Incandescent Fixture Lamp / Bulb Options for Planted Tanks - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-21-2017, 11:30 PM Thread Starter
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Incandescent Fixture Lamp / Bulb Options for Planted Tanks

Hi All,

You say you've got one of these and you want to have a planted tank?



There are a lot of 10, 15, and 20 gallon tanks out there with the old incandescent fixtures. The problem with the incandescent lamps that go into these fixtures is they a) put out a lot of heat and b) tend to have a short lamp life. In fact, sometimes to get sufficient light intensity (PAR) for a planted tank the lamp wattage causes temperature fluctuation and heat issues in the tank. It would be nice to be able to purchase a new LED fixture for these tanks but a well built quality LED fixture is expensive ($80 - $140) and sometimes not even available in a 20" version. I put this thread together to help folks that have fixtures designed for incandescent lamps locate alternatives to the hot, short-lived incandescent bulbs. Some of this information (sans PAR readings) is available in threads scattered throughout the forums and some are my current observations.

This post is by all means not all of the alternatives available; I am only going to address the three lamp types I have personally used on my 10 gallon with an incandescent hood. They include the Lights of America mini-fluorescent, the Bonlux Corncob LED, and an unknown brand of Corncob Spotlight LED. All are viable alternatives to they old incandescent lamps we used to use in these fixtures.


Here are my findings:


What you see listed are three alternatives for lamps, two of which I have used and a third that I just received and am currently testing.

The first lamp is the Lights of America Mini-fluorescent 10 watt. It is fine for a planted tank that has plants with lower light requirements such as mosses, cryptocornes, java ferns (Microsorum pteropus species) where you don't want to put a lot of effort into fertilizers or CO2. However, with a little effort even this low PAR ([email protected]) can grow some great plants. The tank pictured below used a 13 hour photoperiod. The light levels do drop off at the two ends and in the upper rear.


The second lamp I have only used for a few months, the Bonlux Corncob LED T10. It is a 10 watt LED with LEDs all the way around the lamp. It puts out almost twice the PAR of the Mini-florescent Lights of America lamp with a reading of [email protected] and has a nice even light throughout the tank. I was running the lamp with an 8 hour photoperiod.

The last lamp listed I just received a week ago. It is an unknown brand of Corncob Spotlight that has all of the LEDs on one side of the lamp. I purchased the 16 watt version (the largest offered by the seller) but various sellers and manufacturers offer this design in 5W to 16 watt versions. The portion of the lamp which holds the LEDs can be rotated so after the lamp is screwed into the socket the LEDs can be configured to point downward. This lamp had the highest light intensity with [email protected] In order to use this lamp on a 10 gallon I will have to shorten the photoperiod substantially, or point the LEDs other than straight downward, or add CO2 to avoid an algae farm. I would guess the 10 watt version of this light would be more compatible with a 10 gallon tank. Here is a picture of the 10 gallon (after a major trim so I could expose the substrate directly below the fixture so I could take the readings above) with the 2X16 watt lamps installed; yes that is a cluster of Corydoras eggs on the back glass near the top.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-22-2017, 12:05 AM
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I'm finding a lot of good in one of the LED lights you call spotlight. My seller called them downlights as they do just put out all the light on one side. I feel better about this as all the light goes into the tank rather than up to be reflected back.
This is something that I normally expect to find on new ideas. It takes some time for products like LED to mature and really get the lineup developed and into the market so I like to wait and use existing things while folks get the bugs worked out.
I fully second the idea of retrofitting the old lights if we have them. Some work great by just screwing in the bulb but I find some of my old fixtures do need a little help when I add the spotlight/downlight if I'm using one of the longer versions. I find some need a plastic wire tie added to help hold the end up a bit more to take the strain off the bulbholder.
For $5-10, I feel like they are a real bargain. I have a special need to reduce the heating since we run the AC so much of the time.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 06:27 PM
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This info is great! I really appreciate it as I have an older hood on my low tech heavily planted 10 gallon and don't have the money to do an upgrade right now. I have a question for you, would 2 of these bulbs put me at medium light for a 10 gallon (50 x 27 x 33cm)? Or would it be to much light?
https://www.batteriesplus.com/.../a-...)/e26/led12163
OR
https://www.batteriesplus.com/.../a-...)/e26/led12166
I am currently using this, which works fine and I'm getting good growth but my Ludwigia repens and Rotala rotundifolia have very little red:

(ps everything else in the tank is low light)
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 06:39 PM
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Can we have a estimate on the CRI and Kelvin of those bulbs Roy?

In my case I'm using bell-shaped worklight reflectors, and TCP LED 9watt, 5000K, A19 household lights @ approximately 850 lumens, I have no idea about the actual PAR at my 20H tanks gravel surface.

I'm sort of nostalgically pondering setting up my 32H with it's old Electripak 125 watt Mercury vapor lamp/pendant reflector from 25 years ago.

P.S. missed the part of the attachment Roy posted, showing the Kelvin ratings, Are any of those also available closer to 7000K?

Starting small, keeping it simple..(?)
250 gallon stock tank, "pond"
20 gallon H CBS Shrimp tank

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 09:38 PM Thread Starter
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Hi @ermpickle,

I haven't done PAR readings on those lamps, but I would suspect medium/low light on a 20 gallon.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 10:28 PM
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Thank you Seattle_Aquarist, that's what I was hoping for!
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-26-2017, 11:16 PM
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One of the things that I do really like when speaking of the common screw-in (E27?) bulbs is the ease of changing if we over or undershoot a bit. Unlike a full blown fixture, it doesn't cost much nor require much effort to screw in a new bulb!
I use canopies on most tanks so clutter is not a major factor for me but I'm liking several things that the more versatile lighting gives me.
I found running several lights can give me lots of options if I want to put those lights on different timers.
This is a "nearly night" picture I took last night when only the spotlight/downlight was left burning. I spent some times just watching the fish and learning who preferred the dark end versus the bright spot left by the single LED bulb.
Lots of interesting behavior when we give them options to choose. It surprised me that the smaller yellow labs were the ones who chose the bright while the much larger Protomelas insignus were ready to go to the dark and bed down. Looking closely you can just spot some of the smaller labs up on top of the rock pile on the right while the adult labs were in the center of the tank. The big fish are in the dark!
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