A simple light test to show HIGH light is NOT required for nice aquascapes-Who knew?
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Old 10-26-2008, 11:09 PM   #1
plantbrain
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A simple light test to show HIGH light is NOT required for nice aquascapes-Who knew?


I did and have been saying all day long, every day for years. I used a light meter and measured the extreme points and each point in between for several well scaped ADA aquariums at Aqua Forest today at SFBAAPS meeting.

I showed the members the light values in PAR units, micromol/m^2/sec, so the issue of W/gal, tank sizes, color temps yada yada.......makes no difference. This standardizes the units.

Every single tank had pretty low ranges, 2 W/gal ranges if you wanted a comparison. Anywhere from 30-50 for even the 3x150 MH 180cm tank in the window, to 20 for some tanks in the corners, maybe about to 200 at tops of the brightest tanks at the surface right under the light.

I have about 2-3x as much light on some of my tanks and prune and grow plants much faster, but in both cases, they still grow and look nice. This shows high light is not required(why folks still say this in the face of direct measurements, ? I'm not sure, I guess belief is stronger than fact and examples that show and demonstrate otherwise).

The species, had most typical foreground species that many claim are high light. Gloss, E. tenellus, HC, microswords, hair grass etc...........none of which had "high light".

Distance from the light sources was dramatic, the ADA lights are much less intense as measured by PAR than the Coralife fixtures, like 2x as less.

So while many think that ADA has high light, actually, it's pretty low

So do not use the watt/gal rules so much when comparing light types.
They had the same PAR reradings no matter what sized tanks the lights where on, and in general, watt/for watt, about 2x less PAR vs say A&H supply or Coralife, Current etc. The T5 lights are very good and put out a lot of light relative to the ADA lamps/fixtures.

FYI.......

Regards,
Tom Barr
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Old 10-26-2008, 11:12 PM   #2
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Thanks for the info, Tom. Sad I couldn't make it today to the meet!

When you talk about T5 putting out more light than comparative ADA fixtures, which specific brands are you talking about, because don't reflectors definitely affect how much light is directed back into the tank?
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Old 10-27-2008, 12:56 AM   #3
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TEK and Archaea brands........

I think it's a hoot how folks carry on endlessly about light, try and tell what experts they are never once having tested the parameter that matters most to plants. Then launch into this huge thing with Lux, and lumens, color temps and scaling Watt/gal rules and how bad those are, how we can use all these tables and correlations, then how someone(curiously rarely ever themselves) or a bunch of folks should pool their efforts and a ton of useless data........... I have never claimed to be an expert, but I do know what I know.

With aquatic plants, measuring light is pretty critical.

With the cost of the PAR meters dropping to the ranges where typical hobby folks can buy them(149$ with a group buy), some are finally coming around, then these can be shared and folks can understand and learn a lot more than all this mish mash mumbo that never got anyone anywhere other than a time black hole. We had two at the event.

I was a bit myth at how low the light values where.
Lower than I expected, I'm not impressed with the ADA light efficiency after this look at each typoe, this goes for the PC and the HQI.

Yea, they look nice, but they really do not put out much light.
But this makes targeting a good CO2 ppm easier.

I think folks have been saying this for over 20 years now, you do not need high light to pull off nice scapes, to grow (you fill in the blank) species of plant.

I've tested it in my own tanks, my friend's tanks, my client's tanks, Aqua Forest's ADA tank's, Sat there and asked a large group of folks in 5 different plant clubs what they thought after seeing the readings, and watching me take the measurements. I'm not just making stuff up, isolated alone in some lab basement and posting whatever. I'm not measuring one isolated case.

I'm talking dozens of tanks, dozen owners and time periods with so called "hard to grow" species.

This is not some aberration. I do not know what type of evidence folks need to realize this. What proof do they need to prove it to themselves?

Adding so much light causes many a great deal of problems and yet so many willingly tell folks to add lots of light.

I think it's some folks have troubles, then conclude poorly what they believe "cured" their tank's issues, or they see someone else's tank and think there's some trick. There's no "trick".

But if you are that poor person that cannot grow Tonia etc, you will believe anything. Unless you have the control and enough other folks to check yourself, your tanks, compare things in person, it's rather hard to conclude much. If you do, then you have much more a consensus. I ask folks to tell me what they think, I some them and let them decide.

While this works great in person, it does not work so well on the web as they cannot see what you have done/are doing etc. This is why folks should join/form a club locally if possible. Many folks have 2 or more tanks that they treat pretty much the same but they can act very differently.


Epicfish: missed out, it was cramped event, but there where a lot of plants and folks there having fun. Got to try out my Canon 5D finally. Should see what the pics look like later.


I'll post some later

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Tom Barr
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Old 10-27-2008, 01:10 AM   #4
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Tom, yep, definitely missed out. I'll be back in the Sacramento area soon and will be looking forward to attending some SAPS meets also.

I've observed what you have too with my own PAR meter. I started to grow tired of the constant trimmings of my plants, especially the stems and significantly dropped lighting levels, expecting the majority of the "high light" plants to die off...much to my surprise, they did just as well. Maybe a tad slower growth, but they were surviving and growing!

I only use very intense lighting in my grow-out tanks to grow enough to start a new tank; otherwise, I stick to lower lighting and still grow plants just as well.

I've also noticed a recent trend, especially in the last few years, on the forums where low, mid, and high light levels are bumped up higher and higher as time goes on. It used to be 2.5 WPG+ for a high light tank, and now people recommend 3, 3.5, even up to 4 WPG for a high light tank. Even on 100 gallon tanks, I'll see recommendations for 2.5 WPG...definitely overkill. I measured the PAR in a friend's 120 gallon tank with 160 watts of PC lighting over it...about the same as my 20 gallon tank with 48 watts over it.
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Old 10-27-2008, 01:22 AM   #5
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Tom,

I beleive this makes a lot of sense based on how Amano's tanks look and your analysis of the ADA product line. If the lights were high intensity, I would think those tanks would have issues because the balance of light/ferts/CO2 would be off.
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Old 10-27-2008, 02:00 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjp2 View Post
Tom,

I beleive this makes a lot of sense based on how Amano's tanks look and your analysis of the ADA product line. If the lights were high intensity, I would think those tanks would have issues because the balance of light/ferts/CO2 would be off.
Yea, but like many things, no one bothered to test the parameters that matter

I suggested it, but it got lost in the fray and the mystique of "Amano", that's good marketing for ya.

Ironic thing is, many associate me with EI which suggest doing away with test kits (heresy for some!), yet here I go in front of a large crowd "testing".

Not really a test, just an observation to show what is really going on.
Easier than doing a NO3 test , I'll tell ya that much

Okay, yada yada, yacky yack, time to post some pics:

no#20 in the ADA world ranking and the top entry in the USA:


This is the specific tank I mentioned(180cm). It's pretty low light, the distance from the light to the water is 12".





Tell me why the plants can grow at such low light please?
Anyone naysayers like to show that this is just btrick photography and that every single SFBAAPS member is in cahoots on this BIG lie? hehe

Come on..........50 folks are not going to lie about any of this. There are 5 full ADA tanks here from small to large, everyone had the same story to tell.

Steve and George spend a lot of time working here and working on the tanks and they have 2 folks working for them including family members. Kudos to them for doing this and supporting the hobby as well.
Work does pay off in the scaping, in business and in the hobby.

Regards,
Tom Barr
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Old 10-27-2008, 02:10 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epicfish View Post
Tom, yep, definitely missed out. I'll be back in the Sacramento area soon and will be looking forward to attending some SAPS meets also.
Stop on by, I might make you buy something I have too much of

Quote:
I've observed what you have too with my own PAR meter. I started to grow tired of the constant trimmings of my plants, especially the stems and significantly dropped lighting levels, expecting the majority of the "high light" plants to die off...much to my surprise, they did just as well. Maybe a tad slower growth, but they were surviving and growing!
Ye hath become thy faithful compatriot!
We should go forth and rise to the pulpit, and preach the gospel of lower light, for thy brigth light that He shines upon us is too great to recreate and look upon, we humbly shall bow down and use less and be frugal with our light. Then we shall be blessed and grow thy garden full of bounty.

Quote:
I only use very intense lighting in my grow-out tanks to grow enough to start a new tank; otherwise, I stick to lower lighting and still grow plants just as well.
This is pretty much what I find also.
It's nice to leave for vacation and turn things "down".

Quote:
I've also noticed a recent trend, especially in the last few years, on the forums where low, mid, and high light levels are bumped up higher and higher as time goes on.
Yes, some think more is better(unless it's CO2 or nutrients ).
I call it HLD, or high light disease.
Been bad for many years now and a serious problem in the hobby.

Quote:
It used to be 2.5 WPG+ for a high light tank, and now people recommend 3, 3.5, even up to 4 WPG for a high light tank. Even on 100 gallon tanks, I'll see recommendations for 2.5 WPG...definitely overkill. I measured the PAR in a friend's 120 gallon tank with 160 watts of PC lighting over it...about the same as my 20 gallon tank with 48 watts over it.
Well, if you also consider the higher light tanks in the 1990's, they had NO FL's, they are about 1/2 what the T5's are today, so it's 2-4X what folks need. Good thing I used MH's and high light PC's for my max assumptions for EI.

But plants do well in both cases, they just grow slower, and things are much easier to manage.

But as experienced aquarists, I think folks should really help newbies out by suggesting low light and not telling them to get 3-4 W/gal. Stick with 2w/gal or so. That's always been a good range in every case I've seen.

With more PAR meters and folks using them floating around, some more concrete data and comparisons between tanks can be done and the trends are pretty clear.

Lower light is generally better and much easier to care for, more light = more work.

Help fight HLD

Same light PAR values here:



Regards,
Tom Barr
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Old 10-27-2008, 02:29 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
Ye hath become thy faithful compatriot!
We should go forth and rise to the pulpit, and preach the gospel of lower light, for thy brigth light that He shines upon us is too great to recreate and look upon, we humbly shall bow down and use less and be frugal with our light. Then we shall be blessed and grow thy garden full of bounty.
It's going to take a way more cheesy schtick than that for people to buy into your strategy, and pay way too much for it! I'm glad you're doing the testing for us, I for one appreciate the information. I had a sneaking suspicion lots of folks were overshooting how much light is really needed, we aren't growing reefs after all
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Old 10-27-2008, 02:38 AM   #9
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It's going to take a way more cheesy schtick than that for people to buy into your strategy, and pay way too much for it! I'm glad you're doing the testing for us, I for one appreciate the information. I had a sneaking suspicion lots of folks were overshooting how much light is really needed, we aren't growing reefs after all
Well a fellow reefer was there and we talked about that also
But this is not the place for marine yabbering

I try cheese if they will not bite red meat

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Old 10-27-2008, 03:11 AM   #10
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Hey Tom, I have a question about my own tank. I am running a 1x55W Coralife CFL over a 20L. By wpg rules, this would be quite high. I am not sure a 20g tank should use the wpg rule. However, I feel that there is not enough light in the tank. This may be due to the fact that the length of the bulb doesn't cover enough of the tank, or that the reflectors are not very good (I am considering replacing it with a spare AH Supply I have). I am considering switching it to a 2x55W with the second light run on a burst. I am not sure if this would be too much light.
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Old 10-27-2008, 03:35 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
Stop on by, I might make you buy something I have too much of
I'll be looking forward to a visit!

Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
Ye hath become thy faithful compatriot!
We should go forth and rise to the pulpit, and preach the gospel of lower light, for thy brigth light that He shines upon us is too great to recreate and look upon, we humbly shall bow down and use less and be frugal with our light. Then we shall be blessed and grow thy garden full of bounty.
Oh I've been trying to get people to use less light! And like always, if 2WPG is good enough, 4WPG will make my tank look 200% better! And two weeks later, you see "HELP! ALGAE IN MY TANK!" posts.
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Old 10-27-2008, 03:58 AM   #12
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good info especially since i was planning on buying lighting soon for my tank.
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Old 10-27-2008, 01:45 PM   #13
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These are very interesting results.

Tom, what do you attribute the diminished performance of the ADA to? (Ballast drive?Bulbs?etc...)
Do you think this arrangement may be intentional? I'm sure by now they would have figured as you did, that success is attainable at the lower intensities.


Mmmm, yes, a PAR meter would be nice.....
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Old 10-27-2008, 02:23 PM   #14
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Mmmm, yes, a PAR meter would be nice.....
What we should be asking is what PAR meter is Tom using?
(So I can get a new toy).

- Brad
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Old 10-27-2008, 03:25 PM   #15
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These are very interesting results.

Tom, what do you attribute the diminished performance of the ADA to? (Ballast drive?Bulbs?etc...)
Do you think this arrangement may be intentional? I'm sure by now they would have figured as you did, that success is attainable at the lower intensities.


Mmmm, yes, a PAR meter would be nice.....
149$, group buys help.
Reef folks are much more willing to drop big coin for testing.
But the device cost have dropped a great deal. I used a LiCor unit at UC Santa Barbara and it ran 600$ for the cheapest model. The others with the 360 degree 3D directions ran about 900$ alone for the integrating sensor. Not cheap stuff.

I just measured my Coralife lights, 650 micro moles at the same distance, but down where the plants are I found about 2-3x as much light as the 3x 150 W ADA lights.

I use a 3x 150 W HQI's(8000K as well), but also use 4x 96 W 6700K coralife bulbs also.

I'm not sure what ADA thinks.
Nor know if it was intentional or not.
But if you did design something and folks think more is better, and you want them to have success, and you do not want to tell them about it............you could speculate that.

It is a weird thing: human perceptions/behaviors. They love "more is better" when it comes to light, "less is better" when it comes to the water column, but CO2 is not a critical issue nor is testing the sediment sources of nutrients and ppms.

All aquatic plant growth studies measure light in research. The issue for hobbyists is having a parameter to test that we can compare with under a wide range of artificial light sources and set ups(like nature and the differences we fin lake to lake, stream to stream, depth to depth, turbid water vs clear and so on).

I will say that the lighting system is much less than other brands as far as PAR, this certainly does account for a large degree of success and reduced growth rates. It also supports that good stable CO2 + low light works perhaps best for most folks looking to "garden". Easier than higher light systems. I do not think ADA will ever tell you that their lights put out much less PAR than other lights(that - would not be good sales/marketing!). But it does seem like this is the case here and I measured several tank set ups over the few months now. I think it's smarter to write poems and make jokes instead of answer such questions if I where them.

And in a sense, they are helping combat HLD.

Still, many have long claimed there "are many ways to do this hobby" and " much we do not yet know", the folks that buy Hydrilla pills and holistic marketing, I collectively refer to as the defeatist critics. We already do know what drives a method to work, whether it is low light, non CO2, fish waste and sediment nutrient sources, medium light to low light Excel dosing, low, medium, high light CO2 gas systems, and why a leaner system can work whereas for others, richer works better.

The issue is not there are little gnomes and magic, or that "we do not know", the issue is the rate of growth changes, and this is 1st driven in every case by light. Then by CO2, then by nutrients. Limitations can be mild/slight, medium intensity or strongly limiting. It's not this black and white issue.

If you want to reduce the rates of growth, the wisest solution is to limit light(this is where all growth starts) and it's also one of the easiest parameters to measure if you have a PAR meter. It's also far easier to meet any goal you may have for whatever reason with nutrients and with CO2 by reducing or raising light intensity.

Ahh.......who knew?

I've heard rants about how folks cannot have these nice tanks unless they have high light and then used watt data for support for the ADA tanks.
Fine, but I knew something was up and this proved it.

Now this was with the HQI lights on, Amano often uses just the PC lights for 10 hours etc, and does the 3 hour blast in the middle of day only.

So the light is even less most of the day.
Chew on that cattail.

Regards,
Tom Barr
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