Can't make sense of lighting
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Old 10-16-2012, 06:26 AM   #1
Amandas tank
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Can't make sense of lighting


I have read every resource that I can find online regarding lighting a tank, but even still, I am uncertain of just how much I need. I have read that if the tank is over 18" than the watts per gallon must have 1-2 watts extra added to the 2-3 watts per gallon rule. I have also read that watts per gallon really don't count as much as it used to with the new technology on the market these days. I do understand that the Kelvin ratinf is important. If I am correct, I need about 6500 K to keep a low tech tank healthy.

I am hoping that someone out there can give me a straight to the point answer to this same question I've been beating again and again (through my own research to no prevail) over the past year.

What lighting equipment should I purchase for my 48"L x 18"W x 23"T (actually from the glass top it is 24") tank? I keep low light to medium light plants and never plan to use Co2 injection.

I also want to add some "shimmer" to my tank to resemble the sunshine as well as enjoy gentle "moonlighting" for 30 minutes each am and pm before lights out.

Right now I have two 75 watt, T8 pink lights that need new housing all together. It was used and does not put out steady, reliable light. I also have my lighting top from my old 30 gallon on the tank that uses one T5 6500K and 1 blue antic bulb (I know, useless on freshwater but it came with the setup and brings out the blue in the fish) I do not have a problem with algae...there's a little here and there on some rocks, but no more than a teaspoon in total.

I want to have one light fixture that I can hook a timer up to and use moonights and plant lights under the same hood without touching a thing to alternate, if that's even possible.

Thanks a bunch!
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Old 10-16-2012, 06:50 AM   #2
lpsouth1978
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It sounds to me like you need either a custom DIY light, or a single tube T5NO light. You can sometimes find the T5 with Blue LED's built in. You could also use CFL's.

Watts per gallon is completely useless these days. PAR is what you should be concerned with. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to get PAR data. The trouble with Watts per gallon is that 3 watts from a standard T8 is different than from a T5 or metal halide.

Hoppy on here has a great thread listing different PAR values from different lights, it is not a complete list, but should give you an idea of what will work.
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Old 10-16-2012, 08:02 AM   #3
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Thank you! Is this correct info regarding T8 and T5's? T5's save more energy than T8's and that's why people have moved to them? I was told this by the LFS owner.
A single tube...I'm embarrassed to ask, but that's just one bulb right?

Edit: I visited Hoppy's thread. Thank you. I recognize it so I must have seen it before when I was researching lighting. I had forgotten everything from it except how to judge if reflectors are good or not. At least something stuck with me right LOL!

Ya know, when I got fish I had no idea how complicated it all would be...lighting, filtration, medicines, plants, compatibility, and more oh my! But, I wouldn't trade keeping fish for any other pet. I love fish! Especially my betta.

Last edited by Amandas tank; 10-16-2012 at 08:15 AM.. Reason: visited Hoppy's thread
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Old 10-16-2012, 04:11 PM   #4
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It sounds like you are starting to get the idea. hoppy is the lighting guru on here, so follow his advice and you will do well.

One T5 bulb should do the job for a low to medium light tank. I have 2 bulbs over my tank, but it is heavily planted with pressurized Co2 and heavy dosing.
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Old 10-16-2012, 04:50 PM   #5
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Hello Amanda...

If you keep plants that require low to moderate light, then GE aquarium plant bulbs from the local hardware store are fine and cost no more than $10 to $12 each. Just look for bulbs in the 6500K range. These come closest to natural daylight at 5500K.

Larger tanks will take a 48 inch florescent bulb, a T8 or T12. Ideally, you want a hood or strip with places for 2 bulbs.

When you have the lighting in place, you want to use a timer so the light comes on and goes off at the same time every day. I have my lights on for 12 hours on and off for 12. The reason is, most aquarium plants come from areas that get long hours of daylight.

Aquarium plants also need a lot of pure water. I remove and replace half the water in my tanks weekly. This maintains high levels of phosphates, sulfates and nitrates the plants need.

I also dose a little liquid fertilizer a couple of times a week. I use Tetra's "Flora Pride". I just dose a half a cap or so in a pitcher of replacement water when I need to replace water that's lost to evaporation.

These are the basics. Pretty simple.

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Old 10-16-2012, 05:59 PM   #6
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If you don't have par data, a lot of fixtures tell you the lumen output, which is much more useful than wattage. The wattage per gallon rule is pretty useless even when comparing N.O. flourescent, with all the diffrent reflector configurations. If you want shimmer effect you need metal halide or LED pendant style. And don't be afriad of high lighting, you can always tame it back by adding tannins to the water, and/or floating plants at the surface. If you must have moonlights, you can always get a cheap add on actinic led strip to give you that.
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Old 10-17-2012, 11:54 PM   #7
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Thank you. I will check out the lfs, petco and home depot. We have nothing else other than wallmart and fred meyers. After I see what they have, I will get back to you guys if I have any questions about specific products. I will look into DIY but to be honest, that scares me. I'm afraid to mess up; although it would be great to have my lighting just how I want it. Anyone know of some others that custom built their own and shared their process?
Thank you!
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Old 10-17-2012, 11:56 PM   #8
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I have made several DIY LEDs and can probably find a build thread for one an another forum. I will look after work tonight and let you know. It is actually quite easy.
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Old 10-18-2012, 12:43 AM   #9
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Oh that would be great! Thanks!!!!!! I look forward to what you've got.
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Old 10-18-2012, 02:05 AM   #10
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Here is one (not so pretty build):
http://www.marinecolorado.org/forums...-DIY-LED-build

Also take a look at post #6 here. This is one of the cleanest builds I have done. Sorry there is not a lot of info on that one.
http://www.marinecolorado.org/forums...lon-Pico-Build

Keep in mind that these were both for Saltwater tanks and therefore much more than would be needed for your tank. You could keep it very simple. My first LED build was made from a stock picotope light. I put a small Aluminum flat bar in it, added 5 LEDs and a buckpuck. I worked great for my first little light, plus it looked stock. That is one great thing about LEDs, you can fit them in just about any old fixture you have laying around.
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Old 10-18-2012, 03:12 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lpsouth1978 View Post
Here is one (not so pretty build):
http://www.marinecolorado.org/forums...-DIY-LED-build

Also take a look at post #6 here. This is one of the cleanest builds I have done. Sorry there is not a lot of info on that one.
http://www.marinecolorado.org/forums...lon-Pico-Build

Keep in mind that these were both for Saltwater tanks and therefore much more than would be needed for your tank. You could keep it very simple. My first LED build was made from a stock picotope light. I put a small Aluminum flat bar in it, added 5 LEDs and a buckpuck. I worked great for my first little light, plus it looked stock. That is one great thing about LEDs, you can fit them in just about any old fixture you have laying around.

Cool! Great threads. Thank you Gorgeous outcome on both! I will have to look closer at them tomorrow and re-read them. Too distracted tonight.
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lighting, low tech lightning, t5 plant bulbs, t8 plant bulbs

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