YouTube & Facebook for Aquarium Keeping Information

While Youtube and Facebook along with more traditional online forums have made getting help and information much easier, and arguably more “fun”; it has also allowed for the resurrection of long discredited information/methods to suddenly become popular again.
I think part of this phenomenon is that hobby seems to want to run in ever tightening spirals of repeating poor or downright incorrect information when it comes to social media since it is so driven by popularity.
Additionally, many in these tight circles no longer respect mentors or those who existed even a few years before they got into hobby with their Facebook pages and Youtube channels.
So it seems many are more interested in just being the teacher, while they refuse to learn from others or simply take the time read good research.
I guess it is easier to watch a 10 minute video, and then produce your own and presto, you too are an expert. Actual research that takes the time to read the many good articles such as found on web sites such as Aquarium Answers or Aquarium Article Digest is simply asking too much these days.

Often correct information is interwoven with incorrect information in our social media version of the “telephone game”.
Telephone Game/Chinese Whisper; Definition

Often the term TL;DR is used [too long, didn’t read], which is a poor excuse for lack of education. This often then leads to personal attacks or bans when someone comes along with some experience they do not have with good information to back them up. In the end all these people want is to become the biggest fish keeping YouTube channel or Facebook page, so if anything other than ‘love’ is forthcoming, bans or personal attack are typical.

An example as per the sudden Youtube revival of feeding beef heart. Experience from respected fish keeping author Martin A. Moe & others seems to be, but a foreign language to these people who should know better as the use of beef heart was LONG AGO discredited as a fish food source.
Here is a Quotation from Martin A. Moe:
“Fish are cold blooded and all digestion reactions take place at 70 to 80F, the temp of aquarium water. Thus they may not be able to efficiently digest or use the types of fats present in the flesh of warm blooded animals. They are much better off with the flesh of animals that are similar to their normal prey.”
So BEWARE please do not make this mistake.

Another recent phenomenon is the reemergence of persons, especially in aquascaping circles confusing Planaria with Detritus Worms.
Often these get it half right such as correctly attributing the identification of Planaria, but then applying causes, treatments, and what they feed on to Detritus Worms. Keep in mind that these worms are not even from the same phylum with Detritus worms in the phylum “Annelida” while Planaria are from the phylum “Platyhelminthes”. The only thing in common is they are both from the kingdom “Animalia”, but hey, so are we, so beware if a human suddenly shows up growing in your aquarium pretending to be a worm!!

Planaria or person in aquarium

Ref: Aquarium Planaria; Wiggly Detritus Worms, in Tank Water, on Glass

There’s circle of people who seem to feed on each other without much outside information or any mentoring whatsoever.
These people seem to not be willing to acknowledge there is information beyond what they know and will actually personally attack people in the industry that have more experience in one year than they have had in their combined lifetimes.

The regrettable part of a few of these people is in their lack of practical aquarium keeping experience and failure to truly look beyond their circles. They instead lash out in personal attacks of those with more experience that just try & bring aquarium keeping into the 21st century with subjects, such as aquarium Redox Balance and the importance of lowering oxidative stress in fish.
Instead we suddenly see persons incorrectly being told they need a RO/DI system when all they need is a well designed RO system instead of the lower quality RO/DI systems that will cost more long term. Even then, often all that is needed is just enough RO water to “cut” the tap or well water when used for freshwater applications.
Ref: Use of RO, DI, Softwater in Aquariums

There seems to be a sort of solar system where there’s a tight inner circle of Youtubers and FB groups/forums, which operate while refusing to learn little from outside their circle.
On the outer perimeters, we have vastly more who do attempt to provide quality information and are genuinely trying to help others, while they expand their channels, but still let pride get in their way and will still unfortunately defend the more hateful Youtubers.

This is not to say these channels do not provide correct information, but it is often mixed with incorrect information along with failure to follow simple scientific information and go even a little beyond their small circles and seek input from long term experts in the field of aquarium keeping.
The hook is often many are friends with each other, posting back & forth compliments in each others Youtube videos or FB pages.

There’s examples of people with entertaining channels with excellent presentation, especially when there’s couples as in one entertaining Youtube channel out of Canada. This is an example of this “outer circle” of honest, helpful persons, but also seems to have some real issues in who he wants to associate with and procedure. As well it is obvious this Youtuber has little mechanical aptitude and he reminds me of another aquarium maintenance person that sold herself to my then employer as an experienced aquarium professional, but in reality could not solve most issues that would arise.

There’s further examples of popular Youtube channels, which provide interesting generally very thoughtful information and certainly has a lot of potential for educating others, but yet again still fails to follow scientific method.

Another example of genuine person who clearly wants to help others, but also clearly has little in depth experience, resulting in him mostly just reading off the box.
In a video forwarded to me one time, it was obvious that a stand built was not at all safe, especially here in Southern California.
There’s talk about the AquaClear filter and compares it to others such as the Whisper, not at all knowing how these work and clearly demonstrating any practical long term experience in stating the Whisper/Tetra does not provide bio filtration, which is incorrect.
They also miss that especially in a planted aquarium where bio filtration is less needed, that the Whisper/Tetra actually provides vastly superior mechanical filtration. I should note in my aquarium service, which I use many HOB filters and generally do not promote the Whisper/Tetra [I prefer the newer AAP Tidal HOB filter], I am just pointing out the flaws in these circular reasoning and obvious lack of experience.

Finally a popular Youtuber who I will name just because she has made rude comments and blocks persons that might know something she does not and that is Rachel O’leary. What is unfortunate is she has a nice educational Youtube channel in so many ways, but it is also obvious she runs in small circles, is “bought and paid for” in these circles, and has little in depth experience as to the “mechanics” of aquarium keeping and CLEARLY has no respect for those who might know something she does not by her actions.
An example is a video she made about the use of Sponge Filters where she claimed the Swiss Tropical was her favorite, but never explained it. Many aquarium professionals already know that these square sponges simply do not have the capacity and are simply not as versatile as the AAP Sponge Filter. I know a mentor told me he made a polite comment as to his vast experience with thousands of these filters over the years and she never allowed this comment among the many ankle licking comments that showed little knowledge of this subject.

Outside of Youtube and Facebook, there are still some forums and websites also putting out bad information

There’s an example of the aquascaping crowd at “The Planted Tank” that will actually recommend a cheap discount/economy Fluval LED over an AAP Aquaray Grobeam. While they seems to be a highly intelligent people that many can learn from, they struggle with some of the of most basic of information by making statements that Aquaray claims to have “magic patented emitters” when in fact TMC makes no such claims. As a user of the AAP Aquaray products, which FAR exceed any Fluval LED, I know what they claim is that the Osram Oslon NP emitters are indeed patented and that they have licensed emitters from specific Cree bins. These emitters simply produce better more usefil spectrums and are more efficient.

Then they make another simple mistake that easily proves the point of efficiency in that if you do the simple math, the AAP Aquaray Grobeam requires much less energy to produce an equal PAR.
Fluval Fresh & Plant 2.0 A3990 which uses 32 watts of input energy with a PAR output about 70 µMol•m²•sec at 400mm which comes out to .46 watt of input energy per point of PAR.
While the 30 Watt AquaRay GroBeam 1500 produces a PAR of about 150 µMol•m²•sec at 400mm using 30 watts input energy which comes out to .20 watt of input energy per point of PAR.

Ref: Aquarium LED Reviews; Fluval LED

The Planted Tank, Bad math for LED aquarium lighting

There are so many other factors that set these two lights “light years” apart.
In the end they might claim they has no ax to grind, but since in reading many of their posts, I have to rule out that they are this stupid, rather they clearly DO HAVE AN AX TO GRIND, which is unfortunately typical in a small circle within the aquascaping crowd that actually think planaria are detritus worms and vice versa, believe the hype/lies put forth by a popular retailer that a DI unit is needed for their water quality over just a good RO system, and many, many other myths.

Recommended Reading; Common Aquarium Keeping Myths

There are more negative examples, which out of respect of these people and my sources will not mention… with the exception of Dennis Wong [Xiaozhuang Wong] who although clearly is intelligent, instead trolls experts with very personal attacks and failure to learn from the most basic of aquarium keeping history, in particular when it comes to aquarium lighting. Besides Youtube, found in these FB groups: “High Tech Planted Tanks”, “Low Tech Planted Tanks” & “Aquascapers Collective”.
Refs: PUR or RQE, YouTube Video Fail- Guide to lighting a planted tank
PUR, PAS, PAR in Aquarium Reef/Planted Lighting; LED Wavelengths


As with all my posts, I have really little gain other than knowing that people have the best aquarium with the least hassles, with as little expense as possible.
I’m certainly in no place to judge the intentions of the majority of these Youtube, Facebook, forums, etc., but at the same time when I spot information or persons not respecting others in the hobby and industry as I have, I feel it is important that I make such posts.
I also know how extremely invaluable the mentoring I have received and continue to receive, and when I see the more hateful Youtubers attack those who have given so much to this industry and hobby, I will also “cry foul”.

My goal is that some of these persons will learn to reach out and READ, not just watch others Youtube channels or Facebook forum snips.
I think the majority of those who maintain Youtube channels and FB forums have a lot to offer and can offer much more if they simply move away from the haters, read more, respect mentoring, and realize that just maybe, many have come before them that have taken the time to apply scientific method and more to ideas/concepts that were proven to not be the best.



Aquarium LED Lights, Controllers, PWM; What is Best

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

Revised 12/14/16



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

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

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

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

Now to the facts!!

Pulse Width Modulation versus Current Reduction:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the graph below for a better visual understanding:

PWM versus Current Reduction in Aquarium LED Lights, Lighting

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

RGB Features versus PUR:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many will attempt to use a PAR meter to prove their LED quality, but again this can be very misleading when one looks at the facts.
Please Again Reference:

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

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

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

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

Important Update

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

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

Wanting to know how EcoTech controls spectrum of their LEDs.

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

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




*Wikipedia; Pulse-width modulation

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:
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.