Newbie lighting question.
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Old 11-27-2012, 01:20 AM   #1
The Ugly Guppy
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Newbie lighting question.


Hi Everyone

I'm hoping to leverage the knowledge and experience of this site for what is probably a simple question.

We recently bought a family aquarium with the intention of creating a planted tank. It is currently cycling with some guppies while we read, read, and read some more about this hobby.

The tank we purchased is a 56 gallon column (30x18x24) and it came with two 30" AquaticLife T5H0 linkable fixtures. Each fixture came with two 24" 24W bulbs (6000K and 650mn roseate) for a total of 4 bulbs.

I'm trying to determine which category of lighting this tank falls into (low, moderate, high) and to be honest I'm vastly overwhelmed and confused at the moment.

As I understand it watts/gallon is an outdated measurement and the PAR rating is better, but you need a special tool to measure it. I've checked out the tables in Hoppy's thread, but I didn't see my light fixture mentioned or know of a good comparison.

Since so much in this hobby starts with how much light the plants have, could you help a newbie out and help me understand what category of light my tank falls into?

Any help is much appreciated.
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Old 11-28-2012, 06:19 AM   #2
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That tank is too big to start with plants. It is too deep for any lights to penetrate unless you want to spend hundreds of dollars (hoppy talks about the loss of intensity over distance in his essay). It is too big for DIY CO2 (you could try, some people do, but it's just not that efficient) so you'll need pressurized C02 setup, start at $100. and it's too much glass to clean for the many algae blooms that rookies face. learn how to drive a sedan before hopping in the fire truck.
solve your problem by putting the lights you have over a 20g long or 40 gallon breeder. then you can more easily manage co2, algae control, and a bunch of other stuff I can't get into right now. (you'll be up to your shoulder, knocking all the plants around as you hold onto the end of the the algae scraper with the tank you have)
you'll need another $500 to grow plants in the tank you have now if you actually want them to grow. otherwise, get some Java fern and save yourself the time, money, and trouble

best of luck to you.
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Old 11-28-2012, 06:39 AM   #3
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Wat

You're telling him to put 96 watts over a 20 gallon tank?

OP - Keep reading. There are hundreds of posts here that could apply to your system. Tall tanks do present unique issues but none are all that problematic if approached knowledgeably. Ask ask and ask some more. People will probably tell you to use the search function because all of this info has been covered 10,000 times here already in some way or another. That tank is not too deep for plants or too much to clean if you have the right tools. Plenty of people have diy CO2 systems on that size tank. Your commitment will determine your outcome. There is a great thread by a guy in San Francisco about par that I would recommend you look at but I'm on my phone and can't search it right now. Maybe someone can chime in here and help out. It's a well known thread.

Keep reading!
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Old 11-28-2012, 02:29 PM   #4
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I don't really have much to contribute, but I will say that I have more luck using Google to search this site than the search function within the site itself. Usually entering your search phrase pared with the phrase plantedtank will bring up results verbatim from this site.
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Old 11-28-2012, 05:17 PM   #5
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Your *brand* of light is graphed on the stickied thread on this forum, "Lighting an Aquarium with PAR...." It shows a 4 bulb fixture would provide about 90 PAR at 24" which is bright light. Now I am not sure your exact fixture is that efficient but that company does sell fixtures with very good reflectors! Possibly using only one of those fixtures would work better as it might provide only about half the PAR and if you could hang the fixture so it can be higher over the substrate then better yet.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=184368

And as a general rule 2 T5HO bulbs are high light on a 24" tank resting on top of the tank so with 4 bulbs you may have too much. See the second table here.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=105774

A lot of this hobby is trial and error. I think you definitely have plenty of light to play with and I have had a 24" deep tank for ages quite successfully. I do choose to use CO2 and light it with a lot of light but others do just fine with less light and no CO2. I do stand on a step stool to plant and clean, mostly work in there when water is low during a water change and it isn't as easy to see what I am doing but I don't need tools to reach the very bottom of the back of the tank even though I am not tall. There is a very long and well illustrated thread in the Low Tech forum about beautiful lush tanks with less light and no CO2, check it out. I am sure many of those tanks are deep ones!
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=99729

My method of searching here is mostly reading most of this forum daily. I try to bookmark a lot of threads and subscribing to some is a good idea. I like to list posts rather than threads in searches too, there tend to be great nuggets of info posted within long threads and I get to read a bit of the post before deciding to click on it.
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Old 11-29-2012, 01:22 AM   #6
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lol... funny how one can go from being concerned that they don't have enough light to being concerned that they have to much

Thanks for your feedback and advice folks. I did find that same Hoppy's par thread earlier, but I clearly didn't read close enough as I didn't understand that Fluorescent tube lights produce the same light intensity regardless of length. I figured my 24" lights would produce less light.

Luckily I have ear marked a CO2 solution into the budget as it appears I will be experimenting with this at some point.

Thanks again for your help.
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Old 11-29-2012, 01:28 AM   #7
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hi again,

I found the thread I was talking about. This might help shed some light on the topic

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...667#post837592

i4x4nMore went to great trouble to illustrate the effects of light and distance. Make sure you review the entire thread - it's quite long but invaluable.
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Old 11-29-2012, 01:13 PM   #8
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Thanks for the link m00se. I anticipate that it will be most illuminating...
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Old 11-29-2012, 03:16 PM   #9
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Yer welcome!
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:09 PM   #10
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Love that picture. Happy dog.
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Old 11-30-2012, 02:45 AM   #11
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Is that a sheep dog or a small polar bear? My daughter is in love. She says (s)he looks like Ralph from the Looney Tunes episodes with Wile E. Coyote.

*pardon the thread pollution*
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Old 11-30-2012, 02:50 AM   #12
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LOL

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Old 11-30-2012, 02:55 AM   #13
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LMAO

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Old 11-30-2012, 03:29 AM   #14
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So is your tank 30" tall? That would be sweet. Your fixtures should give you enough light to grow most things-as long as it has the individual reflectors. If it doesn't and you aspire to grow whatever you wish, you might want to look at some high powered LED's or even metal halide. Like Moose said, DIY CO2 can work, it just might take some creativity and planning. Your not limited to using a 2L soda bottle. You can use a 5 gallon bucket full of yeast and sugar if you can figure out how to plumb it!
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Old 11-30-2012, 12:15 PM   #15
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No the tank is only 24" tall. I hope I didn't mess up the order of my dimensions, sorry if I confused people.

All my hobbies involve DIY aspects, I absolutely must tinker, change, and experiment. My CO2 solution is going to be fun since there is so much potential DIY. I have budgeted for a pressurized system, but I want to play a bit first. Besides every part of a CO2 system seems to be DIY possible (source, reactor/diffuser, etc.).

I'm very excited.
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