It’s a very curious thing that with the advent of LED reef aquarium lighting, most early adopters opted to dive into the deep end of solid state lighting with LEDs. For some reason, the lesson learned of combining metal halide lighting with T5 fluorescents for supplementation was not carried over when it came to embracing the new higher efficiency light emitting diodes.
For this reason, reefers who switched completely to LEDs had a much steeper learning curve with a completely new form of point source and peak spectrum emission. Unsurprisingly, the very same people who were really married to the idea of using all LEDs to replace their conventional halide or T5 system often switched completely back to the lighting type they were previously more comfortable with.
Can’t we find some middle ground people? We really thought that we’d see a lot more hybrid lighting fixtures before the general hobby made a complete transition to the most efficient source of lighting technology. In a strange twist, we’re seeing that the opposite is true; reefers who jumped from T5 or metal halide lights to immerse themselves with LEDs are now looking at the hybrid approach on their way back to a more reasonable middle ground.
The Giesemann Aurora LED & T5 combination hybrid reef light is poised to be a top choice for more sophisticated reefers who see the benefits of both types of lighting sources. LED lighting offers hands down the most efficient and controllable form of lighting available to reef aquarists these days. Meanwhile T5 tubes offer a greater degree of customization, a broadly disperse light field and especially those juicy ultraviolet rays which are expensive and cumbersome to properly provide using LEDs.
Sure there’s been a smattering of T5 & LED hybrid fixtures but the Giesemann Aurora is one of the first mass-produced, fully controllable fixture of its kind ever offered from a major manufacturer. We’re not discounting Giesemann’s own earlier offering with the Helio and ATI’s LED Powermodul fixture which feels more like a full T5 fixture with some powerful LEDs clustered in the center, but even that light is very fresh and new.
All of the three major lighting technologies have their strengths and drawbacks and the hobby as a whole really needs to find the best combination to get the most from what each provides. Going all LED’s we’ve come to miss how the linear source lighting of T5’s evenly fills the tank with light, and the broad swatch of ultraviolet lighting it provides. We have developed a distaste for replacing all the fluorescent tubes every 6 to 12 months but if these made up only half of the light fixture’s output and we ran those tubes for only four to six hours a day to supplement the LEDs, we could totally welcome T5s back into the mix.
The Aurora combination T5 & LED Hybrid reef light is a perfect light for the high end while unlikely contender ZooMed’s ReptiSun LED & T5 fixture could be a great light for the entry level with just a few minor color tweaks. The take home message is that it’s about time that the reef aquarium hobby embraced the combination of both T5 & LED lights because our reef tanks deserve it, and we’re sure to see a lot more dabbling in the hybrid lighting space in the future.