How important are controllers for powerheads?

JingoFresh

New member
I know a lot of people run their powerheads on some sort of controller, so they alternate and have a more accurate replication of ocean currents.

I would like to know how necessary, or perhaps how beneficial this is? Do most people do this?

I have my powerheads plugged in on a timer, and they run for about 10 hours during the day, constantly. I haven't had any negative effects from doing this, but haven't been able to figure out if this approach is somehow frowned upon.
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
I don't use a controller. I have one Eheim magnetic number down a bit lower to stir things up. Before I got a tank with a canopy I aimed 2 Sea Swirls at each other from the sides of a wedge-shaped tank. Works fine. Chaos in the water, especially a variable or moving chaos, keeps the fish from going zooey, imho---they treat current the way we treat furniture, and you get less hanging in one place or glass pacing behavior, ime, esp among the little fishes that are more in scale with the environment.
 

JingoFresh

New member
I don't use a controller. I have one Eheim magnetic number down a bit lower to stir things up. Before I got a tank with a canopy I aimed 2 Sea Swirls at each other from the sides of a wedge-shaped tank. Works fine. Chaos in the water, especially a variable or moving chaos, keeps the fish from going zooey, imho---they treat current the way we treat furniture, and you get less hanging in one place or glass pacing behavior, ime, esp among the little fishes that are more in scale with the environment.

Sounds like I have nothing to worry about then, thanks!
 

snorvich

Team RC member
Team RC
What type of tank? Fish only? SPS? Mixed corals? I use Profilux controllers (more for light control than flow control) but use the flow control options only because they are there. It does allow close replication of ocean conditions, but it is not clear that this is necessary.
 

noj3333

New member
You may want to set the timers so they have off and on cycles during they day, that way you get a more random flow. Noting specific, just some different periods of off and on.

That's assuming your power heads are designed for wave making cycles like the sicce voyager pumps.
 

Ajohnson

New member
I use two power heads without a controller on my 90g. I've never had any issues. Although I would love to get one one day...
 

JingoFresh

New member
You may want to set the timers so they have off and on cycles during they day, that way you get a more random flow. Noting specific, just some different periods of off and on.

That's assuming your power heads are designed for wave making cycles like the sicce voyager pumps.

I have Koralia power heads...not sure if they are designed for that, although I suspect it.

The timer I am using only allows for a range to be on, and that's it. To alternate on and off throughout the day I would have to buy something else, and that's why I'm asking...if it's necessary or hugely beneficial.

What type of tank? Fish only? SPS? Mixed corals? I use Profilux controllers (more for light control than flow control) but use the flow control options only because they are there. It does allow close replication of ocean conditions, but it is not clear that this is necessary.

A bunch of LR and an octopus. No corals, although may be adding them soon.
 

mcgyvr

New member
Power heads like regular Koralias,etc... should not be cycled on/off.
It will shorten their life span and may allow some to start backwards.
 

One fish

In Memoriam
Power heads like regular Koralias,etc... should not be cycled on/off.
It will shorten their life span and may allow some to start backwards.

I don't belive that. Why does hydor sell their smart wave and two 420 powerheads as a package then?
 

AquaDesignHK

New member
I'm very new to saltwater (although I have years of experience in fresh water)

Still searching, Reading and asking before set up my first sw tank. As i heard, normal pumps are not supporting turn on and off frequently. And sometimes repellers start backward. (i got a second hand wave maker, tried in a bucket. Almost 50% start backward) so iI belive that those controller-type wave makers has some difference. And I just bought a jebao rw8. Different wave types simulations, wireless connection between two or more of them, light sensor.... Seems good deal.
 

mcgyvr

New member
Almost 50% start backward) .

yes the direction a synchronous motor starts is dependent on where in the frequency cycle the electricity is at the instant it starts..
As AC is above and below the zero point for 50% of the time that 50% is exactly as expected.

The fact that 50% of the times it starts causes the propeller to "slam" into the rubber bumper to attempt to right the backwards operation can be a big problem.. There are plenty of people that have had that bumper break off.

Not to mention the annoying noise produced by these types of powerheads when cycled on/off..
 

dkeller_nc

New member
Actually, the Koralias can indeed by cycled on/off. They have a built-in stop in the pump that will reverse the prop if they happen to start backwards (which is a characteristic of all AC propeller pumps/powerheads). When they do start backwards, there will be an audible "click" when the prop encounters the stop and reverses.

Some find this click incredibly annoying and unacceptable. I don't even notice it, and it does seem that the clicking is much, much less audible after a day or two of operation.

Regarding alternating flow: in my opinion, this is very important for a tank containing SPS and some types of LPS corals. Corals need some degree of flow to remove waste products from their tissues; SPS corals need lots of flow, some LPS corals need less. Either way, if the corals are in a constant flow-field, they can and do grow in response to the direction of the flow, as one sees with wind-swept trees on a coastline.

However, one need not go out of one's way to generate "random flow" or "waves" as one would see on a reef crest/reef slope. In fact, in an aquarium (and in my opinion), it's better to alternate strong flow on a 1-10 minute basis. This scheme allows the water to overcome inertia and reach its maximum velocity before reversing, which helps prevent detritus from settling in areas of the aquarium, as well as promoting coral health.
 

Goldndoodle

New member
I use two power heads without a controller on my 90g. I've never had any issues. Although I would love to get one one day...

Just bought and installed the Jebao APEX link for my two WP25s on my new tank yesterday.

Something else I can spend countless hours programming / fine tuning!

Right now I've got them set up like this -

10:00pm - 6:00am - calm water (constant 20% speed)
6:00am - 8:00am - calm wave action (oscillating 33% speed)
8:00am - 11:00am - wave action (oscillating 85% speed)
11:00am - noon - constant flow right (constant right pump 85%, left pump 20%)
noon - 1:00pm - constant flow left (constant right pump 20%, left pump 85%)
1:00pm - 2:00pm - constant flow right
2:00pm - 3:00pm - constant flow left
3:00pm - 6:00pm - wave action
6:00pm - 10:00pm - calm wave action
10:00pm 6:00am - calm water

I'm tweaking the on/off/rest times on the oscillating as I go.
 

tmz

ReefKeeping Mag staff
Premium Member
Direct /laminar constant flow can be harmful to corals and may keep polyps closed or tear flesh. Turbulence created by alternating flow speed as achieved with a controller or other alternating flow device moves the polyps about without harming them and exposes them to more oxygen , nutrients . Generally, branching sps corals need a lot of turbulence to satisfy polyps in the inner regions of the coral; fleshy lps corals need and tolerate less . Fish benefit from either laminar flow or turbulence for swimming excercise and better O2 levels thruoghout the water.
 
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