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    Ricciocarpus 75G - Aquascape at 1.5 Months Lindernia dubia
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Review: Current USA Ramp Timer

November 10th, 2013

SingleRamp-Angle[1]I recently received a Current USA Ramp Timer to test out with my Satellite+ and TrueLumen LED fixtures. The ramp timer is an inexpensive digital timer that plugs in-line to the LED fixture and provides On/Off capabilities as well as a sunrise/sunset option that gradually ramps the light up and down at the beginning and end of the cycle. It also features a nice large clock display that can be helpful if you don’t already have a clock in your fish room.

I initially tested the ramp timer on my Satellite+ LED fixture. The on/off capabilities work as expected with this fixture, however, the sunrise/sunset option has mixed results. When the LED fixture is set to full power modes, the sunrise/sunset feature works perfectly, gradually increasing and decreasing the brightness. I often program my Satellite+ to dim the output slightly. In this mode, at the lowest levels, the ramp timer causes repeated flickering, which can scare your fauna and be distracting. With the TrueLumen fixture, none of this flickering is present. You can see these results correspond to Current USA’s official supported fixture listing:

Compatible LED Lights Single Ramp Timer
Satellite+ LED Fixture ON/OFF Only
Satellite LED Fixture ON/OFF Only
TrueLumen Pro Kits Yes
TrueLumen Pro Strips Yes
TrueLumen Strips Yes
TrueLumen Lunar Lights Yes
Panorama Marine Yes
Panorama Actinic Blue Yes
Panorama Pro LED Yes
Stunner LED Strips Yes

Ultimately, if you’re looking to add some nice effects to your existing Current USA light solution, the ramp timer can provide what you’re looking for. Just understand the limitations with the Satellite fixtures. Finally, see the video below for installation instructions to see how simple it is to hookup and use.




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50G – New Aquascape

October 31st, 2013

I rescaped my 50G aquarium this weekend, replacing a lot of wood from the previous scape with some new rock that I picked up from another GWAPA member. The main things that I wanted to achieve with this aquascape were to try out Seachem Flourite Black and to feature Gratiola viscidula, which is planted all throughout the rocks.

50G - New Aquascape

Obviously, the plants all need to grow in now to make the whole thing look more natural. The plants are Ranalisma rostrata, Gratiola viscidula, Staurogyne ‘Low Grow’, Juncus repens, Hygrophila ‘Araguaia’, Blyxa japonica, Ludwigia arcuata, and Hygrophila odora.

 

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Satellite Freshwater LED+ Review, Part 2 – PAR Readings

May 30th, 2013

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.

IMG_8653

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.

Satellite LED PAR Readings - Color-Presets

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”.

Satellite LED+ PAR Readings - Lighting-Effects

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!

 

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Satellite Freshwater LED+ Review, Part 1

May 20th, 2013

IMG_8647Recently, I was contacted about testing out one of Current USA’s latest LED fixtures, the Satellite Freshwater LED+. I was already using one of Current-USA’s fixtures, the TrueLumen Pro over my 36″ bookshelf tank, so I thought this would be an excellent comparison.

The Satellite Freshwater LED+ comes nicely packaged with a power adapter and features a remote control to completely customize the lighting experience. The light is very unique in that it contains red, green, blue, and white LEDs that are all separately controlled to allow you to tailor the color and intensity of the output to what looks best to your eyes. In addition, the lighting unit has several predefined effect modes that simulate thunderstorms, cloudy days, moonlight, partial sun, and more.

IMG_8651

Below you can see the full sun daylight mode. The color is actually very nice right out of the box. This is also the most intense mode in terms of PAR, as all (or at least most) of the LEDs are fully illuminated. (Watch for part 2 soon where I’ll detail the PAR for all preset modes.)

IMG_8653

The mode with most striking contrast to the daylight most is appropriately the moonlight mode, which is all blue. What is nice is that you can start with one of the present modes, and then use the remote control to add/subtract a little bit of red/green/blue/white light to it.

IMG_8660

In terms of design, the Satellite Freshwater LED+ fixture is very low profile measuring only 34.8″ x 2″ x 0.44″ and sits just above the rim of the aquarium. Due to the close proximity of the water, the light features a splash guard and has brackets that expand to fit any aquarium between 36″-48″. (I’m testing the 36″ model, but there are several models of different lengths to chose from.) My first impressions of this fixture are very positive. It’s noticeably more bright than my TrueLumen Pro fixture, and my plants started pearling immediately when I put this light over top. I will update my impressions as I continue to use the fixture.

In the meantime, check out Current-USA’s webpage for more product specs, and see the video above for a demo of the various lighting modes.

Dawngate
Business Broker

Bermuda Home Show

May 4th, 2013

Recently, I was honored to be invited by the Bermuda Fry-Angle Aquarium Society to speak to their club about planted aquariums and judge their home show. On Friday evening, I gave a presentation on keeping planted aquariums and the basics of aquascaping. Then, on Sunday, I went house-to-house with several members to judge their home show. In their home show, they have two categories: designer tanks and planted aquariums.

Sinder's Design Tank

The tank above is Sinder’s aquarium, who is a teenager that is wonderfully inspired by aquarium keeping. He entered two tanks and this is his designer tank. I like the idea behind the hardscape, and but thought that overall it just needed a little more growth and polish.

Michele's Design Tank

Michelle had a very nice Anubias tank that flowed very nicely from one side to the other. Overall I liked the tank, but was hoping for a small amount of intrigue from a background or from some pieces of wood jutting from the main section.

Nyon's Design Tank

Nyon won the designer category with his aquarium. He had several pieces of driftwood suspended and hanging into the aquarium. He had incorporated some Amazon Swords to add a splash of greenery to the tank, which I liked.

Sinder's Planted Aquarium

On the planted aquarium side, Sinder had a very nice Aponogeton 10G aquarium that included mostly South American fish and represented a nice biotope-style aquarium.

Scott's Planted Aquarium

Scott had a beautiful cluster of Cryptocoryne wendtii in his 75G aquarium. He had started to planted dwarf sag across the foreground, but it hadn’t really filled in yet. The plants looked very nice though, and I’m looking forward to seeing the finish aquascape once everything grows in.

David's Planted Aquarium

David had a 180G aquarium in his kitchen with and really nice hardsacpe in place. He used lacerock, mixed with wood to a simple minimalist scape using just C. wendtii, Val, C. lutea, and some Anubias. It is a stunning aquarium to sit in front of, and had a lot of activity going on from a nice selection of fauna.

Robert's Planted Aquarium

Overall, I judged Robert’s 75G aquarium to be the winner. He had really nice plants, and while he did had some wood in the tank, he basically pulled off a nice planted aquarium without much hardscape visible. The Marsilea still needs to fill in a little bit in the foregroundbut his plants were not showing any deficiencies, and he had them nicely groomed. I had a wonderful time in Bermuda mingling with the local aquarium-keepers, and was very encouraged by the planted aquarium talent present on the island.

Monster Hunter Online
Business Broker

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