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2021 Beginner 45 Gallon Rimless Reef Tank Review & Price

Euphyllia LPS coral

Red Sea Max E 170 LED Complete Saltwater Aquarium System (45 Gallon) Review & Price

Red Sea Max E 170 LED Complete Saltwater Aquarium System - 45 Gallon

If you’ve ever taken on the task of setting up a reef aquarium from top to bottom, you’ll know just how stressful and time-consuming it can be.

Fortunately, the Red Sea Max E 170 LED Complete Saltwater Aquarium System already has everything you need to get started, without all the stress. This makes it perfect for beginners.

Just the concept of a “complete saltwater aquarium system” is music to a reef aquarist’s ears! There’s so much research and trial & error that usually goes into finding the ideal compatible sub-systems.

I have the pleasure to share with you my experience with the 45 gallon Red Sea Max E 170 LED Complete Saltwater Aquarium System, and let me tell you from the get-go: setting-up this system is child’s play compared to all the other goes I’ve had with reef tanks. 

Read this post for the full review!

Red Sea Max E 170 LED Complete Saltwater Aquarium System

There are a few things that really stand out about this Red Sea Reef System, whether you’re a novice to marine aquariums or an expert fishkeeper.

The Brand – Red Sea E-series

Red Sea is a brand that is known for being one of the leading innovators and manufacturers of aquarium products in the hobby. Their marine aquarium systems leave close to no room for competitors, offering the best user experience and the most successful reef development rates on the market.

Rimless design

The Max E-170 System allows for a spectacular display of a coral reef set-up, with its ½ inch ultra-clear front glass. The minimal thickness of the front panel allows the tank to have a rimless design and sleek glass edge-finish.

Set-up for successful coral reef growth

Coral reefs can be intimidating even for experienced fishkeepers, but the Max E-170 Reef System will definitely set you up for success.

Red Sea follows its own Max True REEF-SPEC criteria to vouch for the system’s ability to sustain the growth of the most popular corals (LPS and SPS corals included).

To give you a better perspective of how much room you need to set up the Red Sea Max E 170 LED Complete Saltwater Aquarium System in your desired location, here’s a breakdown of its dimensions:

Ultra-clear front glass thickness (mm)12 (1/2”)
Display tank water volume (L)170 (45 gallons)
Display tank length (cm)60 (24″)
Display tank height (cm)55 (22″)
Display tank width (cm)57.5 (22.6″)
Total system height with cabinet (cm)142 (56″)

What Does The Red Sea Max E 170 LED Complete Saltwater Aquarium System Include?

There are currently two Red Sea Max E-series complete saltwater aquarium systems available on the market. We’ll be going over the features of the smaller system (Max E-170), but here’s an overview of what the Max E systems include:

SystemMax E-170 LED Reef System Max E-260 LED Reef System 
Capacity2 ft 170L / 45 gallons3 ft 260L / 69 gallons
Size24” x 22.6” x 21.6”36” x 22.6” x 21.6”
LED lights1 x Hydra 26 HD LED Light2 x Hydra 26 HD LED Lights
Protein skimmer

MSK-900 (250L air per hour)

Filtration pump1 pump – 2150 liters /

570 gallons per hour

2 pumps – 4300 liters /

1140 gallons per hour

 

This side-by-side view shows you the differences between the two Max E-series system sizes available, but both of them also include:

  • Red Sea’s ReefLED 90 smart lighting with integrated Wi-Fi control;
  • ReefBeat App connection;
  • Coral-safe filtering & circulation systems;
  • A modular sump system;
  • Room for optional add-ons (chiller, additional filter media, etc.);
  • Elegant cabinet;
  • Central one-plug control panel.

Main Features

The Red Sea Max E 170 LED Complete Saltwater Aquarium System has a generous amount of user-friendly features that make reef-tank management a breeze.

Let me show you what I mean!

Reef-safe ReefLED 90 smart lighting

I feel like this feature is where Red Sea really took the extra step to cement their position as leaders in designing marine aquarium systems.

The ReefLED 90 lighting system that comes with the Max E-170 aquarium system has integrated Wi-Fi and allows you to have consistent optimal lighting for growing corals successfully.

Here are some of the perks of the ReefLED 90 lighting system:

  • Reef-safe LED array

The ReefLED 90’s LED array uses one blue channel (combining ultraviolet, violet & blue LEDs) and a white channel to stay within the reef-safe range of light.

This LED array set-up allows the lighting system to be customized for nighttime view, optimal coral growth, and to emphasize their intense colors.

  • Homogenous light

A single optical-glass holo-lens is the “secret” behind the distinct homogenous shimmer and vibrant coral display you can see in a Max E-170 aquarium.

This lighting system really does work like magic when it comes to highlighting the stunning view in a coral reef tank.

  • Pre-set lighting programs

This smart lighting system has a bunch of functions you can play around with, including an acclimation mode, which is ideal for new corals.

  • Connection to Red Sea’s ReefBeat App

You can control the ReefLED 90 lighting system using the ReefBeat App. This comes in handy if you want to easily explore the entire list of features that come with Max E-170’s lights.

  • ReefBeat App connection

Red Sea’s ReefBeat App lets you fully customize the lighting system on your Max E 170 LED Complete Saltwater Aquarium System. There are quite a few pre-set programs to choose from, but you can easily play around with the settings.

The app will display a warning if your custom settings are out of the reef-safe range. It’s really easy to set-up and gives you full access to the ReefLED 90 lights on any device.

Here are the pre-set lighting programs you can choose from:

  • Acclimation mode – allows new corals to get used to the lights, gradually increasing the intensity;
  • “Peace of mind” – will let you know if your device loses its connection to the ReefLED 90 lights;
  • Lunar cycle – follows a 28-day moon phase pattern using the moonlight channel for nighttime view;
  • Weekly schedule – keeps track of your custom lighting settings and allows scheduling;
  • Sunrise/Sunset – uses a delay between two types of lighting modes to create a sunrise/sunset view;
  • Clouds – uses random shades to mimic clouds.

Cutting-edge modular sump system

The modular sump system of the Red Sea Max E 170 LED Complete Saltwater Aquarium System allows for a flexible set-up, unlike most all-in-one marine tank set-ups.

You can, of course, use the built-in rear sump to run your tank’s circulation and filtering systems. But, it’s good to know that the designers at Red Sea left room for easy conversion to an in-cabinet sump.

Expanding the sump system is a step that experienced marine aquarists can take to incorporate optional gear that doesn’t come with the system (calcium reactor for SPS corals, etc.).

If you decide to get Red Sea’s optional sump conversion kit, here’s what it includes:

  • A customized glass sump;
  • A constant-height skimmer chamber;
  • A flow-regulated overflow system;
  • An integrated automatic top-up.
Sump Water height (cm)20 (8″)
Sump Skimmer chamber Dimensions (cm)32 x 30 (12.6″ x 11.8″)
Sump Pump chamber Dimensions (cm)30 x 12 (11.8″ x 4.7″)

 

Ultra-clear glass

The rimless design of the Max E-170 reef tank wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the half-inch ultra-clear glass used for both the front and the two side panels.

The polished looked of the edges really makes a difference in just how elegant and top-tier this marine aquarium system looks.

Circulation system via European eco-pumps

The impressive thing about Max E-170’s circulation system is the relatively fast speed at which it circulates water, with a pump that pushes 2150 liters of water per hour.

You’ll find adjustable nozzles returning the water into the tank. This is a really useful feature when growing corals. Debris that gets bypassed by the circulation system can do quite a bit of damage, but Max E-170’s pump does a good job at moving water from every nook and cranny.

Rear Sump

This is where the Red Sea Max E 170 LED Complete Saltwater Aquarium System discreetly stores the sub-systems that keep it working without taking away from the strikingly beautiful view of your reef tank.

The aquarium’s filtration and circulation systems are housed in a neat and compact area, with room for a protein skimmer, activated carbon, mechanical filter media, and optional chemical filter media.

MSK 900 protein skimmer

The protein skimmer that comes with the Red Sea Max E 170 LED Complete Saltwater Aquarium System is the main attraction of this reef tank’s filtering system, further driving the point home that this system is 100% coral-safe.

This skimmer’s pump moves a substantial volume of water through the protein skimmer, topping up at three times the tank’s capacity per hour, with a 3:1 water/air ratio.

If you’ve had high-capacity protein skimmers in your reef tanks before, you’ll notice that the MSK 900 runs cooler and is a lot more silent than most. That’s because it has an integrated silencer on its air intake.

The adjustable outlet gate is a noteworthy feature as well!

Media rack for optional add-ons

There is extra room in the rear sump, organized as a media rack, where you can put activated carbon or any other filter media that you might want to use.

The shelf set-up works great for organizing your aquarium’s add-ons without taking up space where it might distract from the gorgeous view of your coral reef tank.

Room for an optional chiller

The Max E-170 system comes with a chiller-ready kit in the rear sump, which means there’s a designated area where you can easily add a chiller pump and piping if you choose to add a chiller to your set-up.

Central control panel

The one-plug control panel offers easy access to 7 individual power sockets, where you can power all of the tank’s sub-systems.

The power center sits in Max E-170’s cabinet, making it safe and easy to access. The one-plug control for all the tank’s electrical components definitely ups the convenience factor of this system. 

Elegant weatherproof cabinet

Max E-170’s cabinet is just as impressive as the ultra-clear glass panels of the tank. It really is all about the finer details that make for a top-notch user experience.

The laminate cabinet has:

  • A black interior (for both the white and black exterior options);
  • A well-ventilated design (a big plus, especially if you plan on adding a chiller);
  • A weatherproof epoxy coated doors;
  • Push-openers and soft-close stainless-steel hinges.

What Is The Price?

Synchiropus splendidus

The price is $1,744.00. At first glance, this may seem expensive. However, when you consider all of the features this complete system comes with, it is actually quite a good deal.

The fact that the Max E-170 system includes all the coral-safe Red Sea compatible sub-systems you need to set-up your reef tank will save you the costly trial & error phase of searching for individual gear.

Compatible Add-ons

Coming from a leading aquarium-product innovator and manufacturer like Red Sea, you can find a wide range of compatible add-ons to make the most out of your Max E-170 system.

Sand

CaribSea Dry Aragonite Special Grade Reef Sand

CaribSea dry aragonite is a 1-2mm grain size special grade reef-safe sand that buffers higher pH levels and needs little to no rinsing.

Rocks

AquaMaxx Dry Live Rock by Marco Rocks

An eco-friendly alternative to live rock is the less expensive AquaMaxx dry live rock, made from 100% natural calcium carbonate aragonite harvested on land in a Florida rock quarry.  Hitchhiker free!

Salt

Red Sea Salt Mix

Red Sea’s salt mix is perfect for keeping your reef tank’s water parameters within healthy ranges, with slightly higher alkalinity, as recommended.

Salinity measuring tool

Milwaukee Seawater Digital Refractometer

This digital marine refractometer is easy to use and calibrate and allows you to choose between three salinity measuring units (PSU, ppt, and S.G.).

RO/DI unit

Aquatic Life Twist-In 100 GPD 4-Stage RO/DI System

The easiest Ro/DI unit to manage for a 45-gallon tank is the Aquatic Life twist-in 4-stage RODI filtration system. It comes with twist-in replacement filter cartridges.

Test kits

Red Sea Reef Foundation Pro Test Kit

Coral growth and sustainability rely on good water quality, so this Red Sea reef foundation kit is definitely a must-have add-on.

The tests show accurate measurements of calcium, magnesium, and alkalinity and will come in handy in case you decide to dose supplements.

Heater (between 100-150 watt)

Eheim Jager TruTemp 150 Watt Aquarium Heater

An Eheim trutemp submersible heater (150watt) will work great for a 45-gallon tank. It gives precise temperature readings with a 2°margin. Easy to set-up and calibrate!

Optional chiller

Aqua Euro Aquarium Chiller - Max Chill 1/10 HP

If you choose to incorporate a chiller into your Max E-170 system, this Aqua Euro aquarium chiller is a good choice. It has a digital LED temperature control display and will remember your settings even in the case of a power outage.

Pros vs. Cons

After exploring all of Max E-170’s features, there are plenty of strong-points to mention, and only a couple of downfalls to it. The downfalls are strictly related to it being an all-in-one tank system, so of course, the cons are purely subjective, depending on your needs & experience level as an aquarist.

There’s no denying the fact that the Red Sea Max E 170 LED Complete Saltwater Aquarium System takes most of the guesswork out of the process when setting up your first coral reef tank.

Pros

  • Easy plug & play set-up

The plug & play set-up of an all-in-one aquarium is the main benefit of any read-made tank kit.

But Max E-170’s focus on enhancing the user experience and giving you the best odds of having a successful coral reef tank are perks rarely found on the market.

The Max E-170 system comes with all the basic tools and essential gear needed to set up your reef tank and make it thrive without needing any add-ons.

  • Easy maintenance

The one-plug in-cabinet power center, the cord-management features, and the adjustable mounting arms of the lighting system all play a big part in making the Max E-170 an easy to control and manage aquarium system.

The LED lights rotate, so you can easily access the rear sump for maintenance and aquascaping. You can also tilt the mounting arms of the lights to cut down on glare and limit algae growth on the front panel.

  • The stunning aesthetics

The Red Sea Max E 170 LED Complete Saltwater Aquarium System is designed to show-off what we usually love most about reef tanks in the hobby: the absolutely striking aesthetics.

The design of the system itself is fairly simple, but the small details (beveled glass edges, rimless look, polished laminate cabinet) take the Max E-170 to a whole new level.

The cord management system has a generous number of channels for you to route all the cords through, leaving the tank itself to enjoy the spotlight wherever it’s located.

  • Cost-efficient

The fact that the Max E-170 system includes all the coral-safe Red Sea compatible sub-systems you need to set-up your reef tank will save you the costly trial & error phase of searching for individual gear.

  • Easy to find compatible add-ons

Being designed by a world-renowned brand like Red Sea, means that you will always be able to easily find compatible add-ons and replacement parts for your Max E-170 system.

Cons

  • You may need some assistance setting up the system

All-in-one tank kits are indeed beginner-friendly, but you will need to have at least a basic understanding of how your Red Sea Max E 170 LED Complete Saltwater Aquarium System is meant to be assembled, managed, and maintained.

Of course, you can find a bunch of online resources and tutorials to guide you through the process if it’s your first time setting up a coral reef tank.

Here is an excellent video that demonstrates how to set up the tank:

  • Less room for changes/custom mods

Although it’s to be expected when you buy a ready-made reef tank kit, it’s worth mentioning that you’ll have a harder time making custom mods or expanding the Max E-170 system.

The filtering system and LED lighting system, in particular, are not meant to be modified. 

Conclusion

The Red Sea Max E 170 LED Complete Saltwater Aquarium System is an awesome choice if you really want to set yourself up for success with growing corals in an easy-to-manage reef tank.

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