I picked up a Petco branded 3.7 gallon cube tank today - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-11-2015, 01:02 AM Thread Starter
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I picked up a Petco branded 3.7 gallon cube tank today

I've never been very big on writing anything resembling an in-depth review, but this thing really impressed me.

I spent the better part of the day not working while at work. I was looking at reviews for every nano sized tank I could find that would fit on my desk at home and had decided on the Marineland Contour 3 gallon. The store I went to was sold out of it, but they did have the Petco preferred branded Cubic 3.7g. This tank is not listed on their website so I was a bit surprised when I saw it sitting on the self. It looks like a great little tank. The price was only $50. They had two in stock. I brain-farted and didn't open the box while in the store and when I got home I discovered the entire bottom piece of glass was shattered. But after a quick trip back to the store I was able to exchange it with no problem.



It is all glass. The front and side panels are one piece of curved glass. The glass is 3/16" thick. All of the joints are sealed with black silicone. Overall, the tank is 9 7/8" x 9 7/8" x 9 7/8". The actual usable tank area is 7 1/2" x 9 3/8" x 9 1/2. It sits on a plastic pedestal that is glued to the bottom of the tank. It does come with a glass lid. The instruction leaflet that was in the box showed plastic hinges for the glass lid, but they were not in the box which I honestly dont care about since I probably wouldn't use them anyway. There is enough of a gap with the lid in place in the back for power cords for the pump and a heater and also an air line.

It has a 3 watt Led light that has blue and white leds. It is plastic and does not feel like it is built to last. It can swivel to either side and also be tilted up. It does have an interesting way of turning it on and off. It is not an actual button or switch, but instead a spot on the top of the light that each time you touch and it will cycle through off, blue, blue + white, or white. It does seem to remember where it was if the power supply is unplugged so I'm guessing a no frills wall outlet plug-in timer should work. I am also willing to bet that the circuitry for the touch button (for lack of a better term) is extremely cheaply designed and will fail.

The light is to say the least, not bright. I'm sure it would be just fine if the only thing alive in the tank were fish, but for plants...not so much. I did notice that the power supply is rated for 12 volts, 1.0 amp so I'm thinking there is at least some room for modifying it by replacing the leds with higher output ones.



The back of the tank has what looks like a very well designed filter/pump compartment. They seem to have done a good job to make sure the water flows through evenly. There is a piece of black plastic glued in place separating it from the main part of the tank. It has three compartments for filter cartridges, a black plastic sponge, and a removable (replaceable) pump. They are all 2 1/2" wide, and then 3 1/2", 2 7/8", and 3 3/8" long. The filter cartridges sit one behind the other. The compartment that houses the pump is plenty big enough to add a heater. The picture shows an extra Aqueon 100 watt heater I have. I'm not planning on using it, it's just there to help show how much room there is. I though it was odd that even though they used a piece plastic to separate the main tank area from the filter area, they used glass to separate the three filter compartments. It seems like that would have been a golden opportunity to cheap-out and just use more plastic.

The water enters through two places (green in the picture). The primary area is a series of slots that are at top at the water line. There is also a single small slot towards the bottom at the substrate level. The slots are about 1/8" wide, so I'm thinking they are probably not very shrimp or fry friendly.





It has two filter cartridges, one with carbon and the other little ceramic balls. It also has a pretty good sized plastic sponge. I think I will probably just ditched both of the cartridges and replace them with a single bag of ceramic rings.



The sticker on the pump says it is rated for 40 gallons per hour and the flow rate is adjustable. It also has four little suction cups on the bottom of it to hold it in place. I filled the tank up to see if it leaked and clean it out and to make sure everything worked correctly. Once the pump was pluged in, it did a really good job of circulating all cardboard box lint they included for free. That was definitely the one thing they seemed to have spared no expense on. I think they put extra lint in the box just for me. I was really impressed that even though there it did not have what I would call a strong current in the tank, everything was moving around quite well. There didn't appear to be any dead spots either in the main tank area or the filter area. The stuff that was floating on the surface was also being drawn into the filter area quite well. The pump is small, 1 5/8" x 1 1/4" x 1 3/4". But, I'm not quite sure if I would label it as quite. I definitely would not say it's loud or noisy. It just seems like something that size shouldn't be as audible as it is. I don't know, maybe it just needs a break in period.



Even though I have not had it long enough to keep anything alive in it yet, I would say this was a good purchase for me. In spite of the black piece of piece of plastic they used to separate the two areas of the tank and the filter cartridges that I'm not going to use, would end up costing way to much for replacements, it appears to be very well made. The glass is not low iron, but it is very clear. There are no cracks or chips [or gaping holes in this one]. It also looks like somebody who actually likes their job and wasn't in a hurry applied the silicone. It is in the joints evenly, and ONLY in the joints. For only $50 I think this is a good deal.

Like I said at the beginning, I've never been very big on writing anything resembling an in-depth review, so that's all I have to say about it.
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-11-2015, 01:09 AM
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Wow , that's really nice . and fifty bucks ain't bad either. Send some pics after you get it up and going.


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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-11-2015, 01:37 AM
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I've been looking at the 6.25 gallon Petco "Arc" tank which is just a slightly larger version of this tank, and costs $70. Its twice the size, but it uses the same size filter and light, I believe...I would replace the light, but wondering if the filter pump would be strong enough, or if that would need replacing as well?

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I did have a bluegill once that ate cooked pasta and bologna rinds as a treat.
Then again, that fish would probably bite on a cigarette butt.

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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-11-2015, 01:44 AM
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It looks almost exactly like the Marineland Portrait tank which is 5 gallons, 9.5x9.5x13". It comes with the curved front and side glasses, the back is black and has the same type of compartment setup for the pump. The light is also a piece of trash but the setup was about $40.

I removed the partition for the pump compartment because I wanted to build a moss wall. I love the tank.
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-11-2015, 02:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EndlerGame View Post
I've been looking at the 6.25 gallon Petco "Arc" tank which is just a slightly larger version of this tank, and costs $70. Its twice the size, but it uses the same size filter and light, I believe...I would replace the light, but wondering if the filter pump would be strong enough, or if that would need replacing as well?
Managed to get a slightly damaged one at my store for 41$. Have yet to set it up but it looks of decently good grade, better than other Petco tanks atleast.


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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-16-2015, 12:19 PM
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I got the 5 gallon marineland from petco thats exactly like this.

Honestly I Hate the filter system. I ended up gutting the cartrdige and just stuffing it with my own material and have been debating actually ripping out the divider wall and just putting in a better filter because it does NOT do a good job at removing sediment since it kind of just works on its own gravity of flow.

I have been trying to find a better light to for my plants in the tank, its not awful for very low light ones but anything else bleck. They do look nice tho
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-16-2015, 12:26 PM
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I took the divider, filter and pump out of mine. The divider is just siliconed in and does not serve any structural purpose, although the company said it would void the warranty.

I put a small SunSun canister filter on the tank.

I bought a Finnex FugeRay 10" light for the tank. If you're growing low light plants like Java Ferns, it works perfectly.
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-17-2015, 05:09 AM
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Very similar to the Aquanano series of tanks in Australia. I'd already purchased an 1100 litre per hour canister filter before I decided on the tank, so I've got the intake and outlet of the canister sitting in one of the columns at the back. Seeing the standard setup doesn't do much for surface agitation, I have the outlet of the canister mounted above the water line to create good oxygenation. Works a treat.

The only issue I have with it is the cartridge filters. They block so much flow that the water level drops to the pump intake with a couple days worth of standard evaporation. I'm only using one cartridge (instead of two, which gave it no chance of flow) and slightly lifted it up, creating a gap at the bottom, so that it had some chance of half decent flow.

Other than that, it's a good no fuss system to hide away all the things you don't want to see.


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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-22-2015, 05:03 AM Thread Starter
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Well, I couldn't resist the urge to take apart my new toy. After many attempts at trying different pieces of driftwood and rocks I just could not come up with anything that looked good enough. The problem was the built in filter. After spending about 5 minutes with a couple fresh utility blades the problem was solved. As nice as I thought the filter was, it was taking up 25% of a 10" cube and it had to go. I ended up replacing it with a Tetra Whisper PF10 HOB filter.

The water is still a bit cloudy and I'm still not happy with the layout. My fingers where getting all wrinkly from being in the tank arranging and rearranging everything so many times, so I decided to give up for now and just let it start cycling. My other tank is starting to become a bit too densely planted so I ended up just using a few plants from it. I have some Anubias Nana, Anubias Nane Petite, Crypotocoryne Undulata and Wenditi, and a bit of Java Fern. I also bought some glossostigma elantinoides online. It was to say the least not what I was expecting. In all the pictures I had seen of it online it is a lush bright green and rather compact. What I received was a clump of elongated yellowing thin stems with leaves that only seem to stay on by shear will power, they come off very easily. I have very little faith that my $10 was money well spent.

Front


Side


I also got all Mr Wizard on the light that came with the tank. I wanted to see if the LEDs could be replaced with some brighter ones and still be able to use the touch button to turn it on and off. As it turns out they can. There's a tiny circuit board inside the light housing and I was able to very easily reverse engineer it. It had a couple of IC's and a few transistors and I was able to read the IC chip codes with a magnifying glass and found out it is capable of handling far more current than the original LEDs use. I though it was odd that a 3 watt led light came with a 12 volt, 1 amp power supply. Now I know why. It is basically a 2 channel LED controller that can handle at least 1/2 amp per channel. I couldn't pinpoint exactly which transistors were being used because the code printed on them was a bit generic. But, I was able to find out that that type of transistor is manufactured with a few different current ratings that start at 500ma. The touch button cycles though off, channel 1, channel 2, channel 1 + 2.

It's still in the proof of concept phase, but I replaced the original LED's with 36 5050's. I have 18 of them on each channel. I would have used more, but the light housing wasn't big enough. They are left overs from the light fixture a made for my other tank. For the time being they are mounted to a small strip of aluminum and are being held in place with a couple of twist ties until I determine once and for all if the lights generating too much heat for the thin plastic light housing.


The difference is pretty amazing. The top one is the original LED's and the bottom is the new and improved. The two pictures were taken about 30 seconds apart and used exact same camera settings.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-22-2015, 12:10 PM
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Very nice!

I took mine apart more times than I can remember. My hubby kept saying, you're doing it again?????

I'm still not totally happy with mine but I really like it and just plan to take a piece of driftwood out.

I finally took everything out of the tank, filter, heater, etc. Everything is inline.

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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-23-2015, 05:47 AM
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This is my 4g nano planted tank. 3rd day of cycle.
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-23-2015, 06:40 AM
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What is that cooling fan and how well does it work?
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-23-2015, 06:46 AM
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Well, I'm from Malaysia and it gets really warm during the day. Water temp touches 31 celcius.

With the cooling fan the temp is capped at 28.5 celcius, so yeah it does help!
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-23-2015, 05:12 PM
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that's an awesome little tank! I want it, but no idea where to put it!
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 04-23-2015, 10:13 PM
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I did basically the exact same with a cheap Walmart 10g that I found on the side of the road. Got it home, held water through the night. So the plot started. My chambers were 3 inch square. Fits a heater and a 160gph pump snuggly. Biomax and sponges in the other two. My only regret was not using black acylic for the face, but I had everything laying around. So it was completely free. Now it's a bangin' little shrimp tank for my bedroom. (Sorry for the thread jack...)
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