Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 40
  1. #1
    Member fineanimal's Avatar
    Usergroup
    AC Members
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Minnesota
    Last Activity
    09-26-2007 6:22 PM
    Posts
    54

    Aquatic Gardens 6.6 gallon Bookshelf Aquarium Review

    Well, I finally gave my Betta, Garrison Keiller, a larger home. He'd been in that 1g Minibow aquarium for too long.

    I bought the Aquatic Gardens 6.6 gallon Bookshelf Aquarium at PetCo ($49), and built my own stand ($20). I'll show you how I built the stand in another post, but here I'd like to offer a detailed review of the 6.6g bookshelf aquarium, since I could find almost zero information about this tank on the net. Hopefully this will help future shoppers learn about this truly unique kit.



    The tank is proportioned pretty much like my 20 gallon long tank. It's 23.75" long, 7.5" deep, and 9" high. However, the 7.5" depth includes a one-half inch bow in front, and that's why I the online tank size calculators kept saying this tank should hold more than seven gallons. It took three buckets to fill, and each bucket is roughly two gallons. So it definitely has between 6 and 6.6 gallon capacity.

    When fitted with the included light hood, this aquarium stands 12" high. I don't think there's anything proportioned quite like this kit out there, at least not in this small size.

    The tank is acrylic, not glass, and it looks gorgeous out of the box. So far, after setting it all up, I haven't seen any scratches, but then again I was very careful with it.

    The base is black plastic, and it's not a ring--it's a tray that houses the bottom completely, with a half-inch lip that rings the bottom. There is a small curved half-inch rise in the lip at the bottom right of the tank. I don't know why--perhaps a place to add a label of some kind? The top ring is just that, a black plastic ring. It doesn't even snap on; it just sits there. You can easily remove it if you wish. The top ring has indents to hold the clear cover tray and the light hood. The acrylic is 4mm thick, and seamless. I get the impression that both the top and bottom rings are mostly decorative, and not necessary to hold the tank together. They look very nice, though, so I kept them both.

    I forgot to check when it was empty, but after filling it with water, I looked through the front from the back (best I could), and I couldn't see anything at all outside. Just a mirrored reflection on the inside. I thought this was an optical illusion due to the bowfront, but my Betta has gone berserk at his reflection when the hood light is on and the room light is low. When the room light is adequate he can see me through the front, however.

    The clear plastic tray on top fits snuggly into the black rim on top, and it has a small handle for easy removal. The tray has breakouts for a small filter, and large filter, a heater, and an air hose. Unlike my very expensive 10g hood, these breakouts are quite easy to remove without risk of breaking the other plastic. I used a needlenose pliers.

    One thing with the clear plastic tray, though--if you fill the water to the top so the water line is covered by the top rim and can't be seen, the clear plastic tray will literally be touching the water surface. That means reduced surface area for oxygen and C02 exhchange, and if you have a surface-breathing fish, they'll only have two places to get air: under the feeding door, and at the breakouts where your equipment is located. Bottom line here is that you have to keep the water slightly below the black rim. Personally, I like it better when you can't see the water surface.

    The light hood sits on the plastic tray at the front of the tank. Just in front of that, over the bowfront, is a 1"x6.25" feeding door. The hood features a beautiful 14 watt flourescent light bulb, and vents on top for air circulation/heat dispersal. However, the light switch (in the back, center) is a pushbutton surrounded by rubber, and it's very difficult to push. It doesn't turn on immediately, either--you have to hold the button in for a moment before the light flickers on, like those old flourescent lights from 30 years ago. I like the instant-on feature of my 10g light assembly better. But at least this light illuminates this tank well, and the good news is that it's a true on-off switch, which means you can use it with a timer.

    The flourescent light heats up the plastic cover try pretty good, but I don't think it's enough to warp or melt it, thanks to the air vents on top of the hood.

    The included power filter is the Achilles Heel of this kit. It's some kind of Asian knockoff of a Tetra Whisper 10 filter that probably violates a patent or two, and that has a few consequences for consumers:

    1. The instructions are technically adequate. But there are references to different model numbers that don't match anything written on the filter you receive, so you have no idea which model you have. The instructions refer to four models that look pretty much the same. However, if you read them carefully, you can probably figure out how it works.

    2. There's no way I'm aware of to get replacement cartidges, although I've seen other common brand's cartidges that are *almost* the same size.

    3. It doesn't come with any kind of biofilter sponge. I bought a biosponge separately and cut it to size for this filter.

    The filter itself is quite large for such a small tank--about the same size as my Whisper 10 filter. It's attractive though, with a semi-transparent, smoked-plastic color, and a stylishly rounded top.

    When I first plugged the power filter in, it sounded like a squealing electric blender. Just a ghastly, horrific, ear-splitting squealing and grinding that reminded me of Armaggeddon more than anything else. It scared the hell out of Garrison Keillor. Then I went back and re-translated instructions like "Combination with 10 gallon aquarium when using side-filter will not only achieve optimum performance of your filtration system, but also bring you more and more joyful adopting mood," and I finally figured out that you need to fill the filter chamber with water before plugging it in on this model. After doing that, it was silent. Better yet, the maximum flow wasn't too much for my Betta to handle.

    Even so, unless the other brand's filter cartridges work, I'll probably replace it with a smaller Art Deco Nanofilter.

    In keeping with it's mysterious Asian origins, the ad copy on the box didn't accurately reflect the box's contents. The ad copy said it came with the "ornamental resin wood branch" featured on the large box photo. Instead, it contained two plastic plants (green and red), and a plastic "rock" with holes in it that were featured on a smaller box photo (Yes, the box photos show two completely different kit setups!). Meanwhile, the box says "fish and decorations not included", despite the included decorations!). As it turns out, I preferred the plants and rock over the wood branch anyway. They fit in better with my planned scheme for this tank.

    Similarly, the ad copy described a "reversible photo quality background", and had pictures of this elsewhere on the box, yet it did not include this background in the photo of the entire kit. But it was indeed there, and believe it or not, it's gorgeous. When I attached the background (freshwater side) and took my first look, I was absolutely stunned. It instantly transformed a mediocre tank into a real work of art. And it fit the dimensions perfectly--no cutting or trimming necessary!

    Because the ad copy on the box is so dubious and confusing, I'd highly recommend opening the box before purchase so you'll know exactly what's inside.

    I added two 5 lb bags of black gravel, and had a small amount left over. The only other decorations I added were a small resin coral piece, a small plastic plant, a large silk plant, and a tiny Roman column. Along with the included background, the results are stunning, and GK has plenty of room to swim in all dimensions. I estimate this rig weighs around 60 lbs maximum.

    This "Aquatic Gardens" kit says says it is listed by Underwriter Laboratories, and made in Taiwan. As near as I can tell, "Aquatic Gardens" is some kind of asian import that PetCo treats as a proprietary brand in the United States. Even PetCo employees don't know anything about Aquatic Gardens, or for example how to obtain replacement filter cartridges for this thing. A very odd business arrangement, if you ask me....

    The kit is distributed by "International Pet Supplies and Distribution, Inc., San Diego, CA 92121" (IPSD). The PetCo SKU# is 801119, and the barcode reads "42583 80111 6". I include this info because it's terribly difficult to find information about this kit online. It sells at a few (questionable) places online for $54, and I've always seen it at PetCo for $49. However, I've heard of people finding it on sale at PetCo for $35.

    And last but not least, the box it came in is packed fairly well for an acrylic tank. No real insulation against breakage, but the acrylic is protected by extra cardboard and a plastic bag. Best of all, the box features a plastic carrying handle.

    In summary, this kit has some really nice features. It includes unique (and attractive) proportions, a bowfront, a flourescent light hood, a power filter, decorations, easy-to-remove tabs on the top tray for adding equipment, and a gorgeous two-sided background, all for $49, which ain't bad. However, when you factor in the probability that you'll need to replace the power filter, along with the general lack of knowledge about "Aquatic Gardens" on the part of PetCo employees, you begin to see the risk inherent in purchasing this kit. You'll almost certainly need to replace the power filter entirely ($12-$20), and you might have bear some general anxiety about this tank until it proves itself, because there is so much mystery and secrecy surrounding this product. On the other hand, despite my anxiety, my kit has caused no problems for me so far.

    If the power filter were normal, I might feel okay paying $49 for this. But since I'll need to replace the filter, I'm looking at $65-$70 total (plus the stand), and that begins to push it. Right next to it at PetCo was an All-Glass Minibow 7 gallon tank, complete with Tetra Whisper 10 filter, also for $49 ("new low price"). The Minibow is squat and tall, however, and I like the long dimensions of the Aquatic Gardens tank much better.

    So the bottom line is that I love this aquarium kit, even though it scares the hell out of me.

    In case you wondered, Garrison Keillor took to this tank with disbelief. He barely moved at first, being used to cramped spaces. But once he figured out how large it was, I got to witness something really amazing--a Betta fish SWIMMING! He's not the fastest fish in the world, but he looks very happy having nearly 24 inches on unobstructed water to swim through. Bettas are really beautiful when they're given a chance to really swim. Betta bowls are EVIL! I also took the three Platy fry out of my 10g tank and put them into this 6.6g tank, to serve as either Betta food or cycling assistants. Time will tell on that. They're upset by the relative lack of vegetation, but they're having a ball with nearly 24" of unobstructed swimming space. Look carefully at the "rock" photo and you'll see one of the Platy fry hiding inside.






    Last edited by fineanimal; 08-02-2007 at 2:36 PM.
    10 Gallon Freshwater (Various Tropical Fish)
    6.6 Gallon Freshwater (Betta and Platy Fry)






  2. #2
    New Fish Fanatic lancerland's Avatar
    Usergroup
    AC Members
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    North side of Chicago
    Last Activity
    06-17-2009 9:52 AM
    Posts
    92
    Very informative, i was thinking about getting the 5 gallon mini-bow, but you have convinced me to go with this product, I have seen it at my petsmart. Thanks for all the research.
    30 gal all glass aquarium
    Aquaclear 50 HOB filter, 50 watt submersible heater
    Black and Natural gravel mixed and 2 parts black 1 part natural
    1 large dark red rock, 4 fake plants
    medium size air stone circle w/ air pump. (god the fish love that)

    6 Pristella (X-Ray)tetras, 6 tiny Glowlight Rasboras, 1 pearl gourami




  3. #3
    Member fineanimal's Avatar
    Usergroup
    AC Members
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Minnesota
    Last Activity
    09-26-2007 6:22 PM
    Posts
    54
    It was very difficult to find information on this product, so I'm glad I could save you the difficulty I had. Good luck with it!
    10 Gallon Freshwater (Various Tropical Fish)
    6.6 Gallon Freshwater (Betta and Platy Fry)




  4. #4
    I see you! boomerjr91's Avatar
    Usergroup
    AC Members
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Horseheads, NY
    Last Activity
    01-19-2010 12:35 AM
    Posts
    404
    very nice!! great info!
    20 Long--
    1. 1 male firemouth
    2. 1 bn pleco
    3. 3 green cories
    4. 1 sterbae cory
    5. 1 bronze cory



  5. #5
    Pterophyllum scalare jm1212's Avatar
    Usergroup
    AC Members
    Real Name
    Jon
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    23,630
    Blog Entries
    8
    it looks great!



  6. #6
    Senior Member mudskippers's Avatar
    Usergroup
    AC Members
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Tempe, AZ
    Last Activity
    05-24-2014 9:55 PM
    Posts
    897
    looks good, nice pics



  7. #7
    The glistening drop.... Rbishop's Avatar
    Usergroup
    Global Moderators
    Real Name
    Mr. Normal
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Last Activity
    Today 9:25 AM
    Posts
    36,448
    Great! Thanks for posting!
    Bob

    Our baggage helped define who we are. How we carry it determines our direction in life.



  8. #8
    Feeds low on the food chain FishyFry's Avatar
    Usergroup
    AC Members
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Last Activity
    10-31-2010 7:34 PM
    Posts
    389
    Nice of you to offer just a good write up on this product.
    Regards,
    FishyFry

    www.pandk.org



  9. #9
    BobsTropicalPlants.com Mgamer20o0's Avatar
    Usergroup
    Moderators
    M.A.N. Community Vendors
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Posts
    31,061
    cool.... seems a lot for a 6.6 gal though...



  10. #10
    Backhanded fish to the face! Slappy*McFish's Avatar
    Usergroup
    Moderators
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    7,437
    Interesting footprint on that aquarium. That's a great betta tank.
    "If you don't know where you are going, then any road will get you there."



Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Aquarium Size information - rules of thumb
    By Black_Moor in forum Freshwater Newbie Forum
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 10-28-2009, 8:20 PM
  2. Replies: 35
    Last Post: 01-22-2009, 5:52 PM
  3. Novaqua vs prime
    By Riiz in forum Freshwater Equipment, Products, & DIY
    Replies: 35
    Last Post: 06-12-2008, 3:51 AM
  4. what to put into a 35 u.s. gallon aquarium
    By hanif in forum Cichlids
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-30-2003, 2:07 PM

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •