The Great Mr. Saltwater Tank LED Experiment

Rumors, hype and lies – all part of the conversations about LEDs that are going on in the saltwater tank world right now.

I’m all about cutting through the “foo” as I call it and getting to the facts so I designed my own LED experiment – with a twist.

Browse the Store! Questions?

Comments for this article (39)

  • zach says:

    How many of these ai sol fixtures do think you will end up using and on fat jack what percentage are you running these at.

  • Zach…we are going to use just 1 for now. AquaIlluminations recommends 2 for this sized tank for maximum coverage of the tank so we might upgrade down the road.

    We are going to run this fixture @ 100%.

  • David says:

    Can you send link to there site to see how much these lights cost

  • Kevin says:

    Mark, first of all I love your site and the video clips are really cool and imformative. I will be following along to see how Fat Jack responds to your LED set-up. I also agree that the AI Sol is a great LED fixture, having run them over display tanks at Manhattan Aquariums where I work and seeing them up close and personal, I am sold on them as a leader in the LED fixture race.

    Will you be placing SPS on the top , middle, and bottom in this experiment? Also, will you be giving us PAR readings throught the depth of Fat Jack?


  • Joe cashwell says:

    I’m excited your doing this, we have a small group of ‘one uppers’ (We always out do each other) that cant quiet decide if we should, and or what fixture we should get….

  • Rich says:

    I have a DIY build of my LED’s and have done a PAR Meter testing video on my 185 reef tank. I have a 30 in deep tank and the fixture sits 14 in above water, at sand bed I get a par of 100. If you want to take a look at my results please take a look at the link below.

    Also I just want to make a side note on how much I love my LED’s. I have never had MH or T5’s etc but the shimmer and energy savings I gained is great. Not to mention that I dont need a chiller.

  • Jack Striker says:

    Hey Mark, First off, love the vids. Glad to see you’re looking more closely at LED technology. I have been running mine for about 8 months. I was wondering, if you think it would be possible to use a neptune controller with the leds to act as a dimmer for the lights to better simulate dawn and dusk.

  • Martin B. says:

    Very interesting, can’t wait to see more!

  • Edward says:

    Great stuff! I am glad to see someone objectively evaluating LED lights. Hopefully as the technology grows and production increases we can see a price decline. It’s too bad the government does not step in to offset the initial costs as they do for windows and tax credits for new energy efficient appliances. My new windows could not offset as much energy savings as one of these instead of my MH lights.

  • Kevin…thanks for the complement!

    I will be giving PAR readings throughout Fat Jack. We’re building a custom PVC stand that will hold 155 frags so we’ll have lots of places to put them!

  • Andrew says:

    i really hope your expirement goes well. im glad youve decided to do an expiremnt with leds because i believe that they are going to be the future of reef lighting but in my opinion leds need a few more years of research and new technology for them to become the number 1 reef lighting. keep up the great work

  • zach says:

    If this fixtures does well and you end up putting them over your ninety gallon how many will you use

  • Ivan says:

    Great video – however 1 quick question.. why are overflow boxes a bad idea??

  • bill says:

    hi Mark
    I have 2 led units both lights are 150 watt and make the tank like daylight
    when all the lights are on,
    I can set the lights to have sunrise and sunset but I have them on all the time both white and blue for about 9 hours a day
    corals seem to be happy and are all open…fisk are ok too
    only problem I am having is to get the height right
    I have them set at 15cm from the water and I think this is a bit too close
    the problem is the tank is building up green algae on the rear glass and diatons are forming on the live rock as well as on the sand bed
    have phosphate reactor and skimmer and lawn mower blemmie along with a few clean up crew but maybe better get a few more hermet crabs
    would anyone know what the best measurement for the lights to be from the water
    qld au

  • Squinchyy says:

    Hey Mark

    Great video, look forward to the next video!, I my self am going from MH to LED, I have the Blue set over my tank with my 150W MH now and am saving up cash for the white set to replace the MH, b.t.w. the tank is a 32G cube

  • Perry says:

    Mark ,What is the level in Lumens of these LED’s

  • Matt says:


    I’m looking forward to the rest of this series. I’d like to get a better look at that top off unit of your buddies!


  • Steve says:

    Why are back overflow boxes “bad news”?

  • Perry…I can’t find the exact answer, but I remember seeing 7000-8000 somewhere

  • Bill…I don’t think your algae issue is related to your LED placement. Algae issues are more a result of poor water quality, over feeding, lack of water changes, etc.

  • Zach…1 per foot.

  • Jack…I think you can as the Apex has low voltage ports where you could connect the cables to the LEDs. I don’t know how you’d do it, but I think it could be done in theory. I’d ask Curt @ Neptune.

    (and let me know what you find out….and if you want an apex… 😉

  • Joe…you should all get a different one and compare your results.

  • David…about $550 US Dollar

  • Kevin says:

    so when are you going to have a now video

  • Rico Most says:

    Hey Mr Saltwater love your vids, i really liked the reef keeper boot camp. anyway i’m just wondering when your putting up new vids and finishing the led experiment? Love your vids can’t wait for more!!!

  • Rico…thanks for the complement. The LED experiment will be ongoing. We just added some coral and have a nasty algae outbreak so we are dealing with it before we post more pics!

  • Maria says:

    Hey Mark,
    Do you think the algae outbreak related to the LED’s ?
    Wanting to upgrade my lights and I’m on the fence about the LED’s.
    Anxiously waiting for any updates.

  • Maria-

    I don’t think it was due to the LEDs. I think its due to the plastic in the tank and the new rock.

    Let me know when you are ready to pull the trigger on your LEDs and I can let you know how my advice process works.

  • Maria says:

    I am ready to make the light change. I’ve been trying to find the best solution to fit my tank. I currently have an aqua pro fixture 3 x 150’s and 4 x 96w actinic’s 4 moon. My original thought was upgrading to 250 halides Lumenmax Elites.
    My canopy is 10″ -11″ inches tall. Seems most halides should be hung higher.
    The LED’s seem like a great option as far as fitting in the canopy and low heat in Florida is always a plus….however, for a 6′ long tank I will need at least 4 fixtures (I think). That’s a huge expense for lights that are still not 100% embraced by hobbyist. Also, improvements – advancements are being made so I’m also concern about buying LED’s that will be obsolete in 2 yrs… It’s time for new bulbs…I need to make a change now !
    Your thoughts would be appreciated !

  • Maria says:

    Thanks Rich, I’ll check it out 🙂

  • Maria says:

    Mark, interested to know how your “advice process works”

  • Maria :) says:


    I saw your build on youtube looks great awesome job.

  • Igor says:

    Thank’s a lot for all videos and topics , they are very helpful.
    Got a 2 question:why you didn’t choose ECORAY 112D for light (a little cheaper) and what is the FAT JACK brand name (I’d like to get one of them)

  • ryan says:

    I have ai sols and am wondering how long to run them and on what settings for a reef tank.

  • ryan says:

    I have the ai sol. On what settings should I run them to get the best result for a reef tank.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.