Aquarium Forums for Information such as Lighting, UV, Filters

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often give “authority” to websites or forums posts based on age, often what comes up in forums or Yahoo is simply out of date information. Some of these outdated posts may have been correct at the time, while others have been proven incorrect as science has progressed.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the Internet is not 100 years old or God knows what in terms of bs would be argued as fact based on someone reading an outdated forum article!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

  4. Betta Fin Biting

    QUOTE From:
    The Myth of Stress Induced Betta Tail Biting.
    “This seems to have sprung from popular Betta keeping forums, just as the made up (myth) of s fish disease: “Red Pest”. Unfortunately just as in “Red Pest”, this myth has grown wings in re-post after re-post to the point many now believe this actually happens when in reality there are better explanations for the damaged tail or behavior Betta keepers think they are observing.

    For starters, biting of ones self when it has some sort of irritation (itch, stress, etc.) is a warm blooded animal phenomenon.
    You will not see a lizard, fish, etc. biting itself. Rather you will see these animals scratching against a rock or similar due to irritations. This is more commonly known as “flashing”.
    However, it is quite common for a bird or dog to literally decimate themselves over irritations or stress. Stress decimation has never been proven in cold blooded animals.

    Here is one such video example. This video claims tail biting, but does not show tail biting, rather just common Betta aggression whereby damage is mostly likely from impacting objects in the aquarium/bowl:
    YouTube; Betta fish tail biting
    OR this again showing aggression biting, not stress
    YouTube; Male Betta Biting His Tail
    Every other YouTube video is someone assuming their poor Betta is biting their tail, many showing Aeromonas and not treating for the real problem. This is how bad this myth has spread!!

    Another point is that this myth was dismissed by most in the professional aquarium keeping industry (including in fish illness seminars I attended), it was not until the Internet that it exploded that is suddenly became truth to many via non science based blogs re-posting the same information as an attempt to explain to many what they were seeing was tail biting like one might see with a stressed bird.
    Most of these blogs are regurgitating the same information (copy & paste) even the same diagram. One blog was by a friend (NippyFish) that I know was hijacked by a Russian (where I have been attempting to help her with DMCA acts that so far have gone nowhere, thanks Google), so this is far from trustworthy.
    Yet, even with these facts presented to them, a few aquarium keeping groups such as the otherwise intelligent “Fish Tank Enablers” continue to push this myth.

    Fish disease treatment is where many Facebook groups struggle with real research and unfortunately seem to loath mentoring which is how cut & paste information like this gets around. This is why I would suggest seeking out the few decent groups like “FRESHWATER FISHUES·Sick Fish Place” for real sick fish advice and use groups like the before mentioned Fish Tank Enablers more for “fish chat”.

    An interesting point that many of these non professional based blogs have in common is they state that certain bite shapes in tail damage are proof of biting when in fact this is simply more an indicator of the pathogen. The so called “Betta biting chunk” is typical of a Columnaris infection where by chunks of tissue simply fall off.
    More common though of Betta Fin Rot is a more ragged deterioration which these blogs claim (correctly) is more from fin rot. Problem is Fin Rot is not a disease per say, rather symptom (just like Septicemia or so called Red Pest). This more ragged fin damage is more common of an Aeromonas or Pseudomonas infection.

    Here is one of the copy & paste pictures that these blogs have shared that I have corrected to the correct diagnosis as per known science:
    Betta, Beta, Stress Tail Biting

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

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)

    Easily the worst aquarium LED you can purchase, with a watt to micro mol of PAR efficiency as low as 2.70 watts per micro mol of PAR. Compare this to most medium quality fall around .40 to .50 watt per MM of PAR. With the better models under .3 and the AquaRay line as efficient as .08 watt per mm of PAR.
    Source/Further Reading: PUR, PAS, PAR in Aquarium Reef/Planted Lighting

  • 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.

  • AAP 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.

    Highest efficiency as measured by input energy in wattage to micro mol of PAR by “light years” over all other aquarium LEDs with an efficiency as high as .08 watt per mm of PAR in the AAP Reef White NP 2000.

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

AquaBeam Ultima 1500 NP; Review Correction

AquaBeam, AquaRay Ocean Blue NP Ultima 1500Revised 7/29/14

While I generally find “Reef Builders” aquarium lighting reviews educational or at least somewhat helpful, they unfortunately really blew it with this one, Although after reading their curiously inaccurate “LED showdown“, I should not be surprised either;

http://reefbuilders.com/2013/01/23/aquabeam-ultima-1500-np-strikes-modern-ratio-blues-whites/

The author seems to show certain biases that get in the way of the truths about this product, which I personally have found to be the BEST LED fixture I have used to date.

However before I come off and seem to attack the author, which would be wrong, let me address the points he makes and the errors there in.

Quote:
“The Ultima 1500 NP LED tile includes Cree’s latest and greatest XT-E chips with 6 diodes spread across four cool white (which TMC calls ‘Ocean White’) and two royal blue (which TMC calls ‘Fiji Blue’) But perhaps the most notable addition to the AquaBeam Ultima 1500 NP is the use of the very well received Osram Oslon Deep Blue LEDs which TMC also has a made-up name for – “Nature Perfect”.”

CORRECTIONS:

*First TMC has patent rights with Cree and whether or not TMC added this name of “Ocean White”, I cannot say, but what I do know is this is NOT a cool white emitter. In fact it is not from the same emitter bins since TMC has patent rights to specific tweaks if you will with emitter bins such as the XT-E used here.
This is nothing new, as companies that hold patents have done this for eons.

*He is also incorrect as per the Royal Blue, as TMC has been using a Royal Blue emitter for a few years, while the Fiji Blue is different with a lower nanometer range and lower peak nanometer of 450nm, unlike the royal blue at 465.
This is well published, so I am not sure how he can make such a statement

*Finally, the “Nature Perfect” Osram Oslon emitter is the name simply given by this new specifically reef developed emitter.
It is NOT even a deep blue emitter rather a full spectrum blue developed specifically for reef aquariums.

Here is the spectrum, DOES THIS LOOK LIKE A DEEP BLUE TO YOU??
Osram Olson PUR Full Spectrogram, not deep blue

SUMMARY

Hopefully reef keepers looking for one of the best LEDs on the market, especially when price is considered will look at the facts first, as this clearly is one of the best, if not THE best LED fixtures available as of 2013.

Tragically, when it comes to Aquarium LED Lighting, much of what is passed around as facts nowadays is anything but.
As well many companies such as Reef Central are sponsored (bribed if you will), yet will attack me or others on a personal level when facts are presented stating my recommendations do not count as I or others might have a bias, which the obvious response is YES!

However, these others who actually promote inferior LEDs at least when it comes to energy consumed per PUR light output such as the EcoTech clearly have a bias, and one based on promoting their sponsors.

So in the end, whether you take my word or others in my profession whose careers and livelyhood is based on using what truly works or not, I certainly can understand “why not” with all the confusion and often conflicting information.
WHAT READERS SHOULD DO, is actually look at the facts, as I presented here and in many other posts, not the hype, not PAR readings when PUR is more important.

The answers do not take a rocket scientist to decipher, so if you open your mind and look past the many reef forums and websites that do not use known science to prove their points, rather often attack others who provide facts with comments such as “they are not credible as they use or sell this product”, you will find that the answers for the best LEDs to use is actually quite easy.

Here is a website demonstrating the Ocean Blue 1500 and even newer Reef White 2000 LED in a reef aquarium with many corals:
Howard’s Reef; New light over the Shallow Reef

Reef Aquarium with Aquaray Aquabeam NP 1500 & 2000

Also please reference these excellent articles, including the first that deals with the subject of PUR versus PAR and how so many persons are often stuck on their LEDs with green emitters and other energy wasters that often require higher energy wattage to do the job of lighting a reef tank:

*PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Lighting
*TMC Ocean Blue NP Ultima Reef LED Light
*Aquarium LED Lights & Lighting

Aquarium LED Lights, Controllers, PWM; What is Best

Reef Aquarium with best LED lightI will look at three important facts of LED Aquarium Lighting:
(1)Pulse Width Modulation versus Current Reduction
(2)RGB Features
(3)Emitter Technology, Cool White Emitter Use and More

Revised 12/14/16

OVERVIEW

———-

Important update (1-14-15) about EcoTech lack of disclosure about spectrum control over their LED fixtures. See end of article

Rather than review actual equipment, I am going to look at the science behind what goes into Aquarium LED Lighting, in particular for reef or high light planted freshwater aquariums.

To be blunt, my reason is simple, it’s to hopefully stem the tide of misinformation that many forums in particular seem to be spreading, whereby otherwise intelligent people will recommend clearly inferior light despite facts of known science.

Then, rather than discuss the facts, many will resort to “Straw Man” personal attacks on persons counting myself arguing that I or others are biased.
To this argument, the simple answer back is, “OF COURSE I’M BIASED”!! If both the science and results say something is better, why would I use the inferior equipment in my clients aquariums?
The one forum that really stands out is “Reef Central” where a comment I read elsewhere on the internet backs up my own observations and that is, if you disagree with EcoTech LEDs, this will bring out the “ban hammer” for RC faster than you can turn your head!

Now to the facts!!

Pulse Width Modulation versus Current Reduction:

There are two major approaches to dimming/controlling LEDs: PWM and Current Reduction [aka linear or analog, reduction of electrical current over distance].

PWM dimming greatly reduces color spectrum changes in the LED with varying brightness levels or ramping up or down.
Since the LED utilizing PWM essentially runs at a constant current when it’s on and at no current when it is off. However, PWM comes at the additional expense/cost to create the PWM waveforms.

While LEDs are complex semiconductors that convert an electrical current into light, one of the advantages are that LED emitters can be modulated (turned off and on) at high speeds without degradation, which thus favors PWM.
Reference: Light-emitting Diode (LED)

One potential negative of PWM is some switching “noise” can be produced, but this is easily filtered with an inductor and a capacitor, the result is any noise is very minimal and normally drowned out by water of the aquarium.
More importantly, this very minor potential negative is often exploited by less than honest internet articles or especially forums as a way to distract from the facts that the use of linear or analog dimming employed by the vast majority of aquarium fixtures is vastly inferior, wasting a considerably amount of PUR spectrum and light energy as heat!!!!
Any almost inaudible noise from LEDs controlled via PWM is going to pale in comparison to the fan noise due to the heat LEDs create by using “reduction of current” dimming, which produces more excess heat!

In depth reading about this subject for naysayers (this means you Reef Central & Other Forums!):
How to Dim an LED Without Compromising Light Quality

“Current Reduction” or aka “reduction of current” or “analog” dimming can use a simpler and thus less expensive circuit, but the variable current supplied to the LED means that the regulator supplying the current to the LED must absorb any power not supplied to the LED.
This additional power arises from the difference between the raw supply voltage powering the LED/regulator subsystem and the voltage across the LED. This results in wasted heat energy that then often requires cooling fans.
This wasted heat equals wasted energy and is why ANY LED driven by “Current Reduction” WILL REQUIRE a higher wattage of energy input to provide equal PUR output, thus partly defeating the purpose of purchasing an LED to save energy.
As well many have reported break downs or even fires with these cooling fans.

JUST AS IMPORTANTLY, “current reduction” (analog) dimming may be inappropriate for applications such as aquarium reef or planted aquariums that require a constant color temperature. An LED emitters color WILL change depending on the current driven through the device.

Notwithstanding, many of the most popular aquarium reef LED lights utilize Current Reduction; this includes the Current Satellite LED, EcoTech Radion, Aqua Illumination, TaoTronics, Ocean Revive, among others.

Also notwithstanding, some controllers utilize modified PWM similar to how some A/C to D/C Inverters use modified sine wave conversion versus true since wave conversion.
The Current Controller is one such example (the price often tells the story here).

Further Reading:
Aquarium LED Reviews; EcoTech
Review of Ocean Revive & Evergrow LED Lights for Reef Aquariums

OK, ready readers for my bias?
The aquarium LED light that utilizes PWM is the AAP/TMC AquaRay, which has enjoyed considerable popularity in Europe and in fact has been around longer than many of the popular LEDs, but thanks to excellent marketing by EcoTech, Evergrow, Ocean Revive, and others, as well as a public fed by this marketing and forum posts that refuses to read any science based information, it is not as well known in North America.

Currently, the STILL industry leading AquaRay is the ONLY aquarium LED on the market to fully utilize PWM, with the only other opinion being DIY. NONE OF THE POPULAR BRANDS DO!
This is part of the reason the AquaRay LEDs do NOT need fans that break down regularly for heat control!

This is not to say that these before mentioned LEDs cannot keep a reef aquarium, as to say so would immediately disqualify anything I have stated since many advanced aquarium keepers have done quite well with these other fixtures, I am only stating that these are not maybe the best and that anyone looking into a new reef aquarium LED fixture needs to do more homework than just reading forum posts.

See the graph below for a better visual understanding:

PWM versus Current Reduction in Aquarium LED Lights, Lighting

Please also reference:
*Aquarium Lights, Lighting Information
*Aquarium Lights, Which are best?
And my post dealing with the wide difference in LED warranties and how manufacturers handle these:
*Aquarium LED Warranties; Reef or Planted

RGB Features versus PUR:

This is another popular feature, that is nice from the human prospective, but has no bearing on reef marine aquarium life or planted freshwater aquariums.

Controlling your Red, Green, Blue emitters and thus the term RGB has no bearing on exacting nanometer spikes essential to light sensitive aquatic life.

The misinformation here arises from the over use of PAR meters which will NOT tell the difference in an aquarium LED light using RGB features and one utilizing more exacting LED emitters.
What is important is PUR (aka Photosynthetically Useful Radiation, Useful light), not as much PAR.
This of course can vary from plant to plant and coral to coral, depending upon the natural strata of water these aquatic life forms are found in.

The Finnex Ray 2 is a popular LED in some planted aquarium forums, but again by using cheap Chinese made Epistar emitters in large quantities, it achieves excellent PAR readings, but totally misses the boat when it comes to the all important PUR.
Why else do you only see PAR noted for these LEDs and not PUR?

If you are actually still considering a Finnex LED, you need to read this article that compares LED warranties; if this does not convince you as a reader that this is a LED that no one should purchase, I have some beach front property to sell you on the Arctic Coast of Alaska:
Aquarium LED Warranties, Including Finnex

Further References:
*LED Aquarium Lights, Lighting; RGB
*PUR Versus PAR in Aquarium Lighting THIS IS A MUST READ WEB ARTICLE!!!

Emitter Technology, Warm White, Cool White Emitter Use and More:

This is one of the more comical aspects of many who promote inferior LED Lights, and that is the use of Cool White and Warm White LED emitters.
This includes the EcoTech LED’s use of Cool White emitters and the Maxspect Mazarra LED’s use of Warm White emitters.

As I have read elsewhere, these same persons recommending these two LED before mentioned LED fixtures would NEVER recommend a T5, T8, CFL or any other aquarium light that is either “warm white or “cool white”, YET SOMEHOW THESE LEDS GET A PASS ON THIS POOR LOGIC???

While these before mentioned LEDs along with many others such as the TaoTronics have certainly proved themselves in aquarium lighting, they are doing it an expense of the best emitters, the best controllers/drivers, and gimmicky features that only lower light quality.
All at a higher electrical cost for results these LEDs do achieve as well as a lifespan as much as 1/4 of the better builds.

Many will attempt to use a PAR meter to prove their LED quality, but again this can be very misleading when one looks at the facts.
Please Again Reference:
*http://www.aquarium-pond-answers.com/2012/03/pur-vs-par-in-aquarium-lighting.html

The result is extra heat and a requirement for more electricity used for the same results.

THE FACTS ARE, an EcoTech Radion at 140 watts is going to product less usable light energy (PUR) Per Watt than a 30 Watt AquaRay Ocean Blue NP 1500

To say your EcoTech Radion at 140 watts produced better results is an apples to oranges comparison. When PER WATT, the numbers says otherwise.

In the end, the facts are inarguable, despite what many might say in forums that often result in attacking the authors of articles such as this or making up silly & inaccurate statements about noise from fixtures employing PWM such as one I read on Reef Central, then further resulting in others copy and pasting this BS all over the internet!!!!

Important Update

A another professional in the field sent me an interesting email about his interaction (or lack of) with EcoTech customer support and control over the spectrum (PWM) for their LEDs. This professional understands the importance of PWM and wanted to understand EcoTech “control”, because of his interest in obtaining new LEDs. The professional emailed EcoTech, and simply asked them how they control their spectrum of the LEDs. See the screen shot of the email sent to EcoTech:

EcoTech, AquaRay, LEDs, Controller, Spectrum, PWM, Shift in spectrum, customer support, opinion

Wanting to know how EcoTech controls spectrum of their LEDs.

So, from what I have gathered, this professional emailed EcoTech and from my understanding, STILL has not received a response back back to answer the question. First, WHERE IS ECOTECH SUPPORT? Moreover, WHY ARE THEY NOT ANSWERING THE QUESTION? AT LEAST MAKE SOMETHING GOOD UP ECOTECH! Anyone reading this article can take a guess. CAUSE THEY DON’T CONTROL SPECTRUM SHIFT IN THEIR LEDs!
HOW’S A PERSON TANK LIGHTING IS BEING AFFECTED??? No one knows, and that’s the point! People put so much effort into their reef tanks, why not provided them with the best, or is colored emitters and user gimmicks your game?

People can be getting far more USEFUL light energy with their aquarium LED lighting! Since this article is so popular already, I’m hoping people get the memo and EcoTech gets the hint. CONTROL YOUR SPECTRUM PEOPLE! Your reef and plants deserves it.

OTHER REFERENCES:

*http://fab.cba.mit.edu/classes/MIT/961.04/topics/pwm.pdf

*http://www.digikey.com/us/en/techzone/lighting/resources/articles/how-to-dim-an-led.html

*Wikipedia; Pulse-width modulation