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AquaIllumination LED Reef Lighting (Updated)


About six months in the past I made a decision to chunk the bullet and improve my reef lighting.

I used to be utilizing an previous T5 fixture, which I can solely describe as “simply okay”. It at all times did the trick for my tender corals and LPS corals, however progress was by no means spectacular.

I’ve been studying about LED fixtures for fairly a while, and its fairly superb how far they’ve come over the previous few years. I keep in mind the times when Steel Halides (with all of their huge drawbacks) have been the gold normal, however LEDs have actually turn out to be the cornerstone of high-end reef tanks.

A Fast Be aware: This publish was initially written concerning the AI Prime HD+, however has been up to date for the AI Prime 16HD. Here’s a fast abstract of the professionals / cons of the brand new 16HD model. Should you’re searching for a fast abstract, I nonetheless suggest this gentle and the brand new 16HD is even higher than earlier variations!


  • Higher spectrum because of an addition 3 LEDs (16 bulbs vs 13 within the HD+).
  • Higher PAR output
  • Identical low profile design as the unique HD+. Nonetheless appears superior!
  • Detachable display for straightforward cleansing


  • Not connects to WIFI, solely makes use of bluetooth
  • It’s a must to purchase the mounting package seperately, since this isn’t included with the sunshine

The AI Prime 16HD

Overview of my Reef Tank

Here’s a little bit of background information on the setup I examined the AI Prime on:

Tank Setup

I’m pairing my AI Prime with a 20 gallon Innovative Marine Nuvo Fusion, which is a spectacular tank that I’ve actually loved proudly owning. Admittedly, I ought to most likely have purchased two Primes to have a great unfold. My pockets was a bit tight, so I made a decision to go together with only one and rescape my tank to accommodate.

So long as you rock grouping is in direction of the center of the tank, you shouldn’t have an issue with progress (so long as you’re not attempting to maintain any actually tough corals).

Coral Choice

My tank is dominated by principally LPS corals with some softies combined in. I don’t at the moment have any SPS corals, however plan to maneuver into this sooner or later. Take my coral choice into consideration when deciding if the AI Prime is best for you.

Should you’re operating an SPS heavy tank, you would possibly need to step it as much as an AI Hydra or Kessil A160 fixture.

AI Prime 16HD Fast Overview

  • Effectiveness: Nice coral progress and coloration. A lot better than T5 fixture.
  • Value: Sort of pricy. Ought to be anticipated although of any good LED fixture.
  • Customization: Love the absolutely controllable app. Makes it extraordinarily simple to manage remotely.
  • Equipment: Mount is critically missing. Hope AI comes out with a greater one ASAP.

What We Like Concerning the AI Prime 16HD

Listed below are a number of of our favourite issues about this unit:

Nice Coral Development

Like I stated, I’ve solely been utilizing the AI Prime for six months or so. In that brief time, although, my corals grew greater than they ever had with my T5 fixture. Since I solely preserve LPS and Tender Corals, I don’t run my prime at full energy. I believe that if I needed to ramp it as much as 100%, I may undoubtedly convert it into an SPS tank.

Truthfully, I used to be sort of nervous concerning the change from T5 to LED. I had at all times used T5 and it labored properly for me, however I figured it was time for an improve. I’m blown away at how a lot my corals love the AI Prime, although. Particularly, my Hammer coral and Frogspawn appear so be benefiting essentially the most. They sort of hit a “plateau” with the T5s, however have grown a number of new heads since switching. My Zoas appear to be rising fairly steadily as properly!

Vibrant Colours

Dropping shade in my corals, particularly my Zoanthids, was one in every of my most important considerations. T5s are infamous for bringing out the perfect colours, and that was one thing that I actually didn’t need to lose. Fortunately, I used to be pleasantly shocked by how nice my corals regarded beneath the AI Prime.

I feel a giant purpose that I used to be in a position to get good coloration in my corals is due to the AI Prime’s customization choices. I used to be in a position to mess around with the setting and regulate every shade to my liking. This can be a enormous step up from my previous lights, which principally simply operated at one energy 24/7. It’s good to have the ability to tinker with the settings till you’re completely happy!

Customization Choices​

This one is big for me. I’ve by no means owned one thing as excessive tech because the AI Prime, so it was undoubtedly a pleasant change. Most significantly, the flexibility to customized energy every gentle class allowed me to dial in my Prime to the precise settings I wanted. This can be a fairly widespread query amongst new Prime house owners, so I’m going to share my settings right here:​

  • CW 50%, DB 65%, DR 15%, G 15%, B 65%, UV 65%, V 65%
  • Dawn: 9:00 AM, Sundown: 4:00 PM with a 3 hour ramp for each dawn/sundown
  • Sits about 9 inches off the water floor

The setup for the cellular utility is fairly easy and straightforward. If I managed to determine it out, anybody can. I actually benefit from the lunar mode, which simulates the present lunar phases to create a pure atmosphere. Should you plan to maintain you tank within the bed room, the lunar section won’t be for you. Personally, the blue gentle doesn’t hassle me an excessive amount of.

Lastly, I need to focus on the storm function pre-programmed into the AI Prime. Although extraordinarily cool, I’m not positive if there may be a lot sensible use for this function. I assume it lends to the pure atmosphere, however I doubt it is extremely useful. I have to say, although, it’s fairly convincing. Flip it on in a darkish room and you may be satisfied it’s thunder storming outdoors.

Glossy Design and Quiet

I have a tendency to love the “minimalist” search for my reef tanks. Consequently, cumbersome lights usually put me off, which is why I used to be hesitant to modify from my T5 fixture. Once I noticed the design and measurement of the AI Prime, I knew i needed to have it. The prime measures solely 4.88 x 4.88 x 1.35 and weighs lower than a pound. You’ll be arduous pressed to seek out any type of gentle fixture available on the market smaller than that. It actually helps protect the low profile of my reef tank and doesn’t add any obligatory bulk.

As well as, the AI Prime is extraordinarily quiet. Should you preserve your tank within the bed room like me, it is a enormous plus. The followers are barely audible from a number of ft away.

What We Don’t Like Concerning the AI Prime 16HD

After all, this AI unit isn’t good. Right here are some things we didn’t like throughout our testing:

The Tank Mount

There actually aren’t many possibility relating to mounting your AI Prime. AI makes solely two completely different fashions, and neither of them are excellent. Main as much as my buy, I learn actually unhealthy issues concerning the mount; cracking items, hinges coming off, and many others. To be sincere, I used to be anticipating a bit worse primarily based off the critiques I learn on-line. What I received was simply sort of common; not nice, however not unusable.

One of many largest criticism concerning the Prime mount is that it’s arduous to make use of with tanks with a rim. I’ve a Nuvo Fusion, which is rimless, so I personally didn’t expertise this downside. In line with critiques, although, there isn’t any solution to tighten down the connecting screw sufficient in case your tank has a rim. For anybody that runs into this downside, I might counsel trying right into a wall fixture or hanging mount. There are tons of DIY tasks that shouldn’t be too tough.

Doesn’t Have The Greatest Unfold

Edit: I’m completely happy to say that this situation has been mounted within the latest model of the sunshine (AI Prime 16HD, not the HD+). The unfold has completely improved because of a further 3 LEDs so I wouldn’t fear about this situation an excessive amount of anymore.

I used to be hesitant if I ought to put this on the “what we don’t like” a part of the overview. That being stated, solely having one Aqua Illumination Prime on a 24″ lengthy tank created a little bit of shadows. This didn’t actually hassle me an excessive amount of, however I may see how it could pose an issue for some reefers. I preserve comparatively simple corals and every thing is ready up close to the middle of the tank, so the unfold was 100% superb for my wants. In case you are operating an extended tank and plan to maintain tough corals in direction of the ends, it’s possible you’ll must go together with two Primes.

Based mostly on my use, I might say that so long as you don’t plan to maintain SPS corals on the far edges of your tank, one Prime is ample for tanks as much as 24″ lengthy. Any greater than that, the PAR values might drop too low. Simply attempt to preserve SPS and LPS corals in direction of the middle and any softies on the ends.

Total, the unfold supplied greater than sufficient gentle for my tank/corals, however may probably deliver forth some points relying on what you intend to maintain.

Steadily Requested Questions

  • What’s the unfold? – The brand new AI Prime 16HD has an expansion of 24″ x 24″
  • What’s the PAR output? – The 16HD has a PAR of 100µMol at about 24″
  • How a lot energy does this gentle use? – The 16HD attracts a most of 55 watts, making it fairly environment friendly.
  • Does the sunshine include mounting package? – The 16HD doesn’t include any kind of mounting package. You have to to buy both the tank mount, hanging package, or flex arm.
  • How a lot noise does it make? – The AI Prime isn’t silent, however it’s undoubtedly fairly quiet. From a number of ft away you need to barely be capable of discover the sound.

Closing Ideas

The one important damaging I can consider relating to the Prime is the mount. Even then, it is just a mount. In case you are a little bit helpful, or know somebody who’s, it’s not too arduous to make the mount work. Just a bit tinkering and you need to be good to go.

Total, I might extremely suggest the AI Prime 16HD to any reef tank proprietor. The advantages far outweigh any negatives skilled with this gentle. The low profile, smooth design actually took the look of my tank to the subsequent degree. I by no means realized how cumbersome my previous gentle was earlier than I put this one up!

By far, the perfect factor concerning the AI Prime is the expansion that it promoted in my corals. I’ve at all times been a coral individual. The truth is, I usually take into account changing my tank right into a coral solely setup. The distinction in shade/progress with the AI Prime makes the worth appear negligent. If I may return, I might have ditched my T5 fixture and gone to the Prime means sooner. Do your self a favor and provides the AI Prime a strive, you’ll not be dissatisfied!


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