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Algae Room Lights


Robin Pearl ( We are expanding our algae room, and I am considering using LED lights instead of the typical fluorescent lights.  Obviously, fluorescent lights work, but the longer life and brightness of LEDs appeal to me.  Not sure if the algae like them though....  Your input on using LEDs in algae rooms would be appreciated.


Durwood Dugger (, Hi Robin, I haven’t seen much technical/definitive discussion about shrimp hatchery algae culture and LEDs, however there is quite a bit of discussion in the marine aquarium community on the types of LEDs and LED light qualities necessary to satisfy the critical algal needs in marine aquariums.


Recently, I read an LED article that recommended that consumers wait until the next generation LEDs arrives before replacing current fluorescents.  According to the article, current fluorescents are less expensive to operate than most current LEDs of the same light output.  I read the article several months ago, and, unfortunately, I don’t have the reference.


Having spent decades fighting the problems that fluorescent lights cause in algae rooms—if I were starting a new project, I would go with LEDs to avoid things like the additional cooling requirement of LEDs, rusting transformers and corroding wiring.


Nelson Gerundo ( Hi Robin, check out Illumitex’s website for LEDs and Algae -The Possibilities are Endless.


Durwood Dugger (, Though I haven’t dealt with Illumitex, they seem to be primarily focused on growing plants in greenhouses, although they have done some work with algae culture and biofuels in the past.


One of the things (in my admitted limited LED experiences) that I have run into is that there are substantial mark-ups from companies that produce and install LED light fixtures and the custom controls to make them work.  Essentially, LEDs and their required power components are mostly off the shelf products supplied by a myriad of companies around the world (especially China).  There are pages and pages of LED component products on eBay and Alibaba.


Consequently, custom LED fixture companies will probably charge considerably more for their design and installation time than your resources might require.  If cost is a primary consideration you might want to review their products carefully and compare them with what you might be able to comfortably achieve with your own resources.


Depending on your algae species, production system and the level of controller complexity you want, I suggest placing standard LEDs behind a wall of polycarbonate or glass.  Wiping down a smooth wall of polycarbonate is far easier and less time consuming than cleaning the salt and crud build up on the typical individual LED housings strips, tubes, or boxes.  Don’t ignore maintenance cost in any design.  Additionally, like fluorescents, the transformers for your LEDs will need to be outside of your algae room to reduce heating/cooling costs.


Nelson Gerundo ( Hi Robin, this is one of the diatom starter culture rooms that I managed during my career in the shrimp farming industry.  a single row of regular 40-watt, 4-foot-long, fluorescent tubes illuminate each level of this vertical set up.




I have no idea about your starter culture volume requirement, but you could do an on-site trial.  Just replace some of your existing fluorescent tubes with corresponding LED tubes and compare the diatom growth.


Jeff Prochaska ( Hi Robin, I recently visited a facility that switched from fluorescent to LED lights for the cylinder stage of Chaetoceros culture.  They seem to work just fine.  I’m not sure how the overall cost compares, but LEDs produce much less heat, which is a bonus.  They were using 120 watts (6, 20-watt LED tubes) per 300-liter cylinder.  I think they were the 4-foot tubes.


Nelson Gerundo ( Hi Robin, at a biosecure, indoor, mass culture tank, we use translucent fiberglass roofing to take advantage of natural light during the day.  At night, we turn on the fluorescent lights.  You could do the same thing: cost-saving natural light during the day and LED light at night.


Here is an image of one of the mass algal tanks.  We always maintain three species of diatoms: (1) Thalassiosira pseudonana, (2) Chaetoceros gracilis and (3) a large, local, rapidly multiplying species of Thalassiosira.




Nelson Gerundo ( If your microalgae volume requirement is less than would merit using large tanks, here is a picture of a smaller system that uses upright transparent plastic bags, side-lighted by fluorescent tube lamps.




Robin Pearl ( I thank all of you for your ideas.  We will do a bit work and report back to you with our findings.


Source: The Shrimp List (a mailing list for shrimp farmers).  Subject: Algae Room Lights.  January 11-12, 2018.


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