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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all... I've been using cheap T12 shoplight from homedepot for last few months now, after reading this great article "How to Grow Beautiful Aquarium Plants on a Student Budget". while they do well for most low-mid light plants, the high demanding plants are suffering e.g. Dwarf Baby Tears (HC), Dwarf Hair Grass etc. I've got my CO2 setup almost ready, and was thinking of upgrade the lighting, but trying to avoid spending $200-$300 in easy (but nice) setup... My que are;

1) what would be the cheapest way possible to upgrade (T8, or T5 shop light fixture)?

2) Light bulb to use that are abundent in local hardware store? (factoring in, I'd have to replace the lightbulb every 6-8 months...)

3) Just using 65k light good enough, or need to mix it up?? for color or better result...

My Current setup:
(2) 48" Shoplight containing (4) 40w Daylight Deluxe 65k fluorescent Lights.

I've read few other articles regarding upgrade or cheap setup. but they're bit outdated. I know there are more fixture, and light bulb options out there now. would really appreciate your expert and/or personal opinion... thanks. :smile:
 

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Getting your CO2 setup running would do a lot more for the plants that are suffering than light from what I have learned. I would get that implemented first, then upgrade your lights.

1. Even though T8 would be a little cheaper initially, I would go with T5 due to efficiency and longevity of the bulbs being cheaper in the long run.

2. Good cheap light bulbs are GE Starcoats

3. A plant grow type bulb (peaks in red and blue areas of spectrum) may help growth, but mixing different color temp bulbs are mainly for aesthetics. You choose what looks best to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
kewl... that's a great idea. thank you much. I should have the CO2 up n running by tomorrow. then I'll wait few weeks to check if there's any improvement...

quick question, how often do you change T5 light bulb (T12 says to changed every 6-8 months)?? and as long as I get them between 65K - 100k, I should be fine for plant grow right?? thnx again. :D
 

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Most agree that once a year is good for T5 bulbs, some use them for longer.

Plant grow bulbs emit a pinkish light and most don't have a kelvin temp rating.

Most normal bulbs between 4100k and 10000k should be fine, again depends on your preference.
 

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When you're ready shop the usual online stores and eBay. You should be able to find a 48inch fixture for $100 or less.

2 bulbs would be plenty, more would provide flexibility for some demanding plants, but a 2-bulb fixture will let you grow almost anything.
 

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Hello all... I've been using cheap T12 shoplight from homedepot for last few months now,
1) what would be the cheapest way possible to upgrade (T8, or T5 shop light fixture)?
2) Light bulb to use that are abundent in local hardware store? (factoring in, I'd have to replace the lightbulb every 6-8 months...)
3) Just using 65k light good enough, or need to mix it up?? for color or better result...
1) Try T8 'daylight' bulbs in your existing fixture. They will either work, stobe, or not work. You won't hurt the bulbs or the fixture by trying.
My local Home Depot and others DIY stores used to only carry T8/T12 capable shop lights fixtures, but they have reverted to T12 only for the cheap shop lights. The cheapest way to upgrade at my local HD is replacing the ballast at $15.00. On some fixtures that is easy on some it's easier said than done. Next cheapest option is the ~$30.00 T8 shop light.

Also, the partial answer is why bother? Four 32/40 watt tubes on a 55 is a pretty good amount of light. Put the money into CO2 and ferts.

Another also. I've seen T5 shop lights and my suggestion is don't bother, now. They have - so far - been normal output (NO) not HO which is what is really needed for high quality lighting. In my opinion, the only thing the T5 shop lights I've seen has going for them is the size. Roughly 2" high and 4" wide. T5 HO is the way to go.

2) Home Depot (the local one here) sells a decent T8 6500K daylight bulb for less than $5.00. I think it's $2.99 but I don't pay much attention as I get mine by the case. Your local electrical supply house (supplier to electricians) will have something at a great price per tube, but you'll need to purchase by the case.

3) A couple of 6500K - 6700K daylight tubes and what ever else looks good to you. Personally, with four tubes, I'd have one 3500K for the whiter light.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
thnx a bunch ya'll for the advise. It seems, T5 are getting cheaper n cheaper. NJAquaBarren, I've seen few online, & shipping it comes out to around $120-150. Not bad, just buying T5 lights online adds on another $50-60. I'm going to checkout HD tomorrow again, and look @ alternatives.

1) Try T8 'daylight' bulbs in your existing fixture. They will either work, stobe, or not work. You won't hurt the bulbs or the fixture by trying.
My local Home Depot and others DIY stores used to only carry T8/T12...
Lots of good pointers man... thank you.

I've read about universal T8/T12 shop lights fixtures, but when I went there they carried only the one's that's handle T12. guess I'll try put in a T8 in there, and see what happens...

and as earlier suggested, I was going to let my CO2 run for few weeks, and see the result, before investing more $$$ in lighting.

for fert, I'm using Seachem "Flourish (root) Tabs" & liquid "Flourish" bout 1x a week (every water change). was going bump it to 2x/week.

and really good ponter on the lighting. makes bit more sence now. I'll try the T8 (40 watts?) if they work, will put in 3 6500-6700K & one 3500k for the more white look.

appreciate all ya'lls input, thnx. :smile:
 

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With CO2 you will also probably need to add more macro ferts, Flourish Comp is a good trace mix. Check out the fert section on this forum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
With CO2 you will also probably need to add more macro ferts, Flourish Comp is a good trace mix. Check out the fert section on this forum.
lol, was trying to avoid more work. :D guess, no pain, no gain, huh!? will check it out. that should be the last step to a beautiful planted tank! :icon_mrgr thank you much.
 

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T5HO bulbs don't need replacing every year. The data I have seen shows that their intensity drops during the first 6 months or so, then levels off for 1.5 to 2 years before dropping more. You should be able to use the bulbs at least 18 months, and probably 24 or more months. T8 bulbs do seem to lose intensity faster, so replacing them every year or less makes some sense.
 
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