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Light Up the Tank

Pet Age Staff//April 24, 2013//

Light Up the Tank

Pet Age Staff //April 24, 2013//

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The science behind LED lighting is constantly evolving, much to the delight of manufacturers within the aquarium industry.

And, as the technology improves, so do the products. It’s a trend that has manufacturers, retailers and hobbyists excited to see what comes next. But, that doesn’t mean the LED products available right now are subpar by any means, as there are some pretty amazing lights on the market.

LED lighting has come a long way in just a few short years, according to Tim Plafcan, senior product manager for United Pet Group, which manufactures Marineland products.

“This is the first year that it has really become mainstream,” Plafcan said. “We are seeing most people using LED for their aquariums. And I think we are just at the start of LED. There is so much more to come.”

While consumers and retailers alike will have to take a wait and see approach to finding out what’s next for LED technology, they certainly aren’t shying away from the products available to them now.

“The consumers are really embracing these lights,” Plafcan said. “And they’re being used for all different types of tanks.”
Just a few years ago LED lights weren’t advanced enough to be used to reef tanks, because it was too difficult to get the correct amount of lighting and heat coming from them, Plafcan said. But now, it is one of the top choices for reefs.

One product seen quite often in the industry is Marineland’s Reef LED Aquarium Lighting System from United Pet Group. It has 460nm blue and 10,000L white LEDs that can be controlled by a timer, so you can give consumers’ tanks the proper lighting at the right time of day.

The product was also recently upgraded to include a new dispersion lens over the blue LEDs to provide a better mix of light.
United Pet Group’s Marineland also offers a product perfect for customers who are tired of seeing a bulky light fixture sitting atop their tank.

The Hidden LED Lighting System brightly lights the aquarium without you having to see an actual fixture. It literally brings the light to the inside of their tanks.
These are good for freshwater, saltwater, and reef tanks, making for a very versatile product. Some other benefits of this product include bulbs that never need replacing, reduced cord clutter, powerful light with energy and cost savings, and a night light feature.

New Products

Further proof that LEDs are constantly evolving comes from Rolf C. Hagen’s Fluval brand, which launched a new series of these lights at the Global Pet Expo in February, according to Damian Hall, marketing and events manager for Rolf C. Hagen Corp.

“They look great,” Hall said. “We have LEDs for all types of aquariums. One of the best things about them is that they actually mimic the light from the sun, so they promote the growth of plants and corals.”

Hall agreed that LEDs have come a long way the last few years, and should continue to advance technologically in the future.

“When they first came out you just had a bright white light,” Hall said. “The color spectrums weren’t exactly what you needed. As the technology has improved they have been able to improve the light temperature and vision spectrum. And this is still something that’s evolving.”

Many Options

The series Fluval launched at the Global Pet Expo include three different types of LED products: Ultra Bright LED strip lights, Sea Marine and Reef LED Strip Lights, and Aqualife and Plant Performance LED Strip Lights. All of the lights come in a variety of sizes, so they are available for most tanks and aquariums.

Fluval Ultra Bright LED Strip Lights have three rows of LED lights. These LEDs consume much less energy than twin-tube strip lights, so they help consumers save on their electric costs. They’re also much smaller and compact, making it easier for hobbyists to move clean tanks and move around them. These lights are ideal for fish-only marine tanks or freshwater low-light planted tanks, providing superior color rendering and a natural shimmer effect.

Fluval Aqualife and Plant Performance LED Strip Lights are made for freshwater aquariums — particularly heavily planted tanks, according to Hall. These strips give a balanced combination of multiple LEDs for optimal photosynthetic activity, plant growth and viewing.

The full-spectrum lights provide five  unique LED band waves, high CRI values for accurate color rendition, perfectly balanced lighting, and 120-degree light dispersion for full area coverage and uniform lighting.

Fluval Sea Marine and Reef LED Strip Lights are made for saltwater aquariums and provide optimal photosynthetic activity, coral growth and viewing.

Another manufacturer making waves in the LED trend is AquaticLife, whose LED 0.5W Freshwater Light Fixtures are a prime choice for showcasing plants and fish in aquariums. These fixtures are colored red, white, and blue, are available in four different sizes, and feature broadcast reflectors with a “dimple” design that diffuses LED light evenly throughout the aquarium.

Other exciting features of this product include an expandable design that allows up to four fixtures to be linked together (hardware included), adjustable width frame mounts that hold the fixture securely above the aquarium, a durable on/off rocker switch for convenient lighting control, and a cUL-approved low-voltage power adapter that provides metered electric to ensure a long life for the light.

Expanding Interest

As LEDs continue to become a mainstay in the aquarium industry, they’re also starting to take over in another area — ponds and outdoor water features, said David Kelly, vice president of product management at Aquascape, a company known for water garden and backyard pond products.

“There are a lot of LED products and options,” Kelly said. “It allows for customers to be flexible with what they want to do.”
Kelly said he has seen a trend of LED lighting taking over outdoor ponds and water gardens for a number of reasons: electrical savings, bulb life (most LEDs will last up to 5 years before needing a bulb replacement), less maintenance and smaller sizes that allow for more creativity with setups.

One of Aquascape’s more popular products is the Pond and Landscape Light Kit (LED), which is a “high quality, yet affordable LED lighting system for small water features,” according to Kelly.

It can be used in or out of water and is ideal for highlighting focal points within a water feature. The 1-watt bullet spotlight’s powerful output and small size make it very versatile. The kit includes everything needed to create a beautiful nighttime focal point in any water garden or traditional landscape.

LED lighting is booming in both the aquarium and pond industries, because of the energy it saves, the small compact sizes it comes in and the beautiful yet powerful lighting it provides.

– Bill Kolbenschlag