Category Archives: Equipment

Hydor Koralia Nano Review

I have used several powerheads over the course of the last two years. When I upgraded a 20 gallon fish tank of mine to a 40 gallon breeder, it became apparent to me that the current, rather small powerhead I had in use wouldn’t cut it. While reading reviews and looking at price tags of different powerheads, I stumbled across the Hydor’s Koralia line of powerheads.

Hydro Koralia powerheads are a little bit different compared to conventional powerheads, as they use a propeller to push water, not the usual impeller. This design gives off more of an indirect flow of water, instead of the normal direct stream given off by usual powerheads.

The Koralia Nano line (Hydor Koralia powerheads, only “nano”) has models with flow rates of either 240GPH or 425GPH and range in price from $20-28 a pop.

For my 40 gallon breeder, I purchased the 425GPH model. Like all other Koralias, the powerhead uses a combination of vibration cancelling suction cups and in/out of tank sandwich magnets to attach to the glass of a fish tank. Because of this, I have heard very little noise out of my Nano, which is virtually silent overall.

The flow rate of the Koralia is great, and has stayed consistent throughout its use. So far the only problem I have had has to do with the small ball found at the end of the powerhead. This ball is inserted into the a small hole found in the in-tank sandwich magnet/suction cup. This little ball n’ cup joint is what allows one to easily adjust the position of the powerhead. Over time however, the little ball has bent considerably, and has threatened to break on me. As long as I do not take the powerhead and magnet apart however, it should stay intact.

All in all, Hydor Koralia Nano powerheads are a great buy, due to their cheap pricing, overall quality and indirect flow.

Tom Aquarium Products Internal Filter Review


Filtering nano aquariums has always been a problem for me personally. Either I had too much flow, or too little filtration. This was one of the problems I had when finding a filter for my 2.5g betta (Betta splendens) tank. This is where the Tom Aquarium Products Internal Filter comes in. I bought this filter for $15 at a large chain petstore. The filter boasts a circulation rate of 45 gallons per hour, though, thanks to a small fail-proof mechanism in the filter catridge, it is adjustable. The filter comes in two main parts: The head/pump and the filter cartridge. The cartridge is a small perforated plastic box made out of flimsy plastic that is filled with filter foam, and a very small compartment of activated carbon. The cartridge attaches to the bottom of the head. At the top of the head, there is an output hole. This is where one can place one of the two included output attachment. The two attachments are a smaller spray bar and a V-shaped tube. These allow one to play with the configuration of the water flow around the tank (ie, more surface agitation, less flow, etc). One can clean and customize the media inside the cartridge. When one breaks/wears out however, three packs of new cartridge are available online and at certain chain petstores.

The filter as a whole is decent in the beginning. Unfortunately, over time, it clogs very easily. Also, the way that the cartridge attaches to the head is rather shifty, as it is way to easy to take apart (at least, in my opinion).

Final Thoughts

Although the price and output attachments are appealing, the filter on a whole does not operate well, do to excessive clogging and lack of decent media. I do not recommend this product for long-term use. For a quick quarantine tank use, definitely.






Hydor ETH Inline Heater Review

Ever wanted your tank to have a cleaner look? So that when you look into your aquarium, you see plants and fish, and not a honking filter and heater? Well combine a canister filter with a Hydor Inline heater, and your problem is solved!

One thing about inline heaters kinda flummoxed me for a while, what does inline mean! Well simply put, inline means that you attach it in place of some of your canister filter’s tubing. This means that water, after going through your canister goes through the heating element of the heater. This means that instead of having a big Stealth heater taking up space in your tank, you can have a Hydor take much less in your stand! The Hydor ETH also heats your aquarium much more evenly when compared to in tank heaters which heat only the small portion of water that it comes into contact with.


The heater itself is positioned inside a black and blue plastic case, with a very easy to read temperature changing knob. The heater also sports a small red light that turns on whenever the heater is doing its job.

I have had my Hydor (200w, 5/8″ input version) for about two month, and I have been loving every second of it! My aquariums water stays at a very consistent 73* Fahrenheit, which is what I have it set to.

Hydor sells several different version of the ETH inline heater, all of which vary in wattage and input/output size. When buying, remember to purchase the version that not only has the proper wattage for you tank, but also has the right input/output tubing size as your canister!

Budget wise, the heater is not very expensive, usually running a solid $40-50 depending on where you buy.

In all, I highly recommend the Hydor ETH inline heater for its solid performance, no in-tank space and price!

"SunSun" HW-302 Canister Filter Review – aka Ebay Canister


Ever wanted a nice piece of equipment that wouldn’t break the budget? One could do a tank with knockoff filters and heaters for very cheap. But as always, “You get what you pay for.” Or do you? After reading several positive reviews for the “SunSun” HW-302 canister aquarium filter from Ebay, I decided to break the ice and not my budget. Before I tell you about the canister, I need to fill you in on where you can get  it, and where it is manufactured. The reason the brand name “SunSun” is in quotes, is because the brand changes. Some people will order the same filter for the same price as another person, but when they both get them, one will be by “SunSun” or Perfect or a host of others. You still get the same filter, just different “brands”. The filter itself is manufactured in Asia, and has about the same design as the Marineland C-series filter and the JBJ filter. It has even been speculated that they are made in the same factories. Though, that is rather far-fetched in my opinion. On to the review!

First Impressions

About a week after buying the “SunSun” HW-302 for a whopping total of $46 shipped to my door, I got the package in the mail. The filter box was wrapped in a large layer of bubble wrapping and was inside another box, larger box for shipping. Everything arrived in tact and in great condition. Setup is fairily easy, as long as you have prior canister filter experience. This is due to the fact that the instructions are in “Engrish” (aka very bad Chinese, English). This is why I recommend reading up on canisters before you set the 302 up. Like any canister knowing how to set it up will save you time, tears, and the pain of cleaning your wet floor. Anyway, included with the filters itself are three baskets for media, three rather thin plastic floss pads, a couple of feet of green 5/8in tubing, inflow with optional surface skimmer (a great thing to have, especially in ripariums. Surface scum gone in a snap!), double, quick disconnect, and a two piece spray bar. The in and out flows are black and very easy to hid. There construction is pretty good. Maybe just a little flimsy when compared to the concrete EHEIM in/outflows, but they serve their purpose  very well. The media containers are not built the best, and can fit rather snuggly, but they work and provide plenty of space for all media.

Now to the canister. The canister is white with blue and grey accents. The canisters head has a large “press-to-prime” prime button that is very easy and effective, for at least the first time. The quick disconnects use two rotating heads to which the tubing is attached. To stop the flow through the filter, simply pull and a lever and you’re done! The filter is on the quiet side, but in my case not dead quiet. Several others “SunSun” users report that their HW-302’s are dead quiet. Even quieter than an EHEIM Classic. All in all, it is quiet, but not silent. The flow rate for the HW-302 is advertised at 265GPH, which is about right when it is filled with media. To secure the filter head to the canister the filter uses four “locks” so to speak that highly resemble those used on Fluval canister filters. 

Cleaning wise, my waters is crystal clear. I have this baby on my 40g breeder with a Hydor inline heater, and it is great. The flow rate is rather low for my setup, but with the addition of a powerhead, everything is great.

Final Thoughts

All in all, the “SunSun” HW-302 canister filter is a decent buy. Great if you want a good canister filter that won’t break the bank! Click here  if you would like to check these babys out!

Riparium Supply Review: New Nano Trellis Raft

Riaprium Supply has recently come out with a new type (or design) of Nano Trellis Rafts. Now I dont mean to kick dirt at the original (which is a great product), but the new Nano Trellis Rafts are a great improvement on the originals. For starters, they take up much less space in a riparium because of their curved design. As you can see in the second picture, they almost ‘hug’ the planters. They are also very easy to hid using plants, and are great for plants like Pilea cardieri, and
Bacopa sp. plants.

Picture Courtesy of Riparium Supply

Picture Courtesy of Riparium Supply

In the case of large heavy plants, you can attach small puzzle piece floats to the side of the rafts which give these them more buoyancy. The rafts measure 4 1/2-inches wide in the smaller version, but a larger version for bigger tanks may be available soon.

All in all, Riparium Supply has yet again out done themselves with this great product.

How to Setup a Riparium Planter

The entire riparium planting system is based on one piece of equipment: The riparian planter. These planters are the backbone of any riparium display tank as they often hold the center piece and more prominent emersed plants. With all that in mind, you want to setup those planters right, wouldn’t you? In this article, I will show you how to setup a Riparium Supply planter and how to position it in a display.

To start, let me show you a list of what materials you are going to need.

  • Riparium Supply Planter (with suction cups if needed)
  • Planting substrate (ie, Flourite, aquarium gravel, Riparium Supply Planter Gravel, etc)
  • Expanded clay pebbles (optional, but highly recommended)
  • Mineralized top soil (optional)
  • A prepared riparium plant
  • Back plastic screen

 Now, remember, different plants grow in different enviroments, right? Some grow in swamps, other on the edges of rocky rivers. With this in mind, we can deduce that some plants prefer different planting mediums. We can take this into account when planting a new specimen. Often a little experimenting won’t hurt either.

To start, thoroughly clean the planter, planting substrate and clay pebbles with warm water. This will remove any residues or dust and keep them from clouding up the water in your aquarium. Next, if your model requires, attach the suction cups to the back of the planter. After this is completed, put the black plastic screen into the planter and push it up flat against the back. The plastic screen keeps the gravel from falling out suction cup holes founding the back of the planter. Now comes the real planting. Fill the bottom of the planter with 2-3” of expanded clay pebbles (give or take depending on plant). Now, you are probably thinking in, “What are ’expanded clay pebbles?!’” Well that is a good question. They are a readily used in the hydroponics industry for several reasons: expanded clay has a high CEC rating (they can absorb and then release lots of nutrients) and they provide a good planting medium while keeping the flow of water around the roots high. This medium is usually included with the purchase of a Riparium Supply planter. After the clay pebbles are in, put a small layer of your planting substrate over the pebbles. There are many planting substrate choices. I recommend Riparium Supply’s Planter Gravel, but any aquarium gravel will usually work. Now put the prepared riparium plant in the planter on top of the substrates. (By prepared, I mean cleared of any insects with its roots trimmed to about 1”). The leaves of the plant should be above the rim of the planter. If they aren’t, put more gravel in to give the planter a bit of a “boost.” Also, take not that if the plant happens to have a rhizome it is a good idea to make sure that the rhizome is above the gravel in the planter or else it may rot. Once the plant is in and positioned properly, fill up the rest of the planter with your chosen planting substrate. Be sure to push down lightly on the gravel to compact it so that the plant doesn’t break free of the substrate. Congratulations, you have just setup your first riparium planter.

If you didn’t notice, there was no mention of putting any sort of fertilizer into the planter. This should be done later, as refraining from adding fertilizers to the planter often causes the plant to produce a large root system in search of nutrients. This root system establishes the plant in the planter and keeps it from falling over.

I hope everything made sense. It is all pretty straight forward and easy as you can tell.

Lighting a Riparium

A T5HO hydroponics light fixture hung above a 20gH riparium

There are many many choices out there for lighting a planted aquarium, but finding a light for a riparium can be a problem. First off, some riparium plants (like peace lillys) grow quit tall, so unless you have a very tall tank you are going to need some out of tank space for the plants to grow into. Second, the Rafts and other riparium material will greatly decrease the amount of light getting to the aquatic plants, so having a strong light is a must if you would like aquatic plants. Probably the best way to light a riparium, is to hang a strong light fixture, like a T5HO fixture, above the tank. This can be done many different ways. Some make metal pipe stands that stretch above and over the tank with the light hung by a chain which is attached to the piping, while others attach chains to the ceiling above the tank and then hang the fixture from said chain. Cheap, easily hung T5HO fixtures can be obtained at many online hydroponic stores like Paradigm Gardens.

For lighting my 20gH riparium, (see picture above) I drilled a piece of 2X4 wood into the ceiling. I then drilled two C-hooks on to either side of the wood and attached jack link chain to both hooks. The chain was then attach to the hooks that the manufacturer had added on to either side of the fixture. It doesn’t look the best, but it works!