11 Radions, 2800 Watts of Metal Halides and One 800 Gallon Show Tank

I’ve run my LED vs. Metal Halide experiment and saw great results. My friend Dave @ Vivid Aquariums is doing his own LED vs. Metal Halide experiment on an even bigger scale.

In this episode of Mr. Saltwater Tank TV, I check in with Dave to see how his experiment is going.

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Comments for this article (46)

  • Virgil Smith says:

    I have seen this tank before in vids and still do not understand how the return works. What keeps fish from being sucked into his elbows and how low does the water get if it loses power? The returns seem very low. Always been curious of this on the tank.

  • paco B says:

    Awesome tank!!!! I seen his video of feeding techniques it looks great… I got some grow from my radion definitely looking forward to more!!!!

  • Ryan S says:

    Thanks Mark for this video! Great job!

  • David says:

    Those elbows are a closed loop system not returns from the sump so the water doesnt go down. Hope this helps.

  • tim baker says:

    thanks mark for the video keep up the techniques and great job

  • Mark H. says:

    Thanks Mark, I will switch when the price becomes more affordable and after few years of testing by the experts.

    Thanks again Mark 🙂

  • Mark says:

    Great video. I’ve been following along on Vivid’s experiment and it’s great to see an updated video. I’m 100% Radion over my tank and these results make me feel a lot better.

  • Rich says:

    What more can one ask for no BS! what u see is what u get appreciate that about Marks shows and the products that he reviews .

    thanks Mark

  • Buddy Heidemann says:

    Great Info Mark.. I’ve been looking at doing L.E.D.’s for sometime now.. I’ve noticed a lot of L.E.D. kits too for D.I.Y. people. What are your thoughts on the kits?? I do a lot of D.I.Y. solar panels and plan to use the solar array to supply the electricity to the Aquarium.. But I’d like to know if someone has tried the L.E.D. kits yet ..

  • James Wilkinson says:

    Great show.
    I just set up My new 90 with radions. Looks great!

  • kevin pluk says:

    I’ve been doing a lot of research on LED’s.

    And mailed all mayor manufacturor as moderator of a dutch forum.

    What i’ve found on the mailing side. Some companies are really fast.

    Some companies are hard to get information from others aren’t.
    I’ve found that as main lighting it’s highly recommended that you get a full spectrum LED fixture.

    Personaly i like the pacific sun LED’s they seem to be slightly more advanced than the ecotech marine. And over here they are just as expensive.

    The “cheap” US fixtures like Aqua illumination is also more expensive in the EU and therefor not that usefull to buy.

    The main reason i like the Vertex and Pacific sun over the Ecotech is that you can easy slide in new LED’s and sometimes even add/change extra leds(vertex).

    I’m not saying who needs to buy what fixture you can grow corals on the blue white LED’s. But with all the new LED’s go for full spectrum LED’s.

  • Crawford says:

    Buddy – I built a DIY LED light for my BioCube 29 gallon tank as a fun side experiment to see how that would go.. It definitely works, but I didn’t get great growth on zoanthids (the only type of coral in the tank)

    I used the LED light for about 6 months before I broke down the tank and have no access to a par meter, so I don’t know if the LED’s were too bright or what.. they were about 3 inches off the water with no reflectors running at 100% (Cree 3W LED’s Royal Blue and White 50:50, 20 LED’s)

    Overall, it was an easy project and the hardest part was building the controller, which isn’t necessary if you have a reefkeeper or equivelent or if you don’t mind them just turning on and off. Personally, I really wanted the sunrise/sunset effect, so the controller was a must.

  • Phil says:

    Hello Mark I really enjoyed the video about LED lighting. I have a mixture of LED and metal halide in my tank myand the tank is doing fantastic, so I have the best of both worlds. But I’m glad that you explained in great detail about LED and metal halide. Thanks again Phil

  • george says:

    How much is too much LED lighting ? I just picked up TWO led fixtures for a really good price. The label says Input power : 240w on both of them with a 1:1 ratio of blue 455nm and white 14,000k. I was planning on putting ONE in a 50 gallon reef tank but the tank has a center brace.
    If I put TWO fixtures in side by side would it be too much light ?
    Any input would be appreciated.

  • Brian Davis says:

    Nice Mark! Thanks for sharing that! I’m still bummed I didn’t get to see that tank up and going on my last visit there (: it looks great lol!

  • Ross says:

    Hi George,
    I’ve been lighting my tanks with leds for 3+ years now.
    All LEDs are different and “Too much light” will depend on the type of led and the corals you are trying to grow. You’ll need to experiment a little to work out what’s best for your situation.
    If I was to guess from the info supplied I would say that you will be over doing it with lower light corals on a 50g tank. I ran one of the 120w cheapies over a 50g many moons ago and found it lacking.
    In your situation, the ability to dim the lights would be handy.

  • Neenah says:

    I’m really interested in those fixtures how many would I need for 84″Lx 24″Wx 31″T 265 gal tank?

  • Duke says:

    Hey Mark, Very nice vidio. Really want to go to LED on my 90 gallon.
    One suggestion is to improve the sound. Had to watch a couple of times to make sure I understood what was being said.

  • Ladon says:

    Buddy, DIY LEDs are the way to go if you want great affordable lighting. I built an LED setup for my 55 gallon DT with LEDs and drivers from Rapid. I have had great growth on all of my corals. I have acro to zoas and palys. I have 28 LEDs on my tank a 1:1 ratio of royal blue to cool white.

  • Alexander says:

    Hey Mark,
    You were one of the major reasons I made the leap to Radions and I couldn’t be happier. Neither could my SPS. As far a softies go, im getting amazing growth from my Z’s and P’s as well. If only I could figure out why my chalice and acans receded lol.

  • Les says:

    2 points on the halides V LED debate in this presentation.
    1/ Halides give out just 1 type of light as in 10k 14k etc there is no mixture of light just the one spectrum per lamp.
    2/ LED’s you can mix with 10k 14k etc whites and 420/465nm or whatever blues. So you can tailor your lighting to suit.

    IMO the king (halides) are in the death throws long live the king (LED’s)
    T5s will linger on a little longer than halides for the time being esp power compacts but even they must die away eventually.

    I have had halides, T5s, PC’s in the past I now run 120w of LED’s on my 94L reef. Glad I made the change.

  • Beetle Bailey says:

    Hey Mark ,informative as always ,I have a small tank and switched to LED’s about 6 months ago and have had no problems , my hammer coral continues to grow ,coraline algea is great ,things look as they always have done ,I’ll stick with the LED

  • raffa says:

    This video has convinced me to LED lighting. Great job!!!

  • Alexander…glad to hear you made the leap to LEDs and the Radion. Your chalice and acans likely receded due to the increase in light from the switch to LEDs. I’ve always found chalices and acans to enjoy low light. One of my friends even grew his chalices in the shade!

  • Buddy says:

    Ladon: Thanks for the encouragement !! I have a 130 gallon corner tank, which makes installing pre-manufactured lights difficult due to the triangle shape of the tank. I’m looking at adding 4-36watt fixtures with just 10″ heatsinks & fans the total kit will run just under $300.00 Plus my time to assemble, but I look at that as the fun part. All the L.E.D.’s are adjustable on the heatsink. I will use a 1:1 for 10 of the L.E.D.’s 5-white, 5-Royal Blue and 2-acintec. All L.E.D.’s are 3watt. I’m hoping with the 3watt L.E.D.’s I won’t have to run them at full power all the time, thus extending the life of the units. Drivers will all be dimable and have an option to later add a remote controll unit to them for an additional $75.00 ..

  • george says:

    Thanks Ross
    I ended up putting both fixtures in… I’ll just have to slowly increase my light duration since I don’t have a dimming feature. That’s the reason the guy I got them from switched to Radion lights. I put a couple pics on my Reef Central home page if you want to see them, just look up WEBBERIII.
    I’m trying to find out who manufactured these lights I got. They are super heavy-duty all metal construction,three fans on each fixture, have green on/off switches and there’s a tiny little dolphin logo on the info label.
    Does that sound familiar to anyone ?
    By the way, great video mark. I went out and got these right after watching your video.

  • veeral says:


  • Matt says:

    Holly hell I hate that guy… Only because I fully believe he could grow gorgeous coral in outer space using a bin liner and some foil to reflect the light where he wanted it! Hate him!

    What do you mean jealous? 😛

    Top vid Mark and thank you for taking the time out of you’re LA Trip to do it… and many thanks to Dave for taking the time to talk with you about this much debated topic… If Dave says you can grow them then I’d like to see someone disagree with him… Oh and they best have something better coral wise than what Dave has!

  • James says:

    Hey Mark,
    Can you make a video on like what to look for when buying new fish. As in like how to tell if the fish is healthy or if the water is not contaminated with some disease. Also like what should we ask the seller. What about corals? Is there a certain checklist we should go to first before we buy something at our local fish store?

  • Dave From Brooklyn says:

    My question is what do you do when the leds start burning out? Halides you can change the bulbs. How much are led replacement bulbs for your unit

  • Alexander says:

    I think EcoTech has pucks for replacement. They are developing a new lens with i think 4 more leds so I imagine you can pull them out and inset a new array (hopefully one with 410-420nm violet)

  • Greg says:

    Great job Mark!

  • Thanks Greg for the comment and for your help with the shoot.

  • Alexander…EcoTech does have replacement lenses and are likely developing replacement pucks. Changing them out should be easy as the Radions are modular.

  • Dave…if the LEDs burn out, you can replace the chip/puck with new ones. This is one reason I preach modularity with LEDs. If you want to upgrade them or replace burnt out LEDs (actually a rare event), then you want to be able swap LEDs out easily.

  • Gil says:

    Mark, red planet from ORA doesnt appear as red under LEDs as it does under halides. Just an observation if your taking notes. I have also fragged a lot of monti’s from the LED tank to the VHO tank and the color change is dramatic. Blues (LED 20k daylight cycle) turn to purple (VHO 6 4′ bulbs). I had to but some pieces back just to verify that they were still blue and not purple. It was the light.

  • Alexander says:

    Hey Gil. I have heard that as well. And i am saying you are both right AND wrong. The vast majority of LED systems are Cool White and Royal Blue leds, with a few mixing in Blue and Royal Blue. I believe this lack the sufficient range of wavelength in order to hold red proteins in some corals. Radions however have the Red and Green leds, and as an owner of many ORA corals including the red planet, I can say this is not the case. I also have a ATL Ruby Red Tabling Acro hyacinthus, and a Christmas acro along with a red digi and another superman digi, none are lacking red coloration.

  • Gil & Alexander…I had a red planet frag in my 90g that was red and green under MH’s and my Radions. I took a frag from the same coral and placed it higher in the tank and it turned blue under both MH’s and the Radions. I’d be more inclined to say an increase in light caused the color change given my experience with the coral.

  • Bob says:

    Hi Mark,

    Thank you for this video. Please bear with me and read all of these:
    These are the main LED fixtures I am aware of. And for sake of choosing among them I put few specifications:

    1- Vertex: Illumilux Marino Bianco 50/50 Royal Blue(450nm) – White(7000K) each module has 16 LED which depends on fixture can have up to 12 modules (have fans).
    As it has too many models, its hard to give exact specification for weight and usage but for 48″ tank I use Vertex Illumina SR1200 (correct me if I am wrong):
    Weight: 13.6 kg , Performance: 320W. And it has software similar to Radions.
    * It seems the company changing their models, and its create confusion, at least for me.

    2- Radions: 20,000k has 34 LED in each module which has two (have fans).
    Weight: 3.2 pounds, Max Wattage of Radion Fixture: 130-140 Watts
    Max Wattage of LED Channels: 120 Watts. And as everyone knows it has crazy amazing software.

    3- Ecoxotic: Panorama Pro Modules. 23.5″ has 3 Modules which each has 24 LEDS with 12,000K and 4 additional module can be added. (No fans).
    Weight: 4.125 pounds, Power Output: 93W.
    It doesn’t have software but there is a controller like the one for TV.

    4-Aqua illumination: Sol fixture has 8 small modules which each have just three LEDs, total of 24 LEDs. 16 of these LEDS produce 6,500K the rest are blue LEDs. (The official website claim that this fixture can produce up to 20,000k.) Power Output: 75W. Weight: 4.125 pounds (no fans) does control with different controller but doesn’t have crazy software control like Radion.

    Price wise:
    Vertex Illumina 260 LED for 48″ tank: $2849.99
    Radion: $749.00 (2 needed for 48″ tank) = $1498.00
    Ecoxotic: $499.00/ 23.5″ fixture (2 needed) = $998.00
    Aqua illumination: $399.00.00 (2 needed) = $798.00

    Now, the main questions and concerns:

    First, would you please have a look at these fixtures or other fixture you think they are worth mentioning and tell us whether the price difference is justified by software or there is something else which worth paying more for it.
    Then, would you please explain to me how the Kelvin calculation works. Aqua Sol fixture claim they produce 20,000K but there LED produce 6,500K. And as the other ones produce 20,000k, does this mean the Ecoxotic fixture 14,000K is not enough? Or you can just keep certain corals?

    Sorry for the long post, but I am reading about LEDs and I always follow your advices. So, I thought you might be interested to have a look into this matter as well.

    Thank you a lot.

  • Bob says:

    I think I forget Maxspect Mazarra. Looking into it.

    Thanks Bob

  • Luis says:

    Mark your website is great and all th work you’ve done is just amazing.
    Thanks for all the insight on LED illumination.I currently have 3 starled blunovas on my reef tank. shoud i switch over to radion 2nd gen? can you shed some light on my fixtures before I make a desition?

  • Kerric says:

    Mark, Do you know if Vivid ever finished their test? I haven’t seen any recent updates.

  • Mousa says:

    To whom it may concern please I need a little of help from you all, I have marine fishes and I need to know what type of food should I feed the emperor angle fish, I already tried severl types of food such as dried and fresh shrimp, and all types of flackes and others of marine fishes food on the market, waiting for your respond.
    Thanks, moses

  • SJ says:

    I live near Vivid and would check this tank when I went to their store. It was clear to me the metal halide side was experiencing better coral growth and better color as well. Better polyp extension and no shadowing. This was also the conclusion of Rudy and Jesus – two of Vivid’s coworkers.

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