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DIY Cree XP-G Fluval Edge Light upgrade

44891 Views 16 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  aqua_diy
Hi all, this is my first "instructable" that I have done, but I thought someone out there may find my experience useful when putting together a LED mod for their Fluval Edge.

First, a little background. I have scoured these forums for the past 2-3 months now, learning everything I could about how to do things "right." I bought a Fluval Edge 6 gal, 1st gen, right before christmas with a pretty good gameplan in my head on how I intended to modify it. It seems that it is common knowledge that the stock lighting on the Edge is downright awful. And I must agree! To combat this, there seems to be two schools of thought. Upgrade the MR12's to MR16's and throw a CFL bulb in there, or add supplemental lighting outside of the stock hood to get good coverage. It was my hope to build a light similar to nanotuners (RIP).

My goals were:
To maintain the stock appearance
Keep the existing mechanism for moving the light out of the way
Have the light be dimmable

This is my result:
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So, here is how it went.... First, the equipment:

1 - 5.886" Wide x 3" Long Heatsink from
2 - Bags of 8-32 machine screws and nuts
1 - 8-32 Tap & Die set (This ended up being unnecessary.)
4 - XP-G R5 LEDS from
2 - Artic silver thermal adhesive from (I should have only ordered one, I was erring on the side of caution. One is more than enough!)
1 - Moonlight kit from
4 - 40degree lenses for XP-G leds from (I did not use these, as I had this "great" idea and scrapped it)
1 ELN-30-12D Meanwell power supply
1 spool of wire
Dremel tool with cutting wheel
*Not shown in this picture is a 10K potentiometer, an extra 12V power supply I had lying around, and a 2.2K and 180ohm resistor bought from RadioShack.

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So, first step is to remove the existing light bar from the back of the edge. This is easy enough, there are 4 tabs that you pop in on the back piece and you are free.

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Next step is to remove the 4 screws holding the arm bars together and the 4 screws in the MR12 sockets. You can see the 2 screws on the arm bar in this picture.

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Once you have the 8 screws removed, you can separate the top and bottom halves of the light assembly like so...

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Gut the insides of all wires...

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Once the halves are separated and gutted, you will need to cut out the existing light section. For this, I used a Dremel tool with a reinforced cutting wheel. I chose to cut along the light bars. The new heatsink was slightly longer than what I cut out, causing the arm bars to bow outwards slightly, but this has not caused any problem whatsoever and is only noticeable by me.

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Once the middle section is removed, place the big back section that the arm bars attach to, and the arm bars themselves, back onto the aquarium. It is time to measure out some holes...

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·

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For this next step, I did not get pictures of me drilling the plastic, but I drilled two holes side by side in the middle of the arm bars. I then marked the heatsink with a sharpie where to holes were. I then drilled the hole with the matching drill for the 8-32 tap. Then, tapped the holes...

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Here is the heatsink mounted on the arm bars... Mind you, I ended up using fender washers and nuts to finally mount it, these are building pics!

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Once that was complete, I drilled the hole for mounting the 10k potentiometer. I chose to mount it in the back of the base, where it is easily accessible. The bag the pot came in mentioned what size drill bit to use, I don't remember but I think it was a 5/16"? If you buy the linear potentiometer from RadioShack, it says on the back... Also, you may notice there is an extra hole next to the pot. That would be a screwup on my part, the original hole was too close to the foot, so I had to re-drill. In the 3rd pic, you can see the hole I drilled to get the wires out of the base and into the back equipment shaft.

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)

So, once the mounting portion is complete, it is time to start wiring things up. There are videos on youtube explaining how to use artic silver for the LEDS, and also tips for soldering LEDS. I highly recommend watching these! For those paying attention, I did wire up the two moonlights incorrectly here. I was in a soldering trance and just kept connecting things together! I did remove one of the wires when only one LED came on... In the last two pics, you can see the 2.2K resistor wired in series with the 10K pot. Since I had an extra 12V power supply lying around, I used a simple voltage divider to get my 10V. Unfortunately, my cheapie PS is non regulated and I get 10.5V when the pot is at 10K... This is remedied by turning down the pot a quarter turn from full on.

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Here you can see the wires being routed inside the arm, with the top cover taken off. I also had to cut an opening for the wires to escape out of the arm at the bottom, which you can see in the last pic.

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After hooking up the lights and testing, I decided there was too much shadow in the front corners, and that I had mounted the light too high in the neck of the aquarium. So, off to Lowes, and I found some ErecterSet looking pieces in the hardware isle. Two holes were enough to get the light down into the neck and not above it, so I cut it down with the dremel.

Before... Notice how high up it is? Above the rim.
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After lowering it with the hole-y piece. Notice it's IN the neck now, eliminating most of the shadowy corners.
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Extra things.

Here is a pic of the moonlighting. Iphone4 camera is NOT good at taking these...

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And a pic of my CO2 mod, routing the CO2 into the back of the filter. Found this little trick browsing around the forum here. It actually works very well, with 1 BPS I get green drop checker.

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And finally, I spray painted the inside of the hood white to help keep photons in and darkons out... =-P

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So, thats my modifications so far. Going into this project I was a little nervous about what I was getting myself into. And after cutting up my light bar there was a hint of dread, like "What have I done!?" But, I am extremely pleased with the outcome. I have been running this setup for 5 days now, and my HC and dwarf grass has not completely died yet, so there's that. Also, my new diatom algae colony started pearling today! So, the construction has completed and the learning has begun.

Hope this helps someone out! If there are any questions, please feel free to ask.

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks Jayme. The front corners are still not AS bright as the center of the tank. I guess the real test will be if the HC grows all the way out to the corners or not. At this point, I am hoping that ANY of the HC grows out. It seems people generally have a hard time growing it, and I am a total newb at this whole fish tank/plants thing...

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Most excellent work! I had found myself considering whether I'd want to try an Edge 12G as a marine tank, and was wondering exactly how to go about doing exactly what you've just demonstrated here! With the 12G at least I wouldn't be facing the same limitation on light spread.

Mind us asking the cost? And mind telling us how much you'll sell retrofit kits for? ;)

Now, sorting reef tank filtration properly would be a different sort of PITA however...

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My own 6G Edge light and filter modifications are somewhere in the official Edge thread. Getting light across the front substrate, into the corners, and onto the front of the fish rather than on their backsides certainly wasn't easy.

I suppose the 12G makes it much easier though. For the height should allow an adequate spread, and you should be able to aim enough of the light at the front pane for it to reflect off the front pane and back onto the front of the fish in order to actually visibly illuminate their colors and iridescence instead of just washing them out.

I'll have to think about whether that is adequate still, for maybe I'd be better off just doing my own custom tank from scratch where I could mount a bar of LED's on the front inside edge of the tank anyway. $100 isn't bad in any case, though perhaps I'd have to include the price of a Dremel as well.

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Mxx, I hadn't thought of front lighting for the fish, I guess I will see how they look when I stock my tank this week... I will defiantly be paying attention now that you have mentioned it!

aphul, I have the cool white XP-G which is 5000-8300K. I think the lighting really makes the colors look great on the plants. Whether it is as great for the plants as it is for my eyes, only time will tell....

I also keep the moonlights on 24-7. As they are really dimmed (I put a resistor in-line with them to get current down to ~40mA) they don't make that much of a difference. I think it helps just enough with the colors though, that I don't want to put them on a timer as well.

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Chiefston, fantastic mod! I have never done any project like this, and it was very easy to follow and do myself. I did make a "mod" on your mod.

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For starters, I have the 12 gallon and didn't have any problem with lighting the bottom of the far corners. However, halfway up my tank on the front the lighting ends. But fortunately the front usually has low lying plants anyway.

Also, because I have 12 gallons, I literally just doubled the LED's that you had put on (8 Cool White Cree XP-G's and 4 Royal Blue LED's from the Moonlight Kit).

My tank came with the stock 42 LED's (5 watts... the newer lighting they added). The main difference between my mod and your mod is that I wanted save the entire stock arm to be able to reuse it if necessary. So, instead of cutting the lights out, I made some arms out of some aluminum channel.

Lastly, for anyone making this mod on the 12 gallon, I used the Mean Well LPC-35-700 driver (which kicks out about 35 watts) as my driver. However, normally I would have used the Mean Well LPC-60-1050 which would kick out more like 50 watts which would have worked very well with my LED's, however, I'm running shrimp and Cardinal Tetra's (both of which don't like too much light). As a result, I went with a little lower lighting (but still enough to grow my plants... well, hopefully!). If nothing else, my tank now has "wings" from the great lighting!

Anyway, you can see from the photos that I put in (2) 1" bolts to catch the arms to keep the lights set in position.

Anyway, thanks again! Great modification! Works like a charm in my 12g Edge!


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