The Hydra 64 and Hydra 32 are two new light fixtures from the aquarium hobby’s oldest manufacturer of LED lights, AquaIllumination. Very much like tech manufacturers tick-tock approach to releasing new phones, the Hydra 32 & 64 are a ‘supercycle’ of new features, beefed up specs, slimmed down profile, and just about everything you could hope for in an improved version of the venerable AI Hydra LED lights.
The most obvious new change to the beloved Hydra 26 and Hydra 52 is in the number of LEDs found in the Hydra 32 and Hydra 64, sporting thirty two and sixty four LEDs respectively. But that’s not even half of the story because not only are there about 25% more LEDs in both of the new fixtures, they are delivering even more light while using the same amount of total power which is still 90 watts and 135 watts respectively.
Visually, longtime users of the Hydra lights will notice that everything about the LED cluster is smaller – the LEDs themselves are smaller, the lenses are smaller, and the entire plastic assembly underneath the heatsink is a full quarter inch thinner. Perhaps the most impressive part of the new changes to the LED cluster of the Hydra 32 & Hydra 64 is the spacing of the LEDs because while the entire circular opening is only about a half inch smaller in diameter, the LEDs themselves have been crammed into an area about one quarter the size of the previous cluster.
Pictures of the new Hydra 32 & Hydra 64 clusters don’t do justice for just how closely spaced the new LEDs because compare to what we’re used to, the new cluster is like halfway to being a bonafide multchip LED. The overall beam angle of these tiny Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lenses is still 80 degrees but with the chips being so close together color mixing is better than it’s ever been.
The new Hydra 32 and Hydra 64 still have the same HyperDrive feature that AquaIllumination introduced with the Prime and then brought over to the Hydras, but yet another improvement to these lights is the addition of a brand new moonlight LED on a dedicated channel. While you might typically think of aquarium ‘moonlights’ as being blue, AquaIllumination went with something more natural using a warm white LED to replicate the actual lunar spectrum, a hardware tweak that will be supported by faithful lunar cycles in the software.
Current Hydra users will be relieved to learn that the footprint and heatsink of the AI Hydra 32 & Hydra 64 are identical to previous Hydras so all the same mounting hardware including hanging kit, mounting arm and Flex Arm are all the same and fully backwards compatible. One thing that is not quite as noticeable is the changes that AI has made to the increase robustness and durability of their light, making a number of improvements to make the Hydra 32 & Hydra 64 more water resistant, a welcome improvement for the humid working environments of reef aquariums.
We expect an official announcement from AquaIllumination next week about the pricing and launch date for the new flagship Hydra LED lights but from what we know so far, these will be a very worthy upgrade to the Hydra models that we already love.