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

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Aqua Ultraviolet versus TMC UV Sterilizers, Reef Central

I was forwarded a recent thread from Reef Central where by moderators & forum members went on another of their misinformation binges.


RELATED ARTICLE:
Aquarium & Pond UV Sterilizer Review; Vecton, Advantage


From:
http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2449440

In this binge, a Reef Central member made one of the more laughable misinformation statements I have ever read online.

QUOTE: “While AquaUV is not the cheapest UV on the market, like the link you provided say, they are quality units with great dwell time. What they fail to mention is their great support. Same can be said about Emperor Aquatics. Something that is non existent with Tropical Marine Centre who is over seas and depends exclusively on retailers for support.”

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.

Do not believe me, here’s a link to their warrant returns page:
http://www.aquaultraviolet.com/sites/default/files/instructions/Instructions%20Classic%20and%20Twist%20Series%20UV%2005-19-09.pdf

Let me address a few more comments from this terrible thread of misinformation.

  • This same character, makes more misinformation statements.
    “That said, the units mentioned in your links are cheap units meant to appeal the masses. Not necessarily quality units and they don’t have the same kind of dwell time as the higher end units from AquaUV or Emperor.”

    While admittedly the Aqua Ultraviolet and Emperor are excellent (I have used these too), the TMC is NOT a cheap unit meant to appeal to the masses, a quick peak on eBay or Amazon will find plenty of these cheap units often for under $50 such as the AquaTop, Killing Machine, and many others. These are cheap.
    The facts are the dwell time is the highest of any UV with the TMC Vecton, in fact higher than some of Emperors Smart UVs which use very short lamps and short exposure times.

    Has this guy even done a dwell time test?
    Has he even done his homework, such as reading the article he so conveniently bashes out of hand with ad hominem attacks on the author by him and others?

    Here is an excellent video showing how the AAP/TMC large aquarium or pond UV is superior over the still excellent Aqua Ultraviolet UV of the same category [due to longer dwell time, price, and parts availability]:
    Aqua UV versus TMC UV Sterilizer
    Aqua Pond UV vs TMC AAP Pond UV Clarifier Sterilizer

  • Here is another of this guys statements:
    “Here is the Tropical Marine Centre UV unit that I used to run on my tank. At the time, it was one of the only higher wattage units out there that used a crystal sleeve. These units are now relegated to Tropical Marine Centre’s commercial product line and not readily available in the states. The AquaUV’s equivalent (Classic Series) is better made, easier to service and backed by much better support. The comparable AquaUV is also much cheaper.”

    Incorrect again!!
    Does this guy do ANY HOMEWORK AT ALL? If so he gets an F.

    The TMC 110 UV is readily available in the USA for under $400 in some locations or websites.
    Since my commitment to readers of my website blog post is to not commercialize my results by posting links to resellers, I will simply state these are not difficult to find online.

    Reef Central, What should I do UV, Large TMC Sterilizer

    As for support, I have already addressed this falsehood, but will add that I have NEVER had an issue with parts or returns for ANY TMC product from lights, FSB filters, or their UV Sterilizers. This includes one rare instance of a hairline crack in the body for which I was given a brand new UV sterilizer, NO SHIPPING BACK FOR REPAIRS!!

  • This one is from a Reef Central Moderator:
    But does sell them, and is trying awfully hard to the make them out to the be best thing since sliced bread. While they can indeed be useful in some circumstances, they are not the wonder equipment with all the attributes he gives them.”

    This comment is not so bad IMO, since he is simply stating an opinion as an opinion.
    However I have read this article quoted and do not get the same thing at all out of the article or other articles published by the author.
    He clearly recommends “True” UV Sterilizers as he calls them as a useful tool, which includes other tools such as quarantine.
    As well we have another case of someone who appears to not research outside of Reef Central or even read an article in question or its cited references, otherwise he would never make such statements of “opinion”.

  • “Even so, the UV will have some impact on pods as well despite the high flow rates.”

    What are the “pods” doing in the water column?
    Has he heard of pre-filtration which is an essential ingredient for correct UV Sterilizer application?

    Sorry one again; WRONG!!

  • “Keep in mind, that article is written by a guy selling UV units.”

    A typical liberal ad hominem argument whereby you attack the person rather than the facts or cited resources.

    This has no bearing on the credibility of the article assuming the facts and references are sound.

    Using his own terminology: Keep in mind, that there is always a money trail anywhere, some are just less obvious or down right sneaky.
    Does this guy work for free, does he not expect the author to sell what he found to be a superior product?

    Back to following the money, Reef Central is supported by sponsorships; have you ever noticed that a member will get the “ban hammer” for speaking negatively against EcoTech, one of Reef Central’s major supporters?

I would say in the end, use common sense logic, actually do your homework, not give lip service like these members of Reef Central do.
Also do not depend upon Google for good search results when doing your research, since they too are beholden to deliver readers to their pals such as Amazon or others. Consider DuckDuckGo who does not spy on you and use your information to track your habits!

Further Reading/References:

#UV STERILIZATION; UVC Irradiation for Pond, Aquarium

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

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.

    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

Aquarium Silicone Review

Aquarium Safe SiliconesIn this post, I thought I would tackle a different subject than I have of late, as most of my posts have been dealing with the plethora of lighting questions my clients have had, especially pertaining to LED light use.

This time I will talk briefly about aquarium silicone, as a client recently asked me about which one to purchase and she told me that she was rather confused when searching on Google.
So I searched Google for “Aquarium Silicone” and was not impressed with what they served up, which seems to be the case with most Google searches that are more a search for Amazon, eHow and other often poor quality information websites.

Anyway, enough of the commentary about Google.
As many websites do get correct, that you need to use 100% PURE silicone Sealant, NOT a silicone with mold inhibitors or similar.
What most of these websites do NOT get correct is that you also should use one that is certified pure for use around containers used for human consumption.

Why is this important??
For one, your food is often only briefly exposed to this silicone, YET your fish are constantly in water that is in contact with the silicone.
Why would you expose your prize fish friends to a silicone that cannot even meet the USDA, Agricultre Canada, and FDA regulations?

The answer is obvious and the only ones that state this is Dow Corning (sold as Aqueon in the Aquarium Hobby) and the American Aquarium Products Brand (which is my preference based on quality AND Price).
I have not found these at Home Depot and other sources, not to say these do not exist, but I would not risk the purchase of your silicone at a home improvement store, even though it might say 100% silicone, these silicone may have additives if you do not look closely and even more likely is these will not be approved for use around human food preparation.

Once you have obtained the correct silicone you need to removed all old silicone and dry the surface thoroughly, and make sure no oils are present before re-applying new silicone.

Applying Aquarium SiliconeWhen you apply the silicone using as caulking gun, I recommend a .5cm (or smaller) bead in the inside edges. Then use your index finger to smooth all inside edge beads into a smooth surface, quickly wiping away excess silicone.

Tighten all outside corners with strong reinforced duct tape. For tanks over 75 gallons I recommend wooden clamps.

Allow 24 hours to dry for minor repairs and 48 hours to dry for major repairs, such as an entire seam top to bottom or the entire tank.

Should you need to replace a glass pane, or for a DIY aquarium build refer to the picture below for correct glass thickness:
Aquarium Glass Thickness Graph

Also while many aquariums are now built with tempered glass to save on costs, this is NOT you best choice, as Float Glass is the better choice since it is more flexible and less brittle than tempered glass.

The website below has excellent information about the use of aquarium silicone, proper application and resource links for purchase CORRECT Silicones for aquariums too.
As well I should note that I have used some of the content including pictures with permission from this website:

Aquarium Silicone, Tank Repair, Applications, DIY, How To Use