Amazon Reviews for Aquarium Products

Amazon, Review, Opinion, Aquarium, Current LED

User Reviews- Opinion

I will look at how Amazon.com can be helpful and how they can be mis-leading.

Important- for more of an understanding about Amazon, please see: https://aquariumopinions.com/2013/08/27/purchasing-aquarium-pond-equipment-via-amazon

Revised 11/25/16

OVERVIEW

The point of this article is to determine if Amazon is a reliable source for reviews of different products, specifically aquarium products. These reviews have become very popular, but what are their pros and cons. So, do these pros or cons lean us to use the reviews or not? Some people think so, moreover I lean more to NOT SO MUCH. Understanding my aquarium background and the work I’ve already done on the subject of Amazon, anyone can figure out how I feel about Amazon. Lets get some understanding.

The Reviews

The way Amazon has set up their website, it allows for anyone to come onto the site and leave a review any way they want. There are zero requirements for being able to leave a review, other than you have to have a log-in for Amazon. Amazon was one of the first to have this style of review format, and now many other retailers have followed in Amazon’s footsteps. Are these free-for-all reviews worth it though?

The general format of the reviews are to first leave a star rating (1-5) of the overall product being reviewed. Then the customer (or non-customer) leaves verbal discussion on what they think about the product. Over time, these reviews add up and Amazon averages all these reviews to give an overall rating. Other users can then rate the review and also ask questions. Seems like a good idea, but what’s really happening?

Amazon, LED, Review, User, Professional, Current, Satellite, Good, bad

User Reviews Star Rating

The Pros

This format of reviews does give an idea of the quality of a product and what people are thinking about the use. A very quick reference can give a buyer a feeling of if the product is good or not. If there’s a consistent poor rating of a item, this would quickly be seen when checking the reviews. If there is overall success, this can also be seen quickly. Users can view the overall ratings or can spend some time reading the reviews from others. For a given product, someone can get some idea how the product looks, feels, and operates. Seems prefect right, so what’s the problem?

In talking with many other aquarium keepers, being in the hobby for so long, and having experience with many aquarium products LONG-TERM, I’m finding hidden problems with these reviews.

I strongly recommend using Amazon reviews as only a PART of your research, when determining if an aquarium product is right for you. Here are the cons.

Amazon, aquarium, reviews, user

Ratings

Words from Another Professional

It’s a double-edged sword. Obviously, Amazon now sells home networking equipment. While the vast majority of reviewers have no technical expertise, the reviews themselves are valuable in aggregate when trying to determine things like failure rates. You simply cannot take individual reviews and utilize them in a specific manner because they don’t provide specific, technical information. However, a device that has 150 reviews that say “failed after 30 days”, there’s a good chance the device has manufacturing issues. The informed consumer would use that as a cue to go do more research before purchasing. Unfortunately, the opposite does not work. Dozens of positive reviews does not guarantee success for the individual consumer. Again, the utility of consumer reviews comes in aggregate.

I understand that aquarium chemicals and things of that ilk are a different ballgame and unscientific reviews can be particularly damaging but there is a usefulness in consumer reviews that is better than not having any reviews at all.

The Cons

Please again, Amazon reviews should be only one aspect when researching aquarium products. Please consider other sources and look for reviews done by professionals with experience. Also, please consider using something other than Google to find these reviews. Google has been known to bring up user reviews like Amazons and burying quality reviews under websites, which Google brings to the top just to pay their bills. Consider using search engines such as https://www.duckduckgo.com/ for quality searches. Please see these cons to understand why I think this.

One of the major problems to these Amazon reviews is how well a user gets to know the product, before they leave a review on it. There is no telling if they leave the review a week after they got a product or five years after. The use of the product is key to understanding it. We also don’t know if someone has just used the product once, or a few to many times unless they state it. More use of a product is BETTER. I guess the question comes down to, do you want to be taught from someone who’s a newbie or someone who has experience. Which of these people would you want to teach you CPR? I’ve found learning from people who have long-term experience, with many uses of a product, is far better than learning from someone with a one time use. Both prescriptive are important, but we need an understand of which prescriptive we are working with here, which Amazon only provides if reviewer states it.

Some people have no real understanding what they are reviewing. They think they are helping, when in reality, they don’t know what they are talking about. Here’s a prefect example from a Review of The Current Satellite aquarium LED.

“The LED was super bright, more than I was expecting. It’s just want my plants need.”

Current USA Satellite LED Amazon Reiew

The lack of understanding comes down to plants not needing bright lights, but USEFUL light. This user thinks the LEDs is a good one, because of the brightness of it. What the user doesn’t know, is you can have a not as bright LED, but have it have so much MORE useful light. Brightness doesn’t equal good for plants or corals. Someone without an understand, would think the bright LED is good. If this person asked someone with good experience, they would know, this is not good, but now Amazon is showing the product to be good.

Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED Professional Review

More over, this also leads into an understanding of not just the product, but the aspect of hobby. Something can have an overall rating of good, but when compared to other similar products, the item might be very poor. Using some simple science, these flaws can be spotted right away. Many more aspects can be brought into the understand of a product, which someone with little experience would know very little about. Take the LED example, where a cheap LED is rated 4 1/2 star on Amazon, but with other expert reviews on the product, they can show the cheap LED to be a poor quality compared to other LEDs. Instead of looking at lighting as a aspect, the product is the only aspect and the concept of quality lighting is missed.

One other area these review really lack, which is on the flip side of good rating, is the bad rating. I’ve seen many, many times a product get a poor rating on Amazon, only because the item was MISUSED! Having long-term experience surely proves this. Some items take an understanding to know how to operate them. If the user of the item does not know something about the product, then has an issue, because their lack of understanding, all the sudden a good product and turn into a “bad” product and this is shown on Amazon. The hope is this doesn’t happen to often, so the averages of the ratings on Amazon would reflect this rare experience. This is the hope…

Another idea of these reviews is that it takes a “certain” type of person to leave these reviews. Not all people leave reviews and I’m not saying all people who leave a review are these type of “certain” people, but there’s also a feel to these reviews. All because of the people leaving the comments. Is it experts leaving quality reviews on Amazon or is it first time users, who spend a lot of time on the internet, prone to issue kind of people? Maybe people who get a sense of worth leaving reviews for others to see, which makes the person feel important. Does they lifelines depend on understand the product they are reviewing. Most likely not. The point being, we don’t know who’s reviewing. Which is why I strongly recommend getting reviews from people we can know more and know their history in the hobby, with their experiences.

Conclusion

Amazon is a major retailer on the internet and have some serious ties to Google to make their webpages come up for many Google searches and advertising.
Many times, Amazon is used, because they are considered the cheapest [which is not always true due to Amazon fees to the selling entity].
Know the down sides to buying on Amazon and buy with caution. If the purchase is something important, consider the support you get and if it’s worth the price.
Reviews done by other customers are a resource for research if a product should be purchased. But really, it should only be used as one of the aspects of the research.

Considering using other resources, which are quality, because of experience. If you are looking for a honest quality retailer, please look further than Amazon.com.

amazon_logo_RGB

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Purchasing Aquarium & Pond Equipment via Amazon

Purchasing Aquarium & Pond Equipment via AmazonRevised 3/23/17

Amazon is sometimes NOT an honest place to purchase aquarium equipment from or at the very least a not a good place to purchase aquarium equipment and expect to support those in the hobby/industry dedicated to good research, information, and cutting edge products.
At the very least your purchase via Amazon does NOT support small to medium size businesses and expect them to be there in the future to help you or provide innovation!!

Here are just a few reasons before I go into more detail:

  • Amazon sells equipment from the same manufacturers as more knowledgeable aquarium supply outlets, HOWEVER they often sell stripped down versions that often render the product useless for what it is deigned for.

    Examples include the SunSun Submersible UV Sterilizers that have NOT been adjusted for the CORRECT flow rate for level 1 sterilization. None of these include the important pre-filter to lower turbidity inside the UV, making more efficient UV sterilization.

    Another product is the SunSun Canister filters (303B, 304B, etc.) which are NOT sold by Amazon with the necessary filter media or retrofits of the connecting pieces which prevent a leaking filter later down the road.
    As well the UV lamps often supplied are not HO low pressure UV lamps, rather just 7-14% UVC medium pressure lamps, which are much less costly

    This filter is one I have clearly seen the differences and why it should ONLY be purchased from reputable professional dealers.

    This could be said for many other products sold on Amazon.

    Then of course, there are many high end premium product manufacturers that do not allow their products to be sold on Amazon, so when you shop Amazon, you are not going to find these products. Examples include manufacturers of the best aquarium/pond UV Sterilizers, FSB filters/Reactors, RO filter systems & much more

  • When you get your information from a brick & mortar store, or some of the few top notch aquarium information web sites such as “Aquarium/Pond Answers”, then purchase on Amazon, you not only are hurting small business, but you are stifling the growth of innovation, good service & information.

    Many of the better products for your aquariums come out of small business research since these guys/gals are generally much more involved in the hobby in a hands on and research sort of way.
    Products line such as TMC AquaRay & FSB Filter, AAP Wonder Shells, and Clay Neighbor’s Custom Fish Foods are all good examples of lines of top quality and/or innovative products that would not exist if all your purchases for aquarium products were made via Amazon.

  • Amazon sells products that clearly are not what they are meant for.

    Example here would be the Green Killing Machine. It’s sold as UV Sterilizer when in reality it CANNOT maintain level 1 sterilization and thus is ONLY a UV clarifier.

    Often so called UV Sterilizers are sold with the same model number but are missing critical parts such as the pre-filter sponge resulting in high water turbidity, resulting in low UVC exposure.
    Also many of the Amazon UV Sterilizers are sold with medium pressure UV bulbs instead of of low pressure UV bulbs, which cost considerably less, but also have only a fraction of the UVC output for true level one sterilization.
    Frankly only a fool would purchase a UV Sterilizer via Amazon, as odds such a person would likely get a UV clarifier at best and often it is a piece of equipment with a short lifespan too!

    References:
    UV Sterilizer Use, Sterilization Basics
    Actual UV-C Emission from a UV Bulb; Aquarium or Pond

  • Amazon will use whatever listing is first made to represent all future sales of a given product.

    This means, no matter how inaccurate, misleading, or simply lacking proper information to better educate the future buyer, the information WILL NOT BE CHANGED!

    A good example is the Wonder Shell made by Weco. The information published by the manufacturer is incorrect as per use resulting in those following this information using this product incorrectly and/or for the wrong reason (such as for alkalinity)

  • Most manufacturers of “high end” aquarium LED fixtures will not even sell on Amazon!
    YET, by reading reviews of low end LED fixtures sold on Amazon such as the Fluval LED and Current Satellite one might think these were great lights, which even remedial investigation shows these lights are NOT as their PUR is poor at best.

    The problem is since there is no comparison to LEDs that reflect optimum known science in aquarium lighting as well as the anecdotal natural of most Amazon reviews, one cannot get a real scientific assessment of what is best to get if in the market for LED aquarium lights.

    Here area couple of sources that better explain why the two lights I referenced are not at all a quality build, from daisy chaining of emitters to poor PUR and more:
    Current Satellite LED Review
    Fluval LED Review

  • Amazon provides poor product support for correct directions. Since Amazon relies on community driven reviews and no true knowledge of the product. Often products are sold with customers purchasing the wrong unit for their aquarium.
  • Amazon uses unfair trade practices including not paying the hidden fees that all small business pay when shipping including paying carbon taxes.

    In fact as of 2017 via a UPS representative of a friend who ships via his small business, UPS has greatly increased dimensional weight (often doubling some larger box costs to small to medium shippers).
    What has this to do with Amazon?
    The facts are Amazon has set agreements with the only two shippers of note [FedEx/UPS] where they pay a flat fee so that Amazon can ship as efficiently as possible utilizing often over sized boxes filled with air pillows and not pay any extra for dimensions, etc.

    This has resulted in losses for UPS/FedEx which have recently decided to pass this on to their small to medium shippers.
    The result is every time one of these shippers ship a box of much dimension at all they are subsidizing Amazon so that Amazon can provide low or free shipping.

    I ask any person with integrity; HOW IS THIS FAIR??

    So any time you purchase ANYTHING via Amazon, some other non related business is subsidizing your purchase.
    If this does not bother you at all, well I guess you have no morals whatsoever!!!

  • As well Amazon allegedly violates monopoly laws and the DMCA laws in use of copyrighted material. Amazon also uses Black Hat SEO methods to further push out small business.
    Reference: Amazon & Google in Bed, Black Hat SEO; Search & Adwords Dishonesty

  • In the end, regardless of price, everything you purchase from Amazon something you could have purchased from a professional seller, you are further eroding innovation, true knowledgeable customer service, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, you are insuring that on products that can compete in a discount environment will all that will be left such as junk sponge filters instead of 4-5 times the bio load Sponge Filters such as the AAP Hydro Sponge.
    Casualties already include Aquatronics, the leading innovator of aquarium and pond fish treatments that to this date no company has come close to this companies products leaving many holes in good fish treatment products.
    THINK ABOUT THIS NEXT TIME YOU ATTEMPT TO SAVE A FEW BUCKS BY PURCHASING FROM AMAZON!!

While the title of this article is about why one should not use Amazon for their aquarium/pond supplies.
Even worse though, is to not use their community generated reviews which are horribly inaccurate.
The reviews are often based on a one time use of the product, often incorrectly based on lack of time, lack of controlled testing, or incomplete parts. As well science such as PUR in lighting is never even mentioned.
My observation is based on continued use, often in controlled comparisons, correct installation, and suggestions from other professionals in the aquarium keeping field.

I should note that the reason for this post came from an email thread that was forwarded to me by another pro in this industry.

This began when a ‘friend of a friend’ and I were astounded at the person who sent the emails. They had lack of logical thinking or integrity in his thinly veiled compliments that were in reality attacks on the person receiving the email.

I was so taken a back by this email thread that I quickly asked for and received permission to comment publicly on this email thread.

Frankly after reading the entire thread a couple of times I wanted to vomit as to the senders total bully BS and more.

The person writing; James W, starts off with disguised compliments, then questions the review of the AquaClear by author who wrote in the thread, with words such as “perplexing”. He based his opinions on his use of ONE Aqua Clear.

Since I know of the author and I too have used dozens of these filters as well, I can vouch that this filter does have a higher than average problem with the impeller. Which James was perplexed why the authors noted there of its higher than normal failure rate. The author who brought this to my attention was making additional suggestion, which James also didn’t like.

He started to make other complaints, but was confused based on Amazon reviews.

The author was clear with the information he used to back up his claim, but James never did look at the references provided.

This is just one case where reviews from Amazon got the best of people.

Another issue with Amazon user reviews
As a user and wholesale purchaser of the Rena Smart Filter, I can also state categorically that the reviews over at Amazon are totally off base, but then Amazon irresponsibly sells these filters without the proper knowledge and parts that is required.

See also my comments about TaoTronics Aquarium LEDs, often purchased at Amazon due to less than accurate information and reviews at Amazon:
TaoTronics LED Light Reviews

The email sender goes on about the costs of purchase. Well, since I and a number of other persons know the costs not only to the retailer, but to the wholesalers such as Central Pet. The facts are that Amazon is selling below cost and more importantly below MAP pricing (manufacturer agreed pricing), which tells you a little about Amazon’s honesty.

Then, reading how the Amazon CEO treats his employees provides, anyone with any morals, can even more have a snap-shot of why this is not the company to purchase your aquarium/pond supplies from.

More importantly, which went right over Jame’s head is, Amazon is 100% community driven, with no expertise at all in what they sell.

I know from the numbers that many high end retailers could cut their staff by 75% and still sell, but then not provide any of the free information and intense product support that they do.

This is why sellers such as Tropic Marine Centre prohibits their retailers from selling through Amazon. No real support.

This James fellow (email sender) has the audacity to get offended by the email recipient for calling him out for his many purchases of products such as SeaChem Matrix based on his free advice through Amazon rather returning the favor via his website.

The sender also seems to think the recipient is too stupid to figure out if he spends his valuable time answering questions he already addresses in his articles that he will then finally purchase a filter he claims is already sold at too high a price via the high end aquarium supply retailer.

REALLY??? Everyone I have already spoken with who have read this email thread were quite taken aback by this guys at first disguised and then blatant rudeness and moral cluelessness.

The FACTS ARE Amazon does not sell this product (Rena Smart Filter) with the correct equipment to work properly, so how can you expect an accurate review.
Yet, James seems to think he is entitled to very thorough personal explanation on filters, so he can likely then go back to Amazon and purchase!!!!
This guy is a real piece of work!!

As the email recipient correctly pointed out, if everyone behaved as this guy does, their will be no accurate, science based information in the future. In the end, every thing will be community driven with no real knowledge.

The analogy used in the forum thread was analogous to reading all your medical information at Amazon or Yahoo Answers and then purchasing at Amazon for your medical needs (including your surgeons/doctors).

God forbid if this bully/clueless individual every had cancer in such a world where Amazon & their terrible community reviews is where he would have to get his cancer treatment.

Unfortunately though, with people thinking and purchasing as this person does, this is the world we are coming too.

The email senders final comment: “So, it is ok for you to be condescending, but when someone takes offense you don’t like it. And still a refusal to answer questions directly I truly wished I’d never wasted my time. Another keyboard tough guy” is really out of line.

First the email recipient was never condescending, and second his article clearly answered his questions, which he was vague on up until the second to last email.

As for a “keyboard tough guy”;
REALLY???

So it is OK for him to take from the email recipients basket of eggs for his family, but not OK for the recipient to defend his time and expertise? Wow, frankly what a selfish jerk!!!!

BTW, here is a quote from the recipients web page (Aquarium Filtration Information) about the product which clearly answers the email senders questions, he just felt even though he never made a purchase that he was somehow entitled to and expanded response and that the email recipients time was not valuable:

QUOTE: “What is sad, is the uninformed anecdotal reviews (such as at Amazon) that permeate the Internet condemning this filter for what is actually a positive. As noted earlier this filter is so efficient, that it can clog easily; this is NOT a flaw, rather users simply should be aware of this and maintain this filter accordingly and add a pre-filter as recommended by aquarium professionals!

It is noteworthy that there is NO PROBLEM with the leveling feet, rather it is the lack of use of a pre-filter as previously noted that can cause this filter to leak out the back due to clogging.

Unfortunately Amazon has “no skin in the game”, provides no service or scientific knowledge to the products they sell and most importantly since they have no knowledge of how the Rena Smart Filter should be properly set up, do NOT sell this product with the correct pre-filter. Resulting in the irresponsible and incorrect reviews.

Reading reviews on Amazon and then purchasing many aquarium products there is akin to doing the same for your medical needs!”

Please note, my friend who forwarded this email has asked me not to link to the email recipients web page or name.

The bottom line is:
One;
you should not be purchasing from Amazon or any of the disguised aquarium/pond supply retailers such as My Fish Place, Pet Mountain, etc.

Two; you cannot believe the reviews from said places such as Amazon where by the filters were not sold with the complete products to even set up correctly (also in part why the lower price).
This is analogous to purchasing a Ford without a transmission and then stating their cars/trucks do not work correctly. Unfortunately many Amazon Aquarium products reviews do JUST THIS such as with the Smart Filter!

Recommended Reading:

*Fish Beginner
*For information about a company that truly supports the aquarium hobby;
Tropic Marine Centre
*Another company that supports the aquarium industry and monitors their MAP pricing to places such as Amazon:
ATI Sponge and Pre-Filters
*An interesting blog about alleged dishonest Amazon business practices, I found this an EXCELLENT MUST READ!!
Ford Offers Amazon Gift Card

TaoTronics, SunSpect, SkyLED, Skkye Marine, LED Light Reviews

Revised 12-12-15

Please also read this article for a factual explanation of many of the points I make against these Aquarium LED Lights:
Aquarium LED Lights, Controllers, RGB, Emitters; What is Best?

OVERVIEW

These are three possibly four of the more questionable LEDs on the market if considered for a reef aquarium.
Sadly many actually purchase these due than often less than honest marketing by companies such as Amazon or eBay thinking they might get a “top notch” Reef Compatible LED, which the TaoTronics/SunSpect might be reef compatible, but MOST CERTAINLY NOT top notch.
Even your savings, since these are as little as $90 usd is of little good when the fixture goes belly up from moisture damage or is accidentally dropped in the aquarium since cheap Chinese made fixtures do not have an adequate water resistance/proof rating for an aquarium environment. Keep in mind that even the short warranty on these LEDs does not cover damage from water.

It is also worthy of note that the reef compatibility comes at a higher cost in electricity used due to less efficient emitters, drivers, & especially controllers used, as per PUR NOT PAR despite many claims of PAR µMol readings while overlooking the VASTLY more important “Useful Energy”/PUR.
As an example; basic science and math tells you that if you are using emitters that produce 20% more green and yellow spectrum light energy than another whose emitters produce 20% less, you are NOT going have the same PUR, which means a higher wattage, PAR rating, and higher carbon footprint will be required for the same results!

Marketing claims include “replaces a 400 watt Metal Halide”. REALLY? I do not think so, maybe a 175 Metal Halide at best, especially when one considers how much wasted energy goes out as heat compared to better technology LED lights that utilize PWM, and more light energy is lost in less than optimum efficiency emitters and drivers.

The Sky LED is not at all reef capable, only fish capable, although at least the Sky LED is not marketed for such either.

TaoTronics Aquarium Reef LED Light Fixture, ReviewThe TaoTronic [AKA the SunSpect], which is unfortunately marketed as a high end reef capable LED light.

While a few of the reviews might be good, lets look at the facts, if only from their own literature.

[1] Requires cooling fans;
Why? A well made LED fixture such as the ‘top notch’ AquaRay, or others should NOT require a cooling fan, only heat sinks.
Half the cost in building a top notch Reef LED (or planted freshwater LED) is the circuitry/driver/controller that maintains important voltage over all emitters, otherwise issues of nanometer spikes, excess heat, etc. can arise and the fact this LED fixture requires a cooling fan speaks volumes.
Again, VERY BASIC SCIENCE says that heat energy equals LOST ENERGY that will NOT go to light energy, so the fact these LED fixtures and so many others as well require a cooling fan again simply means a higher wattage LED fixture is required to do the job.

Why do these require a cooling fan?
Most LED fixtures, including the Taotronics utilize the very inefficient Current Reduction technology to run their LEDs rather than the more efficient PWM technology.
“Current Reduction” produces much more excess heat, and also changes the light spectrum.
This excess heat represents wasted energy that must be made in extra emitters to do the job of a much better designed LED fixture (such as the before mentioned AquaRay).

See also Aquarium LED Lights, Controllers, RGB, Emitters; The FACTS

In summary, the use of cooling fans is often a symptom of poor circuitry/drivers/controllers that produce excess heat.
Please read further as to why the drivers/circuitry DO play a major role in the quality of light produced by an LED!!

[2]The next problem with all Taotronics lights is these are not water proof, in other words not a water proof design of IP67.
So what this mean is your low cost LED, which is a light emitting electronic device is now being place in wet aquatic environment with a warranty of one year.
What happens if it stops working in 15 months?

Worse as in the case of a service customer that contacted me after they purchased one on Ebay, then they proceeded to accidentally drop one of the two fixtures they purchased in the water. The result, this light failed and the warranty would not cover the light even though just purchased two months earlier.

What it really comes down to when it comes to the Taotronics/Sunspect LEDs and anyone who thinks they are getting a bargain, I have this quote:
“A fool and their money are soon parted”!!!!

[3] Why are so many emitters required???

This is similar to the shotgun approach to using early T12 fluorescent lights 25 years ago; why when there are excellent new generation Cree, Osram Olson, and Orphek powered LEDs available!!
This is not to say the TaoTronics cannot work, rather why go with this energy wasteful older generation emitter technology when there are better LED Light Fixtures that use less energy, produce more PUR, and likely will last longer since the Taotronics only has 2/5 of the warranty (with better companies standing behind them too)??

[4] As well, and thoughtful reader should note that the exact Kelvin, emitter bins, etc., are not cited. Even a simple Spectrograph has not been submitted by TaoTronics!
This is for the reason that these daylight emitters are far from exacting. In fact I challenge any reader to go down to their local hardware store and purchase similar wattage “bright daylight” flashlight LEDs and produce the exact same results as these low end LED fixtures that essentially utilize cool white daylight emitters and less exacting older generation blue emitters.

I also challenge those who would argue that utilizing a cool white emitter is OK for good results; WOULD you use a ‘Cool White’ T5, CFL, or Metal Halide Light over your Reef Aquarium?
The answer in just a quick scan of the Internet of what others say is NO!! So why is it OK for an LED Fixture to use these emitters??

BTW, I am NOT saying adequate results might still be achieved with these LEDs and opportunistic specimen placement. One is simply achieving results in a shotgun type method with a lot of wasted energy!!

[5] Another aspect that many persons are not aware when it comes to exacting light energy produced by a well designed LED fixture is the drivers that keep voltage over each emitter to VERY exact voltages.
One cannot “daisy chain” LED light emitters together like you can Christmas lights.

Here is a quote from Sunspect LED listing on Ebay:
“All LEDs with a zener to ensure one LED goes out the rest continue to operate”
This can only happen if these are daisy chained together.
So again think twice if you are really getting a quality light with the Sunspect or Taotronics, as again all you are getting is cheap Chinese cr## that might work for a while, but not very long.
Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daisy_chain_%28electrical_engineering%29

Each individual emitter can change the voltage to other emitters, if only by fractions, however with an LED emitter designed to produce exacting light energy, this can make a big difference light spectral quality.
LEDs are not typical lights such as a CFL, these are essentially electronic devices that emit light!!!
As well, the FACTS are Pulse width modulation (PWM) is required to maintain spectral quality and the TaoTronics DOES NOT utilize this expensive technology, rather the much less expensive current reduction reduction method as noted earlier!

The bottom line is; the more emitters, the more complex and expensive the drivers, so when you have a fixture such as this TaoTronics LED with a shotgun approach of emitters yet with essentially no adequate drivers, you are essentially stringing hardware store LED flashlights together over your aquarium.
There is no way one can have an LED fixture for the price of the TaoTronics with complex drivers any more than a $300 Laptop is going to have Intel’s best computer processor. Of course the answer is simple with these cheap Chinese Drivers.

Please Reference:
Aquarium LED Light Information; Overview

Another TaoTronics LED, the “TaoTronics LED Aquarium Coral Reef Tank Blue White 2:1 LED” uses too many blue emitters for the average depth aquarium these are used for, thus lacking adequate Photosynthetic response.

This quote from Aquarium LED Lights, Lighting sums it up well:
“Think of it this way, if you have an automobile that is designed to run on 91 octane fuel and you use 89 octane, likely your vehicle will still run, but not to its potential and with possible long term damage too; this is what happens when not all aspects of Photosynthetic response are met due to over use of blue lighting in a relatively shallow aquarium.”
Also check our the many references cited by the above quoted article for those who want to continue to believe non scientific observations.

See Also: Blue Moon Aquatics LED
The above reference has the Spectrogram published by Blue Moon showing vastly more blue than is best for an average reef tank.
This LED is made in the EXACT same factory in China (which builds these LEDs for distribution under any company willing to purchase and place their name on the product).

Between the older generation emitters (especially with the “TaoTronics Aquarium Coral Reef Tank White/Blue LED Lamp 120 Watt”), low quality drivers & controllers, shotgun approach to lighting, poor PUR is going to be the result!

Further Comments

The other perplexing question is why anyone would spend close to $200 for this LED when for $300 or less, one could have a 100% new generation reef capable LED that uses much less electricity in the AquaRay 2000 or 1500 Ultima, or even the lesser but still capable AI Sol, or EcoTech LEDs??
Recommended References:
Aquarium LED Lights, Lighting; What to Know for Reef/Planted
Aqua Illumination Sol LED Review
EcoTech Radion & Radion PRO LED Review
Recommended Resource for Planted Aquarium LED Review:
Customer GroBeam 1000/1500 Review

What is so absurd is the persons who might brag how they have kept reef life with their Taotronics Aquarium LED and have spent less money up front.
But are these persons saving money?
NO, not when it takes 2.25 to 3 watts per gallon for a Taotronics to achieve the same results as an AquaRay 2000 NP Ultima at only .8 watt per gallon. THIS IS TRIPLE THE WATTAGE!
This defeats the purpose of purchasing an LED Aquarium Light in the first place, to save on electricity and lower heat produced by Metal Halide lights.

As an example of this absurdity; you are going to replace your (2) 150 watt Metal Halide fixtures on a 75 gallon reef aquarium, only to purchase (2) 120 watt Taotronics.
You have only saved a total of 60 watts to questionably do the same job??
While you could have purchase (2) AquaRay Ocean Blue 1500s at 30 watts each (60 watts total) to do this same job of lighting a 75 gallon reef aquarium.

Not to mention the reliability of these Taotronic LEDs and their cooling fans that have been reported to actually catch on fire, and one has to wonder about the logic that goes into purchasing the Taotronics LED just to save a few dollars up front?????
The Warranty is only two years, limited too (repairs), compared to 5 year for the industry leading AquaRay at 5 years (full replacement).
See my post about warranties: Aquarium LED Warranties

I HIGHLY suggest reading this very informative article by anyone even remotely considering the TaoTronics LED:
Aquarium LED Lights, Lighting; How they work

For more about my response as to the TaoTronic LED from those such as a person who attacked me from 3reef.com/forums with disingenuous “straw man” arguments, please read this editorial on my Home Page:
Commentary on Attacks from 3Reef.com

Finally on a related note, as person who has a lot of time and experience invested in the aquarium hobby, I hear and see much of what my clients have purchased or have been told.
One common thread is the junk often sold via Amazon or the terribly inaccurate Amazon social media driven reviews which often have absolutely no bases in fact, often due to incomplete sales of many products for proper function (to keep the price low) such as the Rena Smart Filter.
The Taotronics LEDs are a further example of why Amazon is not the place to purchase or get accurate aquarium supply information.

See my newer article about Amazon based on an email forwarded to me by a friend in the industry:
Purchasing Aquarium & Pond Equipment via Amazon

SkyLED Aquarium LED Light Fixture, Review, from Pet Mountain, TruaquaThe SkyLED along with the Marine Skkye is another vastly inferior LED, however at least it is not generally marketed as anything more than a large decorative LED Fish only aquarium light.

The popular SkyLED 36 inch model has (378) bright white, blue, and red LEDs; none of which are from exacting LED emitter bins.
At 23 watts and 378 emitters, this comes to only .06 watt per low PUR output emitter, making this a decorative light only.

This said, as a pricey replacement for two 30 watt fluorescent lights over a fish only tank, this LED will certainly use less electricity than two or even one fluorescent light PLUS add a nice sheen and color your fluorescent lights cannot achieve.

I will also note that I have used this light for demonstration, and can vouch for the nice decorative only features.

So in summary for the Sky LED, it may be a worthwhile purchase under the correct criteria with probably my biggest complaint not with the light itself (again under correct use), but with those selling this light.
The two main sellers are TruAqua and Pet Mountain, both of which have notorious reputations within the Aquarium Industry for poor integrity that frankly I feel for friends I know in the industry who have been hurt by their poor ethics, of which I am uncomfortable divulging at this time (maybe someday with their permission)


The Marine Skkye is another Chinese knock off using inferior low cost emitters, drivers, and controllers, sometimes marketed as a Reef Capable light.
While definitely better than the similarly named SkyLED, as well as sold by somewhat more reputable dealers, it is still basically a fish only to very basic marine reef light

 

For probably the best Internet article about LED Lights, I strongly recommend reading this one below, while it is a bit biased toward the TMC AquaRay, there is good reason to be since the science and professional usage of these LEDs bears out their unsurpassed high end Reef or planted freshwater aquarium light capabilities:
Aquarium LED Lights, Lighting; How they work

Stark Aquarium LED Review (E Shine)

Revised 7-25-12

Stark LED, EShine LED Lighting over Aquarium, 60 wattThe Stark LED is a nice compact LED that has been making the rounds, especially in So. Cal Aquarium service circles.

It looks nice, and its performance is reasonable, albeit a few years (3 generations) behind the leaders of the pack.

However the way it is marketed, one would think this was the latest and best technology, and it is not.
I also read on a forum (based on a customer citing this) whereby the moderator made a obscene remark about the FACT these are simply E.Shine LEDs, implying that the E.Shine LED is not what it is

60 watt StarkLED, E.Shine Aquarium LED LightWhat is the importance of this you might ask?
Well E.Shine is a large Chinese manufacturer of lighting, including these LED lights that are manufactured for branding by any company willing to purchase them; in this case the Stark LED such as the 60 watt model.
The FACTS are E.Shine does not have patent rights to the Cree emitters with the highest PUR output (please note I said PUR, not PAR and this is what REALLY matters and why so many resellers of inferior LEDs will always note their high PAR, but never note PUR).

I will note before I seem to be “roasting” EShine, I am not stating these are junk LEDs, if you want junk try out the Sky LED sold on Amazon, TruAqua, etc which is for fish only and is far from acceptable for reef or planted aquariums (I will provide further reviews of this product at a later time). Back to the Stark/ E.Shine, these can be used for a basic reef aquarium, just not a an advanced reef systems, despite marketing to the contray (which is really my main “beef” with these LEDs)

For those note convinced, here are some facts from E.Shines own literature (the 60 watt panel). I obtained this from a friend who had this sent to him by EShine.

• 60 watt using CREE series 10 3watt XP-G R5 Cool White 8000~10000k white and 10
3watt XP-E D3 455nm royal blue
• High PAR value. 200 PAR reading for each LED from 5″ distance
• Two dimmers for white and blue each, fan with thermal control switch
• Corrosion-proof casing by special painted
• 80 degree view angle with convex lens, mixing white and blue for
better grow effect
• Pure 450~460nm spectrums, No UV radiation harm
• Less heat, no chiller unit required, 20-30 ºC on water surface
• One fan on back runs against heat
• External power supply, detachable power cord
• Hanging kits included
• Three-Year warranty

As the reader can see, EShine does not even publish an exact Kelvin output for their daylight emitters, as they cannot with these older generation XPG emitters and XP-E blue emitters as well.
In fact these out of patent XP emitters have an output of around 250 lumens when driven at their maximum current.
The most recent Cree emitters produce 390 lumens when driven at the same current

Here is a quote from the article referenced below:
“Can you compare the technology in an Intel processor from 1998 to one made in 2011?”
Please reference this article for more:
E.Shine, Stark LED Review.

The point is company whether it is an electronics company, drug company, etc have to recover development costs and to do this they will get contracts from the highest bidder so as to recover these development costs; for this reason and while EShine (StarkLED) may put out a decent product, this Chinese company simply does not have the access to the newest emitters any more than you as a consumer are going to be able to buy a HP or other computer with Intel’s latest processor at Walmart for $300.

Also Reference:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/LEDManufF.htm
Purchase LED Aquarium Lights; What to Know

Finally, I will add that while these it is obvious that the referenced articles have the same product for aquarium LED lighting, that does not change the facts of the information provided therein (despite a few lame forum posts I have read).
Facts are Facts regardless if a certain product may appear to be pushed.