The Planted Tank Forum - View Single Post - Catalina aquarium LED's
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 02-02-2011, 07:53 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: LA, CA
Posts: 481
Originally Posted by Solid View Post
I have read on some reef forums that one reason LED fixtures are already not commercially available in the US, is that a certain company holds the patent for LEDs used for aquatic growth (or some such nonsense) and they have been very active suing smaller companies that try to sell them. Thats why there are lots of sites (like that sell kits but don't sell fixtures.
This is a reference to Orbital vs PFO. Created lots of bad blood. Basically Orbital Technologies obtained a patent for using LEDs as light on aquariums and sued PFO, creators of the Solaris LED fixture for copyright infringement. PFO eventually went bankrupt and the case was dismissed. Orbitec continues to hold the patent afaik and likely all LED applications will need licensing from them although there are some loopholes in the patent.

With this said, there are still a number of commercially available LED fixtures on the market. Eco Lams, Ecoxotic, Elos, Vertex, TMC Aquaray and Aqua Illumination all have LED fixtures. Cree, the company that makes LEDs, has just released an aquarium fixture as well. The issue is that most, if not all of these fixtures are really designed for marine applications and most marine guys are used to paying hundreds to thousands of dollars for their lights. Most planted guys I know still cling to T-5s because they can get the color spectrums they want and the lower initial costs.

I am still excited about the future of LED and if Catalina can make a no frills LED that works at a decent price, then more power to them!

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