by Richard Back
Vortech pumps or commonly referred to as MP (10,40,60 number) pumps to hobbyists are known as one of THE BEST wave makers in the market. What makes them so great? What sets them apart from other units and how they are considered as gold standard in wave maker world? How did they come with that design? We spoke to Jay Sperandio who is Director of Sales & Marketing of EcoTech Marine to learn about this amazing device that revolutionized the way we think about waves in our aquariums.
You guys recently had Vortoberfest in honor of your Vortech pump. How did you guys come up for that event and how was that event for you?
Jay : It was a great event. We wanted to celebrate the VorTech pump and our customers and the hobbyist community in a fun way. VorTech pumps have become widely regarded as the gold standard for circulation pumps – but they have also evolved since the original MP40 and it has been the reef keeping community that has provided that direction and support. VorToberfest brought that forward and we feel was exactly the right way to commemorate the success of the pump and reef keeping.
Tell me the evolution of vortech pumps. What did you have in mind when you first created the pump and what new implementations that you have made with every upgrade/ revisions.
Jay : The original pump came about largely at the request of a company called IceCap. IceCap wanted a pump that could be used with their battery backup. The original owners of EcoTech Marine came up with the concept of the magnetically coupled pump as an innovatively different means for water circulation. The initial MP40 with the metal box wave driver was a little rough around the edges but EcoTech was a fledgling company and the technology was new and different. Despite the crudeness of the initial pump the hobbyist community latched onto it with great interest due to the flow it produced, its innovative design and the inherit benefits of no wires and a small in tank profile.
From there the full vision for the VorTech started to develop with wireless capabilities and more modes. The wireless wave driver was followed by the EcoSmart driver which improved communication range, added more functions including the wave auto-tune and EcoSmartlive modes. From the WWD the short pulse, long pulse and random modes were carried over.
There were also some wetsides improvements along the way which culminated with the complete redesign of the MP40 for the QuietDrive launch. The MP10 and MP60 also evolved over time however in terms of motor housing and wetside design they benefited from lessons learned through the MP40 lineage and started further along the development curve.
The last changes to the VorTech line incorporate in the current Quiet Drive models embodies years of feedback from the hobbyist community and really polishes the VorTech line. The current QD models are more powerful than ever, near silent and super reliable.
Harry Singer's Beautiful Mix Reef tank controlled by Vortech MP40 Pumps.
Vortech MP pumps are highly regarded as the “gold standard” of wave makers by hobbyists around the globe. What makes Vortech so much different / better than competing pumps in the hobby?
Jay : I think there are a number of reasons that the VorTech continues as the first choice for many successful reef keepers.
The patented magnetically coupled design gives the VorTech some pretty useful advantages over submersible pumps. In no particular order - the magnetic couple between an in tank propeller and exterior motor and driver means VorTechs are easy to reposition, easy to clean, have a small in tank footprint and keep wires and electricity out of the tank. Using a DC motor, which has since become standard in almost all aquarium circulation pumps gives the modes and controls.
Additionally some of EcoTech’s important competencies lie in software, firmware and wireless communication and that in turn unlocks even more capability and function for those that have tanks that can benefit from it.
Finally, we work hard to maintain the best possible reputation for support and backwards compatibility where possible. We are very grateful for our customers and know that they expect not just a great product but also a great ownership experience.
To me, what set your pump apart from other pumps from the get go was having all the electrical outside of the tank. How/who thought of this design? Any stories behind this?
Jay: This was Justin Lawyer’s design. After brainstorming the initial design, the consensus was that it was a ridiculous design that would never work. Apparently it did.
Now tell me, what is your favorite setting?
Jay: I always liked short pulse and random short pulse (Reefcrest). After visiting and studying WWC - I now run a variant of the schedule/flow pattern described in the World Wide Corals Corallab: http://ecotechmarine.com/corallab with a constant flow from one pump augmented by a pulsing flow from a second pump.
As my education in the hobby through investigating particularly successful hobbyists and industry professionals continues I try to implement (as appropriate for my tank) a synergistic approach to lighting, flow and water parameters (husbandry) critically incorporating what I learn. Adequate flow, which for SPS tanks involves very high water turnover, especially if you are running high light levels and have sufficient bioload and feeding is very critical. In my experience as a hobbyist, (given that the other parameters are correct) flow is something that when you get it right, or if you have it right already, results in a coral that is clearly thriving. It also consistently surprises me just how much water movement coral likes for such delicate organisms.
With the QD drives, it has gotten surprisingly silent. How did you guys achieve this?
Jay : Perhaps Tim Marks gave the best explanation in this video with Jake Adams:
Any tips for vortech users?
Jay: That’s a tough one- due to the broad flow and the amount of flow a VorTech is capable of – especially after the output increases that came with QD – if you can use a VorTech its hard to go wrong..
So I would say just make sure that you are getting the most out of your pump by providing the least obstructed area for it to move water. Vortech’s produce a lot of undertow which is good for lifting detritus off the bottom of the tank – especially when mounted on the ends of the tank. It’s admittedly not much of a tip but its worth considering when placing new rocks and corals.
For a tip that I can’t officially endorse - I have found with my VorTechs that the actual water movement in my tank can be fairly complicated and is impacted by coral growth– so it may be worth periodically experimenting with small placement adjustments to compensate for coral growth - a small movement in the location of the pump might have a significant impact on overall water movement and direction through the tank. I feel like certain corals seem to grow so as to hog flow.. Probably my imagination.. but it seems like a recent move of one of my pumps without any other tank changes has resulted in certain corals really stepping up their growth and polyp extension.
Left : Billy Rotne's beautiful SPS dominated tank fully controlled by Ecotech Radions, Vortech pumps and L1 return pump.
Right: Brian Miller's SPS Dominated tanks controlled by Vortech pumps.
Any hints on what to expect from future of vortech pumps?
Jay: We develop – we receive feedback and we evolve. We have big plans for the future of the EcoTech system and the VorTech is a critical part of that system. There are some exciting new developments especially with communication and control technologies- there is also the opportunity as always - to incrementally improve the physical pumps with respect to materials improvement and design changes. All in all we are very proud of the current Quiet Drive VorTech models for their functionality and capabilities, but especially because they represent a culmination of experience and user feedback accumulated since the inception of the original MP40.
Hopefully with the help of our customer reef keepers we will keep the best getting better and continue to provide the best magnetically coupled propeller pumps possible.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to talk to me today Jay. This discussion has given me ton of insight on Vortech pumps as well as ecotech marine as company in whole. I really enjoyed hearing about the inception, evolution, tips and learning about tricks to this pump from the maker as well as hearing all the fun behind the scene stories.
Well, there you go guys. If you guys are in the market for new powerhead or if you were considering which high end, effective product to go with, give Ecotech Vortech a look and see why tens of thousands of reefers (both for personal and commercial) around the world has made the decision to use this pump as their preferred wave maker for their aquariums.
We will get a group of dedicated writers that will share ideas, product reviews and thoughts.