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Ecotech Marine Freshwater Radion Gen4

April 18th, 2017

About three years ago, I reviewed Ecotech Marine’s second generation Radion Pro light, and while I loved the configurability of the fixture, I felt the colors were not optimum for planted aquariums and the lens cast too many shadows. Two generations later, Ecotech has resolved both of those issues and has produced one of the most complete lighting systems on the market.

I received three items from the company for this review. A pre-release version of their XR30W light with the freshwater components installed instead of their normal reef configuration. The result is that this fixture is roughly twice as powerful as the XR15FW light that just hit the market. The Reeflink acts as a bridge to your home network so that you can control the light from their EcoSmart webpage or mobile app. The RMS Mounting System is a very nice mount that mounts on the rim of your aquarium.

Immediately out of the box, the unit looks an awful lot like the generation 2 light I reviewed three years ago. They replaced the touch-based buttons with more resilent physical buttons. More importantly, they have upgraded their lenses from the TIR lens to the new HEI (Hemispherical Edge Illumination) lens, which does a vastly better job at mixing the various LED colors and distributing the light evenly throughout the tank. I was dubious when I first read about these lenses, but after experiencing them in person, I can vouch that these new lights have far less shadows and a better PAR distribution that the previous version. 

Speaking of PAR, the readings at full power are off the charts! The light is mounted on a 24″x18″x18″ rimless aquarium which puts the light roughly 22″ from substrate. Measuring at that level reads an astounding 351 PAR! As mentioned, this light is roughly twice as powerful as the XR15FW, but the expected 175 PAR that fixture would deliver is still way more than you need. And measuring the power consumption, my unit maxes out around 185 watts, but the XR15FW is half of that at 95 watts at full power. However, the power consumption is based on your output. Hooking mine up to a power meter, it estimates that my yearly electricity costs would be less than $20.

I’ve been running the light since late January, and am just as impressed now as when I set it up initially. Rather than trying to use this on a typical Nature Aquarium Style aquascape that’s mostly green plants, I decided to setup more of a jungle-style aquarium that has plants of various colors to see how they look under the Radion unit.

As you can see above, the greens are very bright and not washed out or too yellow. The red of the Alternanthera is quite brillant, but also the most subtle orange of Rotala rotunifolia is well represented. And of course, as has been the case with all Radion units, you have complete control over the color using the web or mobile applications.

In the fourth generation, Ecotech Marine finally got the message that the old units had way too many blue LEDs. Now, the lights house mostly white LEDs, plus 4 Red, 2 Green, and 2 Blue LEDs, you don’t have to sacrifice PAR to achieve slight variations of the daylight spectrum we prefer in our freshwater planted aquariums.

Using their Ecosmart Live software, I configured a full-day schedule that begins to ramp up around 8am and shuts downs at 10pm at night. Normally this would be way too long of a schedule, but the flexibility of this system allowed me to configure very low light in the morning, and a low-light moonlight for much of the evening. I also varied the color spectrum to be more yellow in the morning, and more reds/blues in the evening to better simulate sunrise and sunset coloration and intensity. This creates a very natural lighting scheme and extends the period of time I’m able to enjoy this aquarium with the lights on.

In conclusion, the fourth generation Ecotech Marine Radion is one of the top lights on the market. With the enhanced HEI lenses and improved color configuration, combined with the already impressive EcoSmart Live, the XR15FW Radion is a high-output LED light without any real downside to note. The PAR can be set as high or low as needed for any planted aquarium, multiple lights can be combined for a stronger or more comprehensive setup, and the overall performance is impressive. The XR15FW is currently selling for ~$350, which covers a 36″x36″ footprint, making it pretty economical for the coverage and features. In short, anyone looking for a high-end light for their planted aquarium should look no further than the Ecotech Marine  Radion XR15FW G4 LED light fixture.




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33G Aquavas Aquascape

November 22nd, 2016

Here’s an updated shot of my recently rescaped Aquavas aquarium. This tank is the only tank that’s showcased in my home, in our living room, while the rest of them are consolidated in my fishroom.

33G Aquavas Aquascape

The goal of this aquascape is to prominent feature something of a twisted old tree, while keeping the rest of the scape fairly minimalist. I had previous done sand foregrounds in this tank, so I wanted to change it up with an Eleocharis ‘Mini’ foreground this time around.

Rescaped my Aquavas tank this weekend. Here's what it looked like before filling up.

You can see above how the hardscape and planting came together. I try to plant as densely as possible to help the scape mature more quickly. I also had the luxory of wood that was reused from a previous scape and already had lots of moss and Anubias ‘petite’ attached to it.

And how it looks filled up after two days....

Finally, above is what the scape looked like a day after planting. You can see that it’s already maturing a bit in a week or so by comparing to the first picture. Comments/critique welcome!

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New Aquascape in Aquavas Tank

January 26th, 2016

During my winter break I rescaped my Aquavas aquarium that previously been setup for over a year. Below is the new scape, utilizing lots of spiderwood and dragonstone. It’s a pretty simple scape in terms of plants, using mostly weeping moss, Anubias barteri var. nana, Hygrophila corymbosa ‘Angustifolia’, and some crypts.

IMG_0470

The old scape used pretty much the same plants, but had become very overgrown with moss and I was ready for a change.

Aquavas Aquascape

The biggest challenge in the new scape is the darker area created under the branches. I like the intrigue that this area creates, but it definitely makes it more difficult to photograph. The fish, just a few cardinal tetras, usually like to hang out there, however. I still need the Hygrophila to grow in more in the back left and perhaps get a bit more moss established on the wood. Comments/critiques welcome!

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120G Aquascape

December 10th, 2015

My 120G aquascape is growing in nicely! The wood has finally sunked after a couple of months, and the mounds are filling in the gaps between the various pieces of Rosewood. I’m happy with the jungle effect in this tank, with most of the species of plants intermixed throughout each other. I will need to be diligent to keep the Hygrophila pinnatifida from throwing out runners that consume everything, however.

120g - December 9, 2015

The Stuarogyne ‘Bihar’ is another plant that could easily take over the scape. I may pull it out, anyways, opting for more Ludwigia ‘Cuba,’ but I haven’t fully made that decision yet. Comments/critiques welcome!

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Swallow Falls State Park

November 18th, 2015

Over the weekend, we visited Swallow Falls State Park in Garrett County Maryland. The park features a wonderful 1.5 mile trail that follows along the Youghiogheny River and Muddy Creek, which are two beautiful white water waterways. It is also one of the few old growth hemlock forests in the area.

Swallow Falls

Swallow Falls itself is actually not a huge waterfall. Seen above, it’s a still beautiful, but the rock formation to the right is really the more impressive feature.

Swallow Falls

This rock formation reminds me of the sea stacks on the west coast of the U.S. Seen below, it really does stand alone will years of geologic layers of earth and rock visible.

Rock Outcrop

These layers are actually present throughout the park, where huge rocks are haphazardly stack upon one another in layers that resemble many stone walls (or cichlid walls for fish fans) that people put together.

IMG_9924

From the top of the falls, there are good views of the river downstream.

Top of Swallow Falls

The trial has beautiful vistas of forest and rock away from the river as well, featuring ferns and moss under the hemlock canopy. Like the sea stack, this reminds me of the Olympic National Forest in Washington, just with less moss and ferns due to vast differences in annual rainfall.

Swallow Falls State Park

Finally, despite the name of the park featuring Swallow Falls, the largest waterfall in the park (and in Maryland) is on the same trail just upstream from where Muddy Creek and the Youghiogheny River meet. Muddy Falls is impressive, falling 53 feet to a deep lagoon, surrounded by the same massive rock walls.

Muddy Creek Falls

I’d recommend this park highly. It’s not a severely technical or long trail, but there is a lot of beauty and exploration to be had in a small area. Muddy Creek is also handicap accessible via a wooden boardwalk and scenic overlook down on the falls.

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