Commercial vs Aquarium bulbs - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-22-2004, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not trying to start a debate between Kelvin and spectrum or whatever. I just wonder if there is any difference between the regular 6500 daylight bulb that you get from HomeDepot or reg. bulbs website and 6500 Aquarium brand bulb. The price difference is a lot. I tried one and don't see too much difference. Is there any special spectrum that the Aquarium brand adds or modify?

I give to a price comparison : 15 watts 6500 daylight is only less than $4 at 1000bulbs and Coralife and other aquarium brand will cost around $14.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-22-2004, 07:42 PM
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The aquarium bulbs are overpriced. What you need to look for is the CRI rather than the kelvin. Kelvin will affect what the light looks like to you, but CRI determines how well it grows plants. You want a CRI above 85. 100 being the highest, the closer to 100 you go, the closer to sunlight you get.
(natural sunlight has a CRI of 100)
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-22-2004, 08:53 PM
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I believe the ratings that matter most for growing plants aren't listed on the packages. This is the PAR rating, which is basically a measure of the amount of photosynthesis light given out.

Has lots of good info regarding lighting and a table for comparing all sorts of bulbs.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-22-2004, 09:05 PM
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I heard CRI is hardly critical at all. For example, the GE 9325K bulbs have a CRI of about 67. Falling out of the "ideal" >85, yet it is one of the best plant bulbs out there. PAR is much more important: as the Capt. said - "is basically a measure of the amount of photosynthesis light given out."

Simply the most important factor though is WATTS. Plants just need enough light. So to answer the question, aquarium bulbs are overpriced commercial bulbs. They might have some more ideal/natural color or theoretically grow plants better - but in terms of bulk growing power - most commercial bulbs give more bang for the buck.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-22-2004, 09:19 PM
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CRI is the Colour Rendering Index. This is simply a measure of how accurately a bulb reproduces colour compared to direct sunlight (CRI of 100).

CRI has very little to do with how well a bulb grows plants.

In the past Bulbs that use da High CRI typically used a phosphor that was BAD for growing plants (typically found in bulbs with a CRI over 88). Nowadays this isnt really an issue.

I am going to have to dispute the other posts here as well. I do believe that many "aquarium" bulbs have value over your typical commercial bulb. They are certainly overpriced, but they are most certainly not commericial bulbs.

Many bulbs from GE, Phillips, Sylvania, etc around 6500k have a sprectrum that is fairly high in the green, and not in the red and blue where it is better for plants. Coralife, Hagen, URI, etc tend to artificially boost the spectrum into the red and blue providing more benifical light per watt then your average commercial bulbs.

Capt has the right idea.. If you can find the PAR rating for the bulb, that is ideal. If you can't, try to find the true spectral output.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-22-2004, 09:37 PM
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GDominy I agree it's tough to beat the aquarium bulbs. Yes they are pricey but they are also t8s, where the only bulbs I can get cheaper in 2 foot lengths are t12s. T8s are more intense light so that helps right there.

Rolo I am going by the assumption that all bulbs would have the same wattages. If watts are equal there are other important factors to consider.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-22-2004, 09:38 PM
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I stand corrected ops:
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