The Planted Tank Forum banner
1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
108 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am in between the USA Currents 2x54w Nova Extreme T5 HO fixture and Catalinas 3x54w Solar T5 HO fixture

I have a standard freshwater 55 gallon tank, 48x12, I don't plan on growing heavy. Java fern, microsword carpet, apongetons, spatterdock, anubias, african fern, maybe some ludwigia, etc. (not all those choices will be going in)

I liked that the Catalina Solar is the price it is, but shipping is around $30, bringing me to around $180 shipped. The Nova, I can get for about $110 shipped..

Nova puts me at about 2wpg
Catalina puts me at about 3wpg, and gives me that extra spectrum bulb

Is the extra 1wpg worth the extra $70? I am obviously on a budget, as most of us are I am sure =P
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,012 Posts
A 55 gallon tank is only about 12 inches in front to back depth, but is 20 inches high. This means even one bulb can light the whole substrate, since the light will spread out over that 20 inch distance. But, at the top of the tank the areas not directly under the light will be dimly lit. This would encourage tall stem plants to grow inward to stay under the light. A two bulb fixture helps spread out the light a bit at the top of the tank. But, for T5HO fixtures, that also gives you high light intensity at the substrate. If you don't want that, and from your plant selections I assume you don't, you have to raise a two bulb fixture above the top of the tank - about 4-6 inches. That alone gives you enough spread of the light at the top of the tank to greatly reduce the need for the plants to all aim towards the center of the tank as they grow. Adding another bulb forces you to raise the fixture even higher, which does even out the distribution of light a lot, but it also spills a lot of light onto the floor around the tank. If you don't mind that, the 3 bulb Catalina fixture is a good idea, and it has two switches so you can elect to run 1, 2 or 3 bulbs when ever you chose.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
108 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Heh... I think you just made my decision that much harder, but well informed. I plan on using the leg stands that either have with them, however tall they raise the fixture. I don't have any sufficient hanging spots for it, so the leg stands are my only option. I was impressed with the reviews I read about the Solar t5, but the nova seemed pretty standard as far as quality, plus the noisy fans. Kind of makes the Solar t5 the obvious choice, but I don't want to spend the extra $$ if I am not going to use all three bulbs, which it sounds like what I would be doing based on what you said.

edit: Doesn't light refract in water? Shouldn't the light reach all parts of the tank no matter how close it is to the water? You have all the sides of the tank plus objects in the tank passing, bending and reflecting through and from it. Just a thought.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
322 Posts
You have to also look at lightbulb placement in the fixtures. The catalina are bit more spread out with individual reflectors. My 2x24w T5HO nova extreme has them both close to each other towards the back of the fixture. With one reflector.

The catalina will give much stronger light output and better spread due to the design. I would go with the catalina since you do have an option to use 1-2-3 bulbs at a time. You never know, you may get bit by the hi tech bug as you advance in the hobby and that third bulb switch will get to unleash its power.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,490 Posts
You may change your mind one day. The Catalina gives you more flexibility. If you have the money to spend it may save you an upgrade later. The individual reflectors, multiple switches are the way to go if you can swing it.

Having said that, I have 2 x 54w on an 84g tanks (48x18) suspended 6" above the water line and everything grows well. Either will work, one is a fixture you will never need to upgrade, the other you may.

Also, the multiple switches lets you make adjustments in your lighting plan. You may want the tank lit early AM and late into the evening so you can enjoy it while you're not at work, or school. But you may have an algae problem due to too much light. The mutli-switch fixture will let you run one bulb as long as you like while only adding 2nd or 3rd bulbs for portions of the day. By doing that you can enjoy your tank to the fullest, while adjusting total light to your needs.

Either fixtuer though will grow virtually anything you like.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
108 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Alright, I decided on the Catalina Solar t5 3x54w. Placed my order over the phone. Great company, glad to see that some businesses are still doing things personalized, and getting to speak with the management is always nice. Can't wait to start growing =)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,012 Posts
edit: Doesn't light refract in water? Shouldn't the light reach all parts of the tank no matter how close it is to the water? You have all the sides of the tank plus objects in the tank passing, bending and reflecting through and from it. Just a thought.
Light bends toward the vertical when it enters the water from the air. So, the light is somewhat more concentrated by penetrating the air/water interface. If the aquarium glass is kept clean, both inside and outside, with no paint or other attached film on the outside, the glass reflects some of the light back into the tank. This is a bonus, adding to the intensity near the glass. When I measured this effect I got less than a 20% increase in intensity due to that reflection, but others have measured the increase and found it to be greater than that. Since the "cone" of light is still expanding even if the light is reflected off the glass, the intensity still drops approximately with the square of the distance from the bulb.
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top