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New products tried and tested, including JBL filters, Northfin food, an Aquael shrimp tank, an HPV light and Transformatank paint.
First look: Nathan Hill & steve Baker RRP: £153 More info: Jbl.de/uk Steve Baker: The German brand JBL is now proudly selling the evolution of its ‘01’ external filters. The updated ‘02’ range builds on the success of the outgoing model with some small changes, while retaining the features that have placed JBL towards the top of the external filter market.
The main change is to the top tray, where JBL has listened to customer criticisms. The older model used two thin strips of coarse foam as a prefilter, the new model sees the prefilter area increased to the full size of the top (coarse) sponge to extend cleaning intervals of the pre-filter.
The new style, two-piece top tray is clipped together using the top half as a baffle, only allowing water to flow through the extreme edges once it’s been through the coarse sponge. From here it flows to the bottom of the canister before travelling up through the remaining media.
Two areas where JBL external filters excel is power consumption and quietness, and this trend is continued with the ‘02’ range.
Efficient ceramic bearings and an optimised pump impeller help to reduce friction, which leads to both a lack of vibration (noise) and smooth running for efficiency. Even the type of plastic the canister is made from has been picked for its vibration absorption qualities, as well as its strength and longevity.
Electricity-wise, the medium model of five, the e902, gives a maximum flow of 900 l/h for just 11w on a par with the likes of Eheim’s Professional 4 (950l/h, 12w) but outcompeting Oase’s Biomaster 250 (900l/h, 15w). This high efficiency means it probably works out cheaper over a few years to buy this filter rather than budget brands with higher running costs. And you get to enjoy the use of a higher quality product in the meantime too. Register your purchase with JBL to turn the standard twoyear warranty into a four-year one.
Nathan Hill: I’ve been a fan of JBL external filters for some time now, running them on a range of tanks from 30 l aquascape (yeah, I ran an e401 with an inline CO2 diffuser in the hosing and it worked a treat), up to 150 l+ biotopes. So I was keen to see what was new, and what stayed the same.
The main new thing I noted was the lower wattage. JBL seems obsessed with reducing our carbon footprints to zero, and that’s just fine by me (and the planet). At full flow, 11w of consumption for 900lph is pretty exceptional – the prvious model the e902 replaces ran at 15w for the same flow.
While the package comes with ample media out of the box, there’s scope to add or replace to your heart’s content. In all, you have 7.6 litres of filter capacity to play with, divided between five trays. The precut slots in the filter foams allow a range of JBL dedicated resins and removers to be added, or you can tailor something of your own devising.
Coming together, the unit has a certain build quality you can feel. There are no rough edges or poor finishes. Everything slots together firmly and precisely, as it should. The clips holding the filter body to the head feel sturdy, unlike some other brands where every stab at filter maintenance can be a gamble as to whether they’ll break off.
As well as the media, the filter comes with all the required hosing and fittings to get it operating. Drawing water out of the tank, you have the typical shepherd’s crook and strainer assembly, while the return is based around a spraybar you can either run ‘short’ or at full extension by connecting the parts together.
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PUMPHEAD The pump is quiet and efficient with a manual priming system and robust, quick release taps that include flow control.JBL COMBIBLOC The final stage is a fine sponge (35ppi) to remove small particles. It can be changed for filter floss to increase water clarity, but this may restrict the flow, especially when dirty.JBL UNIBLOC Coarse sponges work both mechanically (cleaning particles) and biologically (providing a surface for beneficial bacteria to colonise).BASKETS The media baskets are study, with folding handles to aid maintenance. They are individually shaped to prevent them going back in the wrong order. JBL COMBIBLOC The coarse pre-filter sponge removes large particles such as old plant leaves, avoiding blocking up the finer media quite so quickly. This gives you more time between cleans. JBL UNIBLOC All coarse sponges are precut to be used with JBL’S range of medias, such as Phosex, Bionitratex and so on. This allows greater contact time for absorbent media. JBL MICROMEC High-capacity biological filter balls. Conical pores create an ideal settling area of 1500m2/l for beneficial micro-organisms. The red arrow shows the direction of water flow through the filter.
Quiet, cheap to run, sturdy, well equipped. No provision for heating.