressive part of the MP20 is the flow it generates. The wide output creates strong, but gentle flow throughout the entire tank. Even more impressive are the “under currents” generated by the large open intake of the pump.”

Among advanced hobbyists there is a staunch divide among “stream” style pumps- Vortech or Tunze. The forum discussions on these two are likely the fiercest of any equipment items, and may induce flash backs of the BB v DSB and Zeovit debates.

We have always been partial to Tunzes. They work and as previously mentioned we are comfortable with them. Even with the few issues we’ve had with our Nanostreams, due to the length of time we’ve used Tunze products it seemed to normalize any negative emotion.

coral-8Vortech’s always appealed to us. They are an innovative design with no cords in the tank … but we had what we thought was the crème de la crème, why switch? When the chance arose to review EcoTech’s latest offering the Vortech MP20, we jumped on the opportunity to see what these unique pumps could really do.

Among advanced hobbyists there is a staunch divide among “stream” style pumps- Vortech or Tunze. The forum discussions on these two are likely the fiercest of any equipment items, and may induce flash backs of the BB v DSB and Zeovit debates.

We have always been partial to Tunzes. They work and as previously mentioned we are comfortable with them. Even with the few issues we’ve had with our Nanostreams, due to the length of time we’ve used Tunze products it seemed to normalize any negative emotion.

Vortech’s always appealed to us. They are an innovative design with no cords in the tank … but we had what we thought was the crème de la crème, why switch? When the chance arose to review EcoTech’s latest offering the Vortech MP20, we jumped on the opportunity to see what these unique pumps could really do.

As you can see above there are two pieces to the pump. The wet frame sits in the tank and the motor outside. By moving the motor to the outside two things are achieved: there are no cords in the tank and no added heat directly to the water. Many of you know how much I dislike sloppy electrical cords, the two piece design is clean and simple.

Installation is quick and painless. The wet frame came pre-assembled. All we needed to do is clean the glass and adjust the pin spacer. When working with the magnets I was initially afraid of loosing a finger or two, but the pin spacer prevents this. To adjust the pin spacer you just remove it and set it to the appropriate glass thickness. In our case 1/2″.

The controller or driver is simple to use and aesthetically attractive. A quick skim through the instruction manual and you will be able to fine tune each operation mode to your liking. Shown in the diagram below, the frequency of Short Pulse and Long Pulse can be adjusted and saved to create chaotic flow and even waves.

Currently we have it on Reef Crest Random (Yellow) mode which creates plenty of motion in the tank. A graph below shows the Lagoon Random and Reef Crest Random modes, click to enlarge. From the random flow, fish activity seems to have increased. This is most noticed in our Green Chromis, Chromis viridis.

Smaller fish, such as our small Onyx Perculas, do not always appreciate the powerful currents at night, but thankfully the MP20 has a built in night mode that reduces flow to 50% of the max speed for day time use. Once set the pumps internal timer will allow for 14 hrs of day time flow and 10 hrs of the 50% night flow. In addition to this, there is also a 10 min feed mode.

The most impressive part of the MP20 is the flow it generates. The wide output creates strong, but gentle flow throughout the entire tank. Even more impressive are the “under currents” generated by the large open intake of the pump.

The pump is placed up high, a total distance of 20″ from the bottom and it is the first pump I have owned that by itself has completely suspended all detritus from the bottom of the tank. As we are bare bottom (no substrate) this is extremely important and means we no longer have to perform daily maintenance to remove accumulated detritus. It is a testament to the literal currents generated by the MP20. As it ramps up in the random modes there is a visible undertow and turn over in the tank.

Some past comments made towards the Vortech are in regard to placement. The unique magnetic design does not allow the pump to be angled, but given the extremely wide dispersed flow we personally see no need or desire to angle or adjust the pump.

Based on early MP40 model comments we were a bit concerned about the noise level, however, we are happy to report that the MP20 is very quiet. The MP20 has the ability to upgrade to the MP40 by replacing the driver. Logically, this leads us to believe the MP20 has the same motor as the MP40, just running at fewer RPMs which translate to quieter operation. To hear the pump, we literally must stick our ear inches away to catch the faint hum of the RPMs changing based on the operational mode.

Conservatively rated by Ecotech Marine for 20-70 gallons, we have been completely caught off guard by the MP20 on our 90g reef. It will be difficult to convince us to use another stream style pump for some time. Here’s why:

  • No cords in the tank
  • Strong controllable flow
  • Variety of Operational Modes
  • Quiet
  • Feed and Night modes
  • Easy cleaning

This has been one of the best additions we have made to the glassbox. Now we must decide, another MP20 or add an MP40? If anyone is interested in some used Tunze Nanostreams you have a seller.

Source: http://glassbox-design.com/2008/review-ecotech-marine-vortech-mp20/