I ordered an Evolve 8 as a slightly belated christmas present to myself. It arrived today, and was promptly set up. Thus far, I've left everything stock, with the intention of running it the way it was intended, before I go about playing with it for my uses.
I always INTEND to take pictures of the unboxing, setup and final project. I never do. The camera is missing, my hands are wet, theres a 12 foot circle around the tank thats completely demolished, and it just never happens. Hopefully, slightly foggy tank pictures, of a first impression will be good enough.
With that said, my first impressions were good. I got it from petco for 79.99 with free shipping, and was here in three days. (I believe this sale is still going on, by the way.) Upon unboxing, I noticed a few small scuff marks, but they were towards the edges where it was unlikely anyone would ever notice. I'm fairly OCD and decided it wasn't worth fussing about, and got on with it. There were also a few VERY tiny scratches on the interior of the tank. I suspect this has to do with its packaging. Inside the aquarium itself, was a small bubble wrapped package with water conditioner and food, and a small cardboard box holding the adapter for the lighting. My suspicion is in shipping the cardboard box bounced around and left tiny scratches. They disappeared upon filling, so I'm pretty over it.
The tank comes supplied with 2 covers, a black one to go over the filter compartment, and a clear one to go over the tank itself. This sounds like a really superb idea. So far, it's sort of a pain. Neither fit terribly well, and with the cords coming from the over flow, it makes the cover sit in an awkward position. Add to that the clear cover is a little short for its opening, and I suspect it's going to get dunked quite a bit. I did it twice in 3 minutes just as I was fiddling with the lights. Annoying. If it weren't for the cats, I'd just toss them all together. We'll see how long they last.
The lighting comes with 30 white LED's and 5 blue ones. When it's turned on to the II position, both colors turn on, making the lighting in the tank pleasingly bright. With that said, it should be noted that I ONLY keep low light, easy care plants. If you're a light junkie, save yourself the trouble, buy a clip on Finnex or Archaea light. I suspect the LED's will suit my purposes just fine, but if you're looking for something beyond crypts and bolbitus, you'll want more lighting. I'm not entirely sure it will support plant life yet, as this is my first go with LED's, but I can say my retinas are thoroughly disapproving. In the I position, just the moonlights are on. They appear to make for very minimal amounts of lighting, though with the still slightly cloudy water it's hard to tell. Either way, there doesn't appear to be a way to set them on different timers without doing some major DIY work. Bummer.
The filter is surprisingly efficient. As a general rule, I assume stock filters are going to be noisy, and underpowered. Thus far, I'm finding this to not be that case. It isn't silent, but it's not rattling either. I can hear a soft buzz, but between the air pumps, timers, and other animals in the room, it's not bothersome. This may also have something to do with its placement. It doesn't bother me, so I haven't tried fiddling around with it to see if theres a better position for it to be in. If you are a very light sleeper, however, you might want to stick the tank in a different room, just in case. The directional flow is short, but efficient, keeping it from stirring up my gravel but the water moving nicely. There's a soft way to the plants, but poor Mr Betta can still grab in a gulp of air. The overflow doesn't seem to have a terrible hard pull on it, making me think this could be a lovely shrimp tank, if you put a small sponge out of it to keep them from climbing on in there. I opted to stick with the filter cartridge that came with the tank for at least a few days, to see how effectively it cleared up my water. However I intend to replace it with a large sponge and some biological material. There are 2 overflow compartments. Both are quite large, and I suspect a good deal of media could be crammed into them. On the left is the filter media, the right the pump. I had plenty of room in the pump compartment to stick a small preset heater. I have no doubts that a larger, more accurate heater would fit in there instead.
I also seemed to have SERIOUSLY miscalculated the floor space in this tank. Only about half of the plants that were in the 5.5 this replaced fit in the tank. I suspect that's mostly due to me neglecting to trim it at any point in the last year, and it being horribly overgrown. At any rate, it's not a terribly large foot print, so, keep that in mind. (And for you Oregon locals, after I give my sister in law a chance at picking through what she wants, the rest will be up for sale to you!)
Overall I'm quite pleased with it. As it's been in my hands an entire 3 hours, it's still a bit early to tell long term, but I think it should do me quite well.
Bonus points to anyone who actually READ all of that. Good lord!
And now, on to the actual JOURNAL part of this journal.
*Set up 12/30/2011
*Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting soil, half inch thick, capped with between 1 and 2 inches of the finest eco complete particles I could get. I ran it through a strainer. There also appears to be a touch of laterite in the mix. So far, I like it.
*Preset 25 Watt submersible heater set to 78*
*Anubias barteri nana
*Crypt Willissi (I think? possibly lucens or lutea)
*1 Male Betta
Full cloudy shot
Just the tank