Part of the range of Aquaray LED lighting from UK based company TMC (Tropical Marine Centre) is the 8 channel lighting controller.
This controller allows you to plug in 8 channels which gives great scope for most sizes of home aquarium. The lights themselves come in the form of a tile or a strip. A tile will use up 2 channels and a strip just 1 channel. The channels themselves are split up to be controlled semi independently with 6 of the channels being controlled independently from the other 2. I should imagine the thinking behind this is that the 2 channels might be used for always on/moon lighting.
Set up of the unit is quite straight forward with just 3 buttons doing everything. the “Mode” button cycles through all the options in the menu and the plus and minus buttons used for adjusting the parameters. Scope of the unit is good, you can change when the lights come on and turn off, what level they will be on (between 0 and 100) and the time period which you wish them to ramp up and down from full on state.
It is also possible to have them ramp up from a lower level to higher level so for example, if you have a moonlight which you want to double up as a day time light then you can set it to be on level 1 for the “off” time and then ramp up to a higher level during day light hours.
Another cool feature of this lighting unit is the “storm function”. This is activated by means of pressing the minus button, it is clear on the display when you have activated it and once pressed the lights will dim right down over the period of 5 minutes and then for a half an hour period will occasionally and randomly pulse and flash simulating lightning. After the half an hour they will ramp back up over 5 minutes to normal conditions which you have set for that time of day. This is perfect for when you are performing water changes and is said to encourage breeding for certain types of fish. I can vouch for this when doing water changes although I do not know how much of additional effect this has on the fish’ attitude towards breeding during water changes however it is definitely a feature to show off to your mates!
One thing I would like to see as an improvement to this storm function is the ability to schedule it rather than have to press the button. Although it is designed to happen when you are changing the water and so you will be around to press it, it might be nice to have it automatic sometimes too in an instance where the unit isn’t easily accessible for example.
Overall this unit is fantastic for the TMC Aquaray lighting system and although it fetches a price tag of around £200, it also saves you on sockets and having to have and set a load of timer plugs which can be a nightmare after a power outage. This unit will remember the setting so if you unplug it, all your settings will be remembered.