Lighting and Growth Update (Nov13)

Bit of an update on the Lighting used and the seaweeds.

The gamble I took with going for the Aquaray GroBeam LED lights that are intended for freshwater aquariums seemed to have been worth it. The fact that whatever I collect wont be in deeper water than 5m and even that only at spring tides indeed most of it will be in less than 1-2m, I think the light being used in a my Rockpool aquarium needs to be as close as possible to natural daylight (~6500k) which is used in freshwater aquariums. Jon Olavs also had huge success growing massive amounts of macroalgea using daylight spectrum which gives me hope this will work.

The lights seem very good quality I am really happy with them so far. They where accidentally submerged during aquascaping for at least three times (cant believe that actually happened so many times!) and still working perfectly. The light is very bright, the colors of animals, stones and seaweed come out very nicely, its very natural looking and the shimmer effect is amazing and realistic. There is almost no heat being introduced to the water surface. The only heat dissipation is at the back of them where the heat sinks are located. This is a very important factor for temperate setups and well worth the investments because you might get away not using a chiller or at least save a lot of money on electricity on the running cost of the lights and the lower load on a chiller. Currently my Aquarium is at 17 degrees unchilled (the fact the the sump is on ground level where the coldest air is drafting around might help this significantly)

In the first two weeks of starting the tank I was waiting for the 30W Tile (GroBeam 1500 Natural Daylight 6500k) and was only operating the tank with the two 12W Strips (GroBeam 600 Ultima Natural Daylight 6500k) all the seaweeds seemed to slowly disintegrate and dissolve even though I had them on a 12h cycle. After about a week of having the 30W plus the two 12W going together (total 54W LED) the red and brown seaweeds are definitely growing which is fantastic! (This is now four weeks ago) The greens seemed to have stopped dying or some might even grow a little bit, but not sure. With the browns and reds its obvious to see the growth and some even popped out that wherent there before or too small to see.  Also what I deem to be the Rainbow wrack has gotten a lot of its color and iridescent effect back after loosing it under low light conditions. Really delighted about this as I like to see growth and those LED lights where a bit of an investment. I started operating them at 12 hours then 10 now I am down to 9 which is still a bit longer than natural but I will eventually match the actual sun schedule. An important thing to mention here is maybe that my tank is unchilled and running at 17.5degrees which is a lot higher than the 12degrees that the sea is at this time of year. Maybe that and in addition with longer lighting is simulating a bit of summer and thats why there is growth? Also I do think what might also have an effect is that I am feeding a lot more and regularly.

The only downturn  in terms of reproducing a natural habitat with these lights is that they are only ON/OFF, the fish dont actually spook from it when it goes on full blast but its not very natural. There is a nifty Aquaray controller to allow you to dim those lights in and out in different channels all programmable. I hope Santa is reading this 😉

Also in terms of lighting, I am using the Moonlight that is on the “Tunze Pump controller 7096” which simulates a 29 day lunar cycle. (more on the controller later) This light is cool in terms of the lunar cycle control but its very much a spot light (around 25degree beam) which I dont find natural looking. So I added just one 0.5W cool white LED (120degree beam) which is permanently on that gives a really natural smooth moonlight effect. Hopeing to find some settings on the phone camera to get this effect on picture.

The three spined Sticklebacks really enjoy the moonlight as they are always schooling very close together at night in the rays of the “moon”. They seem to be a bit afraid of the dark 😉 naturally, even though there is no big Pollack waiting to feast on them at night anymore…

I tried to put together the names of the seaweeds that are growing at the moment and the ones that dont but I find identification very difficult so I gave up. Please feel free to comment on the pictures if you know any ID’s or correct the ones I identified wrong 😉

I just add a few pictures with notes here of some of the seaweeds…

6 thoughts on “Lighting and Growth Update (Nov13)

  1. Hi Marius, great to read all your posts. I am very impressed by the tank, especially by the fact that it is still so ‘clean’ looking! I am thinking of switching to LEDs (using a retrofit kit). Do you have clear white LEDs only? I am doubting whether I should have a little blue in there (although obviously that would not be necessary for- or representative of- rock pools). How did you decide on the wattage? I hope that the reduction in heat means I can switch off my fans, that would be great (in addition to the nice shimmer of course). Hope you have some ideas, I find it hard to decide!
    cheers Michiel

    • Hi Michiel,
      Thats great to hear, thanks a lot 🙂 The cleanup crew (which is quite big) is doing its job nicely. I am actually quite surprised all is working so well to be honest. I can only highly recommend going LED. Would be interesting to see how much your temperature in the tank would drop after going LED. The lights I use are all white 6500k daylight intended for tropical freshwater. Makes the tank look very crisp and clean and very natural. Personally I would not use blue light at all as I gather all my seaweed and animals from intertidal zones but it might help some seaweeds that prefer deeper water? I decided on wattage with this link from the aquaray site. The tile is 30W and the strips are 12W. I use 30+12+12 so 54W on my 800×500 footprint. I can only highly recommend those Aquaray GroBeam lights, very happy with them, looks great too with the shimmer effect. I think they are perfect for rockpool aquariums. They still produce a bit of heat from their heatsinks at the back but it will be nowhere near the heat of fluorescent lights. Surely you could switch off the fans then I guess. The less noise the better 😉 They arent cheap but have an impressive 5 year warranty and (what might help the budgeting decision) you wont need to exchange them as you would need with fluorescents.
      Its nice to be able to give some advice back as your blog has helped my sooo much and indeed actually made me start this project! 🙂
      Hope this helps your decicion.
      All the best

      • That look like a great kit! Especially as it will fit perfectly which the aquaray surely wont.
        Maybe worth checking with them if you can individually dim channels which would allow to dim in or out the blue only for example. Or leave the blue on over night.
        Their cool white is actually 5000-8500k which would be ideal I think. Thats great because most marine LED whites I found where much colder at around 10000k.

        Looks a very nice product and not too pricey. Your chiller would also not need to work as hard with less heat introduced.

        Its always difficult to decide but thats sure the neatest option without bodging.

        Good Luck

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