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New Addition to Pond

May 31st, 2015

This weekend I added capacity to my raised brick pond. I had been toying with the idea for years of adding a container above the pond that would circulate water back into it. Here’s what I ended up with:


New whiskey barrel above pond

I found a fake resin whiskey barrel at Costco, and drilled it in three places to install bulkheads. I have a more decorative spout on the side, and an input line directly in the center that feeds water from the pond through a fountain head, and into the barrel. As an extra safety, I also installed a standpipe to handle any overflow situations.


The pump in my pond is pretty strong so it turns out that the standpipe is the main outlet for water leaving the barrel. I made sure to use twice the diameter piping and tubing so it can handle a lot of outflow.


As you can see above the water returns via a hose and the faucet. On the pond side, I had to install a bulkhead to allow me to plumb a simple elbow up into the bottom of the barrel. I also installed a ball valve allowing me to regulate the flow into the barrel if need be.


Right now I’m just floating from Acmella repens which I hope will trail over the side of the container. I also dropped in an iris. I’d love to hear feedback, particularly on the plumbing as I’ve never done this before and would love to avoid any obvious problems going forward.

Oh, and in the pond, I’m keeping Vietnamese White Clouds and Endlers this year.

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EcoQube C: New AquaPonics Filter on KickStarter

April 7th, 2015


Aquarium Design Innovations is out with a new iteration of their EcoQube line, the EcoQube C, a desktop ecosystem that uses basil to filter the water. And for a very short time, they’re offering early backers of their kickstarter compaign the EcoQube C for just $39 — that’s half of their normal $79 retail price!


The desktop aquarium is designed to be a complete ecosystem for your home or office. The basil filter removes waste from the fish, a UV lamp sterilizes the water, and a full-spectrum LED keeps all of the plants growing. Compared to a normal filtration cycle that uses bacteria to convert ammonia into nitrate, which can then cause algae growth, the EcoQube’s filter uses basil to remove the nitrate altogether.


ADI’s goal is simple:

“Aquaponics is a clear solution to address many issues of water and food shortages all over the world and we hope the EcoQube can help bring this incredible yet simple solution into our everyday lives and influence the way we perceive the larger issues in the world today. We know there are these horrific things happening but we’ve been so disconnected with our environment and the negative impacts we make with our everyday decisions.”

Kickstarter is all about backers – the more backers ADI gets on the first day, the more it will help them reach their goal. So even if you don’t want an EcoQube of your own, but you support ADI and their mission, donating $1 will help them tremendously. So please go to their campaign and back them!

Learn more about the EcoQube C at www.aquaponicsfilter.com

Support ADI by backing their kickstarter here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kevinzl/1902509544?token=c8c86f74

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Aquavas Updated Photo

March 7th, 2015

Here’s an updated photo of my Aquavas aquarium after doing some trimming and a water change today.


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Interview on Home Aquaria

March 1st, 2015

I was recently interviewed on HomeAquaria.com, and my recent AquaVas blog was reposted there. Take a moment to check it out!

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An Evolution of the Remote Control LED Fixtures

February 16th, 2015

Two years ago, I reviewed Current USA’s hit LED fixture, the Satellite Freshwater LED+, one of the first reasonably priced configurable LED fixtures to come on the market. Now, Current and Ecoxotic have released the next generation of this product line with the Satellite LED+ Pro and the E-Series LED lights.

Satellite LED+ Pro

Current Satellite LED+ Pro

Current’s Satellite LED+ Pro light is an evolutionary jump from the LED+ model. For starters, they include a ramp timer right in the box. Now, you can easily program the on/off times, and the timer will automatically simulate a 15 minute sunrise and sunset at those times. The sunrise and sunset transitions are very smooth with none of the flashing that could sometimes occur in the previous generation’s LED+ and ramp timer products. The IR-port is now integrated directly into the controller/timer unit, so you don’t need a separate IR receptor.

The light still has the same wonderful color output control with four presets of Sunlight (6500k), Full Spectrum (all on), Crisp Blue (10,000k), and Deep Water. Each of these modes tend to have lots of white light augmented by varying amounts of red/green/blue LEDs to create the slight color variations. Each are fully customizable, and they’ve included four programmable buttons; two completely custom (M1 and M2), and two convenience buttons for daylight and moonlight. Just like the previous model, the Satellite LED+ Pro has 8 dynamic modes allowing you to jump to moonlight, thunderstorm, cloud cover, and color fade presets. Unfortunately, you still cannot incorporate any of the dynamic modes into your custom programs or regular schedule.

Satellite LED+ Pro Remote

Setting up the Satellite LED+ Pro is extremely simple. The light, controller, and power supply all connect with water resistant connectors, and they give you plenty of cable to place the controller with velcro (included) wherever is convenient. The remote looks very familiar to current Satellite LED+ users, but they have added a few buttons to aide in the programming of the unit. Programming is a breeze, utilizing the Set Clock button to set your local time, and Hour+ and Minute+ buttons to configure the on/off times, which also have their own dedicated buttons. I was up and running with an 8-hour photo period in less than 5 minutes!

The performance of the light is also improved with the LED+ Pro. In a side-by-side comparison of the 36″ LED+ and LED+ Pro lights on my 50G aquarium, I found the following PAR numbers using an Apogee Quantum Flux MQ-200 meter:

Surface 140 75
8″ 80 40
15″ 30 21

As you can see, the output is just about double that of it’s predecessor. Overall, I’d qualify the Satellite LED+ Pro as an excellent medium output light from a company that is obviously interested in continuing to improve an already solid consumer offering.

Ecoxotic E-Series Full Spectrum LED

Ecoxotic E-Series LED

Ecoxotic produces equipment targeted at the higher-end consumer, and this focus is evident in their E-Series light. Functionally, the E-Series LED is almost identical to the LED+ Pro described above. However, they do sell an optional hanging kit allowing you to easily combine multiple units and suspend them over your tank as shown below.

Ecoxotic E-Series Hanging Kit

They simplified the remote control slightly by combining the dynamic modes into four distinct modes, but still cover moonlight, thunderstorm with lightning, cloud cover, and color fade. At first glance, the E-Series LED could easily be confused with the Current product, as they have very similar housing, controller with built-in IR receptor, power supply, and remote. The main visual difference is the logo on the remote control. Otherwise, the big differentiator is the the performance!

Ecoxotic E-Series Remote

The E-Series has the same ramp-up timer and four programmable modes as the LED+ Pro. The color variability is the same offering sunlight, full spectrum, crisp blue, and deep water presets with the option to customize the color mixing however you please. The PAR output, however, is significantly higher on the Ecoxotic:

Depth Ecoxotic E-Series Current LED+ Pro PAR
Surface 250 140
8″ 115 80
15″ 60 30

Just like the LED+ to LED+ Pro, the Ecoxotic E-Series LED light is roughly double that of the LED+ Pro, or four times the original LED+ model. I typically say that if you can get 60 PAR at the substrate, you’re going to be able to grow just about any plant in the hobby. I am also a big believer in having just enough light in your aquarium, but no more, to simplify the balancing of light, nutrients, and CO2. I think the Ecoxotic E-Series LED fixture has found this sweet spot for 18-20″ tall aquariums, while allowing significant customization at a price point lower than many high-end competitors.


The integrated timer, IR receiver, and consistent functionality make both the Current Satellite LED+ Pro and Ecoxotic E-Series LED lights solid products on the market. The color output of both is tremendous, and the increased PAR output means that these lights are usable in medium and high light situations, and I would recommend highly for these uses.



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