Aquarium hood light replacement

Aquarium hood light replacement DEFAULT
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    LED Lighting for Your Freshwater Aquarium

    The right lighting is essential for a healthy freshwater aquarium. Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting has many advantages for your tank. Your options for this type of lighting are numerous, so you have choices other than the traditional incandescent, fluorescent, or metal halide lighting. But you will need to choose wisely to ensure you get lights that are bright enough and have the right spectral range to support the plants in your tank and keep algae growth minimized.

    LED vs. Other Lighting Options

    Your best lighting options for freshwater tanks are standard fluorescent bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs, metal halide lights, and LED lights. You want to avoid incandescent bulbs as they are suitable only for small aquariums and can give off too much heat.

    Standard fluorescent lights supply good light intensity and produce little heat. Compact fluorescent bulbs give more light output (at a smaller size) and are often built into an aquarium hood. Metal halide lights have the advantage of having a full spectrum, so they are good at reproducing the tropical lighting that many freshwater fish had in their native environment and can sustain photosynthesis for aquarium plants. However, they can produce a lot of heat.

    By contrast, LED lights run much cooler than standard fluorescents and metal halides. They have many customizable lighting colors and intensities and will do well with both fish-only and planted tanks as long as you select those with the right output.

    The Pros

    You may want to set up a new tank with LED lights or replace the lighting system on your existing tank to take advantage of the benefits from this type of lighting. These include:

    • Low energy consumption: They take less energy to run—quite a bit less. LED aquarium lighting uses up to 80 percent less electricity than other aquarium lights. Your energy cost savings alone will make up the difference in the cost of LED system in the first year to 18 months.
    • Low heat output: LED lights do not generate the heat that fluorescent light bulbs do, and so they won't heat up your aquarium water. However, they still need good air circulation so the heat they put off doesn't degrade the lifespan of the LED chip and keep them away from other types of lighting.
    • Long life: A very popular advantage of LED lights is the fact that they last far longer than other traditional types of lighting. LED lights last for up to 50, hours (almost six years) as compared with two to four months for incandescent bulbs, six to 18 months for standard fluorescent bulbs and metal halide bulbs, and up to 28 months for compact fluorescent bulbs. While they cost more initially, you will save the $$1, you would spend in replacement bulbs over five years for metal halide, T5, or compact fluorescent bulbs.
    • Adjustable light intensity: LED lights can be dimmed and programmed, allowing for a natural dimming at sunset and the reverse at sunrise. This is particularly good for nocturnal fish, as a dim blue light can be left on the tank to simulate moonlight and allow for feeding and viewing purposes. There are even LED lighting strips that replicate the monthly lunar cycle. You can have fun changing the light with the remote or app. Or, let your smart lighting system determine itself the temperature and the stage of plant growth and select the right colors and wavelengths.
    • Color options: LED lights come in a variety of colors, which can be used to accent the tank in interesting ways. They are marketed by spectrum (often in the Kelvin or K system), and you can choose which suits your purpose. For example, 8,K white spectrum promotes photosynthesis of your plants and enhances the colors of orange, red, and yellow fish. Add a magenta or magenta/blue LED and you also bring out greens, blues, and reds while proving more support for your plants. The 12K white and magenta combination can be perfect for planted aquariums. If you want a night lunar light that will make your fluorescent fish glow, nanometer royal blue lights are popular. There are even arrays with different colors of LED lights you can program for your needs.
    • Coverage: Because LED lights are usually arrayed in a strip, you can get coverage over a wide area of your tank.

    The Cons

    LED aquarium lighting has few cons, but you do need to take some limitations into account.

    • Availability: Many aquarium kits that include a light or hood with a light do not offer LED lights. Popular combination units, such as the Eclipse systems, are only offered with standard fluorescent light bulbs. However, you can find LED options to retrofit your Eclipse hoods. Likewise, most light fixtures are still offered primarily with fluorescent lights.
    • Cost: LED fixtures tend to be a bit more costly to purchase up front. Your initial budget will need to be higher, even though you will make up for this over time in energy savings as well as bulb replacement costs.
    • Use for planted aquariums: Another primary weakness is in the area of planted aquariums. Many LED light fixtures are only suited for low to medium lighting needs. That will do nicely for virtually all fish and for a number of plants. Kelvin ratings of K to K are best for most planted aquariums. For plants that have high light needs, however, you will have to search for good LED lighting options.

    The LED field is rapidly expanding with new products. Most experts agree the future is bright for LEDs.

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    How to change from fluorescent to LED aquarium lighting

    For decades, the most popular form of lighting available to aquarists were fluorescent tubes. In sizes such as T12 (1 ½” diameter) T8 (1” diameter,) and T5 (⅝” diameter) fluorescent tubes were highly effective at lighting fish, enhancing colours, and for growing plants or corals.

    But there is another way. LED.

    The good news is that fluorescent light tubes haven’t disappeared altogether. If you are shopping for a replacement T8 or T5 light tube, you can still purchase one. Just check the length in mm is the same, check its T8 or T5, and the wattage, and it will fit and run no problem.

    But as time goes on, fluorescent light tubes are lacking some eco credentials, and governments may look to phase them out entirely in the coming years. In the home, in industry, and in aquariums.

    LED lights don’t contain mercury, so are easier to recycle than fluorescents. They are also capable of producing more light per watt of energy used, than fluorescents, meaning an energy saving and lower running costs. And on top of all that, some are controllable, meaning that they can be dimmed, programmed, or even change colour. 

    Swapping to LED

    So there are several benefits to swapping from fluorescent lights to LED. But how do you do it? And what happens if your old T8 or T5 fluorescent lamps are built into the hood of your aquarium? Don’t fear, as there are many solutions…

    If you want to keep your old hood, lamp holders and light fittings, you need to consider retrofit LED lamps. The most straight forward retrofits are those provided by Arcadia and Aquarium Systems.

    They are the same length, same diameter, have the same pins on the end, and can even be powered by the same ballast as your old T8 or T5 lamp. Just make sure you choose the right model to replace T8, or T5.

    But if your old light ballast has failed, you have lots of options there too. AquaEl and TMC produce retrofit LED lights to replace T8 and T5 fluorescents, but this time they come with their own dedicated power supply.

    This enables them to use the old lamp holders and physically replace the old fluorescent, by way of special lamp holder adaptors. But the lights themselves have a separate power supply. All of the above LEDs are slimline and will fit inside closed hoods, cover glasses, and integral light units. Make sure you get the right length if replacing Juwel fluorescent lamps. 

    Removing the hood

    An old, defunct hood can be removed entirely, freeing you up to choose many different tank mounting lights from Arcadia, Aquarium Systems, AquaEl, Fluval and TMC. Designed to be length adjustable, these units can mount directly onto the tank rim, making them easy to fit and remove, or to slide back, out of the way for maintenance.

    And with the whole top of the tank open, you can fit as many light units on as you would like. 

    High spec LED lighting

    If you want to upgrade your existing aquarium to one which will grow demanding corals, you may want to consider high-powered LED lighting.

    Fan cooled, models from Kessil and Aqua Illuminations can be mounted to open-topped tanks and are controllable, enabling spectral control and advanced programming features like automated dimming and timed lighting cycles. Even Wi-Fi control, by way of an app.

    And if you don’t like any fan noise, models from Fluval and TMC Aquaray offer a nice halfway house.   

    FAQs

    Can I reuse the reflectors from my fluorescent lamp?

    You don’t need reflectors with retrofit LEDs as all the light is directed down into the aquarium

    How long do LEDs last?

    LED lamps can last up to 50, hours, depending on the make and model, which equates to over five years of continuous use, but check what the manufacturer states before you purchase, and keep proof of purchase.

    Another big advantage with LED is that brightness tends not to drop off so much with age, like with fluorescent or LED. Light output can be measured with a Seneye Reef aquarium monitor. 

    Are all LED lamps controllable?

    No, so check before purchase. All could be turned on and off by way of a simple plug-in light timer (not supplied,) but not all can be dimmed, have a controller, or an app, so check.

    As a very general rule, most low priced LED lamps have the least light output and least controllability, with highly-priced units tending to be the brightest, and the most feature-rich. Lamp controllers also tend to be non-transferable from manufacturer to manufacturer, and will only control one make of light. 

    Which colour LED should I choose?

    LED lamps are provided just like fluorescents, being suitable either for freshwater or marine, and enhancing either colours, plants, or coral growth.

    If limited to just one LED lamp, you’ll need an all-rounder, for freshwater, or marine. Or if budget allows, high-spec LEDs like those from Aqua Illuminations can produce all the colours of the rainbow.  

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