In case anyone reads the conversation I have with Hoppy below - these Coralife T5NO fixtures are growing plants real fast! It's not super bright and growth is a little leggy, but I have almost 0 algae (8 amano shrimp is the only kind of "algae crew" in there at this time and the only place algae exists is on the glass...plants wood are CLEAN) - I hung them 1" above tank.
Thanks Hoppy! Don't think I would enjoy trying to keep up with T5HO Growth at this time, maybe in the future, near or far, but this is great lighting for my first foray into planted tanks!
Hoppy. I hope you don't mind me sending this PM, but you seem very informed about lighting. I was wondering of you've heard of anyone with a 29 gallon tank, which is 30" in width, using a 24" light? It seems 30" T5ho are a little more rare. Thanks for any help! I appreciate it.
A good T5HO reflector used with T5NO bulbs, driven at T5NO power, should produce as much as double what a Coralife light produces. Great reflectors almost triple the light from a bulb. Coralife reflectors are poor.
Cannot and will not argue! That seems great then. Hopefully I can find two of the coralife 36 inch fixtures ; I can replace the bulbs with any brand so going out of business doesn't matter right? Is a reflector from say a catalina 4 bulb t5ho fixture (with t5NO bulbs) going to be signifcantly brighter or should it still be in that 40 mms range you recommend? I can get a custom fixture there but are their reflectors "too good" for a four bulb spread?
Look at some of Tom Barr's (Plantbrain) tanks. Those are now all running at 40 mms of PAR or less. He uses high CO2, very high surface rippling, and other tactics to get high O2 levels in his tanks. Then, he grows whatever plants he wants to grow, and sells the excess regularly. I can't see any way to argue with that success.
That seems like a pretty low PAR, even for low light tank. I do know you recommend low light. I am ready and willing - in fact eager - to use the dual stage CO2 system I just finished and wonder if there is a way to take more advantage but still in that low/medium sweet spot.
A 40 breeder tank is about 16 inches high. If you have 3 inches of substrate, and the bulbs are about an inch above the top of the tank, they will be about 14 inches from the substrate. A Coralife 2 bulb T5NO light should give you about 40 mms of PAR at that distance. If you use two of them spread about 8 inches or so apart, you should get pretty uniform 40 mms PAR over the whole substrate. Unfortunately it is hard to find any Coralife T5NO lights now. You could do without CO2 with that light level, but Excel would help the plants a lot.