Since the dawn of reefing kind, Man has been trying to recreate the needs of photosynthetic aquarium animals with nutritious lighting from a variety of different photon-generating technologies. A few mavericks have gone so far as to design their reef tanks around the use of sunlight itself through the use of sunrooms or sola tubes, but these options are a huge commitment to aquarium placement and it also poses many technical challenges – like carving a hole in the roof of your home.
The Light Bandit is an exciting new and affordable device that promises to make the collection and distribution of natural sunlight as easy as putting a box in a window and directing a cable to where that natural light is needed or desired. There’s a million and one crowdfunding project on the various websites on the internet and any given day you can find dozens of new products that promise to change your life, some projects even have a strong benefit to aquariums in mind.
However what is really attractive about the Light Bandit is that it is an affordable price and doesn’t overuse hyperboles to promise its backers the moon with a cherry on top. For the very reasonable sum of $300 to $350, backers of the Light Bandit Kickstarter campaign will get one of these solar collectors with 20 feet of fiber optic cable and a “lamp” with which to distribute that sunlight.
At its most basic you could just point the star-generated light from the fiber optic cable as a point source for your aquarium, which is great for shallow water stony corals and giant clams. Alternatively there are also plans in the works to create a tubular light dispersing lamp which will operate much like a fluorescent lamp to distribute light over a broader area.
We don’t expect that a single Light Bandit will be able to completely replace other forms of artificial lighting for most reef aquariums but for $300 this would make an awesome refugium light, or an accent light for a few of your more light-demanding shallow water corals or clams. Of course the performance of the Light Bandit will be dependent on many factors such as how much direct sunlight you receive, and how that exposure varies by season.
But that’s what Kickstarter is all about, giving promising new ideas a place to grow and flourish, and who knows several years down the road we might be seeing more naturally-lit reef aquariums using more advanced future versions of the light bandit with built-in color filters for achieving the desired look and other forms of “lamps” to help distribute the naturally collected light.
Backers will need to be patient with the light bandit as production units are not slated to roll out until November of 2015. But think of it this way, once you have a working Light Bandit you will never have to pay for its power consumption and the sun is the original light source which will never need replacement – not for another few billion years anyway. [Kickstarter, Light Bandit]