Best T8 48 in. bulbs for plant growth + "whitening" my greenish full spectrum bulbs
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Old 06-05-2006, 09:18 PM   #1
Fishstein
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Best T8 48 in. bulbs for plant growth + "whitening" my greenish full spectrum bulbs


I had been using full spectrum 6280K 94.5 CRI Verilux full spectrum bulbs with great success with my planted aquariums for a long time. They are bright, energy efficient and I can get them for about $7 each. Together with CO2 injection, I’ve rarely had any problems.

However, the visible light the Verilux full spectrum bulbs emit definitely emphasizes the greens in the aquarium. I introduced 1 Coralife Actinic bulb months ago to improve the color of my 75 gallon planted aquarium, which had 4 Verilux full spectrum T8 (I replaced one of the Verilux bulbs with the actinic) – indeed the blue of the actinic introduced a “whiter” balance and clarity to the tank. Soon after I began contending with the first algae outbreak I had with this tank. The actinic light was not the only cause (it was also a nutrient imbalance I caused by uprooting and moving a lot of plants from this tank all at once) but I suspect it added to my green hair algae (derbesia) problems as actinic bulbs are used to help grow marine algae. I reduced my lighting schedule, got rid of the actinic and have been improving the nutrient balance, which are all working in getting rid of the algae.

I’m looking for a T8 plant growth bulb with high PUR/Watt efficiency to both boost plant growth and to improve the look of the aquarium by adding whiter/bluer visible light to enhance the green hue of the aquarium and of the fish. The actinic light I had been using does make the aquarium appear “whiter” in color, but it promotes algae growth.

I spent good time reviewing posts on lighting on this excellent site and other websites. This is a brief summer of what I’ve found. I’d sincerely appreciate your suggestions on the bulbs I should add to my full spectrum Verilux bulbs and where I can get them in the U.S. at good prices.

1) Wide Spectrum Gro-Lux bulbs - I’ve read these are more pinkish than purple and brighter than regular Gro-Lux bulbs which have sharp spikes in blue and red spectrum but little light emitted outside of these areas of the spectrum. Anyone know what the PUR/watt efficiency is like for these bulbs? Anyone know how mixing these bulbs with my Verilux high CRI bulbs above will affect the appearance of my tank? Will they make it look less green?
a) Sylvania Gro-Lux Wide Spectrum
b) GE Gro- Sho Wide Spectrum
c) Philips Agro-Lite (this last is a variant of the Wide Spectrum Gro-Lux).

2) I’ve read these bulbs below are highest efficiency for PUR/Watt, http://www.aquabotanic.com/lightcompare.htm but I’m not sure in all cases what visible light they show (more blue, red or green – I’m looking for some bluer/whiter light to lighten my very green tank along with good plant growth qualities):
a) Philips Aquarelle 10,000 K fluorescent for freshwater aquaria - ranks as the most efficient fluorescent in PUR/Watt and is the bluest as well – this is a big plus because it means that the bulb will also “whiten” my tank. Does anyone know if the Aquarelle is a Wide Spectrum gro-lux type bulb and where I can get them in the U.S.?
b) Philips Advantage fluorescent, 5000K F32T8/ADV850 - Does anyone know if this bulb is a Wide Spectrum gro-lux type bulb and where I can get them in the U.S.?
c) Sylvania Aquastar – Does anyone know what the PUR/watt efficiency is like for these bulbs? Does anyone know if this bulb is a Wide Spectrum gro-lux type bulb and where I can get them in the U.S.?
d) Osram Fluora - Does anyone know what the PUR/watt efficiency is like for these bulbs? Does anyone know if this bulb is a Wide Spectrum gro-lux type bulb and where I can get them in the U.S.?

3) Gro-Lux bulbs - these emit only in the red and blue portion of the spectrum and I know they cast a purple glow and don’t appear very bright. So while good for plant growth, I think the Wide Spectrum plant growth bulbs in 1) and the high efficiency PUR/watt bulbs in 2) will offer brighter and better lighting for plant growth. The Sylvania Gro-Lux is supposed to have a PUR/watt efficiency rating below the bulbs in 2).
a) Sylvania Gro-Lux
b) GE's version the Gro- Sho

I've done lots of research on this site and others and would very much appreciate your thoughts on best bulbs and where to get them.

Thanks and Best Regards,

Fishstein
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Old 06-05-2006, 10:58 PM   #2
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Wow, long post... Welcome to the Planted Tank!

I can't address many of the things you have mentioned, but something regarding the green hue that you are experiencing -

If you get a real neutral white light, and place it over a tank full of green plants, naturally you get a greenish cast. As you go down in Kelvin, the green gets yellower. As you go up, it looks more crisp. But still green.

On the color wheel, the contrary color to green is purple. Using some of the pink/purple plant grow bulbs will effectively reduce the green look, but you need to be careful. Light green plants can look all of a sudden sick-white! So there is a trade-off somewhere.

How you choose your plants can make a big difference too. Adding dark green (like Bolbitis), bronze (like crypts), pink (Sunset Hygro, Rotalas) and screaming lilac (Alternanthera) highlights will balance the green monotony somewhat.

For me, a mix of different bulbs works the best so far. For ex, for my 100gal I use a 10000K (Ocean white), 6500K (GE Starcoat) and pink Planta tube. Each of them alone doesn't look too great, but all 3 together give me a pretty nice, crisp, neutral picture.

So what I would suggest (without getting hung up on brands and such) would be to add a pink bulb, like Zoomed FloraSun, and a 10000K bulb to your existing ones and see how you like the result.

These guys usually have a decent selection on bulbs...
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Old 06-05-2006, 11:54 PM   #3
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Hi Wasserpest (nice handle),

Thanks for the good suggestions. I'm not at all hung up on brands, but on the quality and light qualities of the bulbs. I listed those bulbs because I found lots of posts and research on them. The Aquarelle is a 10000K bulb that emits a visibly bluish light and has great photosynthetic light qualities, though it isn't likely as bright as the 10000K day bulb you are using. Drs F&S have the Aquarelle, but they don't have a 48" T8, only a 36". I'm having a very hard time finding the Phillips Aquarelle, which is 10,000K, in a 48 in. T8 bulb in the U.S..

I'm interested in adding a bright noon-day sun 10000K bulb as well, I think it will do the trick. I try to buy my bulbs directly from bulb wholesalers, it's much cheaper. I typically get my 94 CRI 6280 verilux T8 full spectrums for about $6-7 each. For this tank ideally I'd like to combine 2 verilux full spectrums, an Aquarelle or other bulb with strong plant growth qualities and a bright 10000 noon day bulb.
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Old 06-06-2006, 12:17 AM   #4
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I think that will work out great!

I noticed too that some bulbs are hard to find as a 4ft T8, the famed GE Aquarays 9325K amongst them. 3ft T8, but 4ft T12. Wonder why?

As a basic, neutral white T8 bulb I like the 6500K Philips Daylight bulbs that are sold for ~ $3 at HD. Tough to beat that price!
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Old 06-06-2006, 12:44 AM   #5
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Do you know what the CRI is of the 6500K Philips Daylight bulb? Does it truly give off a bright neutral white color?
Thanks again for the great info.
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Old 06-06-2006, 12:47 AM   #6
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Daylight Deluxe Cri = 84, they are the whitest bulb I have used.
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Old 06-06-2006, 03:39 AM   #7
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Thanks Urkevitz and Wasserpest. I could not find the bulb on Home Depot's website (their search function is awful) but I'll call our local store and check tomorrow. Urkevitz, any idea which NY stores carry that bulb? I need to get a stack of them because we also use full spectrum bulbs for our office and need to replace a bunch.

Also, can anyone recommend a very bright T8 48 inch 10000K bulb and provide a source for it in the U.S.?

Can anyone recommend a good source for T8 48 inch Philips Aquarelle, Wide Spectrum Gro-Lux type bulbs or similar high photosynthetic efficient bulbs?

Thanks.
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Old 06-06-2006, 04:48 AM   #8
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I've got the daylight deluxe over my pool table and it's great for contrast!
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Old 06-06-2006, 12:48 PM   #9
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I live in upstate NY, their are two Homedepots that carry them near me.

Philips bulbs are HD's main brand, I would think that all of them carry the bulbs.

HD also carries carries T-8 Philips Natural Sunshine bulbs, 5000k. But they are $6 or 7$ each. They balance out the whiteness of the 6500k.
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Old 06-06-2006, 01:40 PM   #10
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You may also want to consider these:

http://www.blanksfab.com/fullspec/lumiprice.htm

German made.

I use the 6500k 98 CRI T12s over my 55g and in the ceiling of my bedroom.

Every other fluoro I've used has been yellow in comparison.

I'm sure the T8s would be even better than the T12s for light output..

You can google Lumichrome 1XX Full Spectrum to get more info.

Just another name to toss in the hat.
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Old 06-08-2006, 03:34 AM   #11
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I've think I've figured out the combination of bulbs that should make for the perfect combination of visually pleasing light + super efficient photosynthetic light. The Philips Aquarelle TLD89 has a photosynthetic red/blue ratio that is the perfect complement of the Philips ADV850 (Advantage 850) 5000K bulb.

Red/Blue Ratio:
Aquarelle 0.37
Philips ADV850 0.63

see this link for the best research I've read on the subject:

http://www.aquabotanic.com/lightcompare.htm

The Philips ADV850 and the Aquarelle perfectly balance each other not just from a visible color perspective (ADV850s white with yellows and greens and Aquarelle's with pinkish glow similar to the Triton bulb I used years ago) but also from a photosynthetic balance of the most beneficial red and blue light.

I'm fairly certain 2 Aquarelles (10000K) + 2 ADV850s (7000K) would have a similar effect in terms of visible light to using the full spectrum 6280-6500K I've been using, just much better for plant growth than the full spectrum bulbs.

I'm looking for better growth and color enhancement not just for aesthetic purposes, but because my local fish store actually buys so many plants from my wife and I that they pay for all of our pet food and supplies (for all our pets). We get a kick out of running a sustainable aqua-farming operation in NY : )

The ADV850 is also a low mercury higher energy efficiency bulb which is environmentally friendly.

I am picking up a case of Philips ADV850 shortly and I hope to pick up a case of Aquarelles on a business trip to the UK in the next few weeks. If anyone is interested, I certainly don't need all the bulbs in a case and I plan to make a bunch of the Aquarelles and the ADV850s available to New York area aquarists - will post these soon.

Please let me know if anyone is interested - I'm picking up 48" and 24" inch bulbs.

Best Regards,

Fishstein
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