RSS Tunze LED Review: the perfect aquarium utility light

MASA Admin

8 May 2007
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When we first learned that Tunze was building an LED light of their own, we were really curious about what kind of light they would make. When the Tunze LED striplight was finally unveiled at InterZoo, the resulting lighting device that we saw was somewhat puzzling to reef keepers.

Rather than make a conventional LED fixture, Tunze chose instead to completely break away from the pack by offering a small waterproof striplight that is magnetically mounted to the aquarium wall. Last year’s InterZoo saw Tunze improve on this design with a slightly brighter model with broader color full-spectrum, and a clever magnetic switch that allows users to control the intensity and color of the light.

Tunze made an LED light alright, but it wasn’t the kind of light you would expect to use on a large full blown reef display. Instead the Tunze LED striplight is a really unique kind of ‘aquarium utility light’ that we’ve really come to love using.

Priced at $150 for 26 watts of LED lighting power, the Tunze is not the best deal if you’re looking to get the most nutritious lighting for your corals. Where the Tunze LED falls short of being the best value proposition for lighting up a full reef display, it certainly shines at being a great utilitarian lighting solution for so many other applications.

Due to its waterproof nature, the Tunze LED light can be used just about anywhere, and for any reason. Tunze’s LED striplight can be used as a great refugium light where it can be mounted magnetically or we’ve grown particularly fond of floating it using pieces of styrofoam at both ends.

The submersible design of the Tunze LED means that even though it only cranks our 26 watt of light, none of it has to be reflected off the water surface. This last detail means that you can design very nice small aquariums with no light bleed for really neat lighting presentation.

When used in full spectrum the Tunze LED can do really well at simply growing macroalgae. And with two shades of blue LEDs, plus white and red diodes, the Tunze LED actually makes corals look really good, bringing out lots of great fluorescent and chromatic colors. The Tunze LED is a perfect traveling light for frag swaps, isolating corals in a separate part of your aquarium system, or for simply throwing up some basic lighting in tight spaces where nearly all other LEDs will be damaged by extreme exposure to water and salt spray.

We’ve been smitten with Tunze’s unique LED lighting device for over a year, but it wasn’t until recently that we had a perfect setup to photograph and demonstrate this light’s singular flexibility. A exceptional shipment of tricolor, premium and rainbow Acanthastrea lordhowensis was recently received by Unique Corals. Rather than place these high grade acan lords in the 30 foot raceways with all the other corals, the decision was made to isolate these prized corals in a system of their own where they could be given lots of tender loving care.

As you can see from the accompanying photographs, the Tunze LEDs striplight leaves nothing to be desired in the color department. Australian Acan Lords are some of the most colorful corals available to reef aquarists, and the Tunze LED striplight performs exceptionally well to render all these coral colors. Sure a touch of near-UV lighting would give these corals a tiny bit extra pop, but overall, you can see how beautifully these high grade corals look under the Tunze LED.

What we love most about the Tunze LED is that it really allows reef aquarists to be creative with their lighting of beautiful corals, especially in unconventional aquariums and spaces. If there’s anything we can reproach Tunze for, it’s that they haven’t gone “all in” in the furthering the innovative water-cooled LED light that they have on the market today.

The Eco Chic models of the Tunze LED are ok for smaller tanks, but really we’d love to see an even bigger, stronger or longer version of this light. Also, the added cost of the magnet mount is likely more of a deterrent to buyers who could just as easily enjoy this light in a floating configuration like the simple Marineland accent LED.

It’s hard to explain to reefers how the versatility of a waterproof LED can be incredibly useful, especially when it’s such moderate power for a premium price. With all the weird aquarium projects that we are often getting ourselves into, the Tunze LED has become an indispensable aquarium lighting solutions for so many application. We really hope that Tunze will continue to invest in the development of more and better versions of their waterproof striplight. It might not be the kind of full-blown high powered fixture that has become the dominant form factor in the reefing hobby, but the Tunze LED is truly in a league of its own.

FTC regulations require that we inform you that we were given this product for review, but our opinion of a product is never affected by how we acquire them.


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