Looking to keep expensive corals in your saltwater tank? Stock lights won’t cut it.
You’re going to need a high-quality, completely customizable light that you can trust. For years, the AI Prime 16HD has been one of the most popular reef LEDs available.
This light is a pioneer in reef lighting and has succeeded in providing immense coral growth and coloration for beginner and advanced hobbyists alike. But this light might not be right for everyone.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the AI Prime 16HD and whether this light is right for your saltwater tank!
Intro to the AI Prime 16HD
Aqua Illumination, abbreviated as AI, offers several Prime reef and freshwater products:
- Prime Reef
- Prime Freshwater
- Prime Fuge
- Prime Sol
The Prime 16HD Reef is the most notable light and retails for between $200 and $300.
This design was one of the first arm-mount style lights several years ago. Since then, many companies have introduced comparable products, making the AI Prime 16HD fall somewhat out of favor.
While the AI Prime 16HD might not be the newest and best light available on the reefing market, many hobbyists had and still have success with this lighting fixture.
AI Prime 16HD Specs
When choosing a light for your reef aquarium, specs are everything. Light spectrum, intensity, customizability, app compatibility, reliability, and overall quality all play important roles in picking a marine light right for your reef.
The light alone measures 4.88 inches (12.4 cm) L x 4.88 inches W (12.4 cm) x 1.34 inches (3.4 cm) and weighs 0.95 lbs (0.43 kg). The included power cable measures 20 feet (6.1 m).
The key features of the AI Prime include:
HD Power. HD Power optimizes energy efficiency by drawing power from unutilized lights into currently used lights for a strong spectrum all the time.
HD Spectrum. The AI Prime 16HD spectrum has limitless frequency combinations for the best color mix to aid in coral color and growth.
Moonlight Setting. Your tank doesn’t shut off once the lights go out. The AI Prime 16HD programs to a moonlight setting which mimics lunar intensity and color.
Simple Built-in Control. The AI Prime 16HD can be connected via the myAI® app to any iOS or Android device for easy control and customization.
Tank Mount & Hanging Kit. Such an intense light cannot be hung directly over the aquarium. The Prime Tank Mount (available in black or silver) can be used to angle the light at a safe distance over the tank.
The Prime Hanging Kit (available in black or silver) can also be used to hang the light from the ceiling or another brace.
If neither of these options works for your aquarium setup, then the Flex Arm (available in 12 and 18in. lengths) can be installed.
Here are some fine details about the AI Prime 16HD:
- 24 x 24 inch (61 x 61 cm) spread
- Maximum PAR of 100µMol at 24 inch (61 cm) depth
- 55 watts (59 watts at full power)
- TIR lenses
- >90% optical efficiency
- Boosted color blending technology
- (4) Cool White
- (4) Blue
- (4) Royal Blue
- (1) Photo Red
- (1) Green
- (1) Violet
- (1) UV
- (1) Moonlight
Optimizing Your AI Prime 16HD
The AI Prime 16HD takes the work out of growing beautiful, healthy corals. There are a few steps to making sure you get the best color and growth out of your corals, though.
There are a few different factors to consider in terms of marine light settings and installation.
It should be noted that the AI Prime 16HD includes an acclimation mode that makes the transition from one light to another or for the addition of sensitive corals stress-free. This mode gently increases light intensities over the course of days to weeks to ensure the safest installation for livestock.
AI Prime 16HD Photoperiod
All things are important when it comes to aquarium lighting, and photoperiod is one of the most essential to get right.
Every aquarium has its own optimal photoperiod. In general, this range is between 8 to 10 hours of light with a 30 minute to 1 hour ramp up and down time.
The best thing about having a programmable light is that these hours don’t need to coincide with those outside! If you are not home during the day, then you can program your aquarium to be in direct sunlight when you’re home to enjoy it.
In regards to achieving an even yet vivid spectrum from your AI Prime 16HD throughout the day, there are many ways to program your light. Focus primarily on the blue light distribution as red, green, and white can lead to increased amounts of algae growth.
How Far Above Your Tank Should You Keep Your AI Prime 16HD?
This is an important question that all LED light users should ask before they install their light.
The answer to this question depends on the types of corals you plan on keeping. Most hobbyists mount their AI Prime 16HD between 7 to 12 inches (17.8-30.5 cm) above their tank.
Finding the sweet spot for your AI Prime will depend on the species of coral being kept; small polyp stony (SPS) corals require much brighter and more intense lighting profiles than large polyp stony (LPS) corals and soft corals.
This often leads SPS-dominant systems to have very close lighting with corals placed at the top of the rockwork.
How Many AI Prime 16HDs Does Your Tank Need?
A single AI Prime 16HD is great for small to medium reef tanks, but a bigger or deeper tank is going to need an additional fixture.
It is generally agreed that one AI Prime light will cover about 16 inches (40.7 cm) in length and width and about 12 inches (30.5 inches) in depth.
If your aquarium measures greater than these dimensions or falls in the upper ranges of them, then you will probably need another AI Prime 16HD or a more intense model. This light will comfortably light a nano reef.
AI Prime 16HD Problems
There aren’t too many problems that come along with this AI Prime light. However, users within the aquarium trade have made note of a couple of issues they’ve had with setup and long-term use.
These issues involve problems with the accompanying smart device app and overheating.
The AI Prime 16HD offers Bluetooth control. This digital dashboard allows you to schedule your lights as well as color mix spectrums and light intensities.
The problem that some users run into is syncing between the app and the light. As there is no way to control the light manually, this can cause some issues.
It’s also important to keep in mind that since this technology is Bluetooth based, you must be in the range of the aquarium to view, control, and change settings.
Another known problem with this AI Prime light is that it can overheat and cause the lens to melt. Though this has largely been fixed in recent design improvements, there is always the chance that plastic pieces can melt.
If you’re looking to upgrade the stock lights on your saltwater aquarium, the AI Prime 16HD is perfect for keeping SPS, LPS, and soft corals.
If you have a nano tank, a single light will keep your corals photosynthesizing. If you have a larger or deeper tank, then you’ll need multiple lights. Make sure to check out all your lighting options before settling on one.
If you have any questions about the AI Prime 16HD or have personally used this saltwater aquarium light, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!