The AquaMaxx Prism Proves You Don't Have To Spend A Fortune To Get A Powerful Controllable Reef Light
There are lots of awesome high-end LED aquarium lights available.
I have a couple of EcoTech Marine Radion Pros and absolutely LOVE them. The intense output, coloration, controllability, and coral response are are all reasons why I like them so much. Aqua Illumination (AI), Maxspect, and Kessil all offer great lights as well, any of which I would be delighted to have over my aquariums (and have at various times).
However, when shopping for an affordable LED strip light for my 22 gallon tank, pickings were slim. I ran into two main issues. First, most of the strip lights I looked at were low-powered and not sufficient enough to sustain the types of corals I wanted to keep. Conversely, the higher-output strips were much more pricey but lacked any real controllability.
Looking at the specs of the AquaMaxx NemoLight and Prism, they seemed to have everything I was looking for. Outputs are significantly higher than most LED strip lights (double in many cases) and the blue and white channels are programmable.
The NemoLight is less expensive and comes with a simple on-board controller. The new Prism is more powerful, has more colors, and includes a remote controller with a LCD display and three programmable channels instead of two.
The NemoLight would certainly gotten the job done. However, I wanted a little extra oomph—as well as that extra controllability—so I went with the Prism.
The sleek aluminum housing and the black finish are nice touches. The Prism gives the aquarium an elegant look and matches my stand / cabinet beautifully. Cranking all the channels up to 100% quickly proved to me that this fixture will provide way more light than I will ever need for this tank. Perfect!
The controller has a lot of features. User-friendliness is hampered a bit by the two-line screen and the two programming buttons. It took a little experimentation to figure out, but not a major hurdle by any stretch of the imagination.
For a powerful LED strip light at this price point—and since programming is rarely changed once you get it where you like it—I can't harp on the controller too much. Value-wise, this is A LOT of light for $199.99 (for the 36" 72 Watt model).
To get into the programming, press the Select/Lock button for 3 seconds to unlock the controller. The controller will beep once to indicate it is unlocked. Next, press the Home/Menu button to enter the Main Menu.
Main Menu Options:
- Set Clock
- Set White (Channel 1)
- Set Blue (Channel 2)
- Set Special (Channel 3, Red/Green/UV)
- Factory Reset
One tip for programming is that there is no "Back" button. If you skipped something or made an error, you will need to cycle through to correct it.
For me, it was easiest to program the Blue Channel (#2) first as it has the longest photoperiod. I then programed the Special Channel as it is the next-longest photoperiod. The White Channel was programmed last as it has the shortest photoperiod.
Here is a chart of my photoperiod:
For each channel, there are 4 time set points labelled as Sunrise, Midday, Sunset & Night. I found it easier to look at them as ON, INTENSITY 1, INTENSITY 2, OFF. ON and OFF should both be set to 0% (for the blue channel, ON/OFF can be set to 1-5% for moonlight). INTENSITY 1 and INTENSITY 2 can be set to any intensity and time of your choice.
Once programmed, the light gradually brightens or dims from one set point to another. Below is a diagram of my blue channel setting. Here you can see that it turns on at 9 AM, gradually increases intensity to 50% at Noon, continues to brighten to 70% at 6 PM, then begins to dim until it turns off at 9 PM.
Initially, it may seem a little difficult to program due to the lack of a "Back" button to make changes or correct errors. If you skipped something or entered something incorrectly, you will need to finish programming the rest of that channel then cycle back to correct it. Fortunately, once you understand how it works and have played with the controller a couple of times, it is pretty easy.
So far, I am very happy with the AquaMaxx Prism. The combination of intensity, coloration, controllability, and aesthetics are all quite impressive—especially at this price point. I can’t wait to see how this light will perform once I start to add corals!
I wanted to try something different, so I went with CaribSea Arag-Alive Hawaiian Black Sand and CaribSea Life Rock Shapes. More on aquascaping in my next post!
This post is the second in a multi-part series by Joseph Chang. Read AquaMaxx’s Bookshelf-Style Low-Iron Glass Aquariums Will Make You Want To Go Long to get caught up!
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