Originally Posted by Elyssa
I was speaking more to the fixture and not the bulbs. Definitely the illumination has to be aesthetically pleasing. My plan was to go with the fixture and if need be, build a nice enclosure to house it and mix up the spectrum by using a couple other smaller aquarium lights I have hanging around.
What have you found to be a good combination with the lighting that is pleasing to the eye. This fixture is actually coming with a 6500 k blue 54W. I'm going for low tech, no CO2. I figure I'll hang the fixture and if need be can raise or lower depending on what happens. If the lighting is harsh itself, one drawback of using on 1 t5ho...I'll just add to it with the smaller bulbs. I'd appreciate suggestions, because that is what I'm reading about now.
Lots of people here are having very good success with clip on shop lights from the hardware stores and simple spiral cfl bulbs. The reflectors will help get the light to the plants, but it's not the end-all of the fixture. You may be able to go with a higher wattage bulb to offset a less than ideal reflector. You may also be able to replace the reflector. I'm using some light kits from AH Supply that have a very nice reflector. You may be able to buy just a reflector from them. I'd recommend checking out their site, very helpful staff there.
As far as bulb combinations, it's totally up to you what you like. My personal preference is in the higher spectrums. Generally speaking, at least in the freshwater world, 10k bulbs are easiest to come by than some of the higher spectrums. I like a crisp white color or slightly blue. The lower you go, the more yellow you get. I had some 6500k bulbs that grew some very nice plants, but I just didn't like looking at it. After replacing it with several combos/spectrum bulbs I settled in on the 10k bulbs. Now every thing I have has a 10k bulb on it. I had to spend a small fortune to get a stock 5 gallon hood with a 10k bulb...
Some people like the "warmer" look to a low spectrum bulb. That's why you have options, even at the hardware store for home lighting you can get daylight, warm, cool etc. There's no way to say what you will like the best, odds are you'll have to try several color spectrums to find what you like.