Aquarium Forums for Information such as Lighting, UV, Filters

Revised Oct. 14, 2016

This is a subject that is way overdue to be discussed, as aquarium forums often are like our mainstream news media which simply repeat information, whether accurate or not that fits their template.
Often with intentional miss-information based on broken links by moderators after members provide said links such as to this website or even taking down of legitimate questions by members such as I witnessed as the Chicago Reefs forum (based on a forwarded email for a aquarium maintenance & research professional).

The video below from the Conan Show makes this point, and aquarium forums are no different, if not far worse:

I have seen this unfortunate statement in many forums when I have been told to read in emails from friends or clients:
“I havent really been able to find any info on the TMC lights, and i assume that if they’re as good as they say they are then a lot more people would be using them.”

Similar comments have been made about Fluidized Sand Bed Filter versus wet dry filters even though the FSB filter is clearly the better technology for planted freshwater aquariums when simple science is applied. It is also noteworthy that FSB filters AND TMC AquaRay lights ARE quite well known and used if you search beyond an aquarium forum.

Why is this?
First threads such as the one on Chicago Reefs get deleted, but more importantly if all you do is use forums to get your information, even if you only “lurk” there, you are going to find the same repetitive points about the same products they all push, often due to sponsorship by certain brands or simple lack of research “outside the box”
Looking at it another way, if it does not meet the forum’s agenda, often threads will get deleted

Another common problem is since search engines often give “authority” to websites or forums posts based on age, often what comes up in forums or Yahoo is simply out of date information. Some of these outdated posts may have been correct at the time, while others have been proven incorrect as science has progressed.
Thankfully the Internet is not 100 years old or God knows what in terms of bs would be argued as fact based on someone reading an outdated forum article!

Back to sponsorships/marketing and how different marketing methods have a direct bearing on what will be seen/read on a forum or not, as some companies use a different approach to marketing that does not involve forum sponsorships.
TMC for instance placed an emphasis on getting their product in the hands of aquarium installation professionals rather than forum sponsorships with the exception of a popular UK forum.

What readers should understand, and frankly this is not difficult for those with an open mind and have not drank the Kool-Aid so many forums serve, and that is these “outside the box” products are NOT going to be featured in ANY forum, even though they ARE popular among many who are not active in forums or other social media.

My clients are very private and refuse me to publicize any of their aquariums in pictures, even for a resume, so my referrals are all by word of mouth (I currently am not taking new clients anyway).

This is not all that unusual and in fact as an example from a story my mentor in the business told me about how once he was setting up an acrylic aquarium with tubes between two tanks and he brought his then wife to this executive office waiting room. She really could not help much at the time so she quietly sat on the couch . However soon one of the executives that worked there told her she had to leave, my mentor tried to explain, but he quickly told my mentor how important the privacy of their office was and that he needed permission to bring anyone other than himself.

My point is this is typical of how many view their aquariums maintained by these professionals, so you are not going to see many of these aquariums running AquaRay LED lights, FSB filters since these have never been really pushed or made it past the Kool-Aid gate keepers at many aquarium forums.

What is also unfortunate that even with this shroud around aquariums set up by professionals using these products, there is still ample information and pictures in websites such as this, Youtube, Facebook and other locations. Part of the issue or so it appears, since I am actually relatively new to being “active” on the Internet is the point that Google is not all that good in bringing up many science based websites , rather is heavy in many social media such as forums or big box websites such as Dr. Foster or Amazon. I personally use Bing though for my searches, while I have a friend who swears by DuckDuckGo.com for internet searches.

Although the purpose of this post/article is to explain to those who only read forums or cannot get past page one of Google that there IS PLENTY of information for those willing to do even the most basic of research, I will make some brief explanation of products that often get the cold shoulder in these Kool Aid serving forums.

  1. Aquarium LED Lighting

    Some of the most basic of science is ignored in these forums, here is just some of it:

    • Wasted Heat energy; this is science 101 that any energy that is being dissipated with fans is energy that is NOT going to light energy, thus requiring more wattage for the same results.
      If you see a fan or two blowing, you know that this is extracting heat.
      As well PWM, while more complicated also plays a role in this wasted energy as well as potentially changing the spectrum and thus wasting even light energy outside of the best known PUR.
    • Utilizing green emitters and other emitters (including warm white) that are known to emit light energy outside of what is optimum for corals and other photosynthetic life forms.
      While photosynthetic life can generally use most all light within the PAR range, it is fact that certain light spectrums are much less efficient and provide different aspects of photosynthetic response.

      Reference & recommended reading:
      PUR, PAS, PAR in Aquarium Reef/Planted Lighting

    • Heavy dependency on PAR meters, even though it is a fact that even a PAR meter is more accurate in the middle ranges, thus giving a green light a higher PAR value than an actinic blue, even though the blue is going to have a higher useful PAR and thus is higher in PUR.
      As well, statements by some that absurdly high PAR numbers such as 500 µMol•m²•sec are required by Acropora, when in fact a study at a Coral Farm in Bali showed no more than 200 PAR from noontime tropical sunlight at the depth the Acropora were being grown.
      These numbers may be true for some poor PUR lights that are heavy in green, yellow, etc. light energy, but not those with better PUR spectrums.

      Reference:
      PAR vs PUR in Aquarium LED Lighting

    • Warranties; while this is not a scientific argument, it is one of simple logic and that is why would a the so-called superior LED light only have a warranty of 1 year while the so-called junk LED have a warranty of 5 years?
      This is a real head scratcher, yet forums such as Reef Central or PNWMAS will actually bash the 5 year warranty lights over the 1 year warranty lights!!
      Part of the problem with these shorter warranty LED lights is fan malfunction. The fans on some LEDs will malfunction in a couple of years (or less), resulting in over heating of circuitry and total failure of the LED fixture.

      While a warranty does not necessarily make for a better LED light, as I personally really like the Aqua Illumination HD Twenty Six [with only a 1 year warranty], but it speaks volumes for fixture longevity

    • Reference:
      Aquarium LED Warranties

    Below is a reef aquarium I was given permission to share utilizing ONLY AquaRay NP 1500 & 2000 tiles.

    Acropora Reef Aquarium running AquaRay AquaBeam LED Lights, Lighting

    A couple of recommended related reads:
    ~Zoanthid Reef Aquarium Care & Lighting
    ~Acropora Coral Information and Care; Lighting, Amino Acids, more

  2. Aquarium Fluidized Sand Bed Filters

    Fluidized Sand Bed Filter in sump, planted aquariumThese really are not all that new, with many large commercial operations running these filters.
    What might be more new is the design, with better models such as the V2 Bio by TMC now available than what was the industry leader 10 years ago, the LifeGuard.

    What sets these filters apart, especially for marine or planted aquariums? With Wet/Dry filters, in particular, these will strip CO2, often resulting in the need for expensive pressurized CO2 units, that are often not required with FSB Filters.

    The planted aquarium below is running with a FSB filter with only Flourish Excel the only carbon supplement (it is also using AquaRay GroBeam LED lights):

    Planted aquarium with LED Lights, Fluidized Sand Bed Filter

    With marine aquariums, the V2 FSB Filter can be run with optional Oolitic sand which then works similar to a calcium reactor in maintaining calcium, pH, and alkalinity with less additional supplementation.
    As well these can be set up to control and remove nitrate with a tall enough filter such as the V2 #1500 and use of products such as American Aquarium NPX Bioplastics.

    References, including earlier posts from this website:
    Fluidized Sand Bed Filter or Canister Filter
    Aquarium Fluidized Bed Filter Review; TMC V2, Merlin, Lifeguard

  3. Aquarium UV Sterilizer Use

    This is too long a topic to address completely other than to state that there is good evidence that a UV Sterilizer does not just control disease by virtue of level 1 or 2 UVC sterilization, but by improving the Redox Balance than thus allowing fish to fight off diseases with their own improved immune system better.

    What many miss based on conversations with clients and others is they go and purchase some piece of junk UV clarifier that CANNOT ever perform level one UV Sterilization. Unfortunately many of these so called UV Sterilizers abound from the Green Killing machine to the many AquaTop UVs. Then they see poor or no results and make blanket statements in forums that UV sterilizers are only good for clarification.

    Another common issue is purchasing low UVC output UV replacement lamps on eBay, Amazon, etc that only produce 7-14% germicidal UVC light energy instead of a true level one low pressure UV Bulb that has 5 times the output and in the end make claims their UV sterilizer is junk.

    Reef Central:
    Misinformation also abounds when it comes to the discussion of high end UV Sterilizers and which are best and what they can and cannot do for your aquarium.
    This is where the anecdotal but unfortunately popular forum “Reef Central” is often at its worse.

    I have read many posts my customers or other service guys have sent me where this forum personally attacks those with actual experience and science based expertise rather than deal with the science. Similar to their Reef Police moderation when it comes to LED aquarium lighting.

    I have read where high level members/moderators will bash TMC UVs while promoting Aqua & Emperor UVs.
    As someone who also has used all three, I can state that they all are excellent premium UVs, but to trash the TMC, which seems to be the brand they love to trash, shows the lack of character and honesty that goes on at Reef Central.

    As an example, one argument they have used is that only Aqua & Emperor provide a good supply of parts and good customer service. However TMC does as well and my experience with obtaining parts and service since retailer based versus manufacturer based is much better with TMC.

    I could go on, but that is not the scope of this article, all I can say is to read anything at Reef Central with a grain of salt.

    References, including earlier posts from this website:

    Aqua Ultraviolet versus TMC UV Sterilizers, Reef Central; THIS ONE IS A MUST READ!!
    UV STERILIZATION; UVC Irradiation for Pond, Aquarium
    Are UV Sterilizers Good for an Aquarium?
    Actual UV-C Emission from a UV Bulb; Aquarium or Pond

In the end, here is an incomplete list I have compiled of aquarium forums I would NOT recommend based on reading and interviews with professionals in the industry (in no particular order):

  • Reef Central
    So MANY reasons
  • Nano Reefs
    Again, so MANY reasons
  • Fish Lore
    Ref. FishLore; Review, such as Melafix Dangers, Planaria
  • Freshwater Aquatics, Marine & Ecosystems “F.A.M.E” (Facebook)
    Contempt for industry leaders, including a mentor of mine by the founder. Very immature founder/administrator in how she relates to others she does not agree with (mostly in private messages). Nazi like treatment of good information resulting in a refusal to have any kind of discussion resulting in often incomplete information being put out in this forum
  • PNWMAS
    Basically the same as the above forum (except for the immature part)

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