JBL Cristal Profi e1902 Review
For a while now I have been planning a filter upgrade. My main tank has been running on a Fluval FX5 for some time and it’s getting on a bit now.
The FX5 has done a great job, but its certainly time to modernise the filtration a little.
The natural choice would have been to get a new FX6, but I wanted to move away from these filters for a few minor reasons:
- I am getting quite sick of replacing the plastic nuts that hold the lid down, I seem to find one cracked every time I open it up.
- Maintenance is a bit of a chore. The filter is heavy and there are a million sponges to rinse (slightly exaggerated).
- The sponges don’t do the best job of mechanically filtering the water. I have noticed recently that a lot of the water goes around the sponges, rather than through it. Even with the circular sponges in the centre, I would find the edges dirty and the rest of the sponge clean.
- The FX6 is the same as the FX5, but slightly less powerful, so I fancied something different.
Despite the minor issues that I have had with it, the FX series is still a great set of filters and I would happily recommend them to anyone.
So, I had a bit of a think and did a bit of research on what could be the best replacement for my old Fluval FX5. After looking at a few brands and models, the JBL E series was standing out to me for some reason.
I have previously owned a JBL e1501, so I already had an idea of what to expect from one of these filters, but I hadn’t yet tried the new range, so after a bit of thought and deliberation, I ordered one.
My aquarium is around 580 litres in volume, so an e1502 should be able to manage it, based on its stats. But the e1502 is rated up to 600 litres, so with a well-stocked 580 litre CA cichlid tank, I felt that may be pushing it a little.
So I ordered the largest model, the e1902.
JBL e1902 stats
As I purchased the e1902 to replace an FX5, that’s what I will compare it to, so first up, here are the stats for each filter:
|Filter||Power usage||Flow rate (max)||Internal capacity||No’ of trays||Max aquarium size|
From these, you can probably see where I would have some concerns. There is a considerable difference in both flow rate and internal capacity.
After a bit of thought, I decided that the rate of flow wasn’t too much of a concern. The difference isn’t actually that big in the grand scheme of things, and I have wavemakers installed to help the water circulate around the tank.
With a tank this size, it is difficult to find a filter that will circulate 5x the tank volume per hour by themselves, so I always use wavemakers to keep things moving. Having recently added an All Pond Solutions WM-6000 to the tank, I knew flow was covered.
With regards to the media capacity, I’ll cover that when I talk through the Setup.
On a plus note, the 36W power consumption was a huge decrease! That means more money in my pocket from the lower electricity bill, plus it’s healthier for the planet, always good news.
Unboxing and installing the JBL E1902 filter
The JBL Cristal Profi e series comes with everything you need to get started and is sent in the box as ‘plug and play’. This is really handy, it means that you can pull it straight out of the box and attach it to your tank immediately if you wanted to.
Here is how it is set up when it arrives:
However, be aware that the new media in the filter is not cycled, it’s brand new, and in my opinion is set up in completely the wrong order.
To see the order in which I have filter media setup in my filters, including this one, click here.
Another thing to note is that the JBL Micromec media which is installed in the filter creates dust during transit, this is caused by it bashing around as it is transported.
It’s nothing to worry about, but if you don’t clean it out you will end up with a nice white cloud blasted into your tank, which may take some time to disappear.
The filter itself is good looking, it looks sleek. It even has small wheels fitted to the bottom to make moving it easier when full.
The hose attachments can be easily shut off by lifting a lever at the connections. This makes maintenance easy and means that there is no spilt water when the hoses are disconnected. This is an improvement on the FX series, which always releases water when the hoses are disconnected, all be it a small amount.
So, I mentioned previously that I had some concerns about the filter’s internal capacity. It holds 5l less media than my FX5, according to the stats.
As it turns out, this wasn’t a concern at all. A vast amount of the volume inside an FX filter is taken up by the sponges around the outside of the trays. These sponges, in my opinion, are not massively effective, as water can easily pass around them, rather than through.
So, with my sponges in the first two trays, and no need for any more, there are 2/3 trays left for bio media, more than enough. This means that there is space for as much, if not more bio media in the E1902 than there was in my FX5.
I set mine up with 3 layers of sponge, coarse, medium and fine density. A full tray of Seachem Matrix and a full tray of Micromec, I haven’t used Micromec before, but so far it seems to be doing a great job.
The top tray is split, on top is the pre-filter with a coarse sponge, this is the first tray that water passes through as it enters the filter, it then leaves through the sides to the bottom of the filter. Underneath that is a separate (but attached), smaller tray which is the last tray the water passes through before it returns to the tank through the circular hole in the centre of the prefilter tray, so in here I have some additional bio media, for now.
In future, this will be used to house a bag of Seachem Purigen, plus any additional media that will fit.
The media trays are easy to access and each tray has a fold-away handle, making it easy to remove and install. This means that maintenance and access is a doddle, removing each tray separately as required.
The filter foams provided with the JBL Cristal Profi fit perfectly and are of good quality. I have no doubt that they will last a long time.
Personally, I would prefer the foams to be corrugated, to provide more surface area, but they seem to be doing a great job of catching debris as they are. It is likely they will just need cleaning slightly more frequently than a corrugated sponge.
Pipes and fittings
The pipework for the JBL Cristal Profi e1902 is shown on the picture above. It is fairly comprehensive and gives you options on outlets.
There is an option to have it fitted with a spray bar, which comes in two sections, so it is variable in length. The other option is a duckbill attachment. For my setup, I have opted for the duckbill to keep flow high.
The pipework is solid and comes with plenty of ‘rubber suckers’. It fits together firmly and feels like quality plastic. But I did find it a bit fiddly.
Due to the pipes being coiled up in the box, they do put a bit of pressure on the suckers as they attempt to coil back up, this causes the plastic piping to be shifted around as you’re trying to fit it. A bit irritating at the time but it still works and the pipes settle into their new position fairly quickly.
Other than that, the pipework went in no problem and hasn’t budged since.
One improvement that could be made to the fittings is the duckbill. The duckbill is solid and despite coming with some smaller sections of pipe, I couldn’t line it up with the surface of my aquarium water, which is where I would like it.
Having a flexible duckbill would alleviate this issue, meaning that the duckbill could be angled up or down as required.
Priming the JBL Cristal Profi is really easy. It can be primed by simply pumping the button on top of the filter a few times, then waiting for the canister to fill.
I did find that with the whole inlet pipe attached, the pressure was a bit too high for the filter to prime. I’m sure this wouldn’t be an issue in a shallower tank, but it was solved by removing the bottom half of the filter inlet pipe. (The part with the strainer attached).
Once primed, the filter is ready to go, giving it a little shake can help to remove any trapped air though.
Verdict on the JBL Cristal Profi e1902?
Ok, so, admittedly I had my reservations when I ordered this filter. I was very worried that it wouldn’t be able to keep up with and do the same job as my beasty FX5.
But it can, and it does.
This filter is great. It runs quietly, powerfully and most importantly keeps my tank cleaner than my FX5 ever did. My tank was never particularly dirty of course, but I did find that I had little ‘bits’ floating around the tank with the FX5, they have now gone.
Needless to say, this filter has really impressed me, I now regret not keeping hold of my old e1501. I had the e1501 paired with another filter and always assumed the larger filter was doing most of the work.
Clearly, this wasn’t the case and I should have kept hold of the e1501.
However, this e1902 is amazing. It is single-handedly keeping my 580 litre CA cichlid tank crystal clear, a feat which I now have to say, the FX5 could not achieve, even with Purigen.
So, if you’re looking for a new external filter, have a look at the JBL Cristal Profi range. There are various models to suit most aquarium sizes:
JBL e402 – for aquariums up to 120l
JBL e702 – for aquariums up to 200l
JBL e902 – for aquariums up to 300l
JBL e1502 – for aquariums up to 600l
JBL e1902 – for aquariums up to 800l
(As an amazon associate I earn on qualifying purchases).
I’ve been really impressed with the JBL e1902, my only regret would be not getting 2 of them (filter funds are tight around Christmas). I would say that so far, I prefer this to the FX by a long way and it is probably the best filter I have purchased to date.
My aquarium is cleaner than it has been for a while, and that is without using any Purigen, or any other water clarifying media.
JBL also have a range of external inline heaters, which would work perfectly with this filter, so I’ll be adding one of those to my wish list next!
Got a Cristal Profi filter? Let us know what you think of it in the comments.