Reviewed by Sian Manning
The EcoSphere is a small glass dome that is a closed ecosystem, it’s like a tiny fish tank that takes minimal effort to look after or clean, the perfect gift for someone impossible to buy for (teens, grandparents, partners) as who will already own one?
Surprisingly this rather small delicate looking dome comes through the post with no problems and the shrimp seemed perfectly happy swimming around when I unboxed it. I did expect slightly better packaging, it was a cardboard box with bubble wrap, a rather big box at that for such a small sphere.
Also included was a little booklet containing information on the sphere, how they were discovered, what is in the sphere, how it works, how to care for your sphere and shrimp, what to look out for, what they eat, how long the shrimp will live and reproduction information.
There is also a small magnet that when put on the outside of the glass it attracts another magnet on the inside of the glass that can be used to clean it if necessary.
They come in a variety of sizes of sphere, ranging from a small 10cm diameter, with an RRP of £99, to an extra extra-large 23cm diameter, with an RRP of £499. They also come in a different pod shape (tall egg) for a slightly different look. They come with either white or black stones in the bottom to match any décor and style with a small Gorgonian branch that is hand cut so every sphere is unique.
The closed ecosystem is not something I have ever heard of before, the sphere contains shrimp (2-4 in the small one), filtered sea water, algae, gorgonian branch and stones, which form all of the parts of the ecosystem. The whole thing is self-sufficient, the algae grows from solar energy, this gives the shrimp food and oxygen, the shrimp in turn give off carbon dioxide (which helps the algae grow again) and bacteria which in turn gives the algae inorganic nutrients that it need to grow. The whole cycle repeats itself, meaning that there is no need to feed the shrimp, or clean the sphere. The most important thing is finding the perfect place to keep the sphere so that it doesn’t get too hot or the algae doesn’t grow too quickly.
I have wanted a fish tank for a long time, but like many I’m sure, I just don’t want the effort of cleaning it out, filtering water, feeding and maintaining a whole tank. This seems like the perfect solution, a fish tank that you don’t really have to do much with, as long as it’s in the right place it looks after itself and you get the best part of watching the shrimp swim around and do their thing.
While I am talking about the shrimp, they are rather small which to start with which I was a little disappointed about, however it makes sense, if they were much bigger they wouldn’t fit in the sphere and certainly wouldn’t have much room to swim around. The glass does magnify them to a certain extent making them easier to see swimming around. I seem to have got lucky and actually have 5 shrimp in my sphere, I have tried to take a picture and even as a photographer I have failed so far – they are fast, I will get one though!
EcoSphere also sell a number of bases for them, so you can customise it to your room, there is a LED base that I really want that illuminates the water so that you can see the shrimp better, cherry wood bases if that fits your décor, a transparent Perspex base and even a black turntable so you can change the aspect without getting fingerprints on the glass.
Now gifting wise, as I said the perfect gift for many. It’s a cool looking thing pioneered by NASA, it’s fascinating how it can look after itself, it’s great for anyone who is away a lot, who isn’t great at remembering to clean, feed, walk pets. It looks great on a desk or bedside table and takes up barely any room.
I’d buy one for my teenage niece or my sons when they are old enough, it’s a great talking point and if they can take a decent picture of it, it’ll look great on social media, because what teen doesn’t post their whole life on there!
I would love a bigger one of these one day, an LED base and maybe one with white stones too, they really are fascinating, calming and mesmerising to watch and I love the minimal upkeep.
RRP: from £99.99 (base costs extra)
For more information or to buy, visit www.ecospheres.co.uk.