For many aquarists, a rite of passage is buying some cheap version of a product to save a few dollars only to regret it in the end when it fails. For most of us this means a pump that stops working or plastic that cracks. But for some of us its much worse with a heater failure or a light fixture catching fire and one teacher learned this the hard way. The Chandler, Ariz., preschool teacher working a the East Valley Jewish Community Center used donations from aquarists to cobble together a reef aquariums for the kids to enjoy only to have a cheap Chinese LED light catch fire and cause extensive damage to the building.
The teacher received donations of coral, fish and equipment and built her own sump, overflow and skimmer to bring the reef experience to the children in her classroom. Needing a light, she turned to eBay and picked up a couple of 35W LED pendants for around $75 a pop and all was fine until the fixture caught on fire setting off the building’s sprinkler system. The fire was not that large thanks to the sprinklers, but the water damage to many of the classrooms threatened to shutdown the school and community center for months. Thankfully, the local community banded together and with donations was able to open in a matter of day instead of months.
We feel for the teacher who was only trying to bring a new, positive experience to the children only to have the fixture cause havoc to the situation. According to her posts on an aquarium forum, the LED flood light was similar to the one pictured above. We can see how she feels guilty about the incident and hopefully the aquarium community can come together and provide some alternatives for bringing the reef experience closer to growing children.