Bulb advice for low tech tank with T5HO fixture
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Old 11-07-2014, 04:54 PM   #1
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Bulb advice for low tech tank with T5HO fixture

Hello everyone,

I come to you seeking advice on bulbs for my low tech 90G tank. I am seeking to replace the current set for two reasons. First, because it's been about a year and I've read their shelf life is around 15 months, max. Second, I have some serious issues with plant deficiencies. Part of that is me needing to dose ferts more regularly, which I am fixing. I suspect the other part is lighting.

I have organic miracle grow capped by black blasting sand and a selection of mostly low-light plants. My light fixture is a T5HO with four bulbs. I run two of the bulbs for about 8 hours per day and a few days a week I run the other two for a few hours (I figure running all four would result in an algae explosion). Besides the one Coralife colormax bulb I have, I can't say what the other 3 bulbs are... I was under the impression they were 5500K when I bought the fixture but I'm not sure.

Other helpful info: I do some moderate EI fert dosing with the selection commonly recommended from Green Leaf aquariums. As of about two weeks ago, I finally started dosing Excel... I didn't do it earlier because some say it will kill vals, but my vals were doing so poorly I figure it doesn't matter anymore. I *DO NOT* have CO2. I generally do a 30-40% w/c every two weeks or so (sometimes once per week depending on my schedule).

I was thinking of running two Coralife 6700K and two Coralife Colormax bulbs. Is that appropriate for my set up? Here are the two bulbs, linked:


Admittedly I need to read up more on lighting and the appropriate PAR, and I will do that, but would appreciate some product advice in the interim.

Thank you!
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Old 11-07-2014, 05:44 PM   #2
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It sounds like your tank is a lot like mine. I currently have a 40B with a soil substrate. I have low light plants because that is what I like. My co2 is not completed as of now so I do not have c02 either. Now in regards to lighting:

I have a two-lamp t5HO fixture that runs a giesemann aquaflora bulb and a zoomed florasun bulb at the same time for most of the day. My fixture is hung about 12 inches or so from the top of my tank. I only dose iron and potassium from time to time. Rarely, do I dose any sort of KNO3 or K2SO4 as I have a dirted substrate and my tap water is filthy from the river source.

I do not have any first hand knowledge of the coral life bulbs. But, from what I have heard/read is that they are not truly suited for planted tanks as they are for primarily salt water. But again, I do not have any personal experience.

How tall is your 90B? The combination of two 67k bulbs and two colormax bulbs is a good start. However, if you dose ferts and increase your lighting without co2 it might cause you problems. Like I said, it MIGHT. I would start by running one 67k bulb and two colormax bulbs, keep your fert schedule and see how it goes. Unfortunately, only you can determine the health of your plants because you look at it everyday. If algae starts to form, you need to cut back on your lighthing or ferts, or a combination of both.

So far, I have used Hagen, Giesemann and Zoo Med lamps. All with success. I hope this helps.
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Old 11-07-2014, 07:51 PM   #3
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That is helpful, thanks! I don't have an algae problem in the year or so this has been running, and like I said I run the two lights for 8 hours a day, and flip on the 3rd and 4th light here and there throughout the week... but then again, my plants are deficient so I might really be erring on the side of way too little light.

If algae problems do crop up I'll simply reduce my photo period by a few hours or adjust how many lights I'm running (run two instead of four, etc).

I had not read that coralife was bad for planted tanks, so I'll take that under advisement. I looked at Geisemann but they were much more expensive (perhaps indicative of quality).

Thanks again!
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Old 11-07-2014, 08:05 PM   #4
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CoraLife bulbs are at the bottom of the food chain as far as efficiency goes. By that I mean brightness, especially the Colormax. For a low tech tank running 4 bulbs, that is not necessarily a bad thing.

I would probably opt for a different brand of two 6500K (or thereabouts) and incorporate the two Colormax along with them. Zoo Med bulbs are nice at a relatively low price. Also Im a big fan of the TruLumen Flora. Despite it's 6700K rating, it's pretty red, so it would need to go in place of the Colormax(s)
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Old 11-08-2014, 01:08 AM   #5
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In T5 the bulbs I have liked are the True Lumen "Flora". Don't be confused by the color of it in the add as it looks red. But it has 6700K light.
And I found that the light is very clear and glair free from them.
With this bulb the tank looked much more natural in color.
Then with that bulb I used an Aquatic life "Roseated" which is a red bulb in 650nm which plants use better. This did give a slight redish tint but I only had one of each in a two bulb fixture. So you might skip the red one or just use one of them. These are from Doctors Foster & Smith's. Other sites have a True Lumen "Flora Pink" and I don't know if it's the same bulb.
The Doctors site has good bulb prices anyway.
I like the Zoo Med Flora sun but it has low visible light and I have not tried them in T5 but only T8. It may be good in combination/w the True Lumen.
In the T8 it is a great plant bulb but I use it with a 6700K bulb.
The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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