|Size||Dimensions||Tank Size||Noise Level||Longevity||Price|
|240 GPH||3.5" x 3" x 3"||20-50 Gallons||Very Low||3-6 Years||Medium-High|
|1150 GPH||5.5" x 2.75" x 2.75"||55-130 Gallons||Very Low||2-8 Years||Medium-High|
|1500 GPH||5.5" x 2.75" x 2.75"||80-200 Gallons||Very Low||2-8 Years||Medium-High|
The Hydor Koralia Smartwave pump kit comes with a decent controller and two matching powerheads. Over all it is an easy way for new comers to start making waves in their aquarium, while also holding enough features to please many more experienced aquarists.
The controller can be set between 5 seconds and 8 hours intervals, allowing up to 6.3 million on/off per year! There are, however, no flow speed controls and the included powerheads are AC, which creates noise on start-up. If those two downsides do not bother you then this is likely your perfect controller.
When mine arrived it was packed typical amazon style. Box in box with protective packing. Nothing special but it does keep the powerhead safe when in transit.
First I set the controller in place, hanging it under my tank but not quite above the sump. This created a drip loop to protect the controller, which is essential as the controller is not water proof. After this I installed the powerheads on opposite ends of the tank. I got the middle size, 1150 GPH which gave me 6 feet of cording to use. I had no issues getting these powerheads where I wanted.
Next I plugged the powerheads into the controller, while leaving the controller unplugged. This is not actually necessary, as the Hydor Smartwave will start in the off position. Once plugged in I set the mode to 10 seconds in the alternating mode, as 5 was much shorter than I thought would be needed. After several test runs I found this was right for my tank. Also the powerhead plugged into the right hand socket always started first.
As stated earlier the included powerheads are alternating current. This means they can start up in reverse, causing them to spin forward and clatter against the front of the powerhead. This changes the direction of flow, preventing any extended reverse flow. It is overall a noisy process and not one I would recommend for a living room or bedroom. Likewise you will not want to have this tank next to the wall of other rooms, as the clicking will transfer through the walls much better this way. Because mine was next to the bedroom wall I ended up having to set the pumps to run constantly at night time by switching the intervals to 8 hours just before heading to bed.
Note: As stated on my original Hydor Koralia evolution review the pins can be rather fragile. Frequent on/offs can actually break them off, which will lead to unstoppable reverse running. You will need to reinforce the pin using aquarium safe adhesive. This gives the pin an extra layer of protective cushioning.
The Evo is displayed on the top while the smaller Nano is displayed on the bottom
The main difference in powerheads is in the smallest model, the 240 GPH Hydor Smartwave. It comes with the Koralia Nano 240, which runs at 3.5 watts and has a much weaker magnetic base. This is typically fine, as smaller tanks tend to have less thick glass. Not to mention the powerhead will not be pushing itself free with the much lower strength.
The 1150 and 1500 models both come with the Hydor Evo model powerheads. These run at 6 and 7 watts and are fairly powerful.
You can create a small issue by touching the magnets together, but after getting my Tunze magnets stuck together I've realized these aren't so bad to separate. If you can't get them apart simply Slide the magnets apart using a straight edged surface. This is much easier than pulling them apart.
The pumps all run fairly quiet after the initial start up. My 10 second intervals were fairly quiet, though the clattering was a bit annoying. This can be remedied by purchasing dual current powerheads. If you plan on that however you will not want this kit as a large portion of the price is the included powerheads.
To open both the Evo and Nano you will need to separate the front grate from the powerhead using the clip found at the middle of the powerheads body. This exposes the propeller, which can also be removed to clean out the propellers mount. To clean the propeller and mount you will want to use a soft material such as a cotton swab. Rougher materials, even a paper towels, can scratch the magnets and cause irregular spinning. This increases the noise level while drastically shortening the lifetime of the powerheads. The grate itself can be cleaned however you like, though it is never recommended to use any cleaning products. Scrub it clean and soak in vinegar for the best results.
The controller has a user friendly look to it. Overall it is easy to use if you know what the buttons all mean.
The button on the top of the controller turns it on or off. The knob on the left selects the mode. The three modes are:
Before choosing either of the two running modes you will need to decide how you will be feeding your fish. The controller can have 2 feeding times, which are put 8 hours apart. This is perfect for automatic feeders, however I hand feed my mandarins so I didn't keep this setting on.
To set up the automatic feeding periods you will need to keep the controller off but plugged in. First turn the left knob to the fish icon and turn the right knob to either the single or double fish icon. The single one will create a feeding time every day at the time you turn the controller on. The dual fish icon will have a second feeding time start 8 hours after the first one starts. Initially I thought it would include the 5 minute feed time and have the second one start 8 hours and 5 minutes later, but this is not the case. 8 hours right after the first one starts.
Once you have chosen the settings and it is the correct time you can hit the power button. This will start the controller and the feeding schedule. Watch the LED lights when doing this to ensure it was programmed correctly. For the single feeding the lights will flash once, while the double feedings will have the lights flash a second time.
Remember: When shutting off the controller you will lose the programmed feeding times. You will need to reset them after long power outages or unplugging the controller.
Once the feeding has been taken care of you can choose the normal running modes. In the synchronous mode both powerheads will turn on and off at the same time while the alternating mode will have them alternate which one is on and which is off. These can be adjusted while the controller is on no problem, making it much easier to deal with than feeding. The right knob adjusts the frequency in which the powerheads shut off and turn on. The feeding time does not reset these times but instead interrupts them. this means you will never have any 15 hour on or offs due to the feeding kicking on in the last hour.
There is no flow speed control on the controller. This doesn't stop the controller from making great waves, but it does not provide the level of customization that other high end controllers do.
If you noticed any frays in the wire or damage to the controller you should immediately do one of these two things:
a.) Unplug the controller and contact Hydor
b.) Test the water with a multi meter
This should go for any powerhead, but as this controller has so many wires it is more common. If you find any voltage in the tank unplug the powerheads one at a time to find the leaking voltage. If they are both giving you a reading on the multi meter you should unplug the controller itself and test the powerheads without the controller. If this removes the readings you will need to have the wiring, or entire controller replaced. Again contact Hydor and see what is the best course of action. The extra info you find here will save you hours at the least and days of shipping in most cases.
Hydor provides a two year warranty on the controller and its powerheads. In this time you will easily find any frayed wires, broken plastic parts or misshapen components. While mine didn't break I contacted them anyways to see what I would need to use my warranty. All they asked for was my proof of purchase, which in my case meant my amazon order conformation. Be sure your email doesn't automatically delete this!
The lifetime on the powerheads depends on the size. The Nano, which comes with the 240 model, lives between 3-6 years. This is longer than most small powerheads, giving you a good value over the course of their lifetime. Unless you are running a nanotank you will likely upgrade to a bigger tank before these powerheads give out on you.
The larger Evo models live between 2 and 8 years. I find this to be a better deal, as almost all faulty powerheads will be found and replaced by the warranty period. This means the lifetime is more realistically 4-8 years, as the shorter lived powerheads are only due to faults and rough handling. Clean the powerheads carefully and you can easily see a decade of use.
The controller doesn't do much and as such rarely breaks down. Even after the warranty period ends I recommend contacting Hydor if the controller does stop working. Worst case they will have you send in the controller and refurbish it at a fraction of the cost.
The Hydor Smartwave Kit is a decently customizable controller that comes with two AC powerheads. They create a decent amount of noise when turning on or off, making them not suited to quiet rooms. To preserve the lifetime you will need to do a bit of DIY and protect the pins which stop reverse running.
If you want a fully automatic tank, and need a controller which makes waves and can work with an automatic feeder, the Hydor Smartwave controller has you covered.