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We Chat With Dave Fason of NanoBox About LED Lighting, Building a Following, and Supporting Small Businesses

Marine Depot recently started carrying NanoBox aquarium lights so we thought we’d sit down with owner Dave Fason to talk about his company and what makes his lights so popular with hobbyists.

What is your background and how did you start building LED fixtures?

Prior to NanoBox I managed a warehouse and retail front for a paintball company. During this time I played professional paintball and enjoyed reef aquariums as a hobby. One of my biggest issues with aquariums was the terrible aesthetics of the lighting. I tried numerous light options but felt that they took away from clean appearance I was trying to achieve. I researched the emerging LED lighting options and decided to try it out. I learned basic electrical and machining techniques and started to build LED units for my personal tank. I documented my progress of creating what I thought would be my perfect light on forums. After posting pictures of my completed projects online people started to contact me to buy them! I ended up selling many of my first prototypes to people like me that wanted a light as cool as their tank. After two years of building custom lights, I started NanoBox.

What motivates you to create custom fixtures for people?

I enjoy seeing the end creation that the customer creates. It is not just about the corals but the overall look of the tank. You don’t want a tank to look like a eight year olds science project!

What is your bestselling fixture/setup?

The NanoBox Mini Tide has been the most successful fixture.

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What sets your lights apart from other industry staples?

Creating the perfect light was my obsession and focus for years. I keep up with my research and I’m constantly looking at ways to improve the fixtures as technology and style evolves. The NanoBox light spectrum, fixture aesthetics and customization are the things that set my lights apart. I believe that my customers should receive a fixture that not only allows for successful reef keeping but also looks amazing.

Why do you still build every fixture by hand?

When I order a handmade product for myself I believe I am not only supporting a small business but also getting a product that is made especially for me. The same goes for each unit I build. This is my craft. Every unit I make will have my personal touch and I love knowing that!

You’ve amassed quite a social following. How has word-of-mouth impacted the growth of your business?

Word of mouth and social media has been the back bone to NanoBox. NanoBox would NOT be where it is now without the support of my followers and advocates. Constant interaction with customers such as sharing pictures or being a “reef nerd” with them in discussions goes a long way. Plus, I really enjoy it! I get excited when my personal pictures are shared by big companies so why not do the same for the supporters of NanoBox?

Is there anything you want the world to know about NanoBox lighting?

NanoBox is a small company based out of Greensboro, North Carolina located in Revolution Mills. (Fun fact: It is one of the oldest refurbished mill buildings in area.) Almost every component of my product is made here in the USA and I try to support as many small businesses in North Carolina as possible.

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What do you think is the most important thing about LED lighting that hobbyists should know or may be missing?

Quit adjusting your settings! This function is one of the best features but it can also be the worst. Keep a setting and stick with it for a couple months. Stressing your corals everyday by dramatically changing your lighting settings will only stunt their growth and could be a cause of poor coloration.

What advantages or disadvantages do you see with LED lighting when compared to classic lights such as T5s or Metal Halides?

LED lighting will grow any coral when properly illuminated. The issue is most people do not properly light there tanks. Smaller tanks under 100-120 gallons are perfect for LED fixtures. Once you start to get much larger you need to many fixtures to light a tank correctly. Mixing LED with T5s is the perfect combination for larger tanks. It will effectively light your tank and bring out incredible colors of any species of corals. Metal halides still work great, but they have drawbacks such as their size, the heat they produce and, to me, they can be an eyesore.

How did you decide on the specific types and numbers of LEDs that you use in each fixture?

I’ve played with hundreds, yes hundreds, of LEDs. I believe the Philips line has the best selection for our tanks. These are what I use in my units. The colors, power and efficiency go hand in hand with what corals need. The rest is pretty simple. The number of LEDs is based on the fixture size and the fixture size is determined by the tank that will be using it. I’m a believer in LEDs and look forward to seeing what’s next with this technology. It’s only going to make the light options better.

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