Actinic lighting - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 03:53 PM Thread Starter
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Actinic lighting

I have a Coralife T5 HO Dual fixture. It included one 10,000k and one actinic bulb. From my understanding (reading online), actinic bulbs in freshwater tanks are more for aesthetics and less for functionality? I've also read that Coralife brand bulbs aren't the greatest, so I'd likely be replacing these with a different brand whenever I get the chance. So my question is, when replacing the bulbs in this dual fixture, should I bother with actinic? Is there another bulb that would be a better choice?

Some additional information that might assist your answer:
30 gallon planted tank, freshwater
Plants would be rotala, ludwigia, wisteria, water sprite, crypts, s.repens
E.I. dosing for nutrients
DIY CO2 (currently- I'd be replacing the CO2 with pressurized before changing the lights) That's the order I should do, right? I figure that modifying lighting before improving CO2 would be kind of counterproductive, right?
No hood over the tank- I know that this can affect PAR values, but its something that I've just recently started looking into, so I'm not very knowledgeable on this subject. I suppose I could get a PAR meter and try to get a reading with my current bulbs to see where its at before I buy different bulbs? I believe I've been advised that I could go without the actinic, but I've also been told that this light combination is high in only a 30g tank. Just seeking a little clarification.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 04:08 PM
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My recommendation would be to do something like a TrueLumen Flora bulb which provides the reds your plants enjoy, then adding a 6500k bulb to that. You could just replace the Actinic with the TruLumen and leave the 10000k, that wouldn't look too bad, but the actinic isn't going to do much for plant growth. It's just a looootttt of blue.

I have a 4 bulb T5HO fixture and I alternate the Flora's with 6500K bulbs.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 04:13 PM
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Bec...

Actinic bulbs only work for low light plants. If you need something stronger, then research Solarmax lighting. T5 bulbs are fine, but you need several, because though the T5 is strong, it doesn't spread the light over a very wide area. You want full coverage of the bottom of the tank. Get bulbs in the 5500 to 6500K intensity range. These are closest to natural daylight.

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MultiTankGuy View Post
T5 bulbs are fine, but you need several, because though the T5 is strong, it doesn't spread the light over a very wide area...M
This just isn't accurate, and I've seen you say it before. If you don't have a reflector for the bulbs, fine...but who is using a fixture without a reflector? I run way more light on my tank than I need to with a 4 bulb fixture over a 29 gallon tank, but I could EASILY get away with 2 bulbs. I just like to run my tanks on a razors edge - very high light, high CO2 and high ferts. When I get bored with awesome, healthy plant growth, maybe I'll turn it down.

Running 4 bulbs on my 29 gallon, which is a deep-ish tank, my PAR at substrate is around 120, and I could get that higher if I didn't keep the fixture a FOOT above my tank. Cut down to two bulbs, I'd be around 60 still...? Don't think it's a perfect translation like that, but I'd still pushing the envelope of "high light".
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
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@mgeorges Something like this: https://www.amazon.com/True-Lumen-Fl...ews/B003SVBF3E ? So the TrueLumen would replace the actinic and then I would replace the 10000K with a 6500K. Did I understand that right? I do think that this might be a better alternative for me. I've been reading that the plants like more of the red/yellow spectrum. In the mean time, would it be ok to just replace the actinic with the Flora and keep the 1000K? Or will it not really make any difference unless both are replaced?

@MultiTankGuy Thanks for the input

So what's the deal with the actinic light anyway? If it doesn't really aid in growth, why do people use it? I've seen it cited as being used for aesthetics, but honestly I don't care for the blue tint in my tank. From reading online it seems like most people use them in saltwater tanks, but I don't particularly care for the super blue look there either though. Is there any real benefit? Like, blue light penetrates the deepest, right? Is there any correlation between that fact and saltwater depths? Does saltwater aquatic life have a preference for blue light because it's what it is "used to"? Not sure if that makes sense. Just curious.

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Last edited by Darkblade48; 06-24-2018 at 08:00 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 06:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beccanne View Post
@mgeorges Something like this: https://www.amazon.com/True-Lumen-Fl...ews/B003SVBF3E ? So the TrueLumen would replace the actinic and then I would replace the 10000K with a 6500K. Did I understand that right? I do think that this might be a better alternative for me. I've been reading that the plants like more of the red/yellow spectrum. In the mean time, would it be ok to just replace the actinic with the Flora and keep the 1000K? Or will it not really make any difference unless both are replaced?

@MultiTankGuy Thanks for the input
Yes, that's the right bulb, though I'd look around and see if you can find it without the shipping. Considering how it's packaged, that's not horrible, but I hate paying shipping lol. You can run the 10000K with the Flora if you'd like. Plants should do just fine, and it may look better offsetting the red even more. The Flora certainly has a red tint to it, but it actually isn't bad. Again, I run alternating Flora x 6500k x Flora x 6500k. Plants look great, you can see the red on the background and back wall though. Looks nice to me, like a lovely early sunset, but most importantly the plants love it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beccanne View Post
So what's the deal with the actinic light anyway? If it doesn't really aid in growth, why do people use it? I've seen it cited as being used for aesthetics, but honestly I don't care for the blue tint in my tank. From reading online it seems like most people use them in saltwater tanks, but I don't particularly care for the super blue look there either though. Is there any real benefit? Like, blue light penetrates the deepest, right? Is there any correlation between that fact and saltwater depths? Does saltwater aquatic life have a preference for blue light because it's what it is "used to"? Not sure if that makes sense. Just curious.

Actinics are used in the reefer world a lot. REALLY brings out the color in certain corals. I can't state whether or not it actually helps them grow, never kept a reef tank or done homework. Just seen what actinis do to a reef...it's lovely.
You bought a "Reef fixture"...and by that I mean it comes with reef bulbs.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 06:27 PM Thread Starter
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@mgeorges Thanks! This was the "best" fixture that they had at the lfs and when I bought it they told me I would probably want to "get better bulbs", but I didn't really know what they meant at the time.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 06:56 PM
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10000k/actinic would probably grow plants fine (depends on PAR of course) but the tank will be dullish and plants will normally be short..though leafy..

For your and the plants "enjoyment" more red is needed..
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 08:58 PM
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mg...

This information I gave isn't inaccurate. I say this because this is what has worked for me. I use the Solarmax lighting and the single two bulb, T5 strip doesn't give my tanks enough light coverage. I have to use a four bulb set up.

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