LifeReef Filter Systems
The following Product Review appeared in Marine Fish Monthly in the April 1990 issue!
Move over top name brands, here comes a "Challenger" that's going to knock your socks off!
After reading this first sentence, most hobbyists will think, "here comes another new wet/dry manufacturer!" NOT SO!. Lifereef Filter Systems may be a small business, but has been on the scene making wet/drys for more than four years and were actually the first in the U.S.A. to offer the wet/dry system to the hobbyist! They make quality products in small quantities, but simply never had the budget to go hog wild and spend big bucks on advertising campaigns.
It wasn't till after the six part series last year on my "Wet/Dry Filtration System" did Jeff Turcheck, President of Lifereef contact me about his products. He was quite enthused to hear that people like myself thought "drip tray" systems were still a viable approach to biological filtration. Besides that, Jeff was right up front when he asked me to look at his various systems and if I thought they deserved widespread attention of the hobbyist, why not use the "Power" of the column, to get the information out. Well, isn't that what this column is all about! If there is someone/some Company whose products are not widely known and which will truly benefit the hobbyist, let me know. But be forewarned, I go on a principal my Mom taught me at a very young age, - "if you don't have anything good to say about someone or something, don't say anything about it!" There are a lot of great, fairly good, and so-so products on the current market and you'll see their brand names/items appear from time to time in this column. You'll never see the one's that I personally feel do not benefit the hobbyist!
Again, Jeff was right up front and said if I wasn't impressed with his systems, so be it and if I thought there was room for improvements, what were they! He stood ready to modify his equipment if necessary! How could I turn down a straight shooter and a chance to bring to hobbyists something that may deserve their attention. He arranged for a visit to a store that has been selling his products for a long time and I was on my way.
After discussing with the storeowner the various attributes of the units in his shop and looking first hand at various Lifereef wet/dry systems which have been up and running for over a year, I can honestly say the hobbyist is in for a quality/price treat and the unit will provide exactly what is said of it and more. The systems reviewed showed no sign of salt creep or warping. Sprinkler tubes were free flowing and the plastic bio media in the dry section was free of any channeling and water was being evenly distributed throughout/over the media. I was informed by the storeowner that these units were rarely ever given any attention except for evaporation make-up and cleaning of the prefilter media. If you think like me, my first thought would be maybe the owner cleaned them up before I got there. Not so, they were all quite dusty as these operating wet/drys were not housed in special display cabinets, but setting out in the open for customer viewing. Sometimes the "detective" in me likes to rise to the surface!
Lets take a look at Lifereef's tray and tower wet/dry systems, first starting with the tray system:
Who said tray systems were obsolete! This one may just rejuvenate some folks way of thinking. Not only are "tray" wet/dry systems still worthwhile and an able biological filtration system, but Jeff has made some improvements that make them highly advantageous and easy to maintain.
When water in this type system flows down from the aquarium above, it enters the stationary sprinkler pipe and is extremely well distributed over the entire surface area of the top tray. The sprinkler tube is easily removed for cleaning, when and if needed. Let me honestly say, that the chances are the time will come for a cleaning, no matter who's/what type system you have, unless you have a very good pre-fliter and keep it properly maintained. Having a sprinkler pipe which is easy to get at and a snap to remove, will be a welcomed feature for the owner.
Another feature I like very much is the ability to simply slide out individual trays for cleaning of the media when and if necessary. This feature allows for the use of more than just crushed coral, Dolomite or BioBeads in the trays, and thought could be given to lining the trays with two layers of DLS! Most of us are familiar with the fact that DLS provides extremely efficient biological filtration for its physical size when compared to that of plastic ball/cube media for the same given space. The only drawback with DLS is that it loses its ability to process unwanted matter when it get dirty. Unfortunately, because of its closely woven structure, DLS is quick to retain any slime/detritus, which slips through most prefilters. But with the easy to slide out trays, one can remove/clean the DLS in some fresh saltwater and quickly reinsert on a "as needed" basis. This is an ideal way to maintain the full biological capacity of DLS or any other media used in this portion of the system. Whether its DLS or another media, there will never be a problem to clean this portion of the system, if required!
Another unique feature is the removable clear plastic full-face plate that covers the trays. This one piece and easily removable shield prevents any splash from reaching out into the cabinet area or onto your rug. Also, there is a natural current of air flowing through all the trays, probably due to the even distribution/downward flow of water and the design of the splash shield. When the water finally exits the bottom tray, its collected on a ramp which is angled towards the right hand chamber of the wet portion of the system. Water is directed into this chamber, where it cascades downward and then through the adjoining two chambers. There is plenty of room in the three wet chambers to place further biological media, activated carbon or other well known filtering aids, e.g., Chemi-Pure/Poly Filters. The fourth chamber in the wet section contains a large foam filter pad and is still roomy enough to house an internal pump. Should your choice be an external pump, the unit comes with a bulkhead fitting for this purpose. One other germane improvement is the "water level" marks indicating operating high and low levels in the unit. Enough you say, ....well, believe it or not, the unit is also equipped with a pre-filter and all connecting tubing! Lifereef also supplies "two" pre-filters with each unit. Such a deal!
Depending on which one you choose, the one or two tower model, water flows from the provided one or two pre-filters to the water delivery pipe which empties out into a drip tray located above the media in the dry section. Notice I said 'drip tray," not drip plate. In all other brand units equipped with drip plates, when cleaning time comes it means shutting the system down, pulling the top of the unit off, putting it somewhere in the cabinet while cleaning, then reinstalling the top and cranking up the system. From what I've seen, this usually involves cleaning up water that has continued to siphon down from the prefilter and has dripped/spilled in the cabinet or onto the carpet. Not with this system....as the "drip tray" is simply a slide out "draw" that contains a filter pad for additional prefiltering.
The tray slides to either the center of the two-tower unit or in the single tower unit, it slides towards the side that houses the pump/chemical filter media. This provides an effective and simple way to clean the drip tray area/filter pad and warrants only a brief shutdown of the system. This is one improvement in tower systems, which may cause some folks with stationary drip plates to modify their systems! Water from the drip tray is evenly distributed over the plastic bio media below and trickles down into the reservoir at the bottom of the unit. Are you ready for this - notice I didn't say "the media of your choice," - that's because this unit is sold "complete" with the plastic bio type media! I'll repeat that... "complete with the plastic bio type media." Not having to buy this media eliminates one of the most costly additional expenses that always faces the purchaser of a new wet/dry filtration unit. There are also pre-tubed air connections at the bottom of each tower for upward airflow through the provided media.
The unit's reservoir area features a multi chambered area to house additional biological media, activated carbon, Chemi-Pure, Poly Filters, heater and standard filter pad media. There is also a warp free clear plastic cover plate, which fits neatly over the upper open area of this portion of the system. This helps cut down on evaporation and keeps dirt/bugs/dust from falling into this part of the system. Again, the system comes complete with all general fittings, hoses, filter pads, plastic bio/filter media, clamps, bulkhead fitting and pre-filters.
Also included with each unit is a detailed set of instructions/diagrams for correct set-up and operation the first time around. Another attention getter is the TWO YEAR guarantee on all products! Beat that if you can! WHAT A PACKAGE/WHAT A DEAL!
Actually, I saved the best for last....the Price! If your on a tight budget, call or write Jeff at the address/phone number below. For the quality/cost, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Liferreef also makes some other interesting products, i.e., protein skimmers, oxygen towers, air diffusers, two types of reef current simulators called Wave Tech and Wave Tech II, a drip-tray drawer conversion unit for people wanting this convenience on their filters and a new compact LF3 model which is a "one-piece" filter system that is essentially identical to the LF2 series. They also have a dosing system for those wanting to add reef supplements automatically.
Lifereef is also willing to customize the units to suit your particular needs! If your in the market for a wet/dry or one of these other items, give them a try!
LIFEREEF FILTER SYSTEMS
4628 S. WARD WAY
MORRISON, CO 80465