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May 2012 Aquarium Fish International Editor's Note

The Future Looks Bright for LEDs

By Clay Jackson |

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The topic of aquarium lighting continues to be one of the most-talked-about subjects among aquarists. To better understand some of the future trends in aquarium lighting, I solicited opinions from some experts in the aquarium lighting field.

Q. With the rise of LEDs, do you think more traditional lighting like metal halides, fluorescents, etc., will eventually go the way of the dinosaurs?

A. “For now more traditional lighting will remain viable because of price. Feature-rich T5 HO fluorescent fixtures are still less expensive than their LED counterparts. However, as LEDs come down in price and technologies evolve, we foresee LEDs replacing most traditional lighting.

“When LEDs were first used for aquarium applications, the fixtures were from other industries, and the light spectrum was adequate for illuminating the aquarium for our viewing but not for growing corals or plants. That has been changing, and now fixtures are available that offer spectral peaks in the 460 and 650 nm wavelengths — ideal for cultivating corals. As more emphasis is placed on these energy-efficient products, we foresee more people using LED lighting than any other light source.”
— Mike Elliott, co-owner of Aquatic Life LLC

A. “The paradigm shift to LEDs from traditional lighting is already happening. For example, several European countries have banned the use of incandescent bulbs and similar legislation is currently pending in the U.S. This legislation includes the phasing out of metal halide and HPS (high pressure sodium) lamps due to their extreme inefficiencies and toxic materials.

“For the aquarium industry, LEDs are the optimal lighting solution. LEDs penetrate deeper into the tank versus halides or fluorescent lighting, produce virtually no heat, create vivid colors with fantastic shimmer effects and use up to 80 percent less energy than traditional lighting.”
— Larry Schack, president of Sunshine Systems

Q.Nanos and small “plug-and-play” systems are skyrocketing in popularity. Will we see a miniaturization of LED fixtures so that LEDs can be used with and on these popular all-in-one setups?

A.“Yes, this is already happening. In 2011, our company introduced a very high-quality, high-output small LED fixture. Our Power LED has received outstanding reviews, and due to its unique design and super bright light, we are currently surpassing sales expectations. We think more aquarium product suppliers will follow suit.”
— Daniel Stopnicki, regional director
North & South America, Eheim GmbH & Co. KG

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