Review suggests halides have had their day

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Practical Fishkeeping has undertaken one of the broadest and most in-depth tests of aquarium lighting ever, to determine the performance of 10 different makes of LED aquarium lighting.

The review, which was undertaken by Levi Major, tested the PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) performance of units from Coraled, Reef Beam UK, QE Global, Eco-Lamps, Arcadia, AquaFX and Tropical Marine Centre.

In the course of the review, over 2000 individual PAR readings were taken in an experiment designed to test the units on equal footing. Almost every LED light available on the UK aquarium market has been included in the test.

The results show the wide differences in both the output of different makes of LED aquarium light and compare them to the outputs of T5 and metal halide lights.

Levi Major said: "Before this project I would probably not have purchased LED lighting for my reef tank, but now I have seen them and have valid PAR readings I can believe, I would definitely go for them.

"In my eyes the PAR readings indicate that LEDs can be a viable replacement for the traditional metal halide and fluorescent aquarium lighting.

"It is clear from the results that PAR, especially with the LED units, can be dramatically different, not only with depth but also laterally within the aquarium."

The results provide PAR readings at four depths across the base of aquariums up to 90cm and use the levels to predict the recommended number of units required - often with figures at odds with what the manufacturers suggest.

Models tested include: Coraled 114w; Reef Beam UK 120w; QE Global LED high bay light; QE Global Flexible LED lights; Arcadia OT2 LED; Eco-Lamps KR-91; TMC AquaRay 1000HD reef white; TMC AquaRay 500; Eco-Lamps KR-92 and the AquaFX.  

The full 10-page review is in the March issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine which goes on sale on February 17 2010.