Best Wave Controller For Nano Reef

Most houses with kids would have most definitely had an aquarium at one point or are still having aquariums from that point in life. The excitement with having an aquarium, buying and letting fishes into the said aquarium, the weekly cleaning that follow suit and the ornaments put into the aquarium to make the fishes feel at home are indeed sweet and memorable. As the kids grow, their interest in the fishes and aquariums might dwindle off or might magnify into a passion. In the case of waning interest, these aquariums go into stores and kept as storage tank for household items. But, in the case of magnifying passion these aquariums are replaced with reef aquarium. In this article, we will look at one part of reef aquarium, namely the best nano wave controller.


What is a reef aquarium

For starters, reef aquarium is also known as reef tank. A reef tank is a marine aquarium that displays not only fishes, but live corals and other marine invertebrates as well. A reef aquarium requires appropriate intense lighting, turbulent water movement, and a more stable water chemistry than the normal fish aquarium. Each of the inhabitants are carefully selected to ensure that they are compatible with each other and none pose adverse effects into another. A very popular reef tank is the nano reef.
A nano reef is a reef aquarium with less than 140 litres . Nano reefs are a favorite among fish enthusiasts because they are smaller in size, easier to maintain, and cost lower than normal reef tank. Nano reefs require slightly different elements such as specialized aquarium filters, compact high intensity lighting systems and smaller circulation pumps. These elements are vital to be taken care of so as to maintain an environment which enables the marine organisms in a nano reef to thrive. Nano reef requires extra attention to water quality due to the small water volume. The water of nano reefs should be tested twice weekly and changed on a weekly basis. The small water volume of nano reefs enables fluctuations to occur easily.


Importance of water wave to coral growth

Generally, the components of nano reefs are the display tank, stand, sump, refugium, lighting, canopy, filtration system and water movement. One of the most important elements of a nano reef is the water movement. Different corals in the tank require different flow rates. As such, the water movement needs to be given detailed attention. In general, the water turnover rate for a nano reef is 10x which means 10 x aquarium capacity in gallons equal to required flow in gallons per hour. But there are exceptions since different corals have different requirements. For instance, the Mushroom Coral requires little flow while Acropora and Montipora require more turbulent water flow. These corals require a condition like the shallow waters where waves break. The direction of the water pump in the reef tank also poses a large effect on the speed of water flow. If the water movement does not favour the corals, the corals are said to move to other parts of the reef tank where the condition is more favourable.


So much of importance is placed on water movement in nano reefs. Water flow is needed to bring food to the corals. This is because corals do not rely on photosynthesis for food. Gaseous exchange also occurs as water flows over a coral whereby oxygen is diffused into the corals, carbon dioxide diffuse out and materials are shed. Gaseous exchanges are of utmost importance since the accumulation of carbon dioxide will decrease the pH of water and reduce the alkalinity. Unwanted materials or waste products need to be removed constantly. Accumulated detritus and excess mucus of corals can cause various problems to the corals such as infection and suffocation. The absence of the movement of water will cause the rate of photosynthesis and calcification to decrease. Water flow is also important to maintain a stable temperature and reduce the chances of thermal shock. The surface temperature of the corals is reduced through water flow. This is of great importance since corals are more often than not exposedto infrared radiation.


How to control water movement?

Reef tanks obtain at least a portion of the required water motion from the pump which returns water from the sump. Other strategies are also used such as the placement of multiple powerheads in the tank. Powerheads are small water pumps which can be submerged in the water. These powerheads produce a narrow unidirectional water stream. Using a wave timer, these pumps can be switched on and off  to create turbulence. They are also aimed at each other or at the aquarium wall to create turbulent flow in the tank. This strategy is known to have setbacks. They clutter the reef tank, produce excess heat and produces laminar flow of water.
Another method that is widely used is the closed loop method. Water is pulled into a pump from the main tank and is then returned to the aquarium via one or more returns to create turbulence. Propeller pumps are becoming popular due to their ability to generate large volumes of turbulent water flow without the laminar flow produced by powerheads. These propeller pumps are said to be more efficient than powerheads. Another method which is more recent is the gyre tank. A divider at the center of the reef tank prompts a maximum amount of water momentum.  The placement of the divider leaves an open and unobstructed space which provides a region with little friction against water movement. This method is said to increase water flow which benefits coral respiration and photosynthesis.


Buying Guide

There are five importantcriterias that need to be taken into account during the search for the best wave controller that fits one’s reef tank.

  1. Turnover: Turnover is the amount of water that is being pumped in the duration of one hour in the reef tank. A healthy turnover rate would be more than 20 times per hour. A reef tank of 180 1/40 gal will need a turnover of 3600lph. It is wise to check the turnover rate on the packaging before purchasing the wave controllers.
  1. Watts per litre: Watts per litre is a measurement of the efficiency of the wave controller and can be used to compare between wave controllers available in the market at any point of time. It is crucial to choose a pump that is low in wattage and cheap. This will be environmental friendly as well as cost friendly. The key is to choose one with the highest output of water against energy.  A pump with a turnover of 800lph per watt of energy consumed will be just nice for reef tanks.
  1. Undertow: Undertow is what happens when powerful pumps push water across the tank and at the same time dragging water across the substrate in the opposite direction. It is quite easy to check the undertow of reef tanks. Just put food into the tank and watch where it goes. In the event of good undertow, the pump will shoot the food across the tank before it travels in a big loop, floats, and returns back to the pump. Good undertow is necessary to prevent dead spots of water. Good undertow means good water movement in the reef tank. Good undertow can be guaranteed by choosing pumps with wave maker devices.
  1. Wave makers: Wave makers are controllers which switches the pump on and off in quick, regular successions to produce waves in the reef tank. As a result, sudden surge of water to the left and then to the right is produced. The right frequency of this periodic movement will form actual waves in the reef tank. It is important for waves to form instead of just rigid left and right movements of water. The theory behind wave making in a reef tank is that more realistic water flow will cause better undertow and prevent slime algae as the sudden gushes of water will tear off algae from the rocks. There are many types of wave controller in the market. A good controller should be able to control pump output and speed as well as produce varying waves such as short, sharp pulse and long, soft surge.
  1. Night / feed mode: At night, corals open their polyps to feed on zooplankton. Thus, a slower flow of water will make the capturing of food easier for them. Having the pump in feed mode means slowing down or stopping the pump altogether for a few minutes by pushing a button on the controller. This will prevent the food from being sliced by the pump. Hence, this criteria is crucial to ensure that food fed to the fishes reach the fishes.


Best nano wave controller reviews

1. Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump review

This circulation pump is suitable for freshwater and marine aquariums. It is designed to be used with timers and wavemaker systems. It is equipped with magnet suction cup as the mounting system  and hence, can be freely positioned in the reef tank. It is a better version of the former Koralia models whereby this model promises higher flow rates and lower energy consumption. It is a compact design which garnered 4.4 out of 5 starts from the customers. Reviews of customers include the gentle and dispersed current produced instead of a blast of stream of water in a single direction. This gentle current is said to have livened up the reef tank remarkably. It is also widely mentioned that the magnetic suction cup does not wear out easily and gives flexibility in placing the pump. This feature is definitely a plus if there are several dead spots in the reef tank that needed to be cleared. The small size of the pump is also said to be non-obtrusive even if it is placed right at the front of the tank. Another plus of this pump is that the powerhead is very quiet and does not create vibration. The pump does not generate excess heat and thus is favoured by many customers. On the other hand, the negative comments include that it is tricky to adjust the pump to the direction that you want and it often come out of the base if it is not carefully handled.


2. Tunze USA 3152.000 Automatic Top off Nano Osmolator review

This is a water level controller with only one sensor for nano aquariums or small aquariums up to 55 US gallons. This pump can be installed directly on the tank edge or in a cabinet filter. It comes with a magnet holder and protective cover for the sensor.  This pump is simple, complete and with the Auto Top Off system. The safety timer has a shut off system after 1.8 or 3 minutes as set by the user. The customers gave this product 3.9 out of 5 stars. Among the reviews of customers include the fact that it is easy to set up, keeps the tank filled to the exact mark and keeps the protein skimmer working perfectly. It is also said to have cords long enough to be plumbed through the holes cut into the back of the stand. This pump is also said to be simple and does not crowd the tank. The water level is said to be constant at all times and the pump is powerful enough to push water up to the overflow box. Caution need to be taken when you position your pumps to ensure that there is very little to zero wave action to force the float to go up and down. This is important to prevent overflow over time.



These two products are among the top rated pumps which carry out their jobs perfectly. They keep a consistent water level and the water parameters will be in check as well. With these pumps, there is less to worry about the circulation system of reef tanks. A nano tank with a great water movement system ensures great circulation of gases, food, and waste products, besides keeping the water level at the desired level. Hence, a smart investment on these products will ensure a safe and healthy environment in your nano tanks.

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