are compact floresent bulbs good for plants? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-02-2002, 02:26 AM Thread Starter
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I am talking about the kind like the ones that screw into a incandesent fixture and swirl around to look like a regular light bulb. Are these good for plants?

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-02-2002, 02:34 AM
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I've heard of many people using them for plants. They seem to be an inexpensive way to add "full spectrum" lighting to a smaller tank. If you have a large tank ,it probably wouldn't be economically feasible.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-02-2002, 04:18 AM
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First off welcome to the Board!!

Compact flourescents can be very good and cheap if you don't want all of the hassle of having to install flourescent ballasts. However there are some down sides.

The main downside are they can get pretty hot since they have all the intense light concentrated in that small area. Also it is very hard to find a bulb that your plants will benefit from. Most stores don't carry these kinds. However you might get lucky.

Try and find a bulb with the following stats if you can:

5000 K + (K is the color of the bulb, Plants benefit from plants anywhere in the 4000 - up to 10 000 K range)

1500-2000 Lumens (More is better but it is hard to find anything more in Compact FLourescents)

CRI - 80 +

Hope this helps! Kyle

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-02-2002, 10:15 PM
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Hey...i just modified my allglass/hagen 5 gallon kit to accept CF bulbs in the canopy...right now i have two 15W (equiv to 110W incandescent if that matters?) in there..because i had those bulbs.

my question this too much light? I know the general rule is 3-5W/gallon...

15 x 2 = 30/5 = 6W/Gallon...
i know i saw 11W bulbs dirt cheap at ikea the other day...but instead of having to go to the store i thought i'd post here.
thanks in advance

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-03-2002, 02:06 AM
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Hey...i just modified my allglass/hagen 5 gallon kit to accept CF bulbs in the canopy...right now i have two 15W (equiv to 110W incandescent if that matters?) in there..because i had those bulbs.
You are fine with that lighting. The 3-5wpg rule breaks down for both small and large tanks. Meaning you need to increase the wpg for small tanks and can decrease the wpg for larger tanks. (exception being deeper tanks)

Many experts mention that 30W of Normal Output fluorescent lighting is the least amount of light one should use to grow healthy plants. The only problem lies with CO2 injection, it can be difficult to properly manage CO2 in a really small tank.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-04-2002, 02:28 PM
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This is where I got my 23 watt 5100K CF's...plants are growing wonderfully with CO2!

These guys were professional and prompt (and inexpensive).

They have up to 27w 5100K's...

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-18-2002, 05:44 PM
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Presently I have just a 10 gal which I will use for a quarantine tank when I get a bigger one. So I don't want to spend too much money on it. But I do want to change from plastic to live plants. I have one Narrow Leaf Chain Sword so far.

I have two 15 watt incandescent bulbs and thought it would be easier just to put in Compact Florescents (CFs) than buy a florescent hood. But now I'm not sure. It's costing so much maybe a new florescent hood would be better. I'd appreciate any advice on which way to go.

If you suggest buying a florescent hood, what should I expect to pay and what bulb would you suggest?

I can find CFs locally but they have very low K values. The bulbs I'm considering are from at 5100k:

7 or 11 watt spiral mini about 4" long at $8 plus $5 shipping


15 watt tube about 6" long at $12.50 plus $5 shipping

I would start with one CF bulb and add another when I had more plants.

The spirals are so short they won't distribute the light as evenly but they come in 7 and 11 watts. The tube shape starts at 15.

I don't think I need too much to start, and I am very concerned about the heat.


Thanks, Peter
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-18-2002, 08:11 PM
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Most standard base compact flourescents are too yellow for aquariums. They'll grow algae more than anything else. The color of the light will actually be very similar to your incandescent lights (since that is the light these bulbs are designed to replace).
I have managed to find some "daylight" CF bubls. Philips makes a chroma 50 bulb that Home Depot carries. I used this bulb on a nano reef before and the light is excellent. The main downside is its cost - about $15 a bulb. You could put two of these in your hood and have 3 watts per gallon, but the heat will definitely be excessive. If you can figure out a way to get a fan on that hood, maybe cut a few cooling holes in each side, you probably could get away with it.

Personally, I would rather just build a wood canopy and overdrive a pair of 18" F15T8 bulbs. You could get the bulbs for $4 a piece (GE P&A 18" bulbs) and the ballast for $25. I'm using this on my 20g reef and the light is awesome!

Here's a link on how to do it...

- Sam P -
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