Introduction: $25 Pico Aquarium Reef Light
This is an ideal light for anyone who has a small tank but doesn't want to invest a lot of money into a light that will be overkill, or a cheap light of unknown quality. I see a lot of forum posts of people asking for cheap light recommendations for picos/nanos and also refugiums. You can tweak the LED colors and use this in any situation where you need a small number of high power LEDs. For SW the best color combination I've found is 2:1 ratio Royal Blue and 4500k Neutral white.
Ideal uses: Pico reef tank, Pico/nano freshwater tank (swap out the blues for more white), algae scrubber (swap out for red/blue), or as a refugium light.
Limitations: This is best suited for aquariums around 3 gallons or less. I wouldn't expect great results in a larger tank unless you scale it (there's a way to do this in the video). Additionally I would use name brand LEDs if at all possible (such as CREE/Luxeon). Using cheap import LEDs could result in less desirable coloration and performance.
Step 1: My Pico Reef
I've been running this light successfully on a 6 quart food storage container turned into a pico reef tank since December 2017.
Step 2: Materials and Links
$5 * Meanwell LDD-700 HW https://www.ledsupply.com/led-drivers/mean-well-ld...
$8 * 2x Royal Blue XT-E https://www.ledsupply.com/leds/cree-xlamp-xt-e-roy...
$3.50 * 1x Neutral white (4000-5000K) https://www.ledsupply.com/leds/cree-xlamp-xt-e-whi...
$2.50 * 12-24v LED PWM dimmer https://www.amazon.com/XtraLED-Dimming-Controller-...
$6 * 12v 2A DC power supply https://www.amazon.com/Choose-Nice-TM-Switching-Re...
TOTAL: $25. Pricing and links as of June 2018 and include free shipping.
Other needed materials:
- Old computer heatsink or similar. Try to use as big of one as you have – bar stock won’t be enough unless you use a 350mA driver. I also prefer no fan so I use larger heatsinks (such as one from an old Pentium 2)
- Some wire to go from the dimmer to the LED (I took apart an old phone charger and used the cord)
- Some thermal epoxy (A suuuuuuper thin layer of regular epoxy would probably work – just be sure there’s no air behind the star. Worst case scenario drill 5 holes and jam some short screws in)
- A soldering iron and some rosin core solder
- Double sided tape
- Electrical tape and/or heat shrink tubing
- A screwdriver
- Wire strippers