Tag Archives: Reef Light

New TMC AquaBeam 600 Ultima Aquarium LED Light

TMC has a new series of LED Aquarium Lights coming out in 2013;
The TMC AquaBeam 600 Ultima LED
Expected availability; early 2013

A friend loaned me one for testing and while these are preliminary results, I am quite happy with their potential.

Here is List of Specifications along with some editorial comment:

  • FOR THE REEF WHITE: (4) Blue 465nm and (4) Ocean White 10K patented Cree ML-E emitters
  • 18K overall color temperature
  • Approximate max PAR depth penetration for high light need specimens; 400mm (16 inches)
    Editorial: This LED fixture should be OK for 24 inch deep aquariums, however specimen placement for high light specimens should be 16 inches or less
  • 120 degree lens.
    Editorial: Similar Light spread to XP-E and XP-G Cree emitters, which also are not best past 24 inches of water)
  • Utilizes new Cree ML-E emitters rated at 1.6 watts per emitter. These emitters allow for more voltage variance with high energy output per watt used.
    Editorial: These new emitters seem to run even cooler than earlier emitters with a voltage variance that likely will be less sensitive to voltage spikes that moisture in an aquatic environment can cause.
    These may be the answer to the occasional failure of the first emitter in about 5% of previous versions of the #600
  • Utilizes standard TMC Mounting Options except for female Teflon screw/bolt receptacle.
    Editorial: While there are many TMC and DIY mounting options available, most without additional purchases of parts, I disagree with the elimination of this one option by TMC

Here is a simple picture that essentially show light energy penetration through two layers of white computer paper.

One shows the AquaBeam 600 XR-E Reef White with proven excellent results against the new AquaBeam 600 Ultra ML-E Reef White.
This is the exact color difference utilizing a Reef White 600 and a Reef White 600 Ultima; each wrapped with two layers of computer paper, then placed the maximum optimum PAR distance (400mm) over more computer paper.

AquaBeam 600 XR-E Reef White versus Ultima ML-E

What I find interesting & did not expect is the new “600 Ultra ML-E Reef White” produced slightly more brighter white light with a higher percentage of blue emitters than the previous model.

The new 600 Ultima ML-E series is different from the previous series.

*The Marine White now utilizes (2) Blue ML-E along with (6) 10K ML-E Daylight (Ocean White) to obtain the 14K the previous version produces with only 14K XR-E emitters.

*The new Marine Blue has only (2) 10K ML-E emitters with (6) Blue ML-E emitters to produce approximately 20K

See this picture to the left for TMC published Spectrographs and information (click to enlarge).


In Summary;
These are early test results, I will test these lights further and more importantly, continue to consult with aquarium maintenance professionals and their experiences with these new LED Lights, as I do for ALL my articles.
These results will be posted as time goes on via future updates.

For further in depth Aquarium Light Information:
Aquarium Lighting Information

For those interested in aquarium disease prevention, this is the best article on the subject of the use of Aquarium UV Sterilizers:
UV Sterilization; Aquarium or Pond

Copyright 2013
By Steve Allen


T2 Subminiature Aquarium Lights; Review, Planted, Reef, Fish

Revised; 11/3/14

T2 Aquarium Lights; Review

Although not as well known as their larger T5 and T12 cousins, the T2 subminiature aquarium light offers a unique small yet higher output of PUR per watt of electricity used over their larger cousins.
Information Source: Aquarium Lighting, PUR, Useful Light Energy

Despite what others such as a misinformed member at Aquatic Plant Central said (Niko), these are not just “to mount under kitchen cabinets”.
Yes, the original T2 Light fixtures were just that; for high light in a small space, generally storage, cabinets and similar. But the same can be said for almost all other aquarium lighting from T8, T5, to LEDs; these all got their start for other lighting applications and then correct Kelvin, reflectors, etc. were added to make these work for aquatic applications.

What is unfortunately missed by anecdotal comments such as those made at Aquatic Plant Central (admittedly this post is almost two years old, but others still read this when searching for answers), is that the aquarium industry as a whole is but a needle in a haystack and that much of the equipment, treatments, even quality fish foods have been developed in other industries since there is little development funding in the aquarium industry due to its size.

Please see the above/left planted 60 gallon aquarium that is lighted with (6) 13 Watt 6400k T2 Lights.

Planted 10 gallon Aquarium with T2 6400l lighting, lightsOr see the picture to the left for a 10 gallon planted aquarium with only two 11 Watt T2 Lights.

Neither tanks are using supplemental CO2 other than Flourish Excel.
Product Source: Flourish Excel from American Aquarium

Both pictures can be enlarged by clicking on.


Back to Aquarium T2 Lights:
With the new rotating focusing lens and the Tropical Noon 6400K daylight lamps, the T2 is viable alternative T5s and especially T8s and CFL lights.
The lumen output is 73 lumens per watt (better than any CFL), with a slightly higher blue content (with slightly less useless green/yellow light energy) than comparable CFLs.
The bottom line is; the best 6400K T2 lights with their high lumen per watt and PUR output require as little as 1 to 1.25 watts per gallon for a planted aquarium!

The picture above left shows the underside of an old Bio Cube Aquarium hood with two new CFL 6500K Daylight Bulbs (one 13 watt and one 15 watt) plus the addition of just an 8 Watt 6400K T2 Retrofit!

Recommended Product Source: T2 Aquarium Lights

The Picture below is this same 14 gallon Bio Cube showing the light differences in the aquarium. It is noteworthy that the T2 is more forward in the hood, so when only the T2 is on the back of the aquarium is slightly dark. This said, it is still obvious that the One 8 Watt T2 completes quite well with Two CFL lights of approximately 75% higher wattage.
The reader should also note that the T2 produces a slightly more crisp light.
(Both pictures can be clicked on to enlarge)

Below is a top view of just many ways to mount these VERY versatile lights, which can be simply placed on top with spacers, mounted into a hood, mounted into a shelf above, mounted into a wall or board behind the tank, or many other ways anyone with just a small amount of creative skills can think of!!
This picture shows a creative way two of these lights can be tied together using included parts so as to make a double light for placement on a smaller high light requiring planted aquarium:
t2 Aquarium Lighted top view mounting

For marine aquariums, the T2 fall short for applications much over 12 inches in part due to the fact they are currently available in 6400K daylight (which is generally the most PAR/PUR optimized kelvin temperature), however higher kelvin temperatures of 9000K to 14000k are necessary for increasingly deeper aquariums.
This said, the T2 can still be used in a marine/reef aquarium lighting mix with T5, LED, etc of higher Daylight Kelvin as well as blue/actinic.
Also the T2 6400K daylight is excellent for many Reef Aquarium Refugium and/or sump applications.

Information Source: Marine Aquarium Care

Back to Planted Freshwater or Fish only freshwater, these T2 lights are unbeatable for the light output in a small space, with exceptional plant growth to prove it.
This is based personal use as well as a many friends in the aquarium industry now using these lights. In fact one friend told me that he knows of a client from NASA who has purchased several on many occasions (what he used the lights for, I do not know).

Information Source: Planted Aquarium Care

Probably the biggest draw back as I see it for the T2 Light is the fragile size of the lamp, but even here I have seen few difficulties other than the very small contact area between the lamp and the fixture which is easy to move the lamp “out of place”, resulting in the lamp not functioning.
This is one reason the T2 Aquarium Light is not available in sizes over 21 inches; however this too is overcome with the nice linkable feature that each fixture comes standard with which basically makes each light fixture into a larger one.

Copyright 2014; Steve Allen

Further References:

Aquarium Lighting

Or for the best in premium hot cathode replacement UV Bulbs for aquarium or pond UV Sterilization, please follow these two resource links:
*Premium UV Bulb, Lamps, Lights
*UV Sterilization; How Aquarium or Pond UV Sterilizers Work

Photosynthesis and PAR; Planted & Reef Aquarium

These are important aspects of both high end freshwater plant keeping and symbiotic Zooanthellae living within Photosynthetic invertebrates.

By Steve Allen

Revised 2/28/14

I will discuss each of these related aspects of Aquarium Lighting in a little more detail:


Photosynthesis, Aquarium, ReefPhotosynthesis is the synthesizing by organisms of organic chemical compounds, mainly carbohydrates, from carbon dioxide using energy obtained from light rather than the oxidation of chemical compounds.
Put another way, this means photosynthetic plants, algae, and similar use of energy obtained from light to produce cellular chemical energy and carbohydrates when combined with carbon dioxide necessary for life processes including nitrogen processing for growth.
Further Reference: Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle, Cycling

In order for the photosynthetic process to take, the organelle of the cell where light the energy to chemical energy takes place (named the chloroplast), must receive sufficient PAR (photosynthetic active radiation).
Often in aquarium environments the compensation/saturation point is not met within the chloroplast, this results in the organelle not producing the optimum amount of carbon bi-products (carbohydrates), and this excess energy will not be transferred to the host Photosynthetic Invertebrate..
The other side of the coin (more common in the ocean, tropical rivers, etc.) is photinhibition, which is the result of an excess of light energy causing cessation of photosynthesis altogether. Photosynthetic invertebrates as well as many higher plants have many light inhibiting pigments to protect themselves from tissue damage caused by photinhibition (hence the green and other colors that are often more vivid in higher light).

A myth of reef aquarium keeping is that Photosynthetic invertebrates such as corals only need the “correct” light to survive, however this is incorrect as no known animal can survive solely on light energy as there must always be a source nitrogen and other minerals for growth and reproduction.

PAR (Photosynthetic Active Radiation);

PAR, photosynthetic active radiation diagramPAR is the abbreviation for Photosynthetically Active Radiation which is the spectral range of solar light from 400 to 700 nanometers (some resources/research indicates up to 750n) that is needed by higher plants & symbiotic zooanthellic algae.
This is found from actinic UVA to near infrared. UVA is the bandwidth found between 400-550nm which is the absorption bandwidth of chlorophylls a, c², and peridinin (the light-harvesting carotenoid, a pigment related to chlorophyll).
For our discussion of PAR, near Infrared is defined as the bandwidth found between 620-750nm which is the red absorption bandwidth of chlorophylls a and c² (true infrared is beyond 750nm).

Light sources that emit mostly actinic light will often have a lower PAR (although actinic Violet-blue still occupies an spike in PAR as seen from the graph and improve the PAR of your lighting), bulbs that occupy mostly the middle spectrum (yellow-green) such as “warm White (2700K) will produce little necessary “Useful Energy” spikes (PUR) within PAR, while bulbs that produce UVA and yet more infrared will produce more important PAR light energy (as seen from the graph which shows the UVA spike and two infrared spike required for PAR).

It is noteworthy that most symbiotic zooanthellic have evolved/adapted to the lower blues of the Ocean Reefs need more of the blue/actinic spike than “higher plants”, hence the popularity of actinic lights for reef aquariums (this is true of other green algae).
However the optimum nanometer range is about 465-485nm (with some corals requiring more 420 as well), not the ONLY the lower 420nm many actinic lights produce or the more broad range many “blue” aquarium lights produce of 400-520 nm. This is where the latest technology LED lights “shine”, having a more precise 465-485nm blue as well as the lower actinic blue found in the Fiji Blue LED.
For this reason it is a good idea to have extra actinic for corals/clams that depend upon zooanthellic algae, while at the same time limiting blue/actinic in freshwater aquariums to avoid excessive green algae growth.

With he above in mind, the addition of lights that product more near infrared light spikes or the use red LED emitters does not help most photosynthetic corals and in fact some studies indicate to much red light can hinder acropora growth.
This of leaves me scratching my head why one oddly popular Aquarium Reef LED manufacturer adds red emitters to their LED fixtures (& worse, green emitters)?

Source: AquaRay LED Aquarium Lights, Lighting; Including Fiji Blue

PAR is the simplest, albeit not the most accurate way to measure light energy and quantity for the home/office/commercial aquarium. PAR is more simple to define and measure than any other forms of light measurement. However it is noteworthy that PUR is the much more important measure for saltwater reef aquariums.
The facts are you can have a light with a higher PAR be a considerably lesser PUR and thus inferior light.
Important Reference: Why PUR is more important in reef aquariums

For the aquarium keepers purpose, PAR is the number of photons per meter squared per second of light that falls between 400 nm and 700 nm in wavelength with the better PAR meters measuring the important spikes.
The meter displays these numbers in µMol•m²•sec (“mmols”), with currently accepted numbers measured as µMol•m²•sec at 50 mmol for most plants or low light corals such as Nemezophyllia, while Acropra can require PAR outputs as high as 300 mmol (any higher is simply a waste of energy/light)


To bring this concept of PAR vs. PUR to live for a real world example is a high end LED fixture compared to low grade (low PUR) fixture. Two fixtures could have the same PAR, but one could have a higher PUR. Like I’ve said in other lighting articles before…Just like there are multiple ways to add up to 10 (5+5 or 2+8), both will give you the same appearance, but one might be more beneficial to the overall tanks needs.

I strongly recommend taking a look at this additional article to help understand this concept more. It’s a shorter read, but if you digest the information in the post, it will help make this a concert idea.


PAR vs PUR AquaRay Readings

PAR vs PUR AquaRay PAR reading

Here is a quote from a professional in the aquarium industry that grows only SPS Acropora Coral. The hardest in the world…

Around 150 (PAR) at the sand and I could keep clams, grow sticks or anything on the sand…

This professional was not taking into account PUR, but was proving that most of what we can put to our aquariums can be grown with a lower PAR. Having a high PUR fixture will only enhance the growth of the coral or plants. A cheaper LED could have a higher PAR, but not allow for corals or plants to thrive as much as a higher PUR fixture. In this case, more PAR is required to make up the lack of PUR.

Remember: PAR varies fixture to fixture and all depends on the tech. used, mounting height, and spread. A PAR meter can be used, but it is just a tool and does not show the whole picture. It leaves out the important concept of PUR.

References; Further Reading/Information:

*Aquarium Lighting; Facts & Information

*PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Lighting; why PUR is more important in reef aquariums

*Reef Hobbyist Magazine; Understanding Lighting and Photosynthesis
3rd Quarter 2010, By Mike Maddox

Copyright 2015, By Steve Allen