Review: Critter torch from MarineReefLED

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This torch might not be big but it's certainly clever and it has a viable real-world application for retailer and hobbyist alike — in fact anyone who acclimatises fish, writes Nathan Hill.

It is pretty small and has a single, bright red 660nm diode inside, throwing out more light than I’d expected from something this size. The spread is nice and tight, having no issues illuminating the rear of a 45cm/18” wide tank.

The on/off function on mine can be twitchy. In the classic Maglite style, the head is twisted to make a connection to turn on and reversed to switch off, and although I get the occasional ‘flick off’, which requires adjusting the twist, it generally holds well.

When you first get your light don’t forget to open it up to remove the battery cover inside, otherwise it won’t work. It also comes with a carabiner, so you can just add it to your bunch of keys or clip it to your belt.

So what’s the big deal with a red light? Well, seeing as red light is quickly stripped from the natural spectrum by water, fish eyes haven’t had to evolve to see it.

We can use it to see them, but they won’t see us!

From the hobbyist perspective this product is a novelty. Wait until nightfall, turn the house and tank lights off, and spend time experiencing the secret world of catfish and other night dwellers.

That £50 Synodontis you invested in no longer need be a mystery and you can watch it roam and feed in your tank. It also works wonders on a reef aquarium and if you need to get shot of those nuisance worms that come out when the sun goes down to snack on your polyps then they’ll no longer see you coming.

As a practical application, red lights could revolutionise the way many of us acclimatise fish.

Fish introductions should ideally be done in the dark to minimise stress, but from our perspective that’s high risk when you’re around water and glass.

However, with Critter torches you can sort through your fish, make sure they’re settling in OK and introduce them with far less risk of distress.

Retailers with large shipments of fish coming in could benefit by equipping their staff with handfuls of these torches.

Because the Critter runs so very bright, battery life isn’t prolonged, and though details on the packaging advise a 48-hour running time before new LR41s are needed, I’ve had my own torch going on and off over the last two weeks and it’s not struggling any.

Verdict

These should be an equipment staple for marine reef keepers and lovers of nocturnal fishes.

For retailers, or other importers, these should be standard issue for all staff.

The next cat’s eyes? I hope they make the same impact. They deserve to...

Price: £6.99. More info from marinereefled.co.uk