REVIEW: Buildmyled Freshwater Planted Tank 30 Inch Fixture - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-21-2013, 04:14 AM Thread Starter
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REVIEW: Buildmyled Freshwater Planted Tank 30 Inch Fixture


I received the 30 inch Freshwater Planted Tank fixture (75 degree optics) from on Monday, and I just wanted to share my experience as there are not very many reviews out there for this fixture.

I purchased this fixture to replace the lighting on top of my 20L plant growout tank, which is a pretty heavily planted. Before purchasing this fixture, I had 2 different 30" Coralife T5NO freshwater fixtures and one 24 inch T5HO fixture (yes, pressurized CO2 and ferts are used in this tank, algae has never been an issue).

Since my fixtures were due for a bulb replacement, my goal was to switch over to a single LED fixture which would give me comparable growth results but not require $90 in new bulbs every 6-9 months.

I originally purchased the Finnex Ray 2 30 in for its attractive price point, but this fixture simply did not not live up to my expectations as there were only 24 inches of centered lights, which left very dark shadows on the sides. I have Finnex fixtures on two of my nano tanks that I really like, but in this case I was not impressed and I thought the light was very yellow.

While it has not yet been long enough for me to comment on plant growth with the buildmyled fixture, I have noticed that the plants are pearling and happy under this fixture, so I am very pleased.

So, on to the details...

As I am new to LEDs, I required quite a bit of guidance in making my product selection.

The one downside of ordering from them is that, because they are building each fixture from scratch, it does take longer to receive this fixture than a pre-made one. My particular fixture took 5 business days to build.

Once the fixture was finished, I received a notification email and it was on its way. When it arrived, the fixture was extremely well-packaged with separate compartments for each of the parts, and a plastic coating on the fixture to make sure that it would not get scratched.
The fixture arrived in flawless condition.
One thing to note is that since this fixture is 30 inches and the LED strips come in 12 inch segments, there are 2 empty inches, then 12 inches of lights, then 2 empty inches, then 12 inches of lights, and 2 more empty inches. The small gap in the middle allows for good coverage along the edges.

I was pretty impressed with the results. I took some photos with my iphone for reference, but they did not turn out very well.

This is the amount of illumination I had with 2 coralife T5HO fixtures and one Finnex Ray 2 fixture (since returned):
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And now this is with the new fixture, suspended 6 inches above the tank with 75 degree optics. This fixture is on its own (so competing against three different fixtures):
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There are a few main differences. The illumination is not quite as bright as with the three fixtures, which is OK as long as the plants are happy. I really like the coloration better as I prefer the pink tones to the very yellow color of the first setup.

The plants were already pearling when I set up the fixture, so I waited a couple of days to make sure that the new light was working well. The plants are extremely happy, as you can see from the persicaria kawaegonum in this picture:
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Like I said, the fixture has only been up and running for less than a week, so I can't yet comment on plant growth.

All in all I'm very happy with this fixture. I didn't go with a dimmer since my goal was to get as much light as possible, but for anyone with a lower tech setup, I would definitely recommend it as the light is very bright.

If anyone has any questions, let me know.

Last edited by somewhatshocked; 04-26-2013 at 03:14 PM. Reason: removed vendor review
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-21-2013, 06:38 AM
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I'm glad Nick finally gave in and made a 30". I've been bugging him since day one for a 30" for my 20g. I have two of their fixtures and I'm quite satisfied as well.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-25-2013, 11:43 PM
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Re: REVIEW: Buildmyled Freshwater Planted Tank 30 Inch Fixture

Useful review, thank you for the time and effort. I was not that happy with Ray 2 myself but this review makes me want to check out LEDs again.

That and the obvious quality of plants from FrenchFrys that I have received today.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-26-2013, 02:24 AM
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excuse my idiocy, but can you explain what you mean by "75 degree optics?"

In any case this looks like exactly what I've been looking for to replace my 13watt CFLs with. Do you know what the PAR at 6" above the tank is?
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-26-2013, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Wayne Dwops View Post
but can you explain what you mean by "75 degree optics?"
That refers to the angle the light spreads out from each lens that each led shines through.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-26-2013, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by FrenchFry View Post
Hi, If anyone has any questions, let me know.
How about an update? And what color leds did you use?
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-26-2013, 01:28 PM
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i would have liked to see what it looked like with the finnex as well. And pics with something other than a phone camera, as they typically do not handle indoor lighting well.

I have a finnex fugeray 30" on a 30 gal, and I could not be happier, anything brighter would have been too much. But there is more customization with BuildMyLED.
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20l, 30 inch, buildmyled, freshwater fixture, led

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