With all the great choices for LED marine aquarium lighting available, you might have a hard time deciding which lighting system is best for you. The following is a side-by-side comparison of two leading aquarium LED systems.

The Basics on AquaIllumination Hydra LEDs

The AquaIllumination (AI) Hydra LED aquarium lighting system takes advantage of 80 degree lenses to provide a uniform presentation of blended color and light. You can opt for a 50 degree lense if your tank requires more penetration. Included with the Hydra are two Edison Opto 400nm UV LEDs, two OSRAM OSLON Deep Red bulbs, four Cree XT-E Cool White, two Cree XP-E Green bulbs, four Cree XP-E Royal Blue bulbs, two SemiLED 415 nm Violet bulbs and four OSRAM OSLON Very Deep Blue LED bulbs. The total combination pushes the spectrum toward the blue side, which works very well for cool light spectrum corals, such as Lobophyllia and Chalice corals.

Also, the AI Hydra lighting system has a proven optical efficiency of 90 percent. When lit up to full power, the AI Hydra requires 95 watts to operate. The AI Hydra is air cooled by one fan. This lighting system is set up for wireless control, using any of the AI family of wireless controllers, which are sold separately. In fact, you need an AI wireless controller on hand to operate the Hydra LED system.

What Makes Ecotech Marine Radions Tick?

You can purchase an Ecotech Marine Radion LED setup in either a standard model (the XR30w) or the professional model, known as the XR30w Pro. Both use 80 degree lenses for light distribution. The XR30w includes four SemiLEDs for UV coverage, eight Cree XT-E for cool white color, four SemiLEDs for indigo spectrum, six OSRAM OSLON Square bulbs for deep blue, four OSRAM OSLON SSL for hyper red spectrum, eight Cree XP-E for blue color and four Cree XP-E Green to provide the green color. The Pro model differs from the XR30w by having four more LED bulbs, including two OSRAM OSLON SSL yellow bulbs and two extra OSRAM OSLON Square bulbs, for even more deep blue color.

The XR30w uses 150 watts of power with variable usage, while the XR30w Pro’s larger size takes the wattage to 170 watts with variable use. Both models come with a waterproof fan to help dissipate heat generated by the LEDs. To control the lights, both types of Radions tap into Ecotech’s cloud-based app, known as ReefLink, which is available from EcoSmart Live. This app gives you full control of your lighting, and any other Ecotech equipment you might own, through the use of your laptop, smart phone or tablet.

What to Consider If Choosing Between the Two Systems

As in all purchases, you have to consider your own aquarium and situation before buying the LED setup that works best for you. If price is your main concern, the AI Hydra LED system is at least $100 cheaper than any Ecotech Marine Radion. Also, as stated above, the Ecotech Radion LED series uses more electricity, so total overall cost to run these LEDs is going to be greater than using an AI Hydra LED system.

Sometimes, your biggest concern is how much you can control your lights. With the AI Hydra, you get seven control channels, which allow you to create a wide variety of color combinations. You can also program the AI Hydra to simulate rainy days and thunderstorms, a full moon or cloud movement over your reef, which is controlled with a sweeping effect over a number of lamps. The Ecotech Radion has six control channels, allowing you to present your aquarium with sunrise, sunset, clouds, rainy skies, thunderstorm effects and moon phases.

The size and depth of your aquarium can also help you determine which type of LED system you want. The AI Hydra works very well for shallower aquariums, but the bulbs aren’t quite bright enough if you have to light up your aquarium to a great depth. The Ecotech Radions are more intense, so they work great for the deep aquariums.

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