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Old 07-16-2014, 11:37 PM   #1
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LED Not so great ?

I have a small LED strip on my 10 gallon and it lights up the tank nice. This is my first tank so I know next to nothing about aquarium lighting.

I'm setting up a 29 gallon bowfront that a friend gave me but It came with no lighting or filter. So I thought I'd get an bigger LED strip seeing as I like the way the 10 gallon looks with LEDs.

So I go to the local family owned fish shop. After meeting the owner and telling him what I was looking at, he guided me toward a lighting setup called a T5 for 65 dollars. I looked at it for a moment but thought "I really want an LED strip".

Then the owners son who's around my age comes over and starts talking to me about lighting. There were a row of about 8 very large 150+ gallon tanks against the back wall. One of them was lit up so nice. Very bright and clear. The others were kind of dull and not so bright.

He explained to me the one that looked so great and bright was actually a T5 setup and the dull ones were LEDs. The LED ones he told me the price range was either 350 or 550 dollars, I forget now, but It was definitely shocking to me.

So what he tells me is this. The technology isn't there yet. If you want good LEDs that will last many years and really brighten up a tank, the only ones he trusts are the ones that cost thousands of dollars. The 550 dollar ones he had there were having issues and he said all the ones under that price point he either has issues with one thing or another or just don't light the tank as well as the T5's. They don't last long for the price, being as when something goes wrong with them you have to replace the whole unit instead of just a bulb. And they were pulling waaay more watts than the T5s. He had some there that were 2, 3 or 5 watts per LED and some that only had a half watt but many more LEDs. And when added up and adding in the capacitors they were pulling way more power and were even hotter to the touch.

Plus the nicest looking tank in that place that I thought was lit by LEDs was the one that wasn't lit by LEDs. All of this kind of disillusioned me, especially since I was planning on buying an LED strip that was about 50-75 bux. And at that price I'm sure they would be less than stellar just as that guys 550 dollar ones were.

What do you guys think of this? Are there some LEDs under 100 dollars that maybe this guy doesn't know about that are actually quality and better than a comparable priced T5 setup? He grew up in this shop that's been open for 29 years and installs professional aquariums so as of now I'm following his advice and forgetting about the LED strip for this particular setup.
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Old 07-16-2014, 11:57 PM   #2
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Hmm. I have a Finnex planted + that I got off of Amazon pretty cheap. It is on a ten gallon and the plants respond very well. The plants actually pearl if that helps.
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Old 07-17-2014, 12:13 AM   #3
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Yeah after reading around here a bit I was looking at the finnex planted +
They are in my price point and seem to be recommended quite often on the forums. But being as I don't know much about aquarium lighting I thought maybe they are better for certain situations like heavily planted tanks, where i'm just going to start dabbling in live plants and don't plan on doing a full blown planted tank yet. I just don't know. Is there a particular reason I should go LED over T5 for the under 100 price point? What are the reasons people do? is it just a matter of preference when it comes down to a mostly fake plants aquarium?
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Old 07-17-2014, 12:27 AM   #4
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Not really. A T5HO fixture is fine. An AquaticLife dual T5HO fixture is about as good as it gets. You will want 6500K bulbs or something close to it. The problem with T5s is you have to change bulbs and ballasts from time to time. With LEDs you do not and they use less electricity. I recommend Finnex for LED.
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Old 07-17-2014, 12:32 AM   #5
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LED's have tremendous versatility such as dimming, controllable RGB for coloring effects, sunrise, moonlight etc. They also have lower electricity costs, longer life span etc. but in general they also have higher up front costs.

Fluorescent are inexpensive with less versatility and higher long term costs but there is nothing wrong with fluorescent aquarium lights as they have been serving people well for a long time.

No insult intended, but the opinions of the owners son was not valid, more of a general misconception for whatever reason.

I like LED's but I run both
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Old 07-17-2014, 12:59 AM   #6
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No insult taken. If hes wrong hes wrong. His main point to me was that the lower priced LEDs hes had experience with didnt impress him and didnt last anywhere near as long as they said they would. But he did still have LED setups on a few of his coral tanks. Granted they were 550 dollar LEDs not 50 or so like the ones I was looking at.

Im actually quite glad to see people disagreeing with him because I do like the choices of colorings and moonlight feature the LED has to offer. .plus if they really are more energy efficient thats always a plus

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Old 07-17-2014, 01:14 AM   #7
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Not saying I believe hes wrong either though. I cant really convey the things he was saying well but he was very convincing..especially since he had no dog in the fight and had both LED and T5s for sale at the shop. And looking at the effects on his tanks first hand I have to say it was blatantly obvious the t5 was the clearest brightest of the tanks. Either way it wont matter as much in my little freshwater setup as huge coral tanks and ill probably be ok either way.

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Old 07-17-2014, 01:23 AM   #8
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I work in an industry heavily involved in lighting, and in a past life also designed ballasts for gas discharge lighting (mainly flouro and metal halide) and more recently LED drive circuits. using this knowledge I custom designed and built my own LED fittings for my tank as I am a new beginner to the hobby of freshwater fish keeping and the retail cost of LED fittings is extortionate compared to making your own.

In short, the sales guys information is probably about 5 years out of date. Yes there was a time when LED technology was subpar, but not so anymore. There may be stock in stores which dates back to or before this time they are still trying to sell, but that's not a true reflection of current LED technology.

In years to come flouro style lighting will go the way of the incandescent.

Also in a coral or planted tank, just because a T5 looks "brighter" doesn't necessarily mean its going to help your plants or coral to grow any better. The human eyes response to the visible colour spectrum is not linear. What we regard as bright has a large yellow and green spectrum component, which plants and coral largely do not respond to.
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Old 07-17-2014, 01:25 AM   #9
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I run both and I like the LEDs. They are sleeker looking (smaller housing) and put out a lot less heat than fluorescents. There are some cheap LEDs out there as well as some feature rich models.
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Old 07-17-2014, 10:25 AM   #10
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Great post Britty. Being as you build your own and aren't even mentioning brand names I know you're not just pushing a product for your own agenda. The guy at the store may have been right as far as his stock went. Or maybe he was trying to get rid of his old stock to make way for new LEDs LOL..I doubt it but I guess you never know. He did seem genuine enough and If I followed his advice with his particular stock I would probably be OK. That said I was initially looking to do LEDs and would still like to do them as long as I don't end up with a cheaply made brand or outdated technology. I guess I still have some research to do, I've seen the finnex planted+ mentioned in a few threads and now this one too so I'll look some more at those.
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