Product Review - Coralife Aqualight™
(Written in 2003)
Lighting - without a doubt one of the more perplexing and opinionated subjects surrounding aquarium keeping! Not only are there numerous technical aspects such as wattage, spectrum, and Kelvin to mention just a few, there are many different types and shapes of lamps, Ask almost anyone about what type of lighting is best suited for your aquarium keeping goals and you'll get different answers. And after all that, there are other areas of concern such as the heat generated by certain types of lamps, the energy they consume, the harmful ultraviolet light some lamps produce, and often the ugly appearance of some types of lighting equipment.
A welcome answer to all our lighting requirements would be a 'single' modern-looking lighting fixture that would fit all applications. Of course that is not possible nor is it even feasible as aquarist goals are often quite varied, i.e., certain animals require specific lighting parameters. Its not my goal here to go into the different forms of aquarium lighting equipment or that of specific needs of certain types of animals as many of those reading this product review are already quite familiar with the existing circumstances surrounding the lighting equation. However, because I've been in the hobby for over 57 years I can look far back in time and seen where this aspect of aquarium keeping has been and where it is today. And it is far more complicated today because of the different choices and the highly varied opinions as to what works best, than it was even ten years ago.
I'm often questioned on lighting requirements and try to point aquarists in the most cost effective direction that will adequately meet the goals they have envisioned for their aquariums, whether that be fish-only or reef systems. And, I should add those recommendations are solely based on what "type" lamp or fixture would benefit the animals and/or the environment in their aquariums, and not that of brand or cost. Yet, I must say this product review gives me the opportunity to describe a new lighting fixture that has very broad application possibilities, and that is the "Coralife Aqualight" from Energy Savers Unlimited.
I say 'broad' application possibilities because the Coralife Aqualight is available in eleven different models for marine aquariums and six models for freshwater aquariums. For marine aquariums, there are single or double linear strip models. The single linear strip models utilize the Coralife 50/50 compact fluorescent lamp(s), which are rated at 50% 10,000 Kelvin and 50% True Actinic.
These lamps are mounted just below a highly polished reflector that helps reflect light from the top surface of the lamp downward, thereby utilizing most of the produced light in the aquarium. These fixtures also utilize electronic ballast(s), which reduce electricity consumption and produce much less heat than the older tar ballasts. And of course each fixture is provided with an on/off switch, and the lamp(s) are totally protected from splash with a full length acrylic lens cover that easily slides out for access to the lamps. In my opinion the Coralife 50/50 lamp is ideal for the fish-only systems as it creates just the right lighting environment/spectrum to show-off the colors of most fishes.
The double linear strip models utilize a combination of two different compact fluorescent lamps, i.e., the Coralife 10,000 Kelvin lamps and the True Actinic lamps. And I should note that the "True Actinic" lamps are just that, as their spectrum is rated at 420 nm! A highly polished reflector mounted just above these lamps insures that almost all light generated will reach the target organism in the aquarium below. These models have separate switches for each lamp type or set of lamp types depending upon which model is selected. This provides an excellent way to provide a sunrise and sunset photoperiod for the aquarium by placing the plug for the actinic lamps into a timer and simply setting it to an on/off period of your choosing. Also, most of these models come complete with two built-in cooling fans! Not only do they utilize electronic ballasts, any heat generated from the lamps and ballasts is moved out of the enclosure through vents built into the top surface of the hood housing. They also have a full-length acrylic lens cover that easily slides out for access to the lamps. These Coralife Aqualights are well suited for most marine reef aquariums that contain coral animals that do not require exceptionally intense lighting.
All Coralife Aqualights are extremely modern looking, as their aluminum housing is only 2.5 inches high with a width of five or seven inches depending upon which model is selected, and they all come with a 12 month warranty. There are optional mounting legs that can be easily attached to the special channels on the Aqualight housing which enables the aquarist to feed and do some maintenance without removing the light fixture. The elevation provided by these legs also diminish heat transference to the aquarium by allowing air movement under the Aqualight.
A Coralife Aqualight Model 53106, a double linear strip model containing two 65 Watt10K and two 65 Watt True Actinic lamps, was sent to me for this review. It was placed on a clients tank who had been using two 10K 250 W metal halides and four small 50/50 Coralife lamps for the sunrise and sunset photoperiod. Their aquarium, a 170 gallon glass custom built unit, 54 inches long (135 cm), 24 inches high (60 cm), and 30 inches deep (75 cm) (front to back), contains medium light corals and many fishes, including a beautiful school of Anthias (P. squamipinnis). The following day the owners called and said they wanted to have two of these fixtures on their tank instead of their metal halides. They felt there was far less heat, it looked 'far' better than the two small hoods presently on their aquarium, and that fish colors were greatly improved. And besides, their anthias were staying out more in open waters and their colors were much better as were their Green Chromis. Another happy client and that makes me feel good!
Even though its been many years, decades actually, since I've had a freshwater aquarium, those reading this who have freshwater systems may want to checkout the "Freshwater Aqualights." They have the same features as the Marine Aqualights and also come in either single or double linear strip models. There are three single linear strip models and three double linear strip models and they utilize the Coralife 6700 Kelvin compact fluorescent lamp(s). That's a perfect spectrum for most freshwater aquariums, whether they are fish-only or planted tanks.
Energy Savers/Coralife products are available through various mail order companies and shops throughout North America. In the U. K., they are distributed through Cagex Accessories Limited, Buryfarm, Pednor Road, Chesham, Buckinghamshire, H95-2JU. U. K. shops interested in having these quality products available for their customers should contact Fred Waffron at Tel: 01494 786759, Fax: 01494 791617. And last but not least, checkout this excellent lighting equipment and other Energy Savers/Coralife products by visiting their website at: www.esuweb.com.