One of the problems with many of the smaller aquariums is that it is very difficult to find lighting units for them. This is especially true with plastic aquariums which can melt or crack with any heat producing light. At first glance, Marina's LED White Light set up appears the perfect solution for many small tanks. Not only can you use this with plastic aquariums, as there is no heat produced, you can completely submerge this. Some years ago I had a wonderful set of submersible lights which created truly stunning effects on my underwater scenes. Although this has only one light, I was still very hopeful that this could create a very nice effect in the small beta tank beside my bed.
This was bought for a cube tank which is 12" square. These tanks are novelties, for desktops and not really suited for many fish. My husband had bought one for my son, but it was quickly decided that it was too small for much of anything to live in. At the same time we ended up needing another tank for my sons beta, and I ended up with the whole set up as a bedside tank. My husband had also bought the light and gave it a quick try, just to make sure it was working before binning all the packaging, receipt, etc..
As we were changing tanks about this sat without being used for over a week, but once everything was set up in my room I was keen to give it a try. I really enjoy watching fish at night. I think it is a pleasant way to get sleepy but I turn the light out before going to sleep and bright lights do put me off. I set this up with the light on the outside of the glass lid pointing down into the water, turned it on and then switched all the lights off in the room. I was surprised at just how dim it was. In a darkened room, I could just barely make out the light, and the shape of the fish if he swam directly underneath it. I unplugged it, thinking to fiddle with the next day. I was not looking for a bright light. In fact I have far more night vision than the average person, and bright lights hurt my eyes. However, I could see more from the light seeping through a crack in my curtains in the middle of the night than from this light. This produces significantly less light than my electric toothbrush or DS charging, both of which get a towel thrown over them at night as the light annoys me.
The following day I carefully checked the connections. It is really very simple, you have an electric plug with a black cord and female socket, and a silver cord with the lamp attached and male socket end. You simply join the two ends and plug the unit into the mains. There is no on and off switch, it is simply plugged in or unplugged. The bulb itself is sealed to make it water proof, so is not replaceable. I had hoped to get at least several months of use from the led though as my previous underwater lights worked for years. In daylight I struggled to see if the light was on or off, but by looking directly into the bulb you could see some difference, but no actual light emitting from it.
I waited for night and tried again. I tried this both underwater and out, but the dim light of the night before was now even lower. I had to pull the unit out of the water or off the lid to look directly at the bulb to determine if it was on or off in the dark. It really is nearly impossible to tell whether this is on or off by looking at the tank. I tried swiveling the lamp every which way, plugging and unplugging the unit - hoping for some magic reset, and finally gave up and tossed it in the drawer.
I should have returned this to Pets at Home, but without the packaging and two weeks later felt awkward. I considered buying a new light attachment, but looking on Amazon I found another reviewer had the same issue with the light, so it has been in my drawer until now, as I have taken it out to review it. I half heartedly hooked it up and tried again. No luck. I won't bother putting this back in the drawer. I'm afraid the bin is more appropriate.
I will point out that any wires which are submersed inside a fish tank tend to grow algae. This wasn't in long enough for any growth to start, but if you are setting up underwater lighting be prepared to scrub the wires frequently. You should also be aware that large fish can pull wires about. I would recommend carefully tucking the wire into a corner and attaching with additional suction cups if needed. Of course if using this outside of the tank, this will not be an issue. I would also advise unplugging the entire unit when you want to turn the light off. I do not feel at all comfortable with live electric cords laying about near fish tanks, and I could see most children, and many adults simply pulling the lamp connection from the electric connection at night. I do think an on/off switch would have been a helpful addition to this product.
Like all LED lamps, this lamp will not provide ultraviolet light. It not suitable in any way for reptiles or any animal that requires some daylight or simulated daylight. It is not suitable for growing plants, but on the plus side, I do not believe it contributes to algae growth either.
However, as much as I hate this thing, I have to admit - if it worked it would be brilliant. The suction cup really does work well. It stays attached very well and the lamp can be rotated to several positions, so you could really achieve some lovely effects with these lights. The lamp unit appears very well made, and lamps can be bought in other colours. I understand you can also buy a unit that has sockets for 3 lamps, but this one can only work a single lamp. This really was a very good idea, and if Marina end up fixing the problem with the led bulbs, this could be a great product. Based on my experience though, this gets a single star and a recommendation to choose any other lighting unit instead of this one. In all honesty, a rechargeable toothbrush set next to your tank will provide more lighting!