Originally Posted by CampCreekTexas
Did you order the bulbs, reflectors and light fixtures from that company? If so...
1. Are you having fair plant growth in your 10 gallon (as in about enough to have to trim some fast growers every month or so)? Or are the plants just surviving?
2. How much of that light is going in the tank? And how much is lighting up the room it's in?
3. How did you like the company's service?
I have two ten gallon tanks to play with right now and am looking for something just like this to get my feet wet ~ easy, relatively inexpensive and reusable in case I find I really don't like planted tanks as much as I thought (so that won't hurt as much as if I spent the chunk of $$ it'd take to get two setups from AHSupply and time to build custom canopies. I'd like to have medium light in those tanks since from my research it seems there are lots of easy to grow, low and medium light plants out there ~ plenty to keep me busy. I'll be doing DIY CO2 as well and soon dosing ferts I get from GregWatson.com and following the directions from Rex Grigg's site.
I can understand your reluctance to invest much in an expensive proprietary fixture and uncertainty about staying long with a freshwater planted tank. so let me share my observations using these reflectors and 30w spiral bulbs over a 10gal tank these past 4 months.
-these 6500k bulbs are a perfect white color matching any other 6500k CF bulb you would buy for a far more expensive fixture.
-all spiral bulbs are less efficient at delivering growth wattage than standard flat tube bulbs even with a good reflector, so figure a 15% light wattage loss when comparing the two.
-the bulb and reflector come from the same source, while my screw in fixture came from someplace else. I suggest getting one extra reflector and bulb above what you plan to order since shipping is such a relatively large expense.
-to keep the light from leaking/glare out the sides, I keep the lip of my fixture cone at the top of my tank lip without any glass canopy only 1-2" inches from my waterline. since the bulb socket is 6" away there is no electrical risk. doing this effectively delivers light to only 2/3rds of my tank as the light is delivered across a 90° arc, so a second bulb/reflector/fixture would be needed to overlap the light cones and bath the entire tank in light. I actually like leaving a third of my tank in lower light, and simply plant lower light plants such as ferns, swords, and crypts in the dimmer third where I also have higher waterflow from my filter in/outlets. a two bulb solution would also be great for any 24" long tank (15 or 20gal).
-the light that leaks out the sides of your underwater tank glass is minimal, no more than a regular linear bulb fixture. however because there is a bit more light hitting higher on the tank glass from these spiral bulbs, you might see a large oval area of more green spot algae developing than usual on your glass. it's a simple matter to clean any buildup of algae on the glass during every water change using an exfoliant sponge. plant safe Ramshorn snails and/or Otocinclus do a great job reducing green spot algae naturally. (please discuss algae issues in another thread).
-you can raise the bulb higher and effectively cover the entire tank bottom, but only if you have a fixture cone longer than the reflector cone so the light does not leak out the sides. with the bulb raised higher you are effectively reducing the total light being delivered to your plants by another 15%.
-shop around for the right cone head light bulb housing, as you can often find really good ones at bargain 99¢ shops, office supply stores, and even garage sales. the size and shape of the reflector/bulb is the same as any standard incandescent outdoor flood light, so choose your fixture accordingly.
-for added safety, I prefer a fixture that mounts on my table, shelf or cabinet so the hood is 2/3rds along the length of my tank furthest from my filter in/outlets. I felt that a fixture that clips on my tank lip has too great a risk of falling in while I service my tank, unless you are willing to unclip and remove it each time.
-if the fixture cone is narrower than the reflector cone, you can cut slits in the the reflector foil to get it to fit right, but that will reduce it's effectiveness. that separate bulb reflector also acts as a radiant heat insulator, so you can use a plastic fixture hood as long as the socket neck is not too narrow (being in contact with the hot foil reflector). I use a metal hood, but even after 8 hours of lights on, it's still cool to the touch.
-I was very satisfied with the bulb/reflector vendor I used, but I'm sure there are plenty of other photography supply stores on the web that can sell you comparable items. just be sure the bulb/reflector mate well with each other, and the kelvin color and actual wattage (not it's incandescent equivalent) is clearly referenced by the reseller.