Krisbow Led Strip used in hurried conversion; or Tell me how I screwed this up...
By way of introduction, I am an American expat living in Indonesia.
Getting fish and plants are relatively easy here, but the equipment is a bit different that what I was used to in the States.
I have a ~66 gallon (1 m x .5 m X.5 m) tank that I use for plants and fish. I got at at Ace hardware, with is like the "Mall" version of Home Depo here.
Instead of "hang on tank" or "hang on back" overflow filters, most aquarium designs here use a "hang in/above" design with a drain emptying into the tank. Inflow on right, drain on left; powerhead in tank pumps water up a pipe or tube into the filter. The filter and it's supports sit on a plastic shelf built into the hood. This takes up the back 1/3 of the tank. There is a flat tilt-back panel covering this, but I often leave it open and grow philodendrons and avocado seedlings out of the filter.
The front 1/3 of the hood is the tilt-up access panel.
The middle 1/3 is where the lights are hung. This tank originally had 2 florescent tubes.
I didn't use this tank for a couple of years because the water supply ate the house we were using had a major sulfur bacteria problem.
We recently moved, and my wife demanded that I use the holiday to set up "the pretty aquarium" again.
So I cleaned the tank, and got some plants and kitty litter (dried clay) and a handful of "starter" guppies, a pair the clown loaches that were in the plant tank (I didn't want to make another trip ).
Then I found out the hard way that rats had chewed the cord to the lights.... I'd had always had trouble finding the right bulbs anyway... and there had been a heat problem with people insisting on turing off the AC when we weren't home or just using fans in the living room (Tropical country)... so I decided just the rip out the electronics and balast cover and mount an off the shelf led light ... but it turns out he screw heads are an odd shape that doesn't fit my screw driver...
So anyway...Other than removing the power cord, I ended up leaving the original lighting fixture in place, and mounted a "tape" of led strip on and around it. 5 meters of LED strip under the hood of a 1 meter long tank.
I lost a few inches on each "turn around" and left some give for opening the tilt up in the front. The hood is about 2.5 inches 'deep' and the balast cover is about 2 inches closer to the water than the ceiling. I got one strip between the ballast and the filter at the back, 2 across the ballast, one in front of the ballast, and 2 under the tilt up in the front. The strip is literally a 1 cm wide self adhesive tape of 60 Led bulbs per meter. I tacked down the turnarounds with electrical tape, but was careful not to cover any of the leds, so some of the bulbs point in odd directions, but can't be seen as long a as the lid is closed. Some light comes out the back of the tank, but I don't mind that. It happened with the old bulbs anyway.
So, here are the specifications. If the wording sounds odd, this is marketed in Indonesia.
Krisbow Led Strip.
LED SMD5050 Strips Flexible Light
Operating Voltage: 12v Dc
Input Voltage: 100 - 240 V
LED Qty (1 meter): 60 pcs LED per meter
Power Consumption : 14.4 W per meter
Cutting unit: 3 pcs led ( I didn't cut any and put tape over the gold leads at the end of the tape)
IP Class: IP65
5 meters per roll
Adaptor 5A AC Adaptor
Other than the claim of the 50000 hour lifespan, this is all the documentation.
I got the RGB instead of the white because the RGB came with a remote with with 16 color settings, and dimmer settings. (It also have "Strobe" settings that i won't be using.) The 'white' setting looked 'warm" to me at the store, but seems "blue-white" when used over water; now that I can see the reflection on the water's surface, I can see that the white is the red, blue, and green elements (?)all lit together. It is too bright to look at directly.
From the packaging, it seems that the intended use is mood lighting in bars. The main reason I went with the strips (other than ease of installation) was that the off the self led aquarium lamps all seemed to have either a mix of about 8 blue and white leds, or just a strip of white, and for the same price I could get 300 RGB bulbs in a 5 m strip. None of the clerks could tell me if the off the shelf units were good for plants (language barrier ). I figured at least 1 of the 16 color settings would be what I really needed.
Right now the water is rather cloudy. Turns out the local sand has a lot of pumice (floating volcanic pebbles) and does not do a good job of holding down kitty litter dust. I'm used to my tanks being clouding for the first couple of days anyway. I mention this to say that the cloudy water is diffusing the light, so the plants don't have any shadows at all at the moment. I do think the lighting is pretty saturated though. I'm getting a little "disco effect" out of the back of the tank, but that is form the few bulbs on the turnarounds that are facing backwards.
The lights are cool to the touch, so much so that I had to visually check that I was actually touching them. This is after 5 hours of continuous operation on the highest "white" setting. So heat does not seem to be a problem.
So. It looks nice at the moment, but I'll see if it looks odd when the water clears....
1) Is this enough light for plants? What light category: low, mid, high? Too much: should I dim it? Should I run another 5 meters of "warm white" and just use the rgb as a toy? (see below)?
2) plants like red and blue, but don't 'look' good without green.
Does this mean that I should use "white" for display, and purple for day to day growth? Or is that too simplistic? There are purple color settings. I figure I can use the red for viewing nocturnal fish and the blue settings if I want a moonlight effect. The tank is going to be the nightlight between the kids room and the bathroom anyway.
3) Feel free to laugh and use this as a teaching case for what not to do if i have done completely the wrong thing for a diy led conversion.
I'll post pictures later.