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Cheap and Good Lightings
I have heaps of aquarium lights sitting on the floor at home, from all sorts of brands.
Unfortunately, when it comes to buying lightings for your planted tank, the only information you can get to help your purchase is the “claims” on the box of the light.
How many times I made the mistake of trusting the words “For Planted Tank” or “Grow lights for aquarium plants”. And after a few weeks of using the lights, the only thing that is growing well in your tank are all sorts of algae. 🤬
And those which people reviewed online are either not available in your LFS or too expensive. It took me a long time finally buy a brand of light that actually grows plants well.
The thing about LED lights is that it requires very specific wavelengths in order to grow aquatic plants. Most manufacturers do not have the know-how or find it too much hassle to go into wavelength R&Ds.
Now, all my tanks are powered by Chihiros lights.
I found that their lights, although not the best in the market, but are very affordable, BRIGHT, and most importantly, grow aquatic plants well.
Here, I will recommend two affordable lightings and the link to buy it with international free shipping included.
Chihiros A Series LED Lights
The Chihiros A Series is what I will call beginner’s lighting for a planted tank. This light is the cheapest one can get for that kind of light output. PAR value is good but not the best for rendering colours. But one thing for sure the wavelength of the light is meant for planted tanks. It will grow anything you put under it. Construction is acceptable. Gets hot. But it grows plants.
In addition, the A Series supports both 110 and 220 volt. The trouble with buying a light from another country is that the voltage may not be compatible!
Chihiros A Series Light Pricing Guide
Price is for rough estimation as merchant makes minor price adjustment or have regular promotion. Exchange rates also affects pricing. Nonetheless the actual prices should not differ too much. Prices are in USD INCLUDING FREE SHIPPING!
|Model||Length||No. of LEDs||Lumen||Price|
The model number generally goes in this format AXX1.
Whereby “A” denotes A series.
The “XX” denotes length divided by 10. For example a 120cm lights will be 120, or 45cm lights will be 45.
And the last number denotes Series 1. There’s Series 2 but I have not used them before.
As a general rule, it cost USD1.08 per 1 cm length of light.
Chihiros RGB LED Lights
Update May 2020: It seems that Chihiros is stopping RGB productions as I got feedback many lights are now out of stock.
Chihiros instead will be focusing on their newer range – Chihiros RGB A Series Plus
I started with the Chihiros A Series for some of my tanks that requires medium/high lighting. However, the colours of the fishes are kind of washed out. So I decided to try the RGB series one day. And all I can say is, for this price, there is no other lights that will come close and still grow your plants.
Although this light is consisted of various colours LEDs but this light packs quite a punch with 7500 lumens of brightness for the 60cm RGB-60 thanks to the 120 LED lamps!!!
Some merchant will throw in a 7-steps dimmer. You can also get the SMART Pro light timer to work with all Chihiros lights which will allow you to adjust up to 100 steps with 8 time settings with a mere USD20! The link is below.
SMART S2 Light Timer + Intensity Controller
This is a lighting timer AND lighting intensity controller in one!!! If you use Chihiros lights, I highly recommend getting the Smart LED light controller.
This light controller/timer has 8 individual time settings! Each setting can allow you to set your light from 0% to 100% in 1% increment!!
I use this controller to simulate sun intensity throughout the day on some tanks and on some other tanks I use it to set siesta for photo period.
Simulating sun rise and sun set
The best part of it is it only cost USD12! The downside, it can only handle lights under 100W and the time is not the most accurate, but I can live with that.
But at USD12, it is as cheap as your mechanical timer with only On or Off switch. But this thingy, has intensity setting! The small footprint and a digital display adds coolness to the overall experience.
Get it from AliExpress with free shipping!!! There is the S2 and the S2 Pro. The Pro version can handle higher wattage lights.
Night Light Function
There is a little documented function in the S2 Pro – Night Light.
I bought another unit of S2 Pro recently and set it up like I would usually to mimic sun rise and sun set.
On one occasion late in the night I discovered that somehow the light was still on but dimly, despite setting the last setting to zero intensity. I manually switch it off, but it came back right on.
This went on for every night. I thought I had a lemon unit.
After combing through lots of websites, there was still no solution in sight. So I drop by the manufacturer website to see if there is any missing instructions I missed out.
Right at the bottom of the product description, there was a one liner that states…
If you set a small setting in Setting 01, after the light goes off, the S2 Pro will resume using Setting 01 as a Night Light function. This is a useful function for those who keep Arowana and wanted a low night viewing light throughout the night.