I’ve been using the Satellite Freshwater LED+ fixture from Current USA for several weeks now. All of my previous impressions still hold true, so I want to share the actual PAR readings from my bookshelf tank at all of the fixture’s various settings. For a point of reference, the tank is only 9″ tall, so my substrate readings are at 7″. My surface readings are from just below the water surface, with the fixture resting on the rim of the aquarium.
The remote control that comes with the fixture has two types of presets, simple color presets and dynamic lighting effects. The color effects produce higher intensity output, fixed at a particular color cast. In the pictures below, each button is shown with the surface PAR reading on top, and the substrate (7″) reading below. For a shallow tank like mine, this fixture has no problem producing enough light to grow just about any aquatic plant you could want. The Full Spectrum mode is the most intense, which makes sense as all LEDs are illuminated in this mode, while the other modes have some color LEDs turned off or dimmed. In Full Spectrum mode, 100 PAR at the substrate should have no problem growing a flat creeping carpet of HC, Lilaeopsis, Glosso, Utricularia, etc.
In addition to the color presets, the Satellite Freshwater LED+ fixture has 12 dynamic lighting modes simulating moonlight, passing clouds, lightning strikes, sunrise/sunset, cloudy days, passing showers, and more. Since the light output while in each mode is constantly changing, I listed the range of PAR readings including the highest and lowest readings for each mode. The fading moon mode (B) is the dimmest mode producing just 15 PAR at the surface and a mere 5 PAR at substrate, while the lightning mode have the widest range of readings rapidly going from dark to bright with “lightning strikes”.
I’ve been running the fixture primarily in the fading bright sunlight mode (H), which is growing all of my plants very well. I was previously using full spectrum mode, but started getting a bunch of algae if I didn’t keep up with fertilization. It’s really wonderful to be in this situation and have the ability to lower the amount of light, literally with a push of a button. Due to this flexibility, I highly recommend the Satellite Freshwater LED+ for shallower tanks, as it is a high-light, feature-rich, fixture for between $90-$160. This is really good value!