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May 29, 2015

The Switch to LED

LED lights have been part of the aquarium lighting category for a number of years but there is still a lot of room to grow with these products. More new styles and designs are coming out all the time, which enables consumers to create the unique environments they want for their aquariums.

It might seem like a no-brainer to purchase LED lighting but many aquarium owners are entrenched in using traditional fluorescent fixtures. According to the most recent survey by the American Pet Products Association, 46 percent of saltwater fish owners currently own a compact or standard fluorescent light and only slightly more than half that proportion, 27 percent, own an LED light.

Getting a customer to switch from fluorescent lighting to LED fixtures isn’t only an added sale for the retailer, it is also better for the customer and the fish.

“LED lighting offers a longer life, lower operational costs and the added benefit of low heat production,” said Sean Raines, director of marketing, aquarium environments and equipment, at Spectrum Brands. “Conventional lighting of the past had the potential of raising the water temperature more than is desired for particular environment inhabitants.”

More Flexibility and Control

In addition to lower heat production and lower energy costs, the new designs in LED lighting help make these products attractive to customers, whether they’re setting up an aquarium for the first time or looking to upgrade their older equipment. Two trends are driving the design of new lights: Customers want customizable products and they want the ability to control lighting in the tank.

The new LED Track Light system from Elive is designed with patent-pending light pods that can be changed to different colors as well as added or subtracted to control light intensity. The original track light system comes in five sizes, ranging from 12 to 31 pods. Color choices include cool white, warm white, blue and red. The company recently introduced an advanced series with two tracks, providing even more flexibility.

“This product was created for the intermediate to advanced level hobbyist who wants a little more light output to truly showcase their fish,” said Matt Allen, director of marketing at Elive.

Central Garden & Pet also has a customizable fixture with their Coralife LED Aqualight. It comes with a standard number of Tri-Lamps in either red, white or blue. Covered slots allow for the addition of more Tri-Lamps to increase the light output or customize the color.

“The ability to customize color options is very important for the consumer,” said Karina Esquivel, senior brand manager, Central Garden & Pet. “It gives them the ability to create the best environment for their aquarium, whether they have freshwater fish or a saltwater setup or are growing plants.”

It’s one thing to have the choice of red, blue or green lights to really bring out the colors of the fish in an aquarium but consumers can have even more control over lighting with products that feature day and night modes or customizable intensities that can be programmed remotely.

Some of the most popular fixtures from Spectrum are the LED Strip Light, the Advanced LED Strip Light and the Reef LED Strip Light, which all provide the shimmer of natural sunlight as well as a blue moonlight mode. The latter two products feature an integrated timer to control the day and night sequence.

Finnex is taking control to a higher level with its new fixtures. The Finnex Planted+ Elite LED fixture comes with a Bluetooth-enabled app (available at the Apple Store or Google Play) that allows users to customize intensity levels at any given time of day. And the company’s Finnex 24/7 fixture with white, red, green and blue LEDs can be programmed to simulate a warming red sunrise in the morning, moonlight at night, thunderstorms and cloudy days, all of which customers can control through an IR remote.

Lights for Growth

Lighting is important for more than just accentuating the beautiful colors of fish in aquariums. Planted tanks and coral reefs are becoming popular and both of these need special lights to enhance growth and keep the tank healthy.

The Finnex Planted+ Elite LED is designed specifically for planted tanks. With true 660 nm red LED cartridges, the fixture is designed to efficiently maximize photosynthesis activity.

Spectrum also offers light fixtures designed specifically for plants and corals. The Aquatic Plant LED comes with 3-watt RGB LEDs that provide 460 nm blue, 660 nm red and green accent lighting to keep plants healthy and thriving. The Reef LED Strip Light provides the correct spectral output for reef aquariums, while the Lunar 460 nm 1-watt LED lamp replicates deep-water light for proper coral growth.

Thanks to advances in technology, the lighting industry is always changing and improving, which affects the aquatic hobby in a positive way.

“Consumers tend to gravitate to products that feature a lot of ‘bells and whistles,’ and the aquatic lighting industry is now able to offer these types of products,” said Bryan Lowe, account executive, Finnex. The most important thing is to let your customers know all the exciting options that are out there. A well-educated staff and displays featuring the latest products are the best way to attract the interest of customers and build sales.

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