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    Hands on with JBJ’s 28g LED NanoCube

    Back in October we showed you the first photos of JBJ’s new 28g LED NanoCube aquarium from our coverage of the Backer Pet industry Trade show in Chicago. Since then, Steve and the JBJ crew kindly sent over the final production model for a formal GBD review. For some background on this new LED NanoCube, […]

    JBJ 28g Nano Cube LED

    Back in October we showed you the first photos of JBJ’s new 28g LED NanoCube aquarium from our coverage of the Backer Pet industry Trade show in Chicago. Since then, Steve and the JBJ crew kindly sent over the final production model for a formal GBD review.

    For some background on this new LED NanoCube, the obvious and largest change is the use of LED lighting. JBJ touts this unit packs a 24 hour lighting package through 3 different groups of LEDS:

    • 25 x 3w 14K Daylight
    • 4 x 3w Blue Dawn Dusk
    • 2 x 1 w Moonlights

    The Moonlight and Dawn / Dusk name on the 2 x 1w and 4 x 3w Blue LEDs can be a  bit misleading–in fact. These lights are much more intense than you would expect by the description. In the photo below you can see the blue Dawn / Dusk LEDs at the four corners. Note that all these LEDs lack optics. Given the proximity to the water surface, it works well for this plug-n-play system.

    Nano Cube LED

    Overall the spread, color temperature, and color rendering are quite good on this self contained LED hood. In aquarium talk, I would estimate the color temperature to be 12-14K with an increased pop given by the blues. Some aquarists may desire a higher kelvin look and we wouldn’t mind seeing a 20K option with blue’s mixed in with the 14K core lighting. We will have to see if any color shift or significant luminous decay occurs.

    I knew I would not be able to give this new aquarium the proper time and attention it deserved, so I enlisted the help of contributor Brandon Taylor. Brandon previously had a 24g Nano Cube with a PC lighting upgrade, which made this a simple transition. Check out what he has to say about the overall construction and usability of the new JBJ 28g LED NanoCube.

    The Stand

    The stand is your typical “some assembly required”, MDF aquarium stand. It may not look the absolute best, but while assembling it I realized that it is surprisingly sturdy. I didn’t have many complaints about the stability of the stand on my 24G, other than the storage compartment was not very useful. The newer stand however has a good bit of room because they designed it with a chiller in mind. I also like that the stand is a little taller 32″ vs 28″. This brings the tank to the height of my 58G tank and stand. I shouldn’t need a chiller since the LEDs put off alot less heat, so I decided to move the ballasts from the  adjacent 58g, and the LED drivers for the NanoCube into the stand. This makes the area around both tanks much cleaner and easier on the eyes.

    NanoCube LED

    The Tank

    I drained the old tank and transfered everything but the sand to the new 28g LED, and it was relatively painless. I was curious about how much of a difference the extra 4 gallons would make, and was really surprised to see that the tank looks much more open (28g LED NanoCube 18” x 22” x22” high V 24g Nano Cube 18” x 19.6” x 19.7” high). The hood does not go the full length of the tank like in previous models, stopping a few inches short to allow for access to the quasi sump/fuge area.

    JBJ 28g LED NanoCube

    This new ‘sump’ layout is very nice. The overflow has now been moved to the  center, and water passes through this area packed with 3 chambers for filter media (sponge,carbon,chaeto,etc.). The water then flows from that central chamber into the adjacent area that can hold your heater.  You will need to make sure the heater you get is not too long though. It will need to be ~10″ to fit in the second chamber. The last chamber has the (2) 266 gph Accela return pumps, each with their own return nozzle. The pumps are very quite and create a surprisingly good flow in the tank. The JBJ LED NanoCube also comes with a redesigned Oceans Pulse Duo wave maker. The wave maker alternates 1 pump at a time for 10s to 6min intervals or it can be configured to leave both on continuously. After playing around with the timing, I configured the wave maker for 45 second alternating cycles.

    JBJ does leave room for a designated skimmer, but given the lack of quality options here I’ve decided to forgo any skimmer and rely on chemical filtration and frequent water changes.

    The LEDs

    The LEDs are significantly brighter than the power compacts in the previous JBJ nanos (We will release PAR numbers shortly). Like most reefers, I love the blue dusk/dawn LEDs. They make the florescent corals really pop unlike any other light. The daylight LEDs are a crisp white. There is even a nice shimmer to the water that I was not expecting.

    Nano Cube 28g LED

    I leave the moonlight LEDs on all the time (don’t want to deal with another timer), but they really light up the tank at night. One complaint that I do have is the moonlights are extremely bright compared to other moonlights I have used in the past. That being said corals and fish go about their normal nightly routine with the moonlights on.

    Editors note: Dimming ability across all the LEDs would be a terrific feature and with some creative DIY could likely be employed on this fixture–however, we have a sinking feeling JBJ would then run into patent issues.

    In addition to the aquarium LEDs, JBJ included their Nano-Glo 4 LED refugium light. The Nano Glo 4 packs 4 high intensity LEDs and  attaches to the central sump area via magnets. This makes growing Chaetomorpha macro algae very easy and hidden away.

    The tank has been up and in operation for roughly one month now and everything is looking healthy. I have added a few hardy SPS frags from my other tank to see how they adjust to the LEDs. We’ll keep you posted on how the animals fare, with PAR numbers to come as well.


    1. Nicholas Sadaka
      January 18, 2010 at 12:01 PM | Permalink

      Looks really fantastic, Brandon…great job!!!

    2. January 18, 2010 at 3:07 PM | Permalink

      Thanks. I have really been digging the new setup.

    3. Nicholas Sadaka
      January 19, 2010 at 12:40 PM | Permalink

      This nano-cube in particular has interested me too, so I'd love to hear your continuing comments on it as time progresses. I know some past nano's have had durability issues over the long haul, so I'd love to hear over time the things you grow to really like and dislike about it. Thanks so much for the write-up thus far!!!!

    4. NJ
      January 21, 2010 at 9:00 AM | Permalink

      Are there any heat concerns with the LEDs like there were with the PCs.

    5. btaylor66
      January 27, 2010 at 4:56 PM | Permalink

      So far I have not had any heat issues with the tank. I am evaporating at a reasonable pace and I am able to keep the tank at 78 degrees with fairly little fluctuation.

    6. Dblim
      August 12, 2010 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

      how many hours a day do you run your lights?

    7. Laraland
      August 17, 2010 at 11:54 PM | Permalink

      Very nice tank… wut are the PAR readings and how dose sps do under the light

    8. Laraland
      August 17, 2010 at 6:54 PM | Permalink

      Very nice tank… wut are the PAR readings and how dose sps do under the light

    9. chris
      December 27, 2010 at 12:00 AM | Permalink

      can you please release the PAR reading?

    10. cmw
      January 24, 2011 at 10:44 PM | Permalink

      Looks great, you inspired me to order one…unfortunately the glass arrived in pieces…waiting for the new one to arrive. Has anyone else experienced broken tanks arriving via Fedex?

    11. Jed
      February 11, 2011 at 4:57 AM | Permalink

      Love to hear how your tank is going. I upgraded to HQI’s and found that it was useless without a refrigerator. I’m guessing LED’s don’t have that same problem.

    12. Ken J Lieberman
      October 28, 2011 at 2:58 AM | Permalink

      I have this tank. Very flimsy plastic pieces but with good intent on uses. 1 of 4 fans already broke. Also tank is naturally at 82 degrees when my apartment is at 74. Not really sure why. I’m let down over all, not enough actinic 3w bulbs is leading to slow sps death in my tank.

    13. Harrison Eric16
      April 30, 2012 at 4:49 AM | Permalink

      I know im a year late on this but i have a 28 hqi and had the same problem with heat but i bought a 30 dollar clip on aqaurium fan that keeps my temperature at 77.3 for 10 hours a day with the metal halide on. Much cheaper than a 350 dollar chiller

    14. Anonymous
      August 23, 2013 at 8:28 AM | Permalink

      How and where did you clip the fan? The top is enclosed by the hood except the sump in the back. Or was the fan for the ballast?

    15. Chris manganello
      October 16, 2015 at 4:15 PM | Permalink

      Just have to say worst tank ever. And terrible customer sevice.bought two tanks both cracked .talked to customer service accused me of not having a current warranty. So he could not help me.

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