JBJ RL-8 Aquarium
As follow-up to a recent purchase, Marine Depot (MD) requested a review of my new, recently received JBJ RL-8 aquarium.
MD ships extremely very fast. Within a few hours of ordering, the purchase is shipped. A confirming email provides up-to-date tracking details. But here is the best part: MD's shipping email notification includes a rather extended "cute" fantasy story of how the shipping staff has gone to absolutely extreme efforts to protect the shipment, including meticulously placing each foam packing peanut in the best place to fully protect my purchase during shipment, etc. The story they spin is absolutely silly, absolutely well-written, and is absolutely the most entertaining shipping notice I have ever received. Absolutely priceless! Well done MD.
Needless to say the JBJ aquarium arrived safely and on time.
On opening the oversized MD shipping carton, I found the carton carefully filled with the aforementioned peanuts (perhaps MD was not kidding after all) and the RL-8 safely cradled within foam molds inside the JBJ factory carton.
I quickly removed the packing materials and filled the RL-8 with water to check it out and see how it functioned. Found it to be perfect.
Prior to purchase, I was unable find all the details I wanted on the unit, so I thought this review would be an opportune time to share my thoughts with potential buyers who might appreciate a bit more information.
The aquarium manufacturer, JBJ, provides exceptional customer warranty service, should you need it, so you are more than adequately protected as an owner of one of their products.
Also, the retailer, Marine Depot, from whom I made the purchase, is a knowledgeable and well-respected company handling a wide range of excellent products. Comforting to know, both companies have your back should a problem occur.
Back to the JBJ RL-8: This is my first all-glass aquarium, although I owned fresh water and saltwater units in the past. This time I chose the small, self-contained, RL-8 unit for ease of placement and to appease my wife. I am a chemical engineer and average hobbyist and I hope to create a setup my wife likes and approves. I marvel at those who craft and maintain totally unbelievable and spectacular aquariums I see pictured on the web. Mine will likely never be serious competition to them, but I have a good start on the hardware. Meanwhile, their suggestions and online reviews are a valuable resource and most appreciated.
The RL-8 is a beautiful, well-designed and constructed, all-glass rimless aquarium with filter and dual pumps installed in a compact rear sump. As is customary with this type design, filtration occurs as water flows through upper slots in the sump partition, into the filter media basket and returns to the aquarium through nozzles via pumps. A black wrap-around mask is provided on the exterior surfaces of the three walls of the RL-8 sump. A glass cover, with clips, is included for the aquarium top. The sump is left uncovered.
With addition of lights and heater, the RL-8 is essentially ready to operate. Choice of light fixture(s) and mounting method will depend on your application and personal preferences. Many efficient, cool operating LED fixtures, or those with other type bulbs, are available in styles suitable for hanging, clip-on, or lay-on glass cover and, properly selected, will work with the RL-8. If you plan on mounting a light fixture bracket on the sump back wall, be sure to check dimensions of the mounting bracket to insure it will fit there. A structural support for the filter cartridge on 4-7/8 inch spacing is attached to the center of the back wall and may interfere. However, both the side walls are free and the mount may be installed there, just like on the end walls of a rectangular tank, offering two other potential mounting locations.
Heaters that are placed directly in the sump are probably installed contrary to the manufacturer's directions. Heater installation details will probably suggest a more standard placement location within the aquarium proper for improved heat transfer.
Glass edges of the RL-8 are well-polished. The front curved wall and side walls are positioned 1/2-inch inside the outer edge (rim) of the glass base plate and offer impact protection to these edges, a commendable design feature. The rear wall is flush mounted. The base plate has well-polished edges and follows the curves of the front and sidewalls. The slightly larger base provides a sense of stability, both visually and structurally. The end result is an attractive design.
The dual water pumps are dimensionally small, 5 watt, 350L/hr units resting at the bottom of separate chambers of the sump. Total pump capacity, with head loss and tubing/fitting friction losses to the nozzles included in design calculations, appears to provide the standard, recommended circulation rate for an 8-gallon aquarium.
Inadvertent failure of a pump will cause overflow into the adjacent chamber of the other pump and filtration will continue at reduced rate until rectified. Each chamber, although compact, may allow optional upgrade to a slightly larger capacity pump, with suitably small dimensions, for those DIY owners. The sump is well-designed for this size aquarium and the dual pumps provide welcome redundancy. Under test, the pumps were essentially silent.
In summary, the RL-8 is an excellent performer. Other JBJ aquariums with similar design will probably provide similar performance. Hopefully my review has clarified some of the features of the RL-8 and ultimately help those planning a future purchase.