Top Fin Retreat 2.5 and 5 gallon mods - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-03-2017, 09:50 PM Thread Starter
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Top Fin Retreat 2.5 and 5 gallon mods

The 2.5g Retreat aquarium appears to be the same as the Top Fin 5 gallon glass aquarium as seen here https://youtu.be/miXC9KuwH14 but smaller.

I think the Retreats can easily be compared to a Fluval spec of equivalent volume, just way crappier filter compartment and light build quality. I wish there were a greater modding community for these tanks as they could be really good value for money with a little DIY.

Also since it seems Top Fin is Pet-smartís house brand, they run discounts on it much more frequently. It retails at $50, but I picked up pair of the 2.5g for $33 in Oct, and the 5g would have been $42.50. I imagine theyíll do some big markdowns for Black Friday that may be even better.

The issues I intend to address are:
Light doesnít default to On when it is given power. Preventing use on a socket timer.

Filter cartridges and flow. Flow was just a bit strong for my betta and there is space in the filter before the pad but after the grill for my bettaís food to hide.

The biggest problem for me is the light as I want a consistent, automated photo period for a planted nano.

The light bar is relatively easy to open and gain access to the electronics.



The chip U2 handles the capacitive sensor and power.

Fortunately we just want power to flow through all the time rather than have the chip decide.

Pin 1 and pin 5 need to be connected.



The filter Iím actually fine with the addition of some floss to fill up the compartment space so Shrimp donít hide in there, but I prefer some dedicated bio media. Simple enough to toss a bag of rings or something into the space on top of the pump, but I have other plans.

Picked up a 3 pack of these for $1 at a dollar store.


Opening comes off.



Cut off excess plastic around the opening and use some tubing to adapt the size. Cut bottoms off and insert into each other and viola! Media reactor.


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Last edited by FishRFriendz; 11-23-2017 at 07:41 PM.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-23-2017, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
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Iím using two retreats so each tankís power adapter could be placed on different sockets and one could be on a timer. The only thing that needs to be done is cut off a pair from each adapter to swap one set of 2.1x5.5 mm pigtails. But since I have these pigtails in bulk I just made adapters so I wouldnít have to damage the originals.



If I were running only one tank it would be simple enough to simply buy any 12v 1000ma ac/dc adapter and just plug the light into that.


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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-19-2017, 02:13 AM
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I just registered to thank you for these mod ideas. I would love to see more about the media reactor thanks again!
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-19-2017, 02:23 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Biff_Elwood View Post
I just registered to thank you for these mod ideas. I would love to see more about the media reactor thanks again!


Thanks! Iím pretty happy with the tanks now so I wonít be posting much about them at all since Iíve fixed my problems with it. I ended up filling the reactor with Seachem Matrix and toss a timer on one adapter.


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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-19-2017, 02:33 AM
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Originally Posted by FishRFriendz View Post
Thanks! Iím pretty happy with the tanks now so I wonít be posting much about them at all since Iíve fixed my problems with it. I ended up filling the reactor with Seachem Matrix and toss a timer on one adapter.
Well the light mod was great and I plan on working on the reactor once I make it to a dollar tree or whatever.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 01:20 AM
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Thanks for showing the light mod.
Now I can put it on a separate power supply and timer.
Kids requested a fish tank and we found the 5g retreat on sale at petsmart for $36 and change last week.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-10-2018, 01:27 AM Thread Starter
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Top Fin Retreat 2.5 and 5 gallon mods

Aww, ya missed Black Friday. I actually bought mine a month before Black Friday. They were $25 for BF. I bought two on BF and then used the old receipt to return them. Receipts are good for 60 days.

Edit: oh you got the 5g, not sure what that went for on BF but I think you made out real good!


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Last edited by FishRFriendz; 01-10-2018 at 05:34 AM.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-26-2018, 11:00 AM
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I have modded my own Top Fin and love the changes I've made, mainly in filtration (pinky filter cut to size and using old filter frame as support, a mesh bag of bioballs hanging right above filter intake).

I would like to do the light mod, but what is not mentioned is that the lights and filter are on a "Y" connection, one AC plug. If you put a timer on it, you will lost the filter everytime the the lights are shut off. How was this problem addressed?
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-26-2018, 06:30 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tagomi View Post
I have modded my own Top Fin and love the changes I've made, mainly in filtration (pinky filter cut to size and using old filter frame as support, a mesh bag of bioballs hanging right above filter intake).

I would like to do the light mod, but what is not mentioned is that the lights and filter are on a "Y" connection, one AC plug. If you put a timer on it, you will lost the filter everytime the the lights are shut off. How was this problem addressed?
Buy another 12v AC adapter to run them separately 1 amps is plenty for a single tank.

Like this should be sufficient:
https://www.amazon.com/NKC-12VDC-Ada.../dp/B006GEPUYA


I didn't need another adapter as I have two of these tanks and simply replaced the connector so that one adapter powers both lights and the other powers both pumps.

The wire I used to solder the connection from the pins was from a USB cable. I think most ppl have a bunch of spare USB type A to mini-B cables that they'll never use again. The black or red wires in USB cables are for power. I live on the edge using the data wire for power LOL (most old cables use the same gauge for data/power wires anyways 28AWG). Just to be safe I would recommend using a 24AWG cable, they make them as 28/24 cables which are fast charging cables.


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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-01-2018, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
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Top Fin Retreat 2.5 and 5 gallon mods

Holy cow ppl are picking up the 5g for $26. Wish I had space for one. Would love to add a filter makeover that is actually shrimp safe mod to this thread.

Iím think cutting out a big portion of the filter wall with a dremel but leaving enough to act as a holder for a matten filter and using the pump for quieter operation than an airlift.


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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-02-2018, 05:15 PM
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Out of stock in our area.

Anyone know a fabricator that can make a media rack for this and possibly a snap on cover for the inlet grill?

Another 2.5g story

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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-05-2018, 09:43 PM
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I bought one of these tanks on sale last week and opened up the light to do the mod. Looks like the board has been changed a bit since the original post.

The U2 chip has been rotated and the pins are no longer numbered, so I can't tell which pin is 1 and which is 5. Any way to know? I was thinking that perhaps the 1 and 6 lined up on the same edge as the U2 label like the first post. Here are photos of the front and back of the board. The two dots side by side on the back correspond with the two right above U2.
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-05-2018, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Kattikawn View Post
I bought one of these tanks on sale last week and opened up the light to do the mod. Looks like the board has been changed a bit since the original post.

The U2 chip has been rotated and the pins are no longer numbered, so I can't tell which pin is 1 and which is 5. Any way to know? I was thinking that perhaps the 1 and 6 lined up on the same edge as the U2 label like the first post. Here are photos of the front and back of the board. The two dots side by side on the back correspond with the two right above U2.
When I was doing the mod the first time, I used a wire and insulated pliers to hold the wires while the light was plugged in to temporarily touch the 1 and 5 pins and test without making permanent solders.

I do not recommend touching any other traces to each other on any of the other chips, as you may blow a resistor, as I recall all the other chips were just resistors. Just test that chip at U2, looks like it's just rotated 90 degrees counter clockwise.

Post an update if it worked out for you. Would love to know if anyone else has done the mod.


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Last edited by FishRFriendz; 03-05-2018 at 09:57 PM. Reason: Also
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-05-2018, 10:04 PM
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Good thinking. I'm the process of stripping a wire out of a usb cable to try it. I'll post back with what I find.
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 03-06-2018, 04:50 PM
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It's an ugly soldering job, but it worked. The chip is definitely just rotated 90 degrees counter clockwise. Tested the pin combinations and it still matches up with the other version of the board. If you have shaky hands and/or haven't soldered before, recruit a friend and a magnifying glass for this one. Also fine gauge solder wire. The one I have was too big.
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