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An Evolution of the Remote Control LED Fixtures

February 16th, 2015

Two years ago, I reviewed Current USA’s hit LED fixture, the Satellite Freshwater LED+, one of the first reasonably priced configurable LED fixtures to come on the market. Now, Current and Ecoxotic have released the next generation of this product line with the Satellite LED+ Pro and the E-Series LED lights.

Satellite LED+ Pro

Current Satellite LED+ Pro

Current’s Satellite LED+ Pro light is an evolutionary jump from the LED+ model. For starters, they include a ramp timer right in the box. Now, you can easily program the on/off times, and the timer will automatically simulate a 15 minute sunrise and sunset at those times. The sunrise and sunset transitions are very smooth with none of the flashing that could sometimes occur in the previous generation’s LED+ and ramp timer products. The IR-port is now integrated directly into the controller/timer unit, so you don’t need a separate IR receptor.

The light still has the same wonderful color output control with four presets of Sunlight (6500k), Full Spectrum (all on), Crisp Blue (10,000k), and Deep Water. Each of these modes tend to have lots of white light augmented by varying amounts of red/green/blue LEDs to create the slight color variations. Each are fully customizable, and they’ve included four programmable buttons; two completely custom (M1 and M2), and two convenience buttons for daylight and moonlight. Just like the previous model, the Satellite LED+ Pro has 8 dynamic modes allowing you to jump to moonlight, thunderstorm, cloud cover, and color fade presets. Unfortunately, you still cannot incorporate any of the dynamic modes into your custom programs or regular schedule.

Satellite LED+ Pro Remote

Setting up the Satellite LED+ Pro is extremely simple. The light, controller, and power supply all connect with water resistant connectors, and they give you plenty of cable to place the controller with velcro (included) wherever is convenient. The remote looks very familiar to current Satellite LED+ users, but they have added a few buttons to aide in the programming of the unit. Programming is a breeze, utilizing the Set Clock button to set your local time, and Hour+ and Minute+ buttons to configure the on/off times, which also have their own dedicated buttons. I was up and running with an 8-hour photo period in less than 5 minutes!

The performance of the light is also improved with the LED+ Pro. In a side-by-side comparison of the 36″ LED+ and LED+ Pro lights on my 50G aquarium, I found the following PAR numbers using an Apogee Quantum Flux MQ-200 meter:

Depth LED+ Pro PAR LED+ PAR
Surface 140 75
8″ 80 40
15″ 30 21

As you can see, the output is just about double that of it’s predecessor. Overall, I’d qualify the Satellite LED+ Pro as an excellent medium output light from a company that is obviously interested in continuing to improve an already solid consumer offering.

Ecoxotic E-Series Full Spectrum LED

Ecoxotic E-Series LED

Ecoxotic produces equipment targeted at the higher-end consumer, and this focus is evident in their E-Series light. Functionally, the E-Series LED is almost identical to the LED+ Pro described above. However, they do sell an optional hanging kit allowing you to easily combine multiple units and suspend them over your tank as shown below.

Ecoxotic E-Series Hanging Kit

They simplified the remote control slightly by combining the dynamic modes into four distinct modes, but still cover moonlight, thunderstorm with lightning, cloud cover, and color fade. At first glance, the E-Series LED could easily be confused with the Current product, as they have very similar housing, controller with built-in IR receptor, power supply, and remote. The main visual difference is the logo on the remote control. Otherwise, the big differentiator is the the performance!

Ecoxotic E-Series Remote

The E-Series has the same ramp-up timer and four programmable modes as the LED+ Pro. The color variability is the same offering sunlight, full spectrum, crisp blue, and deep water presets with the option to customize the color mixing however you please. The PAR output, however, is significantly higher on the Ecoxotic:

Depth Ecoxotic E-Series Current LED+ Pro PAR
Surface 250 140
8″ 115 80
15″ 60 30

Just like the LED+ to LED+ Pro, the Ecoxotic E-Series LED light is roughly double that of the LED+ Pro, or four times the original LED+ model. I typically say that if you can get 60 PAR at the substrate, you’re going to be able to grow just about any plant in the hobby. I am also a big believer in having just enough light in your aquarium, but no more, to simplify the balancing of light, nutrients, and CO2. I think the Ecoxotic E-Series LED fixture has found this sweet spot for 18-20″ tall aquariums, while allowing significant customization at a price point lower than many high-end competitors.

Conclusion

The integrated timer, IR receiver, and consistent functionality make both the Current Satellite LED+ Pro and Ecoxotic E-Series LED lights solid products on the market. The color output of both is tremendous, and the increased PAR output means that these lights are usable in medium and high light situations, and I would recommend highly for these uses.

 

 




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Making of Aquavas Aquascape

December 25th, 2014

I posted a picture of my latest aquascape in the Aquavas aquarium recently. I want to walk through how the scape came together.

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The hardscape consists of two large pieces of spiderwood and several locally collected rocks made up of quartz and slate. The substrate is from Mr.  Aqua and pool filter sand in front.

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I used a selection of Aqvainnova plants that I got in Chicago at Aquatic Experience. These are beautiful plants, some still in tissue culture and others were already transitioned to nursery growth.

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I used some beautiful Elatine hydropiper in the front areas under the spiderwood overhang. Otherwise, several different Cryptocoryne species were planted.

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I also used a super glue gel to attach Anubias barterii ‘nana’ directly to the wood.

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After everything was planted, I filled it up, but did have to place some temporary rocks on top of the wood to keep it from floating up.

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Later I tied some weeping moss to the wood to soften it a bit more.
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Finally, you can see what the scape looks like several weeks later. It’ll still be several more weeks before it’s grown in. I’m also not settled on keeping the Hygrophila corymbosa angustifolia long term.

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Comments / thoughts welcome!

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The Farm

December 24th, 2014

After weeks (months) of neglect, the farm tank is finally looking good again. This isn’t meant to be aquascaped, but there’s something about a collectoritis farm tank that keeps me glued to it.

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New Aquavas Aquarium

December 23rd, 2014

I want to introduce a new aquarium that I brought back with me from the Chicago Aquatic Experience show. It’s an Aquavas system with mostly plants from Aqvainnova, who hopefully will soon be selling in the USA.

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The scape is made up of spiderwood and some local quartz rocks. I’ve got cardinal tetras and Corydoras melini in there currently. There is still some new tank algae that I’m combating, but overall it’s growing in nicely.

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Aquatic Experience Aquascaping Live Contest

November 13th, 2014

Last weekend, I attended the Aquatic Experience show in Chicago as a participant in the Aquascaping Live contest. My local aquatic plant club, GWAPA, sent two teams totaling seven people to participate in the 75G large tank competition. We were extremely fortunate to take the first and second place positions in the contest.

GWAPA Team 2

The first place went to a GWAPA team led by Jen Williams, a rising aquascaping talent in the hobby. She also won 1st place in the small tank contest. Jen and her team mates, Arlene Wagner, Nick Kinser, and Cristy Keister did an excellent job putting together a very nice rockscape. Jen pioneered a technique using the Great Stuff foam used for filling drafty doorframes to fuse the rocks in this scape together so that they could be transported in three distinct blocks. I’m happy and humbled by their scape.

GWAPA Team 1

My team won second place with the scape above. Aaron Talbot, Cavan Allen, and I worked together on this aquascape about 3 months prior to the contest. The rocks are a quartz-based rock that we sourced locally. I would have liked more small form Bolbitus so that the tall one wasn’t necessary, but overall we’re very happy with the scape.

Texas Team

Next, a team from Texas put together this beautiul aquascape using manzanita. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture following the completion of their scape, as they had several issues with plants and materials not arriving on time to the hotel, but the finished scape was about the same but with white sand on the right side. Had they not suffered this setback, I’m sure they would have assembled an even nicer result. What they put together was pretty nice!

Chicago Team

Finally, a local Chicago team put together this last aquascape. They did a nice job and prominently used one of my favorite plants, Blyxa japonica. 

This was the first year the AGA conducted this competition in conjunction with the Aquatic Experience show. I hope that more teams will compete in next year’s contest so that we can continue to grow the aquascaping hobby in the U.S.

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