When we gave you an overview of all the new features in Red Sea’s new MAX C Series all in one aquariums, almost everything about the lighting was really rethought, except for the lighting. The lack of an LED solution fro the MAX C tanks is a befuddling one for many potential customers and resellers, especially when it seems that all aquarium lighting is quickly going all-LED, at least here in the North American reef scene.
LEDs have progressed a ton over the last five years and we as reefers have collectively learned a lot about how to use them over reef tanks. Red Sea’s main hold up with the newer LED technology is that it seems they are trying to make the Red Sea MAX C series a reef tank that is everything to everyone; they want the noobies to be able to grow corals with ease and to be able to advance all the way to SPS with the same lighting solution.
We would argue that it’s actually easier to keep and grow starter corals with a moderate amount of LED lighting, which is the part of the market that is most likely to gravitate towards “keeping” corals looking good and healthy and less worried about break-neck growth rates in this kind of all in one aquarium. However, trying to come up with an LED solution that is both amenable to beginner reef keepers and high light SPS corals would be harder, and more cost-prohibitive.
In their own words, here’s what Red Sea has to say about sticking to their guns about linear T5 and compact fluorescent lighting.
The promise of a MAX® coral reef system is that it provides a complete, plug & play, reef spec® aquarium for all levels of hobbyists without having to worry about the choice, compatibility and suitability of the equipment.
All of the products that Red Sea develops for reef hobbyists, including the MAX systems, start with understanding the biological needs of the corals. This approach has enabled us to develop our “Reef-Spec” which defines the environmental conditions necessary for successfully maintaining SPS corals in a reef aquarium.
Lighting is an important part of the Reef-Spec definition and our research over many years has clearly shown that T5 fluorescent lighting provides all of the needs of corals in a simple and safe way. Furthermore, T5 usage requires no expertise or understanding by the hobbyist and will support all of the major species of SPS corals in all areas of the MAX aquarium.
The move from Metal Halide and Fluorescent lighting to LED lighting for aquariums in general (and reef tanks in particular) has not been driven by the needs of the corals, but by the move within the lighting industry towards more energy efficient systems.
Without getting into the technical details, it is sufficient to say that there are significant differences between LED lighting and T5, and unless LED light is applied knowledgeably to an aquarium it can cause harm to the corals. Many hobbyists are investing a lot of time in learning how to adapt the LED lights that are available on the market to their reefs, with various levels of success.
In keeping with the lighting industry’s advances in this field, Red Sea’s goal is to be able to provide MAX aquariums with LED lighting that can safely ensure at least similar coral growth, coloration, vitality and longevity to that currently achieved in our T5-driven MAX systems.
Red Sea’s development team is currently evaluating LED lighting for use with the MAX aquariums and we hope to be able to offer a reef safe LED lighting solution within the near future.