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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, I just recently upgraded to a 90gal tank from my 40br and am looking at going semi-high tech. I already do CO2, ferts, and have two 36" beamswork FSPECs.

The beamsworks are 36in and so they dont fit perfectly and are an eyesore. I want to upgrade lighting but I dont want to break the bank. I was thinking at first to put a single finnex planted + but i read i would need another light on top of that. That quickly puts the lights over budget but if a single 48" planted + would do well I can afford that.

Normally I design my own led boards but with this tank it would also cost more so here is my idea. I seen in a magazine a high tech tank was using SORAA lights for their tank. Looking them up I think i could get good results with two SORAA par38 (https://www.soraa.com/products/23-PAR38.php#) over both sides of the tank. Then lighting housings are cheap and a diy stand put me right around 200$ for what im hoping is a powerful lighting setup.

Is this viable? Are there cheaper options to get high par at substrate? Are t5 bulbs and fixture better? Should I just use LED light bars made for trucks? argggg.

(ps, I want to grow some red plants, have some carpet plants, etc. That is what i mean by high tech)

What are your thoughts?
 

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Hey guys, I just recently upgraded to a 90gal tank from my 40br and am looking at going semi-high tech. I already do CO2, ferts, and have two 36" beamswork FSPECs.

The beamsworks are 36in and so they dont fit perfectly and are an eyesore. I want to upgrade lighting but I dont want to break the bank. I was thinking at first to put a single finnex planted + but i read i would need another light on top of that. That quickly puts the lights over budget but if a single 48" planted + would do well I can afford that.

Normally I design my own led boards but with this tank it would also cost more so here is my idea. I seen in a magazine a high tech tank was using SORAA lights for their tank. Looking them up I think i could get good results with two SORAA par38 (https://www.soraa.com/products/23-PAR38.php#) over both sides of the tank. Then lighting housings are cheap and a diy stand put me right around 200$ for what im hoping is a powerful lighting setup.

Is this viable? Are there cheaper options to get high par at substrate? Are t5 bulbs and fixture better? Should I just use LED light bars made for trucks? argggg.

(ps, I want to grow some red plants, have some carpet plants, etc. That is what i mean by high tech)

What are your thoughts?

Love SORRAS but they don't make the good K temp anymore.
Well apparently there are 5000k's out there at RIDICULOUS prices:
https://www.staples.com/SORAA-LED-P...-Soft-Daylight-60D-1PK-777775/product_2244071

They also run hot though which means efficiency is a bit down.


You really have 2 issues, depth and spread.
Easiest and/or cheapest would be a t5 4 tube unit.
Simple made for an aquarium fixture will cost around $120 w/ bank of 6500k bulbs.
Doing fairly normal substitutes for color would add another say $50


200-ish watts so plenty for a 90. simple on/off, height adj or removal of tubes (if possible) dimming.


Now a bit about LED's, well for around $200 you are hard pressed to get everything you want plus the strength of LED's i.e control.
500-6500k led Chinese cheap floods would work w/ the disadvantage of no color tuning or usually dimming.

So parity output wise and cost w/ t5 but zero flexibility really.


Cheapest "retail" LED w/ almost everything.. i.e some color tuning, dimming, and on/off only timer and plenty of power and spread that
I can think of ATM:
https://sbreeflights.com/sbox-reef-lights/83-45-sbox-freshwater-pro-timer.html


Light bars for trucks are really no better than LED floods and many have weird split optics mixing flood w/ spot lensing (roughly).
I could almost guarantee poor CRI as well though you flip a coin on that w/ led floods as well.


Since a few are back one last (not definitive,there are a 1/2 doz other lights)
https://www.amazon.com/Green-Element-Aquarium-Light-Fixture/dp/B00ASVH0BS


Not sure the diodes, they made 2 basic models, 1 all 6500k, one w/ a bunch of blue diodes and white.
good thing:
Strong enough
Simply made that one could, exchange some diodes for better color (Bridgelux egg type, easy to remove/replace except w/ red diodes. One catch some new chinese black boxes are using smd diodes so not easy to replace )
Split power supplies

bad, average color and not easily dimmed as is.
low efficiency
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I am ok with an LED fixture that isnt tunable or dimmable. I have a wifi switch for powering on and off and if I need to dim it i can just raise the unit.

The biggest thing I worry with T5 is replacement bulbs arent cheap and can add up fairly quick. The initial investment seems promising however as I found this unit- https://www.amazon.com/Hydrofarm-Ag...Z7EG3H5HHW51&refRID=PX1NERRKZ7EG3H5HHW51&th=1

But to replace with 5000k bulbs the cheapest i found was 50$. Also dont t5 bulbs need to be changed out at least every year?

By that time I can just about buy two Finnex FugeRay Planted+
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GH9HURE/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_1?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1
Finnex lists their 48" lights in open air at 14" depth to have a par of 121

I do wish the finnex had more features but a t5 system also no features beyond replacing bulbs.

So please correct me if I am wrong or misunderstanding something but it seems like over time getting two finnex lights would be better and cheaper than a t5 fixture and bulbs. Allowing me to buy one fixture and another later if needed to get more light spread and power at substrate.
 

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I am ok with an LED fixture that isnt tunable or dimmable. I have a wifi switch for powering on and off and if I need to dim it i can just raise the unit.

The biggest thing I worry with T5 is replacement bulbs arent cheap and can add up fairly quick. The initial investment seems promising however as I found this unit- https://www.amazon.com/Hydrofarm-Ag...Z7EG3H5HHW51&refRID=PX1NERRKZ7EG3H5HHW51&th=1

But to replace with 5000k bulbs the cheapest i found was 50$. Also dont t5 bulbs need to be changed out at least every year?

By that time I can just about buy two Finnex FugeRay Planted+
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GH9HURE/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_1?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1
Finnex lists their 48" lights in open air at 14" depth to have a par of 121

I do wish the finnex had more features but a t5 system also no features beyond replacing bulbs.

So please correct me if I am wrong or misunderstanding something but it seems like over time getting two finnex lights would be better and cheaper than a t5 fixture and bulbs. Allowing me to buy one fixture and another later if needed to get more light spread and power at substrate.

I'm sure it varies by bulb type and bulb spectrum but both output and/or color shifts are usually only "fatal" after way more than a year.
Now outright failure isn't really part of "lumen decay"so there is that as a separate consideration.


You can add an overall dimmer timer to the planted plus for relatively cheap.
About $10 per fixture..


Sort of DIY but nothing difficult.


Guess its about parity over time w/ a small amount of savings on power depending on local costs.


Leds offer more functionality easier than anything else, cost savings are a bit secondary.

2 Planted plus don't have near the output of a 4 tube t5.
71 vs 200 Even using a generous conversion factor you only get 142 effective watts to 200 t5.


Then again do you need or want 200w?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Im not sure how much wattage I need or want. As an engineer I know wattage as a power usage number, and when you factor in stuff like LEDs who are more efficient at creating light with much lower power demands wattage no longer matters. However PAR will always matter.

If the PAR for 4 t5 bulbs will be higher at substrate than 2 LED fixtures then the t5's are probably a better choice. Lets say what I am really looking to do is to grow monte carlo on my floor or dwarf hairgrass.

Good to hear the t5 bulbs last longer than a year now.
 

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Im not sure how much wattage I need or want. As an engineer I know wattage as a power usage number, and when you factor in stuff like LEDs who are more efficient at creating light with much lower power demands wattage no longer matters. However PAR will always matter.

If the PAR for 4 t5 bulbs will be higher at substrate than 2 LED fixtures then the t5's are probably a better choice. Lets say what I am really looking to do is to grow monte carlo on my floor or dwarf hairgrass.

Good to hear the t5 bulbs last longer than a year now.
4 tube aquatic life t5 will push 100PAR @ 24"


Actually it's been awhile w/ me dealing w/ these fixtures and PAR but it's closer than it looks apparently.




t5ho 4 tube can push 140 @ 18"

soo 2 planted plus w/ the par adding as it does can meet the 4 tubes approx.
Consider these ballpark figures though.
Cost is more though.
2 ALC's = 4 tubes or close enough.. That's about $250.

ONE thing to note is par in t5's is very dependent on the quality of the fixture.

*Correction to above* Apparently watt efficiency for leds is getting better than assumed in my last post before this.
Problem w/ using watts and assuming parity.
See really ones considering Lumens/watt ie watt efficiency. Lumens has it's own issue and best would be PPF/watt.
Think of either as photons/watt but Lumens is a subset of PPF weighted to the light sensativity curve of human vision.
Excludes or minimizes part of PPF which is all photons weighted equally between 400-700nm.

Best is PPFD but that takes in account area. Also referred to, incorrectly, as PAR .
Photosynthetic Photon Flux (PPF) Density (PPFD)
Tubes run around 70-90 Lumens/watt LED 50-180 Lumens/watt so you can see the issue of comparing, even before considering delivery efficiency, t5's to leds.

One "can" compensate lower light w/ CO2 for most things but in reference to carpet plants one needs to get the CO2 to the plants
which is a matter of flow.

Better.. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Good info.

My one rebuttal would be why go with 2 ALCs when the planted plus is shown with more PAR and is 130$ on amazon?

My next question and hopefully my last is in regards to height above the tanks. If I went with the Planted + I assume I would start with it on top of the tank. However with a T5 fixture I would hang it at least a foot, maybe 2 above the tank (higher if feasible). But wont that hurt the light penetration or is it fairly negligible due to how bright T5's are?

I keep swinging to the planted + and that T5 fixture I posted. Looking up those aquatic life fixtures it just screams another company making huge profit margins and is to costly for me.

Edited for double post
 

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Good info.

My one rebuttal would be why go with 2 ALCs when the planted plus is shown with more PAR and is 130$ on amazon?

My next question and hopefully my last is in regards to height above the tanks. If I went with the Planted + I assume I would start with it on top of the tank. However with a T5 fixture I would hang it at least a foot, maybe 2 above the tank (higher if feasible). But wont that hurt the light penetration or is it fairly negligible due to how bright T5's are?

I keep swinging to the planted + and that T5 fixture I posted. Looking up those aquatic life fixtures it just screams another company making huge profit margins and is to costly for me.

Edited for double post

Height always has a major impact.
Needs/wants play into lighting.

2 ALC's is more par than 1 planted plus


You are considering your par needs but what are your wants?


See if one just wants PAR and a fair look yet some versatility you could do something like buy 2 sets of these.. 1 white/ one pink and mix/match.
https://www.amazon.com/Barrina-Equivalent-Spectrum-V-Shape-Reflector/dp/B07ZFLMTS9?ref_=ast_sto_dp
https://www.amazon.com/Barrina-Equi...ctor-Greenhouse/dp/B07ZJKL5F7?ref_=ast_sto_dp


69-72 PAR at 20"per tube..
Can gang 6 off their power supply (prob more if it is replaced)

you can dim by just taking one out of the string.of 6

No need to raise increasing room spill.
Relatively cheap investment $160 8 tubes high red content.

High par

Bit of DIY for hanging but doable.


MY only question is how "white" that white is and look.


Again WHAT exactly are your needs/wants
Include things like spectrum control, dimming look, space, hanging height, cost, convenience ( I personally include mercury content)

As you focus in on all the things the choices get easier.



blink and another LED option appears.. ;)
 

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OK took a minute and processed their posted spectrum on the whites.IF accurate it is really a close approx to a planted plus.. i.e high red but neutral tone. No added blue but appears unnecessary.
A "pink" set would be unnecessary. Hard to tell on personal likes.

* MIXING LIST
----------------------------------------
myData barrinawhite.txt [120°] x1
----------------------------------------

* SIMULATION DATA
----------------------------------------
Luminous flux : 2,999 lm
Radiant flux : 15,349 mW
PPF : 67.4 umol/s
TCP : 6760 K
CRI : 91
λp : 447 nm
Color : #FF89A5
----------------------------------------

* PERFORMANCE @ 30cm
----------------------------------------
Irradiance : 18.1 W/m²/s
Illuminance : 3,536 lx
PPFD : 79.4 umol/m²/s
----------------------------------------

by SPECTRA 1.0β @ 1.023world
SPECTRA
PAR data ect is a bit of a guess atm and based on wattage of one tube.

Their sets are intriguing..
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I agree 2 ALC's are more par than 1 planted plus, but two planted + is more par than two ALCs. Price difference is only about 10$ less on the ALCs.

Very interesting about the string lights you found. I might just give those a try for [censored][censored][censored][censored]s and giggles. I like that they are thin enough I can put them on the tank top and still open my lid.

I get what you are saying about needing to know what I want with my lights. And sadly, just saying I want to grow carpet plants isnt enough and and I understand that. Esp considering there are so many other variables that have to be correct in order to grow certain plants (IE dosing, etc).

Another thought is that I have made a 8 ft wide stand with my 90gal and a few 10 gal tanks on the sides, it would be amazing to be able to light all the tanks with one or a few fixtures but there are other complications with that so I am just focusing on the 90 right now. (I will create a thread soon to show the build, its pretty nice imo).

So hell, for 80$ I might just try those white lights you posted and see how they grow for 2 weeks. With amazon I could always return them. If they do well I could also get the 2 ft ones and put them above my other tanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So just as a follow up I actually went with two cheap reef lights that let me adjust light output and color. They are doing great and the lights are easily modifiable for me and are fun to play with. Most everything else was to dark, red, or underpowered. This was a nice middle ground and I do have plants pearling, though might not have enough brightness to grow floor plants.
For 160$ this is a great option. I can dim the lights and the LED controllers in them are simple enough that I plan on making a sunrise/sunset profile using reef-pi.
1026224
 

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I am building a custom (expensive) led light system for my new 180g. In the mean time I put 4 of these fixtures that I picked up at the local Costco for $18 on sale: https://www.costco.com/feit-electric-4'-linkable-led-shop-light,-2-pack.product.100462723.html

My plants LOVE them! No plant specific perfect PAR... just lots of light for VERY cheap! I actually purchased these shop lights for my shop but hadn't hung them up yet. I am kind of second guessing my LED build... but I have all the hardware including plant wavelength specific LED's.
 

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I am building a custom (expensive) led light system for my new 180g. In the mean time I put 4 of these fixtures that I picked up at the local Costco for $18 on sale: https://www.costco.com/feit-electric-4'-linkable-led-shop-light,-2-pack.product.100462723.html

My plants LOVE them! No plant specific perfect PAR... just lots of light for VERY cheap! I actually purchased these shop lights for my shop but hadn't hung them up yet. I am kind of second guessing my LED build... but I have all the hardware including plant wavelength specific LED's.
First how 's the color to you?
4000k w cheap leds are usually too yellow for most people.
When I built my first lights I did it for the plants and
dimming, sunrise, and color tunable was for me and the fish.
After awhile I fine tuned it.... for me.
Plants adapt.
Now that I sort of know the differences it's hard to accept any other light even some of my own.
When I got my 55 and needed time to build a new light I got a shop light to get it started.
Plants did fine and fir a brief while it was visually acceptable but..... not the same.
I noticed the difference after having seen the difference.
YMMV...

Mine was more of a greenish- yellow.
They are, sometimes, using better diodes.
Color tone is a persibsl choice snd the above isn't ugly but it was missing " something".
 

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First how 's the color to you?
4000k w cheap leds are usually too yellow for most people.
When I built my first lights I did it for the plants and
dimming, sunrise, and color tunable was for me and the fish.
After awhile I fine tuned it.... for me.
Plants adapt.
Now that I sort of know the differences it's hard to accept any other light even some of my own.
When I got my 55 and needed time to build a new light I got a shop light to get it started.
Plants did fine and fir a brief while it was visually acceptable but..... not the same.
I noticed the difference after having seen the difference.
YMMV...

Mine was more of a greenish- yellow.
They are, sometimes, using better diodes.
Color tone is a persibsl choice snd the above isn't ugly but it was missing " something".
I am pleased with the presentation of the fish and plants with the lights. You are correct, there is a tinge of yellow. I have no doubt more pleasing results can be had with a custom build or even an off the shelf light that allows tweaking of the particular wavelengths. I went with the Bluefish mini light controller for my custom build. I look forwards to being able to implement the sunrise, sunset, etc. effects like you describe.

From the just growing plants aspect the lights have been phenomenal! Which kind of makes me question the photosynthesis tuned deep red and blue LED's I purchased for my build. One of the things that I do look forwards to in a custom build is being able to control the max brightness to slow down the plant growth. Once I have my build complete I am sure I will appreciate the custom control it gives me but these lights have been excellent for my tank startup. After my build is complete they will end up being installed in the shop like they were originally intended to. Presently my Dwarf Hairgrass is starting to carpet so I am reluctant to transition to a lower light level until I have a good thick carpet.
 

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I am pleased with the presentation of the fish and plants with the lights. You are correct, there is a tinge of yellow. I have no doubt more pleasing results can be had with a custom build or even an off the shelf light that allows tweaking of the particular wavelengths. I went with the Bluefish mini light controller for my custom build. I look forwards to being able to implement the sunrise, sunset, etc. effects like you describe.

From the just growing plants aspect the lights have been phenomenal! Which kind of makes me question the photosynthesis tuned deep red and blue LED's I purchased for my build. One of the things that I do look forwards to in a custom build is being able to control the max brightness to slow down the plant growth. Once I have my build complete I am sure I will appreciate the custom control it gives me but these lights have been excellent for my tank startup. After my build is complete they will end up being installed in the shop like they were originally intended to. Presently my Dwarf Hairgrass is starting to carpet so I am reluctant to transition to a lower light level until I have a good thick carpet.
There is little denying reds and blues are mire err efficient in photosynthesis than yellow/ greens.
PAR vs PUR.
Fortunately low K leds do have a healthy red spectrum.

Matching watt for watt "should" keep your light levels equal or more.
Really broad assumption.
To be honest unless you sre replacing a 4 or more tube t5 or some large metal halide few underbuild.
 

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There is little denying reds and blues are mire err efficient in photosynthesis than yellow/ greens.
PAR vs PUR.
Fortunately low K leds do have a healthy red spectrum.

Matching watt for watt "should" keep your light levels equal or more.
Really broad assumption.
To be honest unless you sre replacing a 4 or more tube t5 or some large metal halide few underbuild.
I have no doubt and completely agree that Red and Blue wavelengths are used by plants for photosynthesis. My doubt is whether or not I need to augment my LED build with specific Red and Blue LED channels. I already paid for the LED's with the specific Red and Blue wavelengths to maximize plant growth so I am definitely going to use them. My suspicion is that with enough warm and cold White LED wattage that the Red and Blue LED's might be a waste?

I have read articles on how plant growth changes with respect to the ratio of Red to Blue light and this would be interesting to observe. I wonder if with a large wattage of warm and cool White LED's if adjusting the red and blue channels will have any affect on plant growth. It will be interesting to see if the plant growth habits will change when I finish my LED build. i.e. taller / shorter, leaves close together on the stem / leaves farther apart, leaves bigger / smaller, etc.

Bottom line... I will be able to have pretty red sunrises and sunsets in my tank... which has to be worth something. ;)

P.S. I am kind of thinking that if I ever did a specific plant grow out tank that isn't a display tank I would probably just use the cheap shop lights considering the great amount of growth I am experiencing using them temporarily on my display tank. But not ever having a lighting system with programmable channels my opinions might COMPLETELY change once I have a lighting system with this capability!
 

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But not ever having a lighting system with programmable channels my opinions might COMPLETELY change once I have a lighting system with this capability!
i'm discovering the same with my Chihiros WRGB II. being able to adjust the brightness and look of the tank is very nice. being able to schedule those color temperature shifts over the day is fantastic too. I have an hour at the beginning and end of the photo period that runs more red as lights fade in/out and a blue peak at midday.
 
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