Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Sugarhouse area
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Re: LED vs. Metal halide
$2500!!! wow! yea, ripoff! 3 watt LEDs should be the way to go. they have more light output per area and will penetrate the water deeper due to this. I built my LED setup for 200 bucks and it was overkill. I could have spent 130-150 and had the same results (due to the full output of the 3 watt LEDs was too much for a 20 gallon with the number of them i have). Pricing for LED has come down and you'll probably see a drop in overall prices by the end of the summer as LED companies hash out the newest and brightest LEDs yet.
For color!!! Yes, this is important! You'll need to make sure you get a good mixture of actinic and white leds orrrrr go with actinic and tri-color setups. That means, Red, Green, Blue and some Royal Blue to get things growing well with tons of color. White LEDs have good spectral response across a good portion but the RGB-RB setup will allow a better coverage of more of the spectrum for those subtle colors you'll look for. But! White LEDs do provide a good amount of light where its needed. I have several zoanthid colonies that have kept the colors from a MH (person i purchased from used this) to my LED setup and some that have changed color (probably due to the different location despite it was from the same colony)).
Personally, i think MH and fluorescent lights are terrible in the sense of power usage and waste. I hope to see all lighting converted to some form of LED or equivilent due to the extremely low power usage and the long lifetime.