Why Aquaray LED Light Fixtures, Review?

Revised June 22, 2016

Why Aquaray LED Light Fixtures, Review?

As readers already know, I clearly have a bias toward the TMC-AAP Aquaray LED lights.

For a little background, most of my aquarium service customer contract with me AFTER purchasing their equipment elsewhere, so I get to use many different products from many different manufacturers. This pattern has been prevalent since I started in about 1986, at first working for another.
In the end, some products are so bad that I cannot do my job well and I have to tell the service customer that they will need to change this product or I cannot continue or even start a new contract.

Why Aquaray LED Light Fixtures, Review, by TMC AAPWhen it comes to lighting, I probably have at least some experience now with about 70% of the popular LED brands now available. Some others I have not but I have listened to others I respect and have applied common sense and have not recommended those 30% I have yet to use.

Nonetheless, most of the lights that I do have at least some experience with work well and these lights do the job they were intended for such as keeping a reef, planted or just plain fish tank. A couple of exceptions include the Marineland Double Bright, Aquatop, and a few others.
So my experience is not that there are not many capable LED lights, as the majority are more than capable!!

My practical experience as well as common sense has eventually brought me to my favorite when it has come to LED lighting.
This without a doubt is the Aquaray line of LED lights, so let me list off why I feel this way. Readers may not always agree, nonetheless, much of these reasons I list are based on factual reasons, not just simple subjective opinions.

  1. The highest water-resistant rating of any major LED (IP67).
    This means your electronic lighting device that is placed in a wet aquatic environment has a chance of lasting more than a couple years.
    From Aquarium LED Lights, Lighting:
    “LED fixtures are NOT aquarium lights in the traditional sense, even the emitters are not a “bulb” as many people think. They are computer chips making micro-explosions, emitting photons in frequencies of waves. Some of these waves, we know as light.”
  2. The longest and best warranty of 5 years for the fixture. This warranty is also for full replacement, not what can be a weeks long repair, nor are there exceptions as with many others requiring a certain percentage of emitters be out before a warranty can be utilized.
  3. Highest output light energy per input energy, in other words the electrical input required to produce both the quantity and quality of light needed to keep reef or planted aquariums in particular.
  4. Similar to the above, the highest PUR using patented designs and licensed emitters that provide optimum light energy with less need to mix emitters to achieve this.
    The result is a light that has an optimal man-made light energy, not a CRI that might look better or brighter to the user.

    Ref: PUR, PAS, PAR in Aquarium Reef/Planted Lighting

  5. Most options for light spread and more; Large and small tiles, strips, patented mounting system also optionally available.
  6. History; the Aquaray line of aquarium LED lights has been around since 2007 and has locked in some of the best patent designs, licensing agreements. Many of the new fixture while quite nice still has to operate around these designs which includes using multiple emitters to achieve what Aquaray can do with one or a few due to patent and licensing rights. Those who in 2015 & beyond who have never heard of this brand show that they have had their head up their a## in some forum that clearly spews out the same garbage over and over.
    Part of this reason too in my opinion, is many of these persons live on the Internet where the same information is passed back and forth, so they never see what the down and dirty professionals are using.
    The FACTS are the Aquaray line has always been marketed to the professionals, not forum sponsorships, so this results in a brand that is well known among many in professional circles and many brick & mortar retailers, but less well known among forum readers [with a few exceptions]

The above reasons are quite self explanatory and frankly hard to argue with.

In the end, while even the better economy brands such as Finnex or Fluval can keep your planted aquarium going nicely, any up-front savings is lost quickly as per my list of reasons and I have already witnessed early failures of these lights, in particular the Finnex.
When one of the brands I “inherit” with customer who purchased their aquarium set up elsewhere go belly up, this is often when I replace the light with an Aquaray.
I have already replaced lights for customers for total failures. Often moisture damage is a reason, although failed fans have killed a few LED fixtures too.

Another issue I have found is less than optimal emitter combinations, both for marine and freshwater applications.

An example is a freshwater BML LED strip fixture with three blue emitters. The amount of blue has a higher tendency to grow more algae.
This is nothing new either as both I and the person I purchased my aquarium service company from have used actinic blue fluorescent lights in combinations over the years and this almost always resulted more algae growth versus the use of a good pure 6500K trichromatic or Triton lamp.
Changing out to a pure noontime tropical sun 6500k emitter LED such as the Grobeam improved the algae issue. More subjectively I think the more natural daylight color looks better too.

Ditto some of use of amber emitters to make up desired light kelvin colors. This gets close to optimal light wavelengths for cyanobacteria, something warm white fluorescent lamps years back also had more issues with. In the end, changing lights improved cyanobacteria issues too.

Below are a couple of examples to make my point. Please note these are generic aquariums as my contracts protect privacy of my customers aquariums which I cannot use publicly.

This first pic is from a BML showing the too high blue color for most planted aquariums.
Please note that BML is now out of business as per aquarium LEDs. Be wary if purchasing one of these lights used, as they have issues due to heat causing silicone to separate from the fixture since these fixture often produce to much excess heat.
Build My LED Freshwater Light with blue tint

This pic shows GroBeam 600 strips over an aquarium and the more natural color
GroBeam LED lights with more natural daylight color

Lighting a Planted or Reef Tank: Understanding PAR & PUR

The subject of PUR in particular has become rather controversial of late when it comes to lighting a high light requiring planted aquarium or reef aquariums.
Regrettably, this controversy is not well deserved when one looks at this from a scientific point of view.

This in part stems from persons who attempt to use scientific terms and knowledge, but overlook some of the most basic tenants of what PUR is and what we know about it.

We have NickMach007 in his YouTube video from Science Alliance making what I would call snarky, but totally incorrect statements about PUR. All the while, vainly attempting to appear scientific:

What you want to know for aquarium leds
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THuDHw7BLhI

In this video NickMach007 makes some incorrect assertions about PUR, which I will address in this article. This is not to pick on this person, as I am not attempting to judge his intentions, rather his lack of using any real science and proven references to back up his claims put forth.
Making snarky comments such as “folks, PUR is simply not going to replace PAR” is a good example of how he deals with science that he for some reason, does not seem to grasp, or maybe refuses to grasp as it might make some of his lighting choices look bad?
No one who understands the science of lighting or at the very least has investigated it, is stating that PUR is going to replace PAR, only that one should and MUST consider this parameter, since it’s possible to have a light high in PAR, but actually have (0) PUR [example, an all green LED Light-making up PAR, but not PUR].

What’s interesting, is that in one of his video resources, the article clearly disputes what he is saying, so it’s obvious he’s not even reading what he recommends or cherry picks through the information.

  • “We do not know what each plant [or coral] needs as per PUR, therefore it is useless as a parameter”

    Planted reef lighting PAR PUR

    Yes, we do know. Specifically for every “sweet spot” of a photosynthetic organism maybe no, but generally a most emphatic YES!

    There are many aspects of science both past and present where the basics were/are known, but the mechanisms behind this knowledge were not known. We know the photosynthetic responses of plants and corals.
    As an example, by the end of the 1800s we knew a lot more about diseases, which we simply did not know just a 100 years earlier and some things we still don’t know 100 years later.

    Using this as an example/analogy, should we have abandoned Louis Pasteur (discoveries of vaccination) knowledge to this point just because we did not understand the mechanism? Many lives were saved by his investigative research long before we knew more of the specifics!! In the same why, should we abandon the known science of plants and corals?

    aquarium lighting plants and corals
    Picture Reference

    What we do know, is that plants and corals in general use specific energy wave lengths (nm), WHICH HAS BEEN PROVEN! This is one of the reasons plants are the color they are.
    So to utilize lighting, which has much more emphasis in the UNWANTED middle spectrums of light (not the photo response A or B), whether it be most fluorescent lights or LEDs with green, amber, yellow, warm white, and even cool white emitters is simply folly and BAD science.

    lighitng spectrum poor science LED

    Reference:
    PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Lighting (LED); Fresh & Saltwater (Reef)

  • The above reference/link totally explodes NickMach007 points with cited facts [he would do well to read this, yet one of his one cited resources gives a multiple references to this article, so he really has no excuse].
    We already have horticultural businesses [aka vertical farming] following this PUR curve, which he shows in his video, one such business is cited in the above reference article.
    By doing this, these businesses are also running a more efficient operation.

    Here is a resource citing vertical farming and specific LED light wave length, with wavelength being another way to state PUR which is “Photosynthetically Useful Radiation”:
    Vertical Farming’s Forefront at Green Sense

    Here is another respected source/reference:
    Captive Aquatics; PUR and Reef Aquarium Lighting: What is PUR?
    QUOTE: “PUR is a much more useful way to compare LED lighting than any other method. Most LEDs emit excellent PAR, but often only ~50% of the PAR is PUR. The higher the PUR:PAR ratio (check the spectrograph!) the more effective the LED will be for lighting photosynthetic reef invertebrates. “

  • “Quoting Tom Barr who simply disagrees with the premise of PUR”

    Tom Barr Aquarium LED Lighting

    While Tom Barr is considered a guru by some [including himself], he does not give any good evidence to dispute his disagreement with the science behind PUR. In fact while Tom Barr may have an excellent record of designing aesthetically pleasing planted aquariums, he also has a record or refusing to acknowledge new science and learning from others [I would call this being a narcissist].

    Tom Barr’s idea of PUR, which Nick quoted in his video states, is that PUR is not a useful measurement, because we would have to know the useful energy per each organism. Since there are so many plants and corals out there, we just cannot possible know the PUR of everything. While, this has a small amount of truth, Tom leaves out the important science we do know, which is the photosynthetic responses of all plants or corals. This can be measured.

    This is all coming from a man, who has a popular reputation, but has attacked the newer science behind both aquarium Redox balance and UV Sterilization use. Often in inflammatory words too, so I give this many very little credit when he makes any statement when it pertains to science.

    Further Resources:
    #UV STERILIZATION; UVC Irradiation for Pond, Aquarium
    #REDOX IN AQUARIUMS

  • Here is just one of Tom Barr’s comment about the observations into Redox, which has much of it coming out of human studies too:
    “the part about “water ionization” is frigging rubbish. That’s quackery marketing.”

    Apparently investigative research that he may not agree with is “quackery marketing” despite THE FACT Tissue redox activity has been shown as a hallmark of carcinogenesis: from early to terminal stages of cancer.

  • “Likely plants [corals] will adapt to the PAR light provided anyway”

    Plant or coral adapting to light, PAR PUR

    Where is his proof here? Any such evolution is certainly not going to take place in our lifetime unless he is planning to live several millenia.
    In fact, we already have an organism that has adapted to these middle less efficient light spectrums for plants and corals; they are called Cyanobacteria (Yellow light spectrum).

    Is this what his goal is? I doubt it, but his lack of understanding of the basics of science allows him to make such absurd statements as this.

    Reference:
    Cyanobacteria; Blue Green/Red Slime Algae in Aquariums & Ponds

  • “Measuring PAR”

    Here he gets his facts correct as stated, however he suffers here from the omission of information.
    What he omits is that PAR measuring devices tend toward the middle of the PAR scale. Thus these devices miss some of the most essential spikes of PUR and thus any measurement that compares a light that has emphasis in these areas of light spectrum will be inaccurate.

    defined quantum response of PAR verus PUR, aquarium lighting

    Even when comparing apples to apples such as the TMC 12 Watt Fiji Blue LED fixture versus the TMC 12 watt Marine White LED; the Fiji Blue has a PAR of 38 at 400mm while the Marine White LED has a PAR of 50 at 400mm!!
    Both these lights has exactly the same input energy, and the same circuitry, and are both well within the defined quantum response of PAR, YET there is a 20% + drop in measured PAR!

  • This means different light can add up to different PAR, so caution needs to be taken when one PAR from one fixture to another PAR. Higher PAR does not mean a better reading for growth.

  • “We are in a hobby where we would expect to spend more money”

    Again he makes a half right assertion.
    Yes, we certainly should not go on the cheap, but when it comes to lighting that would mean using lights with better circuitry, PWM, and ones that do not require fans that can and do fail, often due to moisture or over heating.

    Using the logic he implies, why not go back to using six 40 watt T12 Fluorescent light tubes over a 60 gallon aquarium as my mentor has pointed out, which he did for some of his planted aquarium customers in the 1970s. This is simply a shot gun approach to lighting, NOT ADAPTATION as he would have you believe.

    We have evolved in this hobby/industry where more efficient lights have allowed us to better target our light sensitive aquarium specimens.
    Whether is be SHO lights, T5 light, or the even more efficient, but often ignored by the ignorance of many in the hobby; T2 lights.
    This of course should also include LED lights such as the AquaRay, which employ the most efficient technologies. To say this is going cheap is absurd and frankly ignorant of the science of lighting.

    More Resources:

    AQUARIUM LIGHTING BASICS; Parameters, Lights Technology
    PUR or RQE, YouTube Video Fail- Guide to lighting a planted tank

AquaRay Aquarium LED; Reef Central

Reef Central is a popular forum with many marine fish keepers.
As readers of my “Aquarium Opinions” posts will notice that I also call this forum out for a lot of incorrect information, such as in my last post for making ludicrous statements that certain UV Sterilizers did not even exist that do IN FACT exist as well as ludicrous statements about UV Sterilizer customer service.

Since TMC and their AquaRay lighting seems to be one of their favorite kicking boys, likely due to the fact they do not pay the big bucks in sponsorships as other LED manufacturers who spend much more on marketing and hype, I will be standing in for their defense.
In this post, I will look at several points made by Reef Central members and comment on them.
I will note that some very well thought out comments were also made in Reef Central threads

I shall also note that as per my Home Page mission statement, I am simply a professional aquarium service and design person, and as well, do not link to any sellers of said equipment.
I simply do not like to see bullsh## information being put forth as fact and yes my observations has shown the TMC AquaRay (as well as UV Sterilizers to be among the best, if not THE BEST)

First here is my outline as to while I support the LEDs I do in my aquarium service business:
Why Aquaray LED Light Fixtures, Review?

SO HERE WE GO:

  1. COMMENT:
    By Reef Central member; “If there is not a Cree data sheet that shows these magic emitters nor a publicly available patent then these claims are not true. 10 LED fixture with no controls for $290? No thanks.”
    Ref:
    http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2181083

    MY RESPONSE:
    An unfortunately typical argument attacking facts using hyperbole.
    No dude, there are no magic emitters. Only emitters that AquaRay has paid to Cree and others for specific licensing, nothing magic about this and quite a regular practice in the manufacturing industry too.

    As well, the facts/science of PUR are applied in selection of emitters used, not what just looks good such as green emitters.
    In fact, a CBS news report about indoor farms backed up the facts that PUR is what is important and that there is nothing magical about using specific PUR emitters rather that hitting the whole PAR spectrum as most Aquarium LEDs market their lights to [such as Ocean Revive, EcoTech, etc.] with the help of either misinformed, clueless, or maybe even deceptive graphs that only measure PAR and thus give higher ratings to lights that put out high PAR, but with much of it in spectrums that might look good to us, but is useless for plant or symbiotic zooxanthellae required by corals.
    This farm used ONLY the spectrums required for growth, in other words PUR which means “photosynthetically useful radiation”. this in the end wastes much less electricity and requires a lower measurable PAR do do the job over lights employing green, yellow, & cool white emitters.

    These are both observable facts that such garbage posts like this one at Reef Central ignore.

    Aquarium LED PAR, Green emitter Zero PUR

    References:
    #Cree Licensing Programs
    #LED Aquarium Lights, Lighting; How they work
    #PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Lighting (LED)
    #CBS News; Vertical Farms

  2. COMMENT:
    By Reef Central member; “I still cringe any time anyone uses the term PUR in marketing lights. The bottom line ia we have seen beautiful tanks running LED fixtures such as AI, Ecotech, Kessil, Maxspect, ect… They have proven that they can continue to produce great results over the years. The EcoRay products have been out for years yet there are very few if any tanks out there using them much less showing off their success.”

    Another well thought out comment answered this:
    By Reef Central member; “They’re a household name in Europe. As far as I know, there’s only 1 distributor here in the states.

    PUR is a completely appropriate topic though when it comes to lights. It’s still another measurement that means something. It’s not just a fancy word like AI, Radion, Kessil, Maxspect would like you to believe.
    You might think PUR is unnecessary or the brand isn’t well known, I see the opposite of this.

    Why does nobody use the balling lite system, or even the Triton method? I don’t see a lot on the Triton method, that doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. That’s why I enjoy my time on the European forums more than the US forums. Any way you slice it, the Europeans and other countries have been keeping fish much longer than the United States folks. I surely won’t dismiss anyones methods etc, but I think the bottom line is they have more participation in the fishkeeping hobby. (by several hundreds years at least)

    Over in the European forums you see these crazy tanks running for years with no water changes yet doing just fine supplementing additives.
    In the USA, people say additives are the devil and I see the majority of people asking how to keep some of the basic chemistry in check.

    I won’t make any assumptions on who’s right, but I see a lot of bickering on the US forums as compared to legitimate progress between multiple people in the Euro forums. It’s definitely something to think about.”
    From:
    http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2391677

    RESPONSE:
    As this member at Reef Central stated, PUR IS IMPORTANT, and despite awesome marketing by AI & Ecotech along with their minions, PUR is necessary

    Again I reference this article:
    #PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Lighting (LED)

    I will also point out just how much time and effort goes into marketing EcoTech here at Reef Central alone.
    Look at proof of just how active the “EcoTech” sponsor is in “Reef Central”
    Reference:
    http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2428081

    4798 as of this blog post.
    This is an incredible number as I know a friend who sponsors a forum and has been very active since 2006 in this forum visiting it every day and answering question after question and he is at about 6800 post, so for these people to hit these kinds of number so quickly shows a lot of where their marketing is and why they are so well known to member of Reef Central.

    This certainly does not prove the EcoTech is inferior [or better], but certainly shows that marketing is their main strategy of selling this product

  3. COMMENT:
    By Reef Central member; “I’m looking into getting some Aquaray Aquabeam 2000 & 1500. Underdogs with less marketing are more compelling to me.”
    From:
    http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2391677

    RESPONSE:
    I agree as to less hype and marketing tells me where their emphasis is.

    In truth, as another honest Reef Central member noted, the AquaRay brand is well known in Europe where they are often more advanced and are not driven so much by marketing.
    If one has been into automobiles for some time as I have, all I have to think about is the Pontiac Aztec that was heavily marketed. Does this make it a better vehicle than a Mercedes Benz that I do not see as much advertising for?

    While my analogy is certainly flawed, my point is marketing costs money that could be going into product build.
    Why for instance do EcoTech Radions need fans?
    The response is so simple and is easily answered by Middle School science in that this excess heat that requires fans equals energy that is not going into light energy!!

  4. COMMENT:
    By Reef Central member; “I’ve got the 2000’s on a 75 gallon.
    I have them 1″ above the water, in the water just under surface is 1100-1200 par, about 12″ under the surface they give off 500-600 par, at the sand (around 17″ under) they give about 100-150 par.

    On a side note, my firestorm monti grows like a weed under these compared to miniscule growth under a 150w MH. (ya, it surprised me)

    They’re well worth it for cost savings, PWM makes the difference. But their controller is as generic as an outlet timer. (you can only do ramp on/off and levels and thunderstorm mode)

    I will not go into details as to scientific evidence, that is often very basic, that is often ignored in so many forum articles about Aquarium LED lighting, rather I will cite further reading references.”

    From:
    http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2391677

    MY RESPONSE:
    This should come as no surprise to anyone who has pulled their head out of their a## and looked past Reef Central, checked out the more science based information online, and cracked open a Middle School level science book

  5. COMMENT:
    By Reef Central member; “Any company that creates a comparison chart for marketing purposes and use “poor warranty” under cons for Kessil and Ecotech Radion is selling snake oil. Sorry but that is just ridiculous and couldn’t be further from the truth. At least for US based customers. Both Ecotech and Kessil have some of the best support in the industry and back their warranties like no other. Further that, TMC doesn’t even offer contact info on their US website so even with their 5 year warranty, who is one supposed to contact? TMC/Tropical Marine Centre makes decent products but they are based in the UK. I used their commercial UV filters for many years before switching to AquaUV.

    That said, unless you are in Europe, forget about support. Quality Marine is said to be a wholesaler and doesn’t provide end user support so god forbid you have an issue, you are going to be having a good time getting decent support let alone warranty service.

    As for their light output. The truth is in the PAR numbers and from what I can see, these are better suited as Nano lights. “

    From:
    http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2391677

    MY RESPONSE:
    I have already dealt with this persons rather rude comments that make no sense in a post about UV Sterilizers.
    This guy made up information in the UV thread and now has the gall to make up more facts as he sees them:

    My response from:
    https://aquariumopinions.com/2014/11/05/aqua-ultraviolet-versus-tmc-uv-sterilizers-reef-central/

    Sorry dude, TMC support is superior just because it is retailer based.
    Let me ask readers what would rather have as a return policy using a laptop computer as an example:
    You have a choice between two laptops of similar value, with one it can be brought back to the store for an exchange or parts replacement, or the other you have to send away to the manufacturer and wait several weeks to get your laptop back?
    I think most would take the first quicker option; sorry dude!

    I would add to this previous analogy that if you bought your automobile in Los Angeles, would you rather send it to where it was put together or the local dealership you purchased at?
    Again this guys logic is extremely flawed.
    ion.
    It is an outright lie that you will not get warranty service from TMC, as I already noted it is done through the dealers including the largest North American seller, who I will not mention since the policy of this blog is to not plug retailers or their website. Turn around is within one business day and includes a new fixture. I know that just in 2014 I had a fixture have one emitter out and I got a newer updated fixture to replace it immediately, no sending in for repairs.

    How is a warranty that is much shorter snake oil, whose Kool Aid has he been drinking? This is the kind of Kool Aid logic I would expect from Putins or Obamas, NOT what should be a fact driven responsible aquarium forum!!

    This high post count Reef Central character loves to make up information or downright lies as he goes along whether it be UV Sterilizers or Reef Lighting, and he is just one good reason Reef Central has little credibility for good information.

    He still clearly does not get that a light using a higher percentage of green emitters is WASTING energy input as light energy that is USELESS to photosynthetic life, while still making great PAR numbers.

    He needs to check out the CBS news story where only the essential PUR lighting spikes have been proven to be all that is needed for photosynthetic life.
    He also clearly does not understand the simple fact that energy wasted as heat is energy NOT going to lighting.

    Lastly, what this person seems to not grasp is no one I know that is reputable is saying the EcoTech or Kessil does not keep reef life, ONLY that it takes less input wattage for an AquaRay to do the same job.

    Am I or others saying that a 30 watt AquaRay Reef White NP 2000 [with a PAR 380 uEinsteins/sec/m2 @15 inches] has a higher useful light output than a 90 watt Kessil?
    NO, but 30 watts of this premium AquaRay LED is likely equal to the output of 50-60 watts of a Kessil or EcoTech

  6. COMMENT:
    By Reef Central member; “Another measurement? How can you say that. Every brand you just mentioned produces more PUR than the Aquaray. And the reason I can say that is because my measurement is as accurate as anyone else’s regarding PUR. All the fixtures you mentioned produce more than enough PAR for photosynthesis of our animals. The only difference is that there are several examples out there with long term results using those other fixtures. Show us the results of those using the Aquaray. I want to see before and after shots with the Aquaray. Maybe a year or so of progress. Not just pics of some tank that pulled off the MH or T5, put up the Aquaray and took photos.”

    From:
    http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2391677

    MY RESPONSE:
    REALLY? When they use green, amber, or cool white emitters?
    Does he really understand PUR???
    As for PAR, watt per watt, the useful PUR is higher with an AquaRay!

    What this guy misses is the AquaRay has been around longer than these others, they have simply not marketed to gullible aquarium forums!
    There are many places using the AquaRay for more than just Nano Applications, such as the “Oceanography Centre in London” and my NON nano reef tank clients.

    Below is a reef aquarium I was given permission to share utilizing ONLY AquaRay NP 1500 & 2000 tiles that has been running over a year with AquaRay from the beginning .

    Acropora Reef Aquarium running AquaRay AquaBeam LED Lights, Lighting

  7. COMMENT:
    By Reef Central member (the same character that makes up bs all over the place about uv sterilizers and LED lights); “FWIW, that Fish-as-pets site link you posted happens to be owned by the distributor American Aquarium Products. That is marketing fluff being promoted by the distributor. Certainly not an objective comparison. “

    I see in this thread that they went after the author of the Fish as Pets article comparing the EcoTech to an AquaRay cited by another member who dared to mess with the RC Reef Police, YET, there was nothing mysterious about who this author is.
    WHAT!?
    The author clearly says who he is at the end and CLEARLY explains his reasons in scientific terms why he went with the AquaRay, why should he not sell this brand. Further investigation of the author of this article by reading “Business Bio”, it is clear he has been at this for 4 decades with a lot of time, research, 1000s of hours of hands on experience, and effort put forth.
    Furthermore, this is ludicrous reasoning!! Should someone whose research leads him to believe that an Apple lap top is better than a Windows not then recommend the Apple? Does this discredit him or her? Of course not!!!

    Moreover, considering the authors time in the hobby and business which I easily found with remedial “detective” work, this dude’s comments are rather disrespectful, but hell, that is the generation we live in where insulting others is the norm.

  8. COMMENT:
    By Reef Central member; “Shilling is still shilling, no matter how you wish to spin it. Shilling gets you removed from this forum, and you brought that on yourself so when you continue to badmouth RC on your blogs, remember you are the one who chose to ignore the rules. It is as simple as that. You will not be missed and this thread will remain for all to see in perpetuity. You will be your own worse enemy. “

    From:
    http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2391677

    In my 1/15/15 revision to this post, I find this personal attack rather interesting.
    First this dude does not even know the definition of a shill

    Here is is for those who do not:
    “A shill, also called a plant or a stooge, is a person who publicly helps a person or organization without disclosing that they have a close relationship with the person or organization.

    “Shill” typically refers to someone who purposely gives onlookers the impression that they are an enthusiastic independent customer of a seller (or marketer of ideas) for whom they are secretly working”

    Reference:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shill

    I do not think this person person fits this definition unless they have had one too many liberal Kool Aids.
    Never once did this person attempt to sell a product or pose as a customer that I can see, only defend lies put forth as facts!

    More importantly, I could NOT find attacks on RC by this person that everyone seems to decided to dishonestly pile on, either here or any any blogs.

  9. What it comes down to, is Reef Central loses any credibility with its inability to moderate, as the thread noted is not a debate as one RC member would have you believe, it is about spreading lies as facts, making those who disagree with the company line that AquaRays are junk to feel two inches tall, and basically talking out of one’s ass with personal attacks and name calling rather than the facts.

    In the end, the best thing RC can do is leave this thread up as it shows the nastiness of many who reside on this forum.
    I am sure some forum lurkers will agree with this dishonest member who makes up definitions on the fly, but frankly such persons with bully attitudes are not the type of person any honest person would want to deal with, unless your name is maybe Vladimir Putin.
    I think honest/moral persons will see how rude persons are at RC and not believe a word they say.

    My advice to person attacked here and the other honest RC member is the same I give to my service customers; avoid this forum like the plague.

    Further Resources:
    #PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Lighting (LED); Fresh & Saltwater (Reef)
    #LED Aquarium Lights, Lighting; How they work, DIY
    #St. Marys Marine Biology LED Experiments
    #This shallow reef tank makes up in vibrant life what it lacks in height
    #EcoTech Radion Versus TMC Aqua Ray HO LED Aquarium Lights

    Gregg – 2015

Economy Planted Aquarium LED; Fluval Aqualife & TMC AquaBar

In this post, I will look at two LED lights marketed for planted or fish only freshwater aquariums, with price a consideration in both build and marketing
The “Fluval Aqualife & Plant LED Strip Light” is already well known since it is being sold in PetCo and other major online and brick and mortar retailers, as well it has the marketing power of its owner corporation, Rolf C Hagen behind it as well.
The AquaBar [now discontinued] is sold by TMC, which is also a well established company, but is more well known by aquarium professionals and then for “higher end” products, so this LED light is somewhat of a diversion for TMC in my opinion. Notwithstanding, TMC is also only sold by higher end brick & mortar and online retailers, NOT at PetCos, Amazon, etc.

First here is my outline as to while I support the Aquaray LEDs I prefer in my aquarium service business:
Why Aquaray LED Light Fixtures, Review?

 

REVIEWS;

Fluval Aqualife & Plant LED Light Review
Fluval Aqualife & Plant LED Strip Light

I will use the 25 watt Fluval Aqualife LED for comparison
This LED uses (312) 5500K LED 120 degree emitters daisy chained together in 61 cm LED strip

The emitters are non descript generic emitters of different colors to produce a 5500 Kelvin Color temperature, notwithstanding 5500K is not the best kelvin temperature for plant growth.

 

The picture below displays this these emitters in a reflection over the water of a planted freshwater aquarium:
Fluval Aqualife & Plant LED Strip Light Reflection Review

The Fluval Aqualife & Plant LED can clearly grow plants and displays fish colors reasonably well too, however there is little shimmer when compared to high end planted aquarium LEDs such as the GroBeam or TMC Mini 400.

Fluval Aqualife Plant LED Light emitters, review
A major negative is that since this LED uses so many low end emitters just to obtain a 25 wattage output, regulating voltage CANNOT be done correctly while keeping the price that these LEDs are sold for.
The more emitters, the more complex the circuitry to regulate the voltage over each emitter. Otherwise the alternative is simply daisy-chaining lights similar to Christmas lights, and this results in a voltage drop along this “chain” of lights. Since LED emitters are designed to run at specific voltages, life expectancy of emitters will be lower and color spectrums will not be the same. Think about a dimmed incandescent bulb, as it goes from full on to almost off, it gets less white.

 

Reference: LED Aquarium Lights, Lighting; Circuitry & Daisy Chained LEDs

The end result is a very poor PUR light spectrum with plant growth simply achieved via a shotgun approach, which with this poor light spectrum, the end result is higher algae growth; in particular Black Beard algae and cynobacteria.

The warranty is good, but deceptively limited since Hagen will only repair and even then only if more than 5% (16 or more) of the LED emitters cease to function. Repairs can leave you without a light for some time

In Conclusion; if you are looking for a cheap LED light, this is still better than the Finnex [with only a 180 day warranty], but this is certainly not even close to the level of the GroBeam or TMC Mini 400 as these LED lights at 12 watts each, can produce more useful light energy than this Fluval at 25 watts based on the science of PUR. Generally speaking
As an example; only one 12 watt GroBeam is required for a 20 gallon “high light” requiring planted aquarium versus a 25 Watt Fluval Aqualife LED for best results.
Interestingly, when one takes into consideration that the GroBeam 12 watt is less expensive than the Fluval 25 watt, has the highest PUR of any comparable LED, and is available with an unlimited 5 year warranty, what light to purchase should a no-brainer.

TMC AquaBar freshwater 500 LED mounted over aquarium, ReviewTMC AquaBar Freshwater

This is TMC’s foray into more economical lighting.
As an aquarium professional who has used many of TMC’s products for years, just because they were often the best of the best and built/designed with aquarium professionals in mind, I do not really agree with the reasoning here.

The TMC AquaBar model 500 for freshwater aquariums is a 12 watt 50cm (19.7″)LED light strip with (30) 6500k White Samsung LED emitters.
Whereas it is not PWM capable as with the TMC Grobeam, it is still run by advanced circuity similar to many other advanced aquarium LEDs that run similar numbers of emitters.

TMC AquaBar freshwater 500 LED side view, ReviewThe appearance in the water with the more blue heavy with little yellow light energy AquaBar Freshwater LED is more blue than many freshwater LEDs, including the GroBeam.

While definitely a step above the Fluval and especially the very unreliable Finnex LEDs, it is clearly a step below the high end GroBeam and Mini 500 LEDs that TMC offers for those seeking the best in planted aquarium lighting based on the science of PUR.

Below is the Spectrogram for the AquaBar.
Note that lack of yellow light which tends to make this LED appear more blue. This would be a plus since yellow in particular has a tendency to grow cyanobacteria [blue/green algae]. Yellow is much more pronounced in the Fluval LED.
Spectrogram courtesy of “Aquarium Article Digest”
TMC AquaBar LED Spectrogram, Review

Here is a video with a planted aquarium utilizing an AquaBar LED Light
New tmc aquabar 50 cm colour rendition

The TMC AquaBar does not have as much of the cool shimmer of the more advanced GroBeam

Further AquaBar Information:
Aquarium LED Light Review; TMC AquaBar

In Conclusion; early results shows this to be clearly the best of the economy LED lights, however for me, I would prefer to spend the 25% more to get the shimmer, more accurate PUR, and longer warranty of the GroBeam LED.
But for those who need to watch every penny, this is probably the next best freshwater LED with $30 -$35 savings per strip over the GroBeam.

Further reading, references:
# Cyanobacteria; Blue Green/Red Slime Algae in Aquariums & Ponds
# PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Lighting (LED); Spectrographs
# Purchase Aquarium LED Lighting; What to Know
#PUR or RQE, YouTube Video Fail- Guide to lighting a planted tank

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)

Review of Ocean Revive & Evergrow LED Lights for Reef Aquariums


Revised 7/7/16

In this article, I will interview a couple of lessor known, but growing in popularity Aquarium LED light fixtures due to a Northwest aquarium forums promotion of these Chinese fixtures. These are all made in the same Chinese factory with simply different names.

[1] The Ocean Revive/Evergrow utilize better drivers than many Chinese made LEDs and are also reef capable, but at nearly 2-3 times the energy wattage input as required by a top aquarium LED (120 watts versus 30 watts for the same PUR).

What is interesting, is the owner of Ocean Revive claims: “the prototypes were built in the garage and tested on our own tanks”.
HOWEVER the Ocean Revive and Evergrow are the same LED; don’t believe me, give them a close up look!!
Quote Source: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2428081

The draw back to these LEDs is that they utilize current reduction technology, which can alter spectrum. This alteration produces much more excess heat than the better, but more expensive PWM technology.

Hence the need for cooling fans. All Aquarium LEDs that utilize ‘current reduction’ will require a fan.

The straightforward scientific FACT is that this excess heat represents energy that is not being used as light energy for your photosynthetic life.

Back to spectrum, as I know that there are doubters that current reduction can alter spectrum, I can offer this way of looking at it:
Take an ordinary incandescent light bulb and place it in a socket with a common dimmer (which would be current reduction), then to slowly dim the bulb. As it dims it is quite obvious with the human eye the that color spectrum changes.
While I will admit my experiment has flaws, we do know that LED emitters are designed to run at specific voltages for the light output they were designed to produce, so it is not too much of a reach to draw some conclusions from this experiment.

[2] Another issue with the Ocean Revive and Evergrow Aquarium LEDs is their use and choice of emitters by Bridgelux. These are inferior to many of the patented emitters from Cree and Osram Olson, used in higher grade units.

Common Bridgelux emitter bins use by Ocean Revive & Evergrow:

(2) Red 660nm
(2) Green 520nm
(20) Blue 460nm
(7) Royal Blue 450nm
(4) Violet 420nm
(8) Cool White 12000K
(6) Neutral White 7500K
(6) Warm White 3500K

Now let’s look at a graph that plots some of these same emitters along with currently scientific known needs of an Acropora coral.
this can be clicked on to enlarge

Once one realizes according to scientific facts, it is obvious that the light spectrums miss the ballpark of spikes required by photosynthetic life within PAR.

In other words the VASTLY more important PUR.

Unfortunately many LEDs including the Ocean Revive/Evergrow, will produce great PAR measurements, however it is not rocket science to realize that a PAR meter ONLY measures light energy within the 400 to 700 nanometer range. So, while one light might measure a higher PAR mmol reading, another light might be still superior due to the more important PUR output.

These spikes fall around the 410-500nm and 630-670nm, which you can see from the above graph are considerably missed by the emitters used in these LEDs.

THIS REPRESENTS WASTED ENERGY! Your PAR meter might measure this light energy, but your photosynthetic life will NOT!!

Further MUST READ Reference:
PUR Versus PAR in Aquarium Lighting

[3] Now let’s look at the warranty of the Ocean Revive & Evergrow Aquarium LED Light. These are only warranted for ONE YEAR.
Compare this to the industry leader that is for 5 years for the fixture.

Why is this extreme difference?
Well, this is where I will venture from scientific fact and offer an opinion. The Industry leader, TMC AquaRay, utilizes the vastly superior driver technology, which produces much less heat.
This heat is destructive to LED units and frankly, breakdowns of cooling fans is a known issue with most brands that utilize cooling fans.

Here are current issues with the Ocean Revive LED Lights:
“Problems with the Ocean Revive/Evergrow include issues with “burnt diodes”. The problem is primarily with those in the range of 450nm & 420nm. Since these are a generic diode made in the same Chinese factory that builds many popular, but lower cost LEDs, this problem may be more widespread than we know.
Heat problems also exist and may be what contribute to the diode issues. These fixtures seem to be especially problematic when placed in a canopy or close to water.”

Here are two previous articles I wrote on these subjects:
Aquarium LED Warranties; Reef or Planted
Aquarium LED Lights, PWM & Current Reduction

[4] Finally; one forum in particular has promoted the Ocean Revive, with claims that for an inexpensive LED, it grows SPS corals well. Well this is true and the results certainly speak for themselves.
However they do it at a higher than needed electrical cost and for a fixture that does not have an IP-67 waterproof rating along with a very short warranty.

What is worse about this forums promotion of the Ocean Revive is their lack of honesty in comparing to the higher end TMC AquaRay.
Stating a 30 Watt Reef White NP 2000 is under powered when compared to an Ocean Revive at 120 watts is a no duh!! The larger Ocean Revive has a larger footprint and many more watts input energy. Try comparing four of the 30 Watt Reef White NP 2000s and you will quickly have much more light energy and a larger footprint for a fixture that is VASTLY more durable and safe in a wet aquarium environment. Of course not this many AquaRay fixtures is needed to make a comparison, as two AquaRay will generally compare to the Ocean Revive.

The other false piece of information [based on feed back from a friend in the industry] coming out of this forum that is clearly promoting the Ocean Revive [the seller is a popular member there too], is that the TMC AquaRay has no proof growing out sps corals.
This is either ignorant misinformation or a blatant lie. Either way the AquaRay has been around years before the Ocean Revive with many updates since. The AquaRay was growing sps corals for years before the Ocean Revive was on the market. This includes the largest seller of quality fish & invertebrates in North America and Europe, SO DO NOT FALL FOR THIS CRAP!!!

Here is my outline as to while I support the LEDs I do in my aquarium service business:
Why Aquaray LED Light Fixtures, Review?

In Summary;
It is quite obvious that the Ocean Revive and Evergrow are far from the best when science is applied, not marketing.

This does not mean these cannot keep marine life, as I know for a fact these LEDs can. However, why spend less now to require as much as 3 times the electricity over the life of the LED to run these LEDs, where is the energy savings over a Metal Halide?

As well, when you consider these light may not last more than 2 years or even less, before requiring repairs or even replacement. Your so-called savings is not just out the window, it has circled the globe a few times.

In the end, you can choose to believe the many lemmings in some forums that would have you believe that the Earth is flat, or you can look at the science.

Recommended Further References:

Related Resources I find interesting/helpful:


Since I originally wrote this post, based on a clients suggestion, I stumbled upon a recent thread (as of January 2014) in a reef keeping society forum that was troubling.
In this thread, many, including what appeared to be moderators were dogging what I assume was one of the sponsors of this forum and asking for proof of a track record of the Aquaray versus lights such as the Ocean Revive!
All I can say is REALLY??
This is both dishonest and insulting since so many professionals such as myself have used Aquarays for many years now and it is the Ocean Revive/Evergrow, that is the new Chinese based brand on the market with much less track record other than heavy reef forum and club sponsorship, in other words buying club members off IMO.

One person even dissed Quality Marine USA who is a livestock supplier I know well and buy from.
In “Quality Marine” you have arguably the premier livestock wholesaler in North America, that also uses many different pieces of aquarium equipment to keep livestock alive in long term display tanks to prove their quality over many of the wholesalers (that will go un-named) who sell primarily to retail stores where price is more important than quality. Why would they use equipment, including lights that will not do the job of keeping up their primary business (livestock)??
The lack of logic, from simple to scientific in this forum was utterly baffling to me.

I only bring me up to point out that the amount of miss-information on the Internet is staggering, and to caution readers to apply scientific logic and simple common sense, and to especially be careful with the forum threads that attempt to pass off as authoritative information, when the opposite is true


Aquarium LED Warranties & Problems/Reviews; Reef or Planted

Revised May 16, 2017

Aquarium LED Light WarrantyAquarium LED Warranties;this is a something I have heard a lot of lately.

I believe this idea of warranties is called into question is because of the plethora of Aquarium LEDs sold that utilize poor drivers and cooling fans. This is all due to poor design that are now breaking down.

Ref. my earlier post on the subject: Aquarium LED Lights, Controllers; What is Best

This break downs cause issues. I know someone in the business who have had fires when their cooling fan malfunctions (TaoTronics and EverGrow are a couple that have been noted). For me, it has just been the cooling fans breaking down. EcoTech Radion broke down after just a year or so of use.

This is important because so many persons bragged to me or friends about their great price on many Chinese LEDs, but they never factor in that it takes usually twice the electrical wattage to produce the same output in useful light energy. They never question why these LEDs have a fan.

Many of these LEDs, such as the Evergrow and Taotronics, utilize 120 watts to produce the same PUR light energy (not to be confused with PAR) as the 30 watt top notch European models I now mostly utilize.

When you have high PUR/PAS [useful light, photosynthetic action spectrum] emitting diodes, you don’t need a fan because there is no extra energy that is converted into heat. No hot heat, no fan needed.

Cited Reference: Aquarium LED Lighting, What to Know; PUR

Now let me look at each brand for there current warranty:

Readers, please take note that many of these lights are sold under different brands and therefore are lumped together.

  • Finnex Aquarium LED:
    WARRANTY: 180 DAYS
  • This warranty says a lot about this product!

    Problems with the Finnex include the “Planted+ 24/7 IR sensor” which has gone out for many users of this product.

    Other problems include the Finnex Planted+ over heating and condensation failures are quite common.

    As well, Finnex will void the warranty if it appears the light was not placed ON some type of cover and was directly over the water!. Unfortunately for many aquarium keepers, this is how they mount their lights.

    The bottom line is despite many forum recommendations, this is a nice looking planted aquarium capable light that is not built to last and should only be considered if “cheap” is all that matters to you.

  • Current Satellite Aquarium LED:
    WARRANTY: 1 Year

    Problems with the Current Satellite includes moisture builds up inside of the light, which eventually causes failure. Unfortunately most reports of this occur after a year, thus after the one year warranty.
    This moisture is generally from very minimal “splashing”, due to air bubbles coming out of the water. Since these fixtures are only water resistant at best (no IP67 water resistance rating)

  • Aqua Illuminations Aquarium LED:
    WARRANTY: 1 Year
  • Ocean Revive/Evergrow Aquarium LED:
    WARRANTY: 1 Year

    Problems with the Ocean Revive/Evergrow include issues with “burnt diodes”. The problem is primarily with those in the range of 450nm & 420nm. Since these are a generic diode made in the same Chinese factory that builds many popular, but lower cost LEDs, this problem may be more widespread than we know.
    Heat problems also exist and may be what contribute to the diode issues. These fixtures seem to be especially problematic when placed in a canopy or close to water.

    As well these and their knock off cousins [such as the SB Reef below] utilize low efficiency warm white emitters and employ energy wasting fans that lead to very inefficient LED lights requiring more input energy per useful output energy produces. In the end, they do not stand up long term in our humid aquarium environments

  • Orphek Aquarium LED:
    WARRANTY: 1 Year
  • EcoTech Aquarium LED:
    WARRANTY: 1 Year
    The LED Clusters have a two year warranty for replacement, but this means the owner must wait for repairs and any a possible labor charges.
    Please see this pdf Download: EcoTech Instructions Booklet

    While I have not sent in an EcoTech LED under warranty, I know of other aquarium service persons and store owners I trust who have. While warranty issues are rare, time to wait for repairs can be long.
    This said, I know of EcoTech working with an owner over issues outside of warranty too.

  • Maxspect Aquarium LED:
    WARRANTY: 18 months
  • TaoTronics/Blue Moon LED Aquarium LED:
    WARRANTY: 2 Years
  • SB Reef Lights LED:
    WARRANTY: 2 Years

    Basically a re-branded Evergrow with upgraded heat sink & more powerful emitters/optics including UVA as well as a better warranty (compare to Evergrow D2120 LED).
    The same heat issues [even with improved heat sink] and lower quality emitter issues exist too. Still VERY LOW efficiency. Even more questionable is simply the amount of heat these over driven LED lights produce making these comparable to many Metal Halides in potentially requiring a chiller during warmer months.

    Back to efficiency, this is also major question mark as per this very low quality Chinese fixture, as the SB Reef Light LED has one of the lowest efficiencies of ANY aquarium LED light fixture requiring .41 watt of input energy per 1 point of PAR. Compare this even to other low cost/quality LEDs such as the Finnex which is .24 watt of input energy per 1 point of PAR.

    Source/Further Reading: PUR, PAS, PAR in Aquarium Reef/Planted Lighting

    Although well marketed to a gullible non-reading social media market that lives & dies by the meme, these Chinese LEDs are nothing special and are probably worse than most long term because of the eventual heat damage.

    Quoting a professional friend in the industry; “the marketing and sudden popularity of the Chinese made SB Reef Light would make PT Barnum proud” [“There’s a sucker born every minute”]. These are a laughable aquarium LED when one just uses common sense and when one thinks about why LEDs became a popular alternative in the first place to MH and other lights.

    Even with the better warranty, not a recommended LED light for those looking for efficiency and quality of build that will last, but nice looking for color, crazy high power, and cheap up front purchase.

  • Fluval Aquarium LED:
    WARRANTY: 3 Years, however failure of less than 5% of emitters is not considered a defect which can cause spectral quality failure due to poor voltage over other working emitters.
    Replacement or repair at company discretion.

    A better warranty than many, however it still daisy chains many low power, no-name emitters together, resulting in very low efficiency.
    Like the Current Satellite, the Fluval LEDs tend to suffer with moisture build up that eventually causes failure.
    I inherited several Fluval LEDs with a couple new aquarium contracts, both had moisture related failures a few years into their original installation

  • Stark/eShine Aquarium LED:
    WARRANTY: Limited 3 year; 1 year complete and 3 years parts (labor & shipping extra)
  • BeamsWork Aquarium LED:
    WARRANTY: Limited 3 year; 1 year complete and 3 years parts (labor & shipping extra)
  • Build My LED:
    WARRANTY: Limited 3 year for free repair or replacement, however failure of less than 15% of emitters is not considered a defect.

    Currently BML is no longer manufacturing LED lights for aquarium use, however they still are honoring warranties. This includes for a common problem of silicone coming out from the sides of the fixture due to heat issues (which are unfortunately common with this fixture and its inefficiencies).

    In fact, as time is progressing, the BML seems to be showing some serious flaws in quality of build, so while no longer built, I would also not recommend a second hand BML from Ebay or elsewhere.
    The fact this company was never an aquarium supply company is showing if only due to failures since the BML never utilized an IP67 water resistance rating. This has allowed for premature failure of circuitry/drivers.
    It is the opinion of this author that this is a major reason for their sudden exiting from the manufacture of aquarium lights.

  • Kessil Aquarium LED:
    WARRANTY: 1 year for repair or replacement

    I speaking with others, while the warranty period is short for such an expensive aquarium LED, their customer service is great during this time.
    One down side is these need regular cleaning of the vents/fan otherwise over heating can be problematic, however these LEDs do have a power down feature if they over heat.
    The other problem the Kessils tend to experience is flickering or randomly not turning on. Kessil customer service is great about correcting the issue with a NEW LED. However you are out of luck if this starts happening only one year or later out.

  • TMC AquaRay Aquarium LED:
    WARRANTY: 5 Years fixture, 2 years power supply. Usually replaced with a newer generation LED Fixture, no waiting for repairs.

    The AquaRay has a water resistance rating of IP67, among the highest in the industry.
    Use of PWM also assures less where & tear when being ramped up & down with a controller.

SUMMARY & COMMENTARY:

I can state from hands on use and observations with many different LEDs and knowledge from friends in the business, the LED fixture with by far the best warranty and fewest problems is the AquaRay.

I’ve personally had a couple of TMC AquaRay GroBeams loose an emitter after a couple of years, but the company replaced them no question asked with a NEW later version of the fixture!!!

This did not happen with others I’ve serviced. I’ve had to wait for repairs and a few times the damage was after the warranty period.

What is also interesting is that my supplier told me that most returns of the TMC had clear evidence of misuse, YET he told me that TMC authorized replacement with a new fixture anyways!

Then you have LEDs such as the “Fluval” which limit warranties to a certain percentage of emitters much be out before the warranty can be utilized. This is analogous to purchasing an automobile with an 8 cylinder engine that can only be serviced under warranty if 2 or more cylinders fail.

As of a revision in 2016, I have taken on a new client that already had a beautiful planted aquarium that was set up with Finnex Ray2 lights he purchased in late 2014.
Both lights did a nice job, although the colors were a bit off in my opinion, however shortly after taking over this contract this winter a couple of them failed and being the warranty was so poor, these were a total loss after just a little more than one year of ownership!!

Here is an interesting review of Finnex LEDs & exchange with Finnex, which echoes what I have heard from other aquarium service persons:

“LED burned out after 2 months and light started delivering electric shocks. Maybe it wasn’t soldered well, or shaken up during shipping, or I broke it. I bought it and put it on top of my tank though, not like I was doing anything harsh with it. Finnex claims that it was “water damage” – so I guess their light is not designed for the humidity that comes with sitting on top of an aquarium.”

My thoughts is that this comment by Finnex might be true, as besides the poor 6 month warranty, these poorly built lights have no real water proof rating.
In the end, you get what you pay for with a Finnex LED, a cheaply made LED that can most certainly grow plants as long as it lasts.

Suggested Further Resources:

*Aquarium LED Comparisons
The above resource has an incredible LED comparison chart that is REALLY worth checking out!
*Aquarium LED Lighting, What to Know for Reef or Planted
*LED Aquarium Lights, Lighting; How they work