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charlie_bebop 12-11-2012 07:27 PM

Doing LED lighting on the cheap
Hi there. I have a 75g planted tank, 60 cm tall. I'm currently using 3 x T8 40W bulbs to light, but plants tend to be a bit hit and miss. A lot of it is probably down to my plecos attacking the plants, but I think the lighting could be better as well. I'd like to try CO2, but want to get better lighting first. So, like lots of others who want to keep the running costs down and generally be nicer to the planet, I'd like to use LEDs

The stickler is the cost, with what are generally defined to be aquarium LED sets running into hundreds of pounds, and requiring cooling etc. However I've seen on ebay a lot of lighting units like this:

Also tubular units with 200+ LEDs. Given the price (about 20GBP) they're obviously just standard LEDs rather than high power ones, but I imagine they're making up for power with sheer quantity. I was wondering about picking maybe 3 of these up and putting them in a row in the hood, to replace the T8s. But I've come to get some advice from those who know much more than me. I would imagine there's a good reason I'm missing out on why other planted tank owners don't use stuff like this - would it be completely ineffective and a waste of money?

Any advice gratefully received

jbrady33 12-11-2012 09:25 PM

Not sure if the Finnex FugeRay or Ray2 led products are available where you are, but they have been great for me. You could do 2 lengthwise on a glass lid, or 3 or 4 short ones front to back on a rimless setup.

JoeGREEEN 12-11-2012 09:36 PM


Originally Posted by charlie_bebop (Post 2106679)
However I've seen on ebay a lot of lighting units like this:

The thing is most of those cheap ebay LED mass light arrays/tubes is that there is not even enuff power for mood lighting,LOL.

But seriously, the reason most useful plant growing LED fixtures are expen$ive is due to quality optics, powerful AND Efficient LED emmiters, and good design.

There have been many threads here on those cheap 10watt china LED emmiters bought off Ebay

Though I dont have any experience with these chinese Leds.

You dont need bright lights to use co2 in your aquarium. But I do understand the desire to obtain useful LED on the near cheap.

jbrady33 12-11-2012 09:43 PM

Oh yeah, those led spots do look promising!

ReluctantHippy 12-12-2012 12:35 AM

There are effective cheap LED units and non effective unit. The picture you posted is a pretty terrible unit as it runs many many very small diodes which have terrible penetration. The LED flood lights use arrays consisting of 1w diodes and work pretty well for the price. Cheap units specifically created for aquariums with >1w diodes also work pretty well, ie Beamswork.

charlie_bebop 12-12-2012 05:57 PM

Thanks for the advice everyone - it's as I suspected

The beamswork ones look nice - I would like to keep my hood though - jumpers scare me, and light escape annoys me.

I'm considering make my own with T5 HO, but even the ballasts are expensive - it's getting difficult to find any cheap option for this

JoeGREEEN 12-12-2012 07:48 PM

another cheap option is building your own hood out of wood and installing verticaly mounted CFLs a bit above the water line. with this you can change the light intensity by swapping a 13watt bulb for a 19 watt or 23 watt. the downside is that the bulbs can get in the way of inside tank maint (planting etc.) but I usally remove the hood anyhow to do this comfortably

Edub 12-12-2012 07:52 PM

Cheap gu10 led bulbs may be an option, I've got the 3w models (3x1w LEDs) and they make a ton of light. So much so that I'm now forced to find a co2 solution

Algae Beater 12-12-2012 07:57 PM

i lit my little 10 gallon for under $50

a modified version of such a setup would work for a 75

charlie_bebop 12-13-2012 08:51 AM


Originally Posted by Edub (Post 2107820)
Cheap gu10 led bulbs may be an option, I've got the 3w models (3x1w LEDs) and they make a ton of light. So much so that I'm now forced to find a co2 solution

Those GU10s look interesting - what kind of socket / ballast would I need to put them in? I've looked around for a GU10 'strip', with maybe 3-4 sockets, but can't find anything

Algae Beater, that tank is fantastic - love the plants out the top

Sethjohnson30 12-13-2012 09:30 AM

The cheap Chinese led floodlights off eBay are awesome. I replaced my cfl with a floodlight led on my 10g I saw noticeable growth within a week. I was not seeing this kind of growth before with a cfl. I paid 12$ shipped. I had to wire my own plug on but that only took a few minutes.

For a 75g tank the 10w fixtures will not penetrate very well. I would suggest 3-4 20w fixtures or maybe a couple 30w fixtures.

Here's a couple threads on led floodlights

Hope this helps :)

jarvitron 12-13-2012 03:35 PM

If it has tiny 5mm LEDs on it -- it's not good for growing anything. The end. Tiny LEDs, even when corncobbed together into a super duper ooper lamp suck. I have 4 3x3watt GU10 LEDs over a 24" tall tank (it's a tall hex) and it gives me low light at the substrate (bulbs basically on the top of the tank cover) and two of the 10W flood fixtures above my 20L (about 18" to substrate). Stick with multiple (DIY or purchased) 1W/3W LED arrays or the 10/20/30/50 floods, they're built with new high efficiency high output LEDs, and not with chinese VCR leftovers. Mine were 2wire ungrounded, but the case is built with gaskets and grommets to make it "outdoor safe".

tsonnenl 12-13-2012 08:13 PM

I just found this thread about AHSupply, who is known for inexpensive but effective PC lighting options, getting into the LED game. Very interesting.

charlie_bebop 12-14-2012 07:29 AM

Can you put those LED floodlights under a hood? Ir do the generate too much heat?

PaulG 12-14-2012 10:21 AM


Originally Posted by charlie_bebop (Post 2109375)
Can you put those LED floodlights under a hood? Ir do the generate too much heat?

LEDS hardly generate any heat at all.

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