The Polario has been awaited for years now as a cheaper option for big flow with an included controller. It's been in development and testing by years from Taam, the same guys who've made the extremely popular Seio range. Seio pumps generally were always mounted "Tunze style" ie. horizontally with the wide outlet providing horizontal flow and without the "protector" piece they come with. The newer Seio Prop pumps now come basically designed better for how everyone was already mounting the old ones. Taam also launched the magnet mount for the old Seio's and this is now included standard with the new Seio Prop pumps. Thus the "big boy", the Polario also comes standard with a magnet mount. Due to the flow provided it is unlikely anyone will ever want to hang a Polario on the side of a tank so the magnet mount makes it easy to mount the pump deeper in the tank.
The pump itself is extremely silent when switching on/off and changing direction. There doesn't seem to be any vibration at all. If you put your ear right next to the pump you can hear a small whine however I doubt anyone will ever notice this as the pump is generally going to be mounted behind the tank.
The controller on the other hand contains a very small fan by the sounds of it. The fan produces a noticeable whine sometimes. It seems to be thermostat driven as it only kicks in occasionally by the sounds of it. For anyone not sleeping next to the tank (been there, done that and won't do it ever again) this won't be a problem at all. If the controller is inside a cabinet it won't be noticed either.
In this image you can see the size of the fan in the controller. It's one of those fans that has a very small proportion of it as the "blades" so it has to spin fast because it's small and because the blades are tiny. The lighter patch to the top left of the fan is a heatsink so it's probably easy to modify this and use a bigger heatsink.
The mounting is very flexible with what is probably going to be the most popular option being using the magnet mount and the pump in the center of the back wall of the tank. As with the Seios there is an "extender" piece to move the pump further "inwards". Using the extender piece you have to mount the Polario with one of the Seio type "pivots". This gives you slightly more flexibility but adds more unsightly "stuff". Using only the magnet mount the Polario has to be "straight" aligned with the wall it's on, which won't be a problem for most. The magnets are pretty large and very very strong. They should handle up to 20mm of glass comfortably.
It also comes with adaptors to attach it to PVC pipe in a closed loop however I haven't tried this.
The flow from this pump is the reason for buying it and it's spectacular. The flow is very powerful yet very dispersed. It is probably more dispersed than the biggest Seio pump and slightly less dispersed than the Vortech.
The flow "power" is obviously relative and I don't have any similar pumps to compare it to but with the flow rate setting on the controller at the very lowest it was a bit too much for my 1.2m tank. I think to put this pump up to it's maximum flow to fully benefit from it you would need to have a tank at least 1.8m wide with not too much substrate or probably 2.5m if you have an in tank DSB/plenum.
The "strainer" parts also have "deflectors" that can be optionally fitted to try and deflect the flow away from the substrate or simply towards an area that needs more flow.
The cords are all a reasonable length for most people. There is a cord from the plug to the power adapter (similar to a laptop charger), and then from there to the controller. From the controller there is a thicker cord going to the pump body. This cord is most likely the one that some people will find too short, especially if you're someone who would like the cord neatly tucked away and would like the controller mounted somewhere like a control box. It has a custom plug so it doesn't look like something you could easily extend or modify.
The controller is basically used for alternating the flow from side to side on the pump. If you don't wish to use the alternation feature you can set it to only do either the left or right only.
The time delay between alternations can be set from 15 seconds up to 30 min (15s,30s,45s,1-30min). You can't set it to use different times per side, ie. 5min left then 10min right.
The power output can be adjusted (from low to high, no indication of actual flow) however this is also for both sides and it can't be set to vary this at all. This makes this setting somewhat useless because if you "turn down" the pump you are kind of "wasting" it. It might be useful if one day you want to turn it down a bit but I don't see this happening often. I think it's use is limited because I couldn't see much difference between the lowest and highest settings.
There is no way to "bias" the pump to one side or to vary anything basically. You set the power and the alternation period and that's it.
The controller comes with a plug to plug in a moonlight however there is no light sensor or anything on this pump/controller so it will always be on. In addition to this there's no way to turn the power down at night other than putting the whole thing onto a timer and having it switch off completely at night. Note that if you put it on a timer it will reset to 15s intervals every time it's turned on again. It's a letdown that it has no "memory" however I'd probably always leave it on 15s anyway.
Power, Pump, Fuse, Moonlight
The controller features "8 min" and "16 min" feeding time buttons to "pause" the pump for a few minutes to allow livestock to eat.
The controller works well to handle the alternation and the feed buttons are handy but people used to more advanced controllers from Aqua-Medic, Tunze or Ecotech will probably be a bit disappointed with it as there aren't many options to make the flow more "random".
The size is a bit bigger than say 2 Seio M1100's facing in opposite directions. The design though is much less "chunky" than the Seios. Not many other pumps are designed to be mounted "flat" against a side of a tank, most are designed to point "inwards". I think this is great because you can mount the pump in the middle at the back of the tank where it's fairly easy to hide. It's almost impossible to hide pumps designed to sit on the side of the tank and blow "across".
If needed the "strainer" parts could be removed if you're sure no small fish, anemones etc are going to try make their way into the pump. This would reduce the size quite a bit. The pump does have some "spokes" stopping larger things going through it. The "strainer" isn't that fine and some of the small fish sold in pet shops could easily fit through hence my concern with having the pump rather stop or slow down drastically at night.
The Polario comes with the magnet mount and the controller as standard. The only "optional" part is the moonlight.
This package sells for around R3600.
The ML22 provides 22000lph and it is priced at about 70% of the price of a Vortech MP40w (12000lph)
It is priced around the same as 2 Tunze Stream 6065's (each 6500lph, not controllable), a bit less than a 6105 (3000-13000lph) or half the price of a 6205 5000-22000lph). The controllable Tunze pumps would still need an additional controller to vary the pump speed but this would provide a lot more options.
The most comparable setup in terms of flow would be 2 6205's to provide flow "both ways" and a controller. All of this would cost at least 5 times the price of the Polario (however you would have a few more features).
Compared to more "budget" pumps you could get about 4 Resun waver (15000lph) pumps for the price of one Polario. The Resun waver comes with a controller of sorts where you set the time the pump should spend on "low", "medium" and "high" flow. Other than that there are no other options.
The Boyu WM-2 wave maker comes in at about a third of the price of the Polario and has a similar controller to the Resun waver but they don't publish flow rates.
Clearly Taam has brought a rather competitive product to the market for creating big flow with at least some variation in the flow. I like the fact that it fits nicely in the middle/back of the tank so it can be easily hidden. The flow is absolutely awesome so if you have a big enough tank then go for it. If I start a tank over 1.8m wide this piece of equipment will definitely be on the shopping list.
More info at the product page: TAAM Inc., Aquarium Products. NEW PRODUCT: POLARIO
PS: I took some videos of this pump in my tank. Will add them here as soon as I can manage to edit them without the editing program crashing.
Overall vid, you need to look pretty closely to see some stuff flying around and the surface agitation. The tank is cloudy because of the Polario.
YouTube - Polario ML22 in 1.2m aquarium
Showing surface turbulence, the deflector is aimed "up" to keep flow off the substrate
YouTube - Polario ML22 surface turbulence
Flow over my plate coral, you can see a bunch of detritus blowing past