The Eclipse Aquarium System by Marineland
I have been meaning to get to a product review for some time and figured now is as good a time as any, especially as people head out to buy gifts for the holidays. For our first equipment review, I am going to start with the Eclipse Aquarium System, an all-in-one aquarium kit perfect for beginners or aquarists who don’t want to spend the money or the time researching each piece of individual equipment. Marineland manufactures three sizes of Eclipse systems, the three gallon System Three, the six gallon System Six and the twelve gallon System Twelve. I personally have the System Six at home and have used it for years in both my office and my home.
Here is a little about what is included in this aquarium kit.
Rite-Size filter with Filter Cartridge,
BIO-Blend™ Tropical Fish Food,
BIO-Safe™ Tap Water Conditioner,
BIO-Coat™ Stress Defense
Acrylic aquarium construction has increased in popularity over the years and in some ways is superior to glass, though optically I still prefer a glass tank. They are lighter weight then glass, equally strong but don’t have seams that can leak or any sharp edges. Acrylic tanks are more apt to scratch then their glass counterparts but acrylic buffing kits are available to maintain a pristine view. I personally have had my Eclipse on my desk at work and in my home and haven’t managed to scratch it yet. It even survived a 400 mile trip half full with fish in the back of a UHaul without incident. (Hmm, I wonder if this negates my warranty.)
Aesthetically, the Eclipse tanks are simple and attractive. They have a black plastic hood and a bow front that gives it the look of a more expensive aquarium. The acrylic, being formed from a single piece, is clear on all five sides including the bottom and has a slight reveal along the lower edge giving it a sense of floating. The hood itself is simple with smooth lines and the hatch sits flush within the hood maintaining a clean appearance. (Hey, I’m a designer in my day job… I notice these things.) The only complaints I have are that the hatch is a little too small to do anything other then sprinkle food in and is so lightweight that it tends to flop closed when you have it open for feeding. Anything that requires you to get your hands in the tank (water changes, aquascaping, removing debris) will necessitate the removal of the hood altogether. This is simple as it just lifts out of its groove, leaving the open tank behind. The hood contains internal fluorescent lighting behind a plastic water barrier and a simple rubber push button light activator that sits flush on the top of the hood. The fluorescents are minimal and intended to provide only an overall ambience and will not provide enough light for aquarium plants outside of the low light varieties. The rear of the hood contains plastic pop-out accessory port cover that allows a place for heater cords or air stone tubing to exit the tank. The hole is more then adequately sized and I decided to tape over the opening and cords to keep any jumping species from exiting through the rear.
The filter assemblies increase in size according to the model with a 35 gph filtration for the Eclipse Three, 75 gph for the Eclipse Six and 150 gph for the Eclipse Twelve. The pump filter itself is located under the hood and behind the hatch so the only way to access it is to remove the hood entirely. Again, this is fairly straight forward and hassle free. The filter is made from a simple plastic construction and the nearly silent motor is housed in an epoxy coated enclosure. One of the most useful features is the addition of a bio-wheel, which can be overlooked in low end models but hasn’t been here. This provides added surface area for beneficial nitrifying bacteria to live, creating the most complete and accurate ecosystem possible. The pump can be temperamental if the water level falls too low. I have had trouble restarting it after water changes but have managed to kick it into gear by filling the water level all the way up and splashing a little water into the filter reservoir. I do suggest following the manufacturers directions for maintenance by cleaning the filter intake and impeller blades with some regularity. The filter cartridges are made to fit the Eclipse System specifically but are easy to find at most local fish stores, especially large chains like PetCo and PetSmart.
Overall, the tank is a good buy and decently priced at a range of $35 – $90. Deals can be found during sales events and by shopping around online. Keep in mind, however, that the kit does not include an aquarium heater, thermometer, substrate, decor or net. Sample sizes of water conditioner and food are included but replacements will need to be purchased almost immediately. The Eclipse Aquarium Systems make a nice gift and are more then suitable for someone new to the hobby or anyone who wants a simple and attractive aquarium.
Here’s a few shopping links if you are considering buying an Eclipse System online…