While I love the dimensions of the PetCo bookshelf tank the fixture certainly leaves something to be desired. For example, manually removing imported thread algae when then light sits directly on the cover is a huge pain. Remove the light to access the tank, and then you can't see all those teeny tiny strands. Bleh!
So it was time to find a light that could be suspended over the tank a bit, and although I'd heard of T2's, there wasn't many examples of people actually using them. I found some that were reasonably cheap, and really quite easy to use (no wiring required). Sounds like experimentation time!
(If these photos don't work, someone yell at me and I'll find an alternative host.)
So here is an uncorrected photograph of the stock 15 T8 lighting I took a week or so ago...
Actually, that's not the stock bulb (which is even worse), but selection where I live is pretty crap. Plants grew, but looked rather terrible. Fortunately the human brain has really good color correcting capacity, so it never looked this magenta in real life.
Uncorrected photograph of the T2 (supported by Altoids tins)...
Had just done a big water change prior to snapping the shot so everything's a bit of a mess, but obviously a huge difference in CRI quality. This is actually very similar to what the tank looks like now.
Now if only I had access to a PAR meter!
As for pros and cons I'll try to keep it general since I'm not trying to review a specific brand of product here.
- The active bulb length of the 13W is actually about 2 inches longer than the active length of the 15W T8.
- Comes in multiple shorter lengths (13W = 21 1/8", 11W = 17", 8W = 12.6").
- Less wiring work required than custom LED's.
Debatable (could be a con depending on your preferences):
- Super thin (7mm) bulb is housed in plastic case which does help prevent breaking the bulb, and burning yourself (after hours of use it only gets warm), but reduces efficiency. The version I bought has a "reflector" (mylar maybe since it does let some light through) that does help push light forward, but most of the smaller versions or alternative brands don't have that option.
- Color temperature choices are very limited since they are new.
- Bulbs pretty much have to be bought online. Something I have to do normally anyway, so that doesn't really bother me.
- It's cheaper (and no hood building required) to just buy a desk lamp if you've got a shorter length tank. A T5 of similar ease of use will probably cost as much.
- No one builds quality reflectors for these yet.
- Selection is limited.
So there you go - another option for nano tank lighting. Hopefully I'll get an actual hood built for this thing...just depends on what powertools I can scrounge up.
P.S. I am aware this post kinda falls in three categories: nano tanks, lighting, and DIY. If I've chosen the wrong spot, apologizes to the mods who have to move it.