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I purchased my Juwel Rio 240 about eight months ago now, and I'm extremely pleased with it. I've been keeping tropical fish for the last 12 years or so, but only ever with a small tank - about 30 inches, so when I moved house earlier in the year, I wanted to take the opportunity to upgrade my fishes' home too.
I started looking at the Juwel's as they seemed to be the most popular tanks around. Any information I could find on the company from fish supply websites rated these tanks highly, so I took this to be a good sign. Initially too I'd wanted one of the Juwel tanks from the Vision range, but when I actually calculated the water volume I'd get it in, it didn't work out to be too much larger than the tank I was already using.
Hence eventually I opted for the Rio 240, which is a large tank. It's four foot long, and is nice and deep too, which my angel fish really does appreciate. There's plenty of room to decorate the tank with plant, wood and rock in order to create a varied and vibrant living environment for the fish. Having so much room also means that you can create something which is really interesting to look at, and I often find myself watching the fish tank rather than the television.
All of the filter housing is located in one convenient housing unit, so when decorating the tank you don't have to consider the heater unit or anything else. The housing unit is split into two sections: the smaller section houses the proprietary heater unit, and the larger section houses the filter system. Having the heater unit here where the water is pushed out to the tank means that the temperature should be more even throughout the tank.
The filter system is made up of several different sponges, all of which need cleaning/replacing at different intervals. It can be complicated to remember which needs doing when, but I find with a bit of organisation by keeping a note in a calendar as to what needs doing when, it's much easier. The bottom sponge is a blue coarse sponge, then above that there are two fine blue sponges. These need changing/cleaning gently every six to twelve weeks, depending on how many fish you have. These three sponges are held together by a small plastic holder. Sitting above these in a second plastic holder is a green nitrate sponge, which helps to take nitrates out of the water. This should be replaced every six weeks. Above this is a black carbon sponge, which helps to remove any impurities in the water. I tend not to use this sponge so much as it has to come out when you're using treatments for the tank, and as I regularly put in plant food, don't often have the option of using it. The top sponge is a white filter pad which prevents any large particles from going further down into the filter system. This has to be changed every week.
A pump sat between the two sections in the filter housing moves the water round the tank and pushes it through the filter system.
So, it's an easy tank to run as only the white filter pad needs changing every week, and you also need to do the weekly water change. This is important as it helps to maintain the water quality - but having more than doubled the size of my previous fish tank it did surprise me how long it can take to remove the water I want to take out and then replace it. If you're not willing to spend the time on this each week (it takes me about an hour and a half) then a smaller tank might be better.
The lighting system was a new idea to me, in as much as there is no cover glass for the tank. The lights beam straight on to the water. Juwel say that this is to provide more natural light than you'd normally get with a cover glass. The lights themselves have special seals to prevent them getting wet inside, but this does mean that when the bulbs go you'll have to purchase Juwel replacements. Both bulbs run off the one switch, so there's not an option either to wake the fish up slowly or put them to be gradually: both lights have to go on together. My fish don't seem to be bothered by this, and to make things easier I have put their lights on a timer. The only downside I can find to having the lights shine directly on the water is that it does produce more algae than I'd like, so I have limited their light exposure to only 8 hours a day.
The cabinet is flat packed and you have to put it together yourself. Considering the quantity of water this is going to hold, if you're not very strong or no good at putting flat packed furniture together, then get someone to assist, as if it's not put together properly it will never support the weight. The two cupboards either side of the cabinet are ideal for storying fish paraphernalia out of sight, and there is no backing on these, so you can hide the electrics required for the heater, filter system and lights behind the cabinet. The cabinet doesn't sit straight on the floor but is supported by six feet which will need to be screwed in. All necessary holes have been pre-made in the cabinet for you so no power tools are required.
The tank itself is made of extremely solid and thick glass. I've found it's really easy to keep clean too. There is no need for ugly polystyrene or similar to keep between the tank and the cabinet, as the two have been built to be used together and so Juwel have considered this in their design.
The lid is deceptive. The strip of wood around the top of the tank is a thin laminate glued to the glass, so the lid itself is actually black plastic. It's quite thin and lightweight, and this is the only thing I think Juwel could improve on with the appearance. While it goes with the tank it could look better. However, the advantage of it being plastic does mean that it's lightweight and easy to maneover about. It also flips up from the front and from the back of the tank, and slides from front to back, so it's really easy to access the tank without removing the lid.
The tank doesn't come in just beech, but also comes in black, and I now understand that Juwel have just added dark wood to their range. These aquarium sets are very competitively priced compared to some of the aquarium systems out there, so on a value for money basis I don't think they can be beaten. However it's worth looking around as some retailers offer excellent deals on Juwel set-ups: however, not all of them will deliver due to the risk of breakage in the glass.
I'm extremely happy with my Juwel 240, and my fish are much happier in it too. It's a great piece of furniture and everyone who comes into the house admires it. As a package, it's a good one with no real disadvantages and makes fish keeping very easy. I should point out that if you want to keep marine fish then this tank would be sufficient but will need some modification to it.