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Tunze Turbelle Stream 6080 review

I’ve been using two Reeftec PE-1s with a Wavemaster Pro in my 150g tank with a 6-inch sandbed since early September, and I’ve been very happy with the high volume, low velocity nature of this device. The problem was that on 11/21/2002, the metal shaft broke on the Little Giant PE-1 pump with one of my Reeftecs. On 11/25/2002, the metal shaft on the PE-1 pump with my other Reeftec also broke. Details can be found on this thread. While I was waiting for replacement drive dogs and CAL E-200 pumps to replace the PE-1 pumps, I was intrigued by the new Tunze Turbelle Streams that I first saw on the Reeftec forum. I e-mailed Roger Vitko of Tunze USA, and he told me to contact Marine Depot or Champion Lighting to get on the waiting list for the Streams. I e-mailed Marine Depot on 11/26/2002 to put me on the waiting list for two 6080s. Later on in the day, I was told the 6080s were in stock, and I received them on 12/02/2002.

I spent most of the night on 12/02/2002 working with the Turbelle Stream 6080 since it’s so powerful. I expected the Stream 6080s to be comparable in power to the Reeftec PE-1s, but they're a lot more powerful. If the Reeftecs are Hummer H2s, the Turbelle Streams are Porsche 911 Turbos! When I point a Stream 6080 straight across my 5 foot long tank, the bounceback is another foot and stirs up my sandbed! I now have the stream angled across to my rockwork and sps colonies on the left, but even after 2 to 3 feet, there's high flow across the corals. What’s crazy is that I purchased two Stream 6080s not thinking they would be such beasts. They both could work in a 150, but only if you have a minimum sandbed and all sps corals. The only two things that I don't like about the 6080s are that you can’t put them on a wavetimer and you need to buy an additional bracket if you want to put the 6080 back against the wall of an acrylic tank. Presently, a Stream 6080 is ziptied to a Reeftec bracket. If you want the Tunze solution, Roger Vitko has suggested holder set 3000.244 if you have an Oceanic; this has long screws to accommodate the trim and a suction cup to stabilize the rail. If you have an acrylic aquarium you should try set 3000.26, this will work with perimeter bracing to contour the tank brace and then descend. If you need these brackets, just order them from where you ordered the Streams. The Stream 6100s are electronically controllable so that you can set them up as wavemakers and fine tune the flow, but they’re a lot more expensive, and sold out at the moment. All I can say is that the waterflow coming out of the Streams is amazing! The flow from the Streams reminds me of the waterflows I’ve felt when I’ve been snorkeling in Hawaii or Australia.

The Stream 6080s shouldn't be put on a wavetimer/maker because the constant on/off action will probably drastically shorten the life of the pump. The manual says you can have on/off cycles of 1 hour with 6080s. From what I've read, the Tunze electronic wave maker/controllers don't actually stop and start the pump, they only decrease or increase the power of the pump. But you have to pay a lot more for the Stream 6100 and more expensive configurations which have the electronic controls. You will need the 6100 or higher if you want to control the amount of flow for smaller tanks (100g or less). Roger Vitko said they are coming out with smaller and larger versions of the Stream in 2003, so those who have smaller tanks should either buy a Reeftec now or wait if you don't want to pay for the 6100.

Presently, I'm running a Reeftec PE-1 full-time, and the Stream 6080 for 12 hours during the light period. Supplemental flow is provided by two returns from a Velocity T2 from the sump.The main reason for keeping the Reeftec PE-1s on full-time is that there's no protective grill in front of the Reeftec PE-1 propeller, so the Kole Tang or some other fish will surely get hit by the prop again if it's on an on-off cycle (it's already happened twice to the Kole Tang when it was pecking at the algae growing on the inside of the propeller enclosure when when the PE-1 was off. Once it came back on, it scraped some skin and flesh from the tang. Luckily, the tang has recovered from both incidents.) If it's on all the time, the fish should stay away. The on-off and torque of a wavemaker also may compromise the longevity of the metal shaft of the CAL E-200 pump in the Reeftec PE-1. I may put the PE-1 on an on-off cycle again if I can jury rig a protective grill over the front. I only have the Stream on 12 hours a day for a calmer water flow at night. The Stream does have a nice protective barrier in front of the propeller

I really love the wave action in the tank right now. There are actually waves on the top of the tank because of the power of the wavemaking pumps in there. The Stream 6080 was so powerful, it was moving whole coral colonies 2 to 3 feet away. I had to really secure one of them so it would stop rocking back and forth. Although the flow is continuously on for all the pumps, there's still a lot of random water motion from where the water flows intersect.

The type of flow generated by the Reeftecs and Streams (wider, lower velocity stream than a typical powerhead) seems to be a lot more closer to nature. I think because of the viscosity of water, a wide, lower velocity stream actually moves more water around a tank than a narrow, high velocity stream (typical powerhead). The wattage of the Reeftecs and Streams is also pretty low compared to the amount of water they move. I mixed up saltwater with a PE-1 in a 29g when I was filling the 150g tank, and it was amazing how well the propeller quickly mixed the salt in the water. In my logs from 1999, I mentioned how Steve Tyree hoped manufacturers would create a device that has the wide, low velocity stream of the Reeftecs and Tunze Streams.

As a gadget freak, I can't wait to see what type of "propeller" powerheads come out in the next five years.

  Reeftec PE-1 Tunze Turbelle Stream 6080
Cost $97 ($50 for Reeftec Enclosure and $47 for CAL E-200 pump) $167
Acrylic Tank Use Extra $5 for custom bracket Bracket Set 3000.26 (?$)
Use with wavemaker Yes? No
Protective grill over front propeller No Yes
Flow 10,000 gph ? 2250 gph
Motor Direct Drive Magnetic Drive
Wattage 33 watts 17 watts
Websites Reeftec Tunze
Where to purchase Reeftec (for enclosure) and
Pumpworld (for pump)
Marine Depot or Champion Lighting
Technical Questions Jimmy Chen Roger Vitko

Looking over the table I put together above, the PE-1 is definitely a less expensive solution. I really appreciate how you can order a custom bracket from Reeftec if you have an acrylic tank, and how easy it is to swap in a new motor. On the other hand, the Tunze Stream is a much more refined product. The design and quality of the Stream is unparalleled compared to other aquarium products I've purchased. I feel like the Stream has been thoroughly tested, and will provide longterm service. I really appreciate the protective grill over the front of the Stream's propeller. It's too bad that one has to pay a lot more in order to get cyclic wave effects from the Stream technology. The Reeftec was out first, and I don't think the Little Giant PE-1 should ever have been suggested as pump because it's obvious the PE-1's shaft can't handle the corrosive qualities of saltwater. From what I've read, it appears the CAL E-200 pump will be a good solution.

I've put down the flow rate given off the Reeftec and Tunze websites, but from what I've seen firsthand, the Stream 6080 pushes a lot more water than the Reeftec PE-1. Someone should do a test with the strips for both the Reeftec and the Stream similar to the Richard Harker test in his Reeftec review in Advanced Aquarist.

I purchased the Reeftec with the clear enclosure since I like to see how things work (my wife often wonders why I show such interest in spinning propellers), and I figured the enclosure would eventually get covered with coralline. But in retrospect, I think the black acrylic option would look better in a tank. I think the Reeftec design represents American ingenuity at its best. It's basically a DIY design which is constantly being refined. The two modifications I would make are a grill over the front of the propeller, and a better way to keep the grill over the top of the pump (ziptie has been my solution), but overall it does a great job. Its square design really reminds me of a Hummer, and it has the power to match. The Tunze Stream on the other hand is a refined design that I presently can't find anything to modify. Its curves, power, and price (especially for the electronically controlled models) really remind me of a Porsche 911 Turbo.

As a final note, I've had a great experience dealing with both Jimmy Chen of Reeftec and Roger Vitko of Tunze USA. If there are any questions or issues (thanks for the replacement drive dogs, Jimmy!) regarding their products, both are very quick to respond.

Photos of the Reeftec PE-1 and the Tunze Turbelle Stream 6080.

Roger Vitko's (Tunze USA) reply to my review:

Thanks for the review. I appreciate your words. I did want to clarify two points. On Off cycles will not destroy the pump per se. The danger is - well first some technical details. From a physics stand point it is very difficult to make a mag drive prop pump. The propeller of course pulls forward pulling the magnet out of place and stopping the pump. The solution is to use a centrifugal side brace brake mechanism as our pumps do. The brake shoes can be broken by a wavemaker because they do not get time to retract and for the pump to run properly, they are always in a state of working to correct the start up pressures. If the pump is locked up and not spinning no water is pumped through to cool the motor. In the long run this will ruin the thermostatic switch and could ruin the pump but the switch has a 100,000 cycle life. It is most likely that a wavemaker will ruin the brake shoes only and possibly cause some damage to the magnetic drive assembly. Regarding the holders, I understand what you are saying with regards to the holders. I really try to accommodate people on this issue and if they can send me a jpg of the aquarium I can and will build them a holder. We sell our pumps worldwide, France and Germany make up 70% of Tunzes market, the rail system is an excellent solution for trimless glass tanks which are by far the norm in Europe. Despite my pleading I can only work with what we have, the US market is a dwarf compared to Europe and Asia, finally this year we beat Brazil and maybe next year my sales will beat Russia’s. I have to work with the system we have as the cost of producing a mold for a bracket for US tanks would never be paid for in sales. On Oceanic we have a very good solution, in large part I owe many thanks to Oceanic who provided a sample of Trim to the factory in Germany. Acrylic is something I have never seen used in Europe, Glass is too cheap and in any major city their is an aquarium manufacturer, it is a lot different from here. We were really unprepared for Acrylic. I wish I could say otherwise. I really appreciate your comments, Thank You!

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