Thoughts on lighting idea - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 05:30 AM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Thoughts on lighting idea

I am planning a 180 gallon tank and was wondering what anyone's opinion was of instead of having one or two six foot long lights going long ways I used 4 or 5- 24" lights going short ways? It seems like I could get much more even light over the entire tank and be able to have areas of brighter light or dimmer light. Any thoughts???

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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 01:37 PM
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It depends on whether you overhang or place the light on the tank top. If you over hang the light a small distance above the tank, you get more uniform aerial coverage with trade off of wasting light shining outside the footprint and a reduction of light intensity by the inverse square distance law. If you place the light directly on the tank top, you maximize the light intensity reaching the footprint with trade off of less uniform coverage, and the closer it is to the light source, the less uniform the distribution. It also depends on the type of light. LED is directional light and the non uniform factor is far greater than florescent.

I place LED strip lights on glass top with additional submersible LED tubes tied with fish line to the front, side and back rims inside the tank to supplement light distribution. A glimpse on the Submersible LED tubes can be seen on the side view of my 75g, which are available at all lengths and color from Ebay.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 02:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johntheskier View Post
I am planning a 180 gallon tank and was wondering what anyone's opinion was of instead of having one or two six foot long lights going long ways I used 4 or 5- 24" lights going short ways? It seems like I could get much more even light over the entire tank and be able to have areas of brighter light or dimmer light. Any thoughts???
I did something similar on a smaller 42" tank. Here it is:



And since I have lower light plants on one side of the tank I adjust the power down on that side. So yeah, your proposal is workable and does give you more flexibility. But I don't think you necessarily have to mount them sideways, and depending on the light mounting them could be an issue. Assuming your 180 is 6 x 2 x 2' three lights would work fine. There are lots of lights designed to cover a 2'x2' area effectively. However if you're going with less powerful light I do think you'll need four due to the 24" depth of your tank.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 04:08 PM
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I also take advantage of the uneven distribution of light by concentrating light at the right back corner of my 75g to grow red stem plants whereas the rest of the tank to grow low light epiphytes.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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I really like these ideas and tips. Since I may never be able to convince my wife that I need another tank, I would like to make this one as diverse as possible by having many kinds of plants.
I was thinking of purchasing 4 or 5 Current USA Satellite Plus Pro 24 inch lights because they are on sale right now from both Amazon and Chewy. I already have one of these lights that has worked pretty well for me aside from some moisture getting in the fixture which I fixed by taking off the end caps and allowing them to dry out. I then siliconed the end caps before putting them back together. I like the ramp up and ramp down feature as well as to not freak out the fish and shrimp.
Or do you have any better suggestions for a good light that wont break the bank?
BTW both of those tanks are really pretty!

Bump: mboley Have you had any problems with submersible lights leaking? I assume that they are low volt. Could you provide me with a link to them?

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 05:36 PM
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Or do you have any better suggestions for a good light that wont break the bank?
BTW both of those tanks are really pretty!
The tank I showed above are those USA pro plus fixtures and I like them BUT I like my T5ho four bulb fixture on my other tank better. The knock on a lot of the cheaper LED fixtures is not enough blue and red spectrum. Take a look at hydroponic systems for T5ho bulbs. The flexibility and par cannot be beat and you can match or beat the price you'll pay for the Current USA. You don't have to run all four bulbs for low light areas and you would only need 3 fixtures that fit the 24 inch bulbs. Heres an example: 1st pick is just two bulbs lit, 2nd one with four bulbs.



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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 09:05 PM
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are you thinking of something like this where the lights are running perpendicular to the main face?

I really liked this set up except it would make some of the lights stretch differently depending on how close they were to the light

The 4 bulbs where on 2 ballasts that were staggered so in the morning the left was low light and at night the right was low light

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
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So yes perpendicular to the front face of the tank. So t5ho bulbs are flexible in the sense of different bulbs being available but how about being able to ramp up and down? Thanks for you guys helping me by the way.

Oh also what brands of t5 should I look at?

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 10:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johntheskier View Post
I am planning a 180 gallon tank and was wondering what anyone's opinion was of instead of having one or two six foot long lights going long ways I used 4 or 5- 24" lights going short ways? It seems like I could get much more even light over the entire tank and be able to have areas of brighter light or dimmer light. Any thoughts???
The only negative I can think of is If you use a glass lid and want to mount the lights with the brackets that fit on the rim is that you will have to remove some of the lights every time you open the lid.

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 10:59 PM
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So yes perpendicular to the front face of the tank. So t5ho bulbs are flexible in the sense of different bulbs being available but how about being able to ramp up and down? Thanks for you guys helping me by the way.
Having just two bulbs lit would be your ramp. Each fixture would have 2 plugs, each lighting two bulbs. Just my opinion but ramping up and down is what, 20 to 30 minutes a day? and you don't control it. Much better is an extended dawn and dusk with a variation in tank color that you control. You can run three different looks every day: morning , mid day, and dusk. And its varied even more by the numerous bulbs available. Lastly bulbs switching off suddenly is not an issue for fish, at least I've never killed one.

I have both T5s and the same LED fixture you like. For me T5's add interest to your set up and a richness of color that can't be matched. Not to mention amazing plant growth.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-29-2020, 07:04 AM Thread Starter
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I like the t5 idea or even incorporating LED as well. I never noticed my fish getting spooked to death, although my tetras do react to sudden light but my shrimp do not seem to like it at all they freak out. So a few other points is this will be an acrylic tank and I know that I want a canopy because I have cats. So do you have to change the bulbs very often?

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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-29-2020, 03:54 PM
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I like the t5 idea. So do you have to change the bulbs very often?
No, once a year or even less. My understanding is there is a little drop in Par but not enough to worry about.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-29-2020, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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So what is so special about aquarium specific florescent lighting? I get that the ballasts are more powerful and that the sockets are a little different. But dosent it really come down to the bulbs are really what is special? I have looked around on line and many comparison photos of t5 lights really make me reconsider dumping the LED route.
I am an (was an) electrician and have designed lighting in some amazing homes but in that situation the lighting is meant to be pleasing to a human eye not to promote photosynthesis. I can honestly say that I really don't under stand PAR readings and the science behind aquarium lighting. There is a ton of conflicting information on the web about it (as with many aspects of this hobby) mostly driven by manufactures, in my opinion.
On that note I could easily make florescent fixtures for a fraction of the cost of pre-manufactured ones. Not really the case with LED because the are more of an electronics item with drivers and such (tiny soldering is not my forte).
You have seriously made me rethink my lighting plans!!! Thank you! I need to do more research!

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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-29-2020, 06:40 PM
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To further complicate your questions, there are now a lot of T5 LED tubes that fit standard fluorescent fixtures. I'm using several of those above aquariums now as well as in the garage.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-02-2020, 10:23 PM
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Not just brighter or dimmer but varied in color temperature too. I think you are on to something here. Only problem is designing the aquascaping with , essentially, no limits on lighting.

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