Who’s using LED lighting?

It’s pretty established now and fair to say that it’s certainly not going away. I’m a big fan of LED lighting, not only because it’s powerful but because it’s economical too which is a big plus for me. There’s nothing worse that knowing your aquarium lighting is chomping through your electricity, costing you more money than necessary.

So it got me thinking I wonder how many of you guys are actually using LEDs? Are you using Chinese imports, or maybe Arcadia LEDs – what about TMC (my fave). Of course as the market develops we will start to see a lot more LEDs enter the market and some will be better than others.

There’s one thing for sure, the market for metal halides will disappear (not quite yet) but in the near future as LEDs become more powerful than ever.

TMC Grobeam 600

21 thoughts on “Who’s using LED lighting?”

  1. LEDs are a great choice for an aquarium, especially considering how long you need the lights switched on (permanently??) – lighting costs are dramatically reduced AND the massive inconvenience of changing the lights is almost eliminated since the lifespan of LEDs is so long!

    1. Thanks Ellie. Not sure about your knowledge on planted aquariums if you think lighting should be left on permanently!

      Regardless, the benefits of LEDs are enormous in every way.

  2. I use a Vertex Illumina 260 on my 360 liter aquarium. Very powerful unit. Plants grew very well at first but now slowing down in growth. I think I am having issues with fertilization. Not sure if I should be using BOTH root tabs AND liquid fertilizers together? Was only using liquid ferts once a week – but I am starting to get some balls and try dosing every 2 days (little worried about algae blooms). I got a pressurized CO2 line going into my eheim filter but I do not shut it off at night. I am thinking that if I get a solenoid to shut CO2 off at night then I can run the CO2 at a higher rate during the day.

    1. AH yes. They are nice Scott. What sort of money did you spend on them?

      Always use root tabs if your substrate is more than 12 months old. And ALWAYS use fertilisers.

      If you’re using pressurised CO2 you should be using a fertiliser like Neutro+ on a daily basis – once a week = algae (you starve your plants).

      Turn CO2 off at night – it’s not needed then. Use a drop checker with bromo blue to monitor your CO2 levels too.

  3. If you research where your fish originate from then you can check how much daylight they need…hence how long your lights need to be on for. Ideally you shouls simulate seasonal change. The plants will then follow the same light cycle
    As for LED lights i would never use anything else.

  4. I have just learned that depending on if you re using metal halide lights, fluorescent or LED lights then the times will vary. This info came from a acclaimed book so I am inclined to believe it. The auther never stated the reason and just said its important for fish and invertebrates

  5. Unfortunately neutro+ is not available in North America, so I am having to use Seachem products – which is a somewhat similar product (have to buy phosphate, nitrogen, potassium, trace separately). I have been dosing the fertilizers on a daily basis now, and the plants are perking up. The vertex unit was about $1800 USD which is a TON of money to spend on lighting. I have been an aquarist for about 20 years, so this was my “mid life crisis” purchase. Vertex estimates the lifespan of their product is minimum 10 years. I used flourescent tubes prior to this and I found I was having to replace them every 6months to maintain appropriate spectrum. That was costing me about $250 in tubes per year. Running fluorescent tubes about 8-10 hours a day also consumes a lot of electricity. The Vertex uses a small fraction of the power I used to require. It’s a lot of money up front – but – the savings is realized a few years down the road. I the Vertex illumina for the sunrise, sunset and lightning settings which are super cool. I have encountered a few glitches with the light (one which required swapping out the unit for a new one under warranty). I was a little annoyed to have glitches in an expensive light – but I must admit that their customer service and technical assistance was top notch. My advice for people looking for LED lighting for their aquarium is to do their homework and research. The Vertex Illumina is really designed for salt water aquariums. I wanted the Illumina model just in case I wanted to switch from a freshwater tank to a saltwater tank down the road. If anyone is interested in a Vertex light for their freshwater, planted aquarium – I would recommend their Vertex Illuminux model which is much, much cheaper. After being with LED lights for a year – I will never go back.

    1. Such good advice Scott and Seachem products work great too.

      You’re so right about the start up cost of LEDs – they’re high but you invest for the long term. Tubes do expire quickly and you soon make a saving with LEDs. As to whether they last 10 years – I doubt it. But of course they’re offering that warranty because the average hobbyist who uses LEDs will probably buy a new, more efficient, more economical unit in maybe 5 years so the manufacturers are safe knowing that they won’t have to replace. I’m playing devils advocate here though 🙂

      Regarding glitches – even my Mac has a few of those but it’s life heh. These things happen and it’s how the company deals with it that makes it worthwhile and it sounds like you had a good experience.

  6. Hi Richard, we’re pretty new to this caper so was after some advice. We’ve just invested in a 175l Aquaone tank which seems huge to us. We want to go with a planted aquarium as they look simply amazing. We want a range a colour from the plants, with height as well as mosses etc. At the moment the tank has got two double barrell strip lights in, I would like to swap those out for LEDs. How many of the Ultima 600’s would you recommend for a tank such as ours? We have a large piece of wood as the center piece of the tank, which is naturally darkening the water. We don’t want it too dark, and like the idea of vibrant colour plants

  7. Hi Adam

    A couple of Ultima tiles would be good if you’re planning on using CO2 in the future.

    Otherwise 2 x 600s if you want a low tech planted aquarium and 4 x 600s if you wanted high tech (or the tile option).

    1. Hi Richard, thanks for the advice. Can you talk me through the pros and cons of hi tech v’s lo tech. I assume lo tech means using supplements rather than gas co2. Why does Lo tech require less light? Is it because there is less plant growth?

      1. High tech = Pressurised CO2, great results, fast growth, plant behave as nature intended. You need to do regular water changes and keep on top of things. Less margin for error as things move pretty fast.

        Low tech = No CO2, lower lighting. Plants grow slowly, and some won’t grow at all.

        All tanks need fertilisers, high tech needs more ferts in the form of macro nutrients. Low tech tanks need less light and it’s the light that provides the energy to the plants and as they aren’t doing much, excessive lighting for them only results in algae.

        1. Ok, thanks for the info. It sounds to me from what you are saying that hi-tech is the way to achieve the jaw dropping set up. So what would you recommend for a 175l tank? We have substrate under the gravel with about 15 plants bought from the local aquatic shop. You’ve mentioned the lighting above, what else is required? Can you advise on any sets or packages you offer

          1. If you want jaw dropping the CO2 is the way forward. All those pretty tanks you might see online, ALL use pressurised CO2 and lots of it!

            With that in mind, a pair of TMC tiles would cut the mustard http://www.aquaessentials.co.uk/tmc-ultima-1500-natural-daylight-p-6433.html

            15 plants isn’t much for a high tech tank and is likely to cause problems due to imbalance. For eg, I recommend 15 plants for a 100L tank.

            Apart from increasing your plant mass, you need Neutro+ and Neutro CO2 fertilisers, a drop checker with bromo blue, a circulation pump and water changed every week 🙂

  8. Morning Richard, forgive me for hijacking your blog, but one more question following on from your recommendation above. I am interested why you are recommending liquid co2 over a pressurised set up for myself. Cost isn’t really an issue for me, I prefer to ensure that I have the right kit for the job, so wanted to understand. Others may find the answer useful as welll. Cheers

  9. The Vertex illumina/illuminux is different from other LED kits which adds to their longevity. The light casing is actually a massive heatsink. Info from other blogs also indicate they intentionally underpower the lights. Together these features supposedly allow greater longevity than other LEDs on the market. Another brilliant feature is that the light can be synced with a Mac/PC and the light can be programmed for light color, intensity etc. The LED pads can also be removed from the casing and be replaced down the road if there are any issues. Vertex has also created “auxiliary” LED pads that can be added into the casing. They offer red, multicolor, and UV pads. Thus far I have added two red LED pads into my light. The red spectrum can assist with plant growth/flowering. I use the reds (with blue/violet light) to
    emulate sun rise/sun set. I was interested in adding UV pads but not sure if plants would benefit. The multicolor pad would be neat for a short term festive effect. I do not want to soley advocate vertex lighting, but the expandability and programmability of the unit is pretty ingenious. The LED technology for aquariums will expand at a pretty frenetic pace over the next few years. I think aquarists should really look for the ability for programability and whether light strips can be fixed by the customer (replacement parts) if problems arise.

  10. I am using the led lights for two to three years it is most efficient and less energy consuming source of lighting because it is a new technology and it gives more lifetime as compared to old incandescent lights.

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