The Aquatic Gazette

GEX Roka Boy Compact

In Filtration on June 14, 2011 at 00:01

One of our readers have requested that we do a review on air powered filters as they are still popular and useful in many situations, especially for some types of fauna that are sensitive to the strong water current of power filters. So, we headed out to our LFS and spent some time looking at different air powered filters, trying to find a unique one to start this review. Hidden in a dark corner, at the back of a shelf, we came across the GEX Roka Boy Compact. Immediately we knew that this baby of a filter was the one.

The GEX Roka Boy Compact is extremely small, 4cm across on both sides and 5cm in height. Our first thought was, in what situation will someone require a filter this small? After giving it some thought, we realised that there are numerous pico tanks out there, some housing just one or two shrimps and some housing bettas. Because of the lack of a filter for a tank this small, their aquarists have used daily water changes as a guarantee of healthy water conditions.

Another market for such a small filter could be small fry tanks in which aeration and slight water movement by an air pump, is essential in keeping the eggs or fry healthy. In such a tank, why not throw in this filter? With an air powered filter this small, not only will these tanks have the continual advantage of aeration and water movement, but they will get filtered too!

Here are pictures of the box.

Left side of the box | Nice printing of the filter’s function
Back of the box
Right side of the box | See through window
Top of the box

GEX Roka Boy Compact comes in a box that is nicely designed with informative diagrams and attractive colours. These diagrams conveyed how the filter works without the need to be able to read Japanese, and they create a sense of confidence with the inclusion of schematics. All sides of the box hold information and there is a professional feel to it, enabling the brand to stand out from its other competitors.

The construction of the GEX Roka Boy Compact is excellent. The filter itself is made of good plastic that are well machined and fitted together. The filter is made of two separate plastic compartments that are held together by two plastic clasps. In an inferior product, these two compartments will creak during handling as the parts were not machined to exact measurements. However with the GEX Roka Boy Compact, there is no such fear and the filter shouts quality when held.

The GEX Roka Boy Compact works by filtering your aquarium through water displacement. As air is pumped into your filter, it rises upwards in a designated passageway and heads for the surface. The air that rises in this passageway pushes water upwards to flow out of the filter, theis displacement of the water in the passageway, forces water outside the filter to flow into it via the designated vents. As long as air is introduced into the filter, this displacement will ensure a constant filtering of your aquarium’s water.

One unique feature about the GEX Roka Boy filters not usually found in competing air filters is that they cover all three filtration methods, mechnical, biological and chemical filtration. At the bottom of the GEX Roka Boy Compact, gravel is found and these provide mechanical filtration as these gravel will trap larger detritus before they make their way to the biological media. The trapping of such large detritus is essential as the all important beneficial bacteria is house in the biological media. If such detritus are allowed to get stuck in the biological media instead, the amount of beneficial bacteria will drop due to the blockage of oxygen and water, resulting in a filter that is under performing.

Gravel as mechanical media | Note the vents for water to enter

Biological filtration is provided through the use of fine filter wool and this provides a surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow and thrive. Biological media is the most important media in a filter and the surface area dedicated to it should be the largest to house as much beneficial bacteria as possible. These bacteria converts toxic ammonia to nitrite, and from nitrite to relatively harmless nitrate.

Chemical filtration can be found in the form of activated carbon embedded within another layer of filter wool. Activated carbon works by the attraction of organic pollutants by static forces. These forces will bind the pollutants to the activated carbon until all space on the media is filled, absorption effectiveness will thus diminish over time till it stops entirely. Because these attraction forces will wane over time, it is usually recommended that such chemical media be changed on a monthly basis.

Mechanical, Biological and Chemical Filtration
Mechanical filtration through gravel | The multiple vents allows water to flow evenly to the chemical and biological media
Chemical filtration through activated carbon | We recommend a monthly replacement 
Biological filtration through filter wool | We recommend a monthly light rinsing with aquarium water
Water flows out through these vents after bypassing all three filtration media

In summary, the GEX Roka Boy Compact is an air powered filter that has been well thought out in design, and machined to precision. Its strength is that it is small enough to fit into any tank, providing filtration, water circulation and aeration. The main bulk of filtering will be done by the activated carbon as the amount of filter wool for permanent beneficial bacteria inhabitation is quite small. As such, a monthly expense will need to be incurred to change out the activated carbon for a new one to ensure optimal absorption.

If your tank can accommodate a bigger filter, then a larger filter with more surface area for filtration will be better. But if your pico tank can only fit a filter as big as the GEX Roka Boy Compact, we doubt you will be displease with it as long as you are regular with its maintenance.

Size of a 50 cents coin to illustrate how small this filter really is

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