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Product Review: TopFin 10 Gallon LED Starter Kit

Even since I purchased the little 5 gallon Eclipse fish tank system I’ve been quite happy with it. Essentially everything you needed to start an aquarium was built all in one neat little package. You got the tank, the lighted hood, the filter. All you needed to do was add some substrate, water and of course fish.

When my wife and I lived in our little apartment in Vancouver’s West End, I had set up the little tank in the living room. The great thing about our apartment was the amount of direct light we received. Unfortunately it also had a downside, well at least for the fish tank. That is, the UV light from the sun faded out the acrylic that the tank is made from. This made for a cloudy look. I only noticed this when we set the tank up for the kidlets and gave our new Betta Splendid, Monkey,¬† a new home.

Fast forward a couple of months and I wanted to get a new tank that not only had a nice clear view of the fish that will live in it, but also gave more room to not only our Betta, but be big enough to add in some new fish. That’s when I noticed a sale on glass tanks at our Local Fish Store (LFS), PetSmart. Yes, not everyone likes PetSmart, but there is no other option in the area and their prices aren’t too bad.

TopFin 10 Gallon LED Starter Kit

I’ve not heard of TopFin before, but it looks like it is PetSmart’s own brand and perhaps even made by Marineland. Marineland is also who make the Eclipse system I’ve previously bought. Just an observation though from some quick Googling.

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When I looked at the options for a new fish tank, I looked to see what sizes were available and at what prices. My simple requirements for a new tank was that it was made of glass and was at least 10 gallons in size. A bonus was that if it came with LED lighting.

That’s when I found the TopFin 10 Gallon LED Starter Kit. On sale too! Though when I went to the store I had both kids with me and that was an adventure in itself. The fish tank wouldn’t fit in the stroller, “A” was trying to play with all the dog toys he could find. It was pouring outside and the car was parked across the street a little bit away from the shop. Luckily the cashier helped by tanking the fish tank to my car! That is some nice customer service!

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So what do you get in the starter kit? Most of the essentials actually!

  • 10 Gallon glass tank
  • Hood with LED lighting
  • Filter (hang on edge style – TopFin Power 10)
  • 50W submersible adjustable heater (instructions mentioned it was Marineland)
  • Stick on thermometer
  • Fish Net

Of course you need to supply your own substrate (1lb/gal roughly), fish, water (don’t forget to treat it first) and then the items needed to maintain the water and your fish’s health.

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The tank itself is pretty straight-forward with dimensions of 10.1-inches wide by 20.1-inches long with a height of 14.1-inches.

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When it comes to the hood, it is a lightweight molded plastic and has a small opening in the front so you can feed your fish. Though with a toddler in the house, I hope I don’t catch him putting things in there he shouldn’t be.

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The LEDs need to be installed in the areas pictured above. I also found that a lot of force was needed to be applied to get them to “snap” in place. Each LED assembly has 3 bright-white LEDs. No mention of what colour temperature they are though.

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The lighting’s cable leaves the hood via a small notch at the back. One thing I’d like to look at is creating some sort of timer/dimmer for the lights so I can turn the lights on and off but not in an abrupt sort of way. Slowly have it fade to being off and then fade to being turned on again I think would be ideal. This light is just a basic on/off.

TopFin Power 10 Filter

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The filter that comes with the Starter Kit sits on the back edge of the tank. I wasn’t actually expecting this. Previous starter kits I have looked at have typically the under-substrate type filter for which I personally never liked. This one being on the back of the tank though is a nice surprise. At the back of the hood is a larger open space to make room for the filter. You need to attach the intake pipe to the bottom. Insert the bio-media part (the green plastic bit) and then slide in the carbon filter cartridge into place.

With a couple of my previous fish tanks I am used to a bio-wheel, Eclipse tend to all make use of bio-wheels, so we’ll see how this bio-media thing holds up to keeping the “good” bacteria. The other on the back filter I have used have also been the bio-wheel variety.

Placing the New Tank

After looking at all the pieces that came with the TopFin 10 Gallon LED Starter Kit it was time to place it where the existing 5 gallon tank was. I needed to slide the 5 gallon tank over and out of the way to make room for the 10 gallon one. Luckily the 5 gallon isn’t that heavy, where as the fully loaded 10 gallon can weigh over 100 pounds!

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After washing the 10 pounds of new gravel I put it into the tank and filled the tank up with water. Turned on the pump and voil√†, things worked nicely. You’ll notice that the water level seems to be a bit skewed, yup the surface the tank is sitting on is actually a wee bit unlevel. I’ll probably have to move the power cable to to be in-line with the filter’s intake so that it’s a bit “neater” too.

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You can see from the above image how much bigger the 10 gallon tank (right) is versus the 5 gallon (left) one. You can also see how hazy the 5 gallon tank is. If you look super close you can see our Betta, Monkey in the top left corner of the 5 gallon tank too.

The next day I had “A” help me move Monkey from the old tank to his new tank. I removed some of the water from the new tank and poured some of the water from the old tank this to help the cycling of the tank. I’ll still have to check the water and do periodic water changes until the tank is properly cycled.

It looked like Monkey was floating in mid-air; the water and glass was so clean. He also has a lot more room to move around. Unfortunately, I do not have anything else in the tank. No plants, no decorations etc for him to hide in or swim around. Though here is a gap between the back glass wall and the filter that he likes to go swim around. That at least gives him a place to “hide” if he’s feeling like he needs to.

Overall Thoughts

If you’re looking for an easy to setup fish tank for beginners, then I would recommend checking out the TopFin 10 Gallon LED Starter Kit. Like I mentioned, it does comes with practically everything you need. You will just need substrate, water conditioner, fish and fish food.

10 gallons is a nice size I find to0. It is big enough to have a few fish without taking up much room. 5 gallons was a bit small, but when we lived in an apartment it was a nice size. The 10 gallons will now be a nice size for the kids to watch Monkey do his thing.

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Next thing to do is go live plant shopping for the tank and look at some tank mates for Monkey.