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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am planning on setting up my first planted tank and have some concerns about lighting. Lauralee... has already stated that she thinks I should go with a t5no lamp for my setup but nobody else has commented so I figured I would post in the lighting section. The tank is 27 inches tall. This means I've got a lot of water to push through to get light to the bottom. I don't have the funds to start up a pressurized co2 system so at best I would be running a diy setup. This leaves me with low tech as my best option. I've been looking at the fishneedit lights. I'm open to any lighting suggestions.
 

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While it's true that you have quite a bit of depth to your tank. I think what goes a long way to getting the lighting to the substrate is the highly polished reflectors. Combine that with the high output of the T5 HO and it's that much more intense. I've been dumb founded with lighting for my 55g which I also wanted to keep low tech and finally settled for a 4' shop light with 2 T8 bulbs in it. But rather than buy the plain white shop light I bought the aluminum diamond plated fixture because it has a polished diamond plate reflector, as well as the rest of the fixture being polished diamond plate. Although this may look cheesy in a formal room setting it can be easily hidden in a canopy, which I didn't want to do but there has to be some give somewhere. Plus it's not as highly polished as the German reflectors that are being touted by these HO light makers.

You could do a 2 bulb T8, I assume your 50 is 36" wide and hide it in a canopy. Two 54 watt T5 HO may be a bit intense for your 50. Although some will likely say it would be ok I'm sure. Another option could be a retro fit canopy or existing fixture, if you have one, with a retro fit kit from ahsupply. I would think their 1 96 watt T5 HO would work well.

What I found for NO T5 lighting for my 55g wasn't that great. Coralife makes a fixture with 2 28 watt T5 NO bulbs in a 48". They also make the same fixture for other sized aquariums. I believe the Corlaife is lower wattage in the smaller fixtures. It's not near as intense as high output but still provides polished reflectors. The only problem I find with it is: Should a person want to do one of the two bulbs in a plant growing bulb and one in a bulb that is more pleasant to the eye you are only getting 28 watts of plant grow spectrum. That's not a lot. Even though the watt per gallon rule can't really be used for T5 bulbs, 28 watts in a 55 or a 50 is still really low. However, if one uses two 28w plant bulbs, the appearance may be really dim and purplish to us, even though it's great for the plants.

Lighting has kind of favored the higher tech co2 way of things. It's difficult to get a nice looking light fixture with the propped up legs that isn't high output. Plain old normal low lighting has sort of gone the way of crappy looking aquarium hoods like the Perfecto black or wood grain type or shop lights. How does a NO 28 watt T5 compare to say a 32 watt T8 in intensity? IDK. I just can't see a 28 watt T5 in, say a plant growing bulb, and one in a brighter mid day bulb being enough. But I could be wrong. If a balance of the 2 NO T5 can be done to supply plant needs from both bulbs but one of the two makes the tank a bit brighter for our pleasure to the eye and still provide useable plant spectrum to the plants to supplement the other, that is a bulb specifically for plants, it should work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the input. It is a 36 in tank. If I can get by with a t8 or t5 normal with custom reflectors I would be happy. So I am getting the impression the the t5ho would probably b an algea festival?
 

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I would think a tall tank would be well served by a very bright light that is raised well above the surface. This should give you more uniform lighting throughout the depth of the tank.

Think of sunlight. The sun is so far away that if you put a tank outside in the sunlight, the depth of the tank wouldn't matter much. Only debris in the water column would reduce the light intensity as you go deeper, and this shouldn't be much of a reduction in a clean tank.

So, you could go with T5HO and then raise it to a height that gives you the appropriate level of light so as not to induce algae. However, I don't know enough about light to say how high you would need to raise it. If it was two feet above the tank, that probably isn't the look you want. :icon_sad:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok, so then if I do buy the t5ho could I run stems to try to reduce the algae bloom chance? I am going to go with the mineralized substrate. If I dose excel weekly will I also reduce the algae problem if i were to over-light this aquarium with the t5ho?
 

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You might be able to make it work, but it will sure be a lot of maintenance on your end to keep up with T5HO lighting with no CO2. I think you'll end up caving and getting a pressurized CO2 setup and ferts and the whole nine yards if you go that direction.

I run 2x54 of T5HO over my own 90gal, and am down to a 6 hour photoperiod since I got rid of my floating plants. It is a LOT of light.
 

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Ok, so then if I do buy the t5ho could I run stems to try to reduce the algae bloom chance? I am going to go with the mineralized substrate. If I dose excel weekly will I also reduce the algae problem if i were to over-light this aquarium with the t5ho?
Most stems will need CO2 and fertz. The ones that don't aren't likely to grow enough in low CO2/fertz setups to help offset the algae much.

Excel helps by directly killing or suppressing some types of algae, but if you are over lighting your tank significantly (which is sounds like you will be if the light is not raised), you'll still have pretty bad algae problems. Excel just seems to help with just a select few algae.

I wouldn't go with the t5ho unless you are willing to either raise it (and I can't say how high you might need to), or eventually go with pressurized CO2 and fertz as lauraleellbp said. The other option might be something like duckweed, but make sure you read up on it first because most don't like duckweed in their tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I really ought to get some pictures thrown up here. I've never dealt with a tank this tall before. However, since I have been reading non stop through last night and this morning I have found a few people using low light setups. I've yet to find a single tank with these kinds of depths that isn't a high tech tank. The aquarium is 37.5x13.5x27 (outside dimensions) Water depth is 26 inches.

So here is what I am guessing at right now... 36" t5no 2 bulb fixture from massive chain store. Make a DIY reflector of some sort for it. Install in a DIY hood and call good... or... simple t8 2 bulb fixture.. same setup.. or overdriven t8.

As a side note, the t5ho light that i've been considering is http://www.fishneedit.com/t5ho-3ft--2lamp-aquarium-light.html
 

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I'd go with 3 bulbs if going with T8s, unless you put some really nice reflectors around them. If you go this route and DIY them, I think you'd actually get the best coverage b/c you can space the bulbs apart a little and make the most of coverage for both the front and back of the tank.

It's not water in the tank that makes the difference, it's the distance between the substrate and the bulbs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I guess my confusion comes from this:

By: ErrorS at www.AquariaCentral.com

I want to get rid of watts per gallon, I'm sick of it. It just plain doesn't work anymore.. MHs can be anywhere from 70 to 110 lumens per watt, incandescents and halogens can be from 10-20lumens per watt and Fluorescents (HO, VHO, NO) can be anywhere from 45 to 130 lumens per watt. That's a huge range.. just in commonly used bulbs for aquariums you can go from 70 to 130 lumens per watt.

It's horrible.. I could tell you I had 6WPG of VHOs on my tank, which sounds really really high, but it's only outputting the light of 3WPG of normal output fluorescents.

It's simple enough..

just lumens divided tank (depth*2) + tank width + tank length. It's very simple, based on lumens per gallon except it stresses the tank height more.

In other words.. you multiply the depth times two, then you add this number to the width and length and divide the lumens with it.

So for 10K lumen output on a 55G tank it would be: 21*2 (42).. 42+12+48 (which would be 102), then you divide 10,000 by 102 to get the value you need.

Below 50 is very low lighting - (fish only)
50-150 is low to moderate lighting - (Fish only or lower-light plants)
150-250 is moderate to high lighting - (typical planted tanks without CO2)
250-350 is high to very high lighting - (Good reef tanks or heavily planted)
350-450 is very high to extreme lighting - (the best reef tanks or extremely high light plants)

This is for 10k Lumens, about two 55W power compacts.

72x25x25 - 180G-(tank is 147) - 68
48x24x21 - 75G - (tank is 114) - 87
48x12x21 - 55G - (tank is 102) - 98
30x12x30 - 46G - (tank is 102) - 98
30x12x12 - 20G - (tank is 066) - 155
30x12x18 - 29G - (tank is 078) - 128

As you can see, the 46G, even though it has less volume requires just as much lighting as a 55G.

Now, if it was 20k lumens which is a good value for a 55/75 moderately planted aquarium (This is about two 175W MHs average.. or a bit less than four T5 HOs), you wuold have these numbers.

20K lumens is about what people seem to shoot for in a 20L reef and you can just get by with this amount in a 29G reef.

72x25x25 - 180G-(tank is 147) - 136
48x24x21 - 75G - (tank is 114) - 175
48x12x21 - 55G - (tank is 102) - 196
30x12x30 - 46G - (tank is 102) - 196
30x12x12 - 20G - (tank is 066) - 303
30x12x18 - 29G - (tank is 078) - 256

Most bulbs vary only a small amount in lumen output.. even full spectrum bulbs, for the 5000-6000lumen bulbs (T5 HOs) it's only a matter of 500 or so lumens lost to get some of the invisible spectrums for your plants, which doesn't mess up the values above..

or the equivilent of one 48'' bulb or one of those 40W screw-in CF bulbs, about 3000 lumens.

72x25x25 - 180G-(tank is 147) - 20
48x24x21 - 75G - (tank is 114) - 26
48x12x21 - 55G - (tank is 102) - 29
30x12x30 - 46G - (tank is 102) - 29
30x12x18 - 29G - (tank is 078) - 38
30x12x12 - 20G - (tank is 066) - 45
24x12x12 - 10G - (tank is 060) - 50.. and as you know, one screw in CF is about enough for low light plants in a 10G, most people fit two, which would simply double this number making it 100...
 

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I don't buy those numbers for anything other than a VERY general guide, because they don't take fixture design/reflectors into account, nor distance between the bulbs and plants, and in the real world those can dramatically impact how much light is actually getting to the plants. You can pull up some threads in this forum where Hoppy and Tom Barr did some studies with PAR meters (which actually measure light in aquariums under different fixtures) and see that these factors make a huge impact in the actual light available to the plants.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I've seen the PAR readings Hoppy did, the different reflector types (white paint, tin foil, etc.) Ok, so If I go with t8 you recommend 3 bulbs for coverage. Either way I'll probably have to DIY some sort of reflector for these.. would you say t5 over t8 then? If I have to make reflectors for these does anybody have a good link for reflector design? I'll probably use high reflective white paint for them....
 

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With 3 bulbs you could put two towards the front and one in the back. That way you only have one bulb directly over the taller plants in the back, and then two bulbs directly over the shorter plants in front. The two in front will also help provide light at lower depths in the back by angling under the taller plants.
 

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i'm having really good luck with a t5no fixture i built for my 50g(20" tall). i've actually had to raise the fixture up about a foot over the tank. it's just a 2 bulb t5no with both the bulbs using one ahs type reflector. it doesn't sound like it's enough wattage(only 42w), but it is. at least for low tech.

just thought i'd ad my $0.02.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Sorry to have sounded like I doubted you. I assumed, and wrongly so that the 46 gallon was a 20 inch tank. Thanks for all of your help so far. I'm going to need more of it as I go. I've still not decided whether or not I will truly go low tech or DIY co2. I've heard that the DIY setups can be unstable though I have read a few journals that showed absolutely beautiful tanks and no fish deaths. I'm still clueless about the co2 setup honestly, I'd like my fish to be as healthy as possible. I plan on having angels and doing personal breeding projects with them, not for money or anything but for the pleasure of raising them as healthy and strong as possible. I'm not sure that I can provide that with the DIY co2, thus the reason for the low tech thought process. I've also read that most people move on the full on pressurized co2 and away from diy...
 

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LOL I didn't take you as "doubting" me- and it's always good to get lots of feedback from different people- that's what these forums are for! One of my favorite sayings is, there's always more than one way to skin a cat. :smile:

DIY is much more work/maintenance than pressurized, and it's much harder to make sure the levels in the tank stay consistent.

It's also especially hard to get consistent CO2 levels on a large tank like yours going just DIY.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well then my original thought process will stay. I'll start low tech, then if the bug really gets me (i'm sure it will) and I eventually recover from this recession I'll move on to trying a co2 tank.

So, I guess the plan at this point is to get a t5no fixture from some local store. I'll need to get some sort of reflector made and probably painted with a high reflectivity white paint. Since this thread has solid feedback, I'll keep it going and ask a few more questions. I've noticed most reflectors (diy) look like split out octagons. My own personal logic side of me says that those are reflecting light back at the bulb instead of down. I know this can't be the case as a LOT of people use this design. Is this the optimal design or just near optimal and easy to do? Secondly, is the bright white just as effective as say polished aluminum, or is it simply close enough and more cost effective ?
 
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