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    Review | Ecotech Marine Vortech MP20

    Among advanced hobbyists there is a staunch divide among “stream” style pumps– Vortech or Tunze. The forum discussions on these two are likely the fiercest of any equipment items, and may induce flash backs of the BB v DSB and Zeovit debates.  We have always been partial to Tunzes. They work and as previously mentioned we are comfortable […]

    Among advanced hobbyists there is a staunch divide among “stream” style pumps– Vortech or Tunze. The forum discussions on these two are likely the fiercest of any equipment items, and may induce flash backs of the BB v DSB and Zeovit debates. 

    We have always been partial to Tunzes. They work and as previously mentioned we are comfortable with them. Even with the few issues we’ve had with our Nanostreams, due to the length of time we’ve used Tunze products it seemed to normalize any negative emotion.

    Vortech’s always appealed to us. They are an innovative design with no cords in the tank … but we had what we thought was the crème de la crème, why switch? When the chance arose to review EcoTech’s latest offering the Vortech MP20, we jumped on the opportunity to see what these unique pumps could really do. 


    As you can see above there are two pieces to the pump. The wet frame sits in the tank and the motor outside. By moving the motor to the outside two things are achieved: there are no cords in the tank and no added heat directly to the water. Many of you know how much I dislike sloppy electrical cords, the two piece design is clean and simple.

    The MP20 and an unsightly cord from another pump


    Installation is quick and painless. The wet frame came pre-assembled. All we needed to do is clean the glass and adjust the pin spacer. When working with the magnets I was initially afraid of loosing a finger or two, but the pin spacer prevents this. To adjust the pin spacer you just remove it and set it to the appropriate glass thickness. In our case 1/2″. 

    The controller or driver is simple to use and aesthetically attractive. A quick skim through the instruction manual and you will be able to fine tune each operation mode to your liking. Shown in the diagram below, the frequency of Short Pulse and Long Pulse can be adjusted and saved to create chaotic flow and even waves.

    MP20 Operation 

    Currently we have it on Reef Crest Random (Yellow) mode which creates plenty of motion in the tank. A graph below shows the Lagoon Random and Reef Crest Random modes, click to enlarge.   From the random flow, fish activity seems to have increased. This is most noticed in our Green Chromis, Chromis viridis.

     MP20 Modes

    Smaller fish, such as our small Onyx Perculas, do not always appreciate the  powerful currents at night, but thankfully the MP20 has a built in night mode that reduces flow to 50% of the max speed for day time use. Once set the pumps internal timer will allow for 14 hrs of day time flow and 10 hrs of the 50% night flow. In addition to this, there is also a 10 min feed mode.

    The most impressive part of the MP20 is the flow it generates. The wide output creates strong, but gentle flow throughout the entire tank. Even more impressive are the “under currents” generated by the large open intake of the pump.

    A simple guard on the nozzle means we can place the pump high up in the tank, without sucking in air from the surface.


    The pump is placed up high, a total distance of 20″ from the bottom and it is the first pump I have owned that by itself has completely suspended all detritus from the bottom of the tank. As we are bare bottom (no substrate) this is extremely important and means we no longer have to perform daily maintenance to remove accumulated detritus. It is a testament to the literal currents generated by the MP20. As it ramps up in the random modes there is a visible undertow and turn over in the tank. 

    Some past comments made towards the Vortech are in regard to placement. The unique magnetic design does not allow the pump to be angled, but given the extremely wide dispersed flow we personally see no need or desire to angle or adjust the pump.

     MP20 in action suspending detritus


    Based on early MP40 model comments we were a bit concerned about the noise level, however, we are happy to report that the MP20 is very quiet. The MP20 has the ability to upgrade to the MP40 by replacing the driver. Logically, this leads us to believe the MP20 has the same motor as the MP40, just running at fewer RPMs which translate to quieter operation. To hear the pump, we literally must stick our ear inches away to catch the faint hum of the RPMs changing based on the operational mode.

    Conservatively rated by Ecotech Marine for 20-70 gallons, we have been completely caught off guard by the MP20 on our 90g reef. It will be difficult to convince us to use another stream style pump for some time. Here’s why:

    •  No cords in the tank
    • Strong controllable flow
    • Variety of Operational Modes
    • Quiet 
    • Feed and Night modes
    • Easy cleaning

    This has been one of the best additions we have made to the glassbox. Now we must decide, another MP20 or add an MP40?  If anyone is interested in some used Tunze Nanostreams you have a seller. 


    1. MR294
      August 21, 2008 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

      Thanks for the thorough review. I’m very tempted to pick up an MP20.

    2. August 22, 2008 at 12:30 PM | Permalink

      Hi Brandon,

      If you do let us know, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

      Just yesterday we switched to short pulse mode. When we initially tried it, the fish got a bit spooked. Now they are comfortable with the pump and we are getting better PE and overall water motion from the short bursts.

    3. Axel
      August 24, 2008 at 8:53 AM | Permalink

      thanks for the review. Do you guys know when this little jewel is hitting Germany? Afaik its not available here.


    4. August 24, 2008 at 11:15 AM | Permalink

      Hi Axel,

      I do not believe it is yet available in Germany. If you don’t mind waiting, I can find out in a couple weeks when attending MACNA. If you’d like to find out before that, I’d suggest contacting Ecotech directly.



    5. Henrik
      August 25, 2008 at 2:06 AM | Permalink

      Thanks for the review – I think I will need the MP40 for a tank that is around 180x60x60cm ?.. Wonder if you guys know how the noise of the MP40 gen2 compares with the noise from a comparable Tunze? Or maybe kan point me to what the lowest noise circulation pumps are (without going closed loop)?


    6. August 25, 2008 at 11:19 AM | Permalink

      Hi Henrik,

      Yes, It sounds like the MP40 would be the best fit for you. Unfortunately I haven’t heard or seen the MP40 Gen2 in action yet. The Gen1’s were louder than the Tunze’s I have used and seen in action, but the hum was only really audible when ramping up and down on high speeds.

      As I mentioned to Axel, I will be at MACNA where Ecotech will have a booth. Hopefully I will be able to see the MP40 Gen2’s in action and will report back then.


    7. Axel
      October 11, 2008 at 11:55 AM | Permalink

      I have seen the cord facing upwards in most pics on the net. Is it up to the user?


    8. October 11, 2008 at 5:03 PM | Permalink

      Hi Axel,
      Yes the cord should be mounted upwards. This is to catch the pump in case the magnet fails. The last thing you want is the motor to crash to the ground. These photos were from testing the unit and have since been permanently attached via the cord anchor that Ecotech provides.

    9. Brandon Taylor
      October 22, 2008 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

      Would love to get my hands on one of these babies! Are you still using it in the glass box?

    10. October 22, 2008 at 4:28 PM | Permalink

      Hey Brandon,

      Yeah we’re still using it. Great little pumps, I cannot say enough good things about them.

    11. Rachel
      November 2, 2008 at 3:58 PM | Permalink

      Hi Guys, The tank looks awesome and I love your site. My question is this. How do you stop your fish from jumping out of the water. I too have a rimless tank 20″ cube, and have found numerous fish on the floor to the point where i won’t buy any more fish. The max i have ever had before a jumping event is 3. Initially it was due to a bullying royal gramma which was removed and replaced with two small percs and a small regal tang. one of the clowns jumped two weeks later and it has just been the regal and a clown for the last six months. I don’t want to risk losing any more fish by adding another. some of the tanks featured in your site have many fish. I wondered if you have encountered this problem and how you have overcome it.

    12. November 5, 2008 at 7:45 PM | Permalink

      Hi Rachel,

      Sorry to hear about your problem. Fish jumping out of aquriums is never fun. I’ve never had issues with “jumping”, but I tend to not keep notorious jumpers such as wrasses and dartfish. Like you mentioned with your Royal Gramma, aggressive fish can cause this… particularly in small confines.

      I’ve witnessed jumping caused by bullying, poor oxygenation, and from being frightened. Is there anyway you can lower your water level in your aquarium?

      The best way to combat jumping is providing a safe and healthy habitat. Beyond that, if you find you still have problems mesh nets can be used.

    13. March 4, 2009 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

      Eric, do you have a 6-month update on this pump? I am considering revising all of the flow in my tank and the MP20 is a front-runner…

    14. March 4, 2009 at 3:30 PM | Permalink

      @Jim, It’s still going strong. I suppose that’s the reason for the non-update 😉 . It has always performed well from day one and I highly recommend them.

    15. kelly
      March 9, 2009 at 11:37 PM | Permalink

      A friend had a pink cucumber sucked through a SAO and it killed almost everything in his tank. I lost a starfish on the same pump when it wrapped itself around it (disemboweled). I have a Koralia 4 and it allows for internal circulation inside the housing, if the housing gets plugged with a critter.
      My question is, the intake is small and a cuke,or starfish could easily wrap around one, especialy because it is flush with the glass. And if the fish don’t pick at it, inverts will love it. At 2000 gph max, in that small a cage, will it disembowel large inverts? Or does the low wattage mean low torgue through the pump I read there was a foam cover available. Any advise?
      Great info, Thank You!

    16. March 10, 2009 at 9:51 AM | Permalink

      @Kelly, Anything is possible when it comes to curious fish and inverts, but I have not heard of many horror stories. The openings on the Vortech are very open, but that also reduces the suction power of the intake.

      For those that do have small fish and climbing inverts, the foam coverings come with the Vortech, and additional ones can be purchases separately as well. These should eliminate any disembowelment issues.


    7 Trackbacks

    1. […] the variety of equipment they had available for sale made up for it. My friend Mike, picked up a Vortech MP40 from them at an unbeatable […]

    2. […] Marine had a beautiful display showing of their popular Vortech MP40 and new MP20. We previously reviewed the MP20 and have been blown away be the performance of this ingenious […]

    3. […] este enlace encontraremos más detalle de estas bombas, que se instalan sin necesidad de introducir […]

    4. […] the MP20, the MP40w has a built in Wireless Wave Driver allowing it to communicate to other MP40w pumps […]

    5. […] in any way flow will be greatly decreased. After 1 month I would estimate the flow on our MP20 is reduced by 15-20% from debris and algae one the intake screen. For that reason it receives a […]

    6. […] stated their upcoming product would utilize the same patented technology as the VorTech MP40w and MP20, but who would have thought it would come in such a small package? The brand new VorTech MP10 […]

    7. […] comparing it to its family members. Shown above is the propeller part of the wetframe for the MP20, which is the same as the MP40w, contrasting to the miniscule size of the MP10 on the right. […]

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