A question about lighting. - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
 
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post #1 of 9 Old 01-02-2012, 05:36 PM Thread Starter
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A question about lighting.

So as I get further into the hobby the more I try to improve my tank. Now that I have a nicely planted tank with fish that are surviving with healthy filtration I would like to improve my lighting situation. Right now I currently have 1 48" light with 2 24" Zoo Med T-8 Flora Sun Max Plant Growth Fluorescent Bulbs. I feel like this setup does not light my tank properly. No matter where I place the fixture it never seems to have decent coverage.

What would you suggest I look into and what price range should I be looking to spend?

I have been looking at some T-5 fixtures but it seems like most are built for Saltwater. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

- Mike
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post #2 of 9 Old 01-02-2012, 05:47 PM
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If your looking for cheap and easy but not so much ascetically pleasing then shop lights from a hardware store work great, get one of the double t-8 fixtures and pick up some 6500k bulbs while you are there. Much cheaper then buying specialty stuff for tanks. Plus the larger bulbs are more efficient then the smaller bulbs per lumen. I'd only recommend t-5 H/O if you are going "hi-tech" and plan on co2 and a specific fert dosing.
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post #3 of 9 Old 01-02-2012, 06:13 PM
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Full length tubes tend to give better light coverage, and I assume since one existing tube is 48 inches that this is a 4-foot (or more) tank? I would also suggest a dual T8 fixture. I bought two new All Glass dual tube fixtures a couple of years ago to replace originals that no longer work.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #4 of 9 Old 01-03-2012, 02:06 PM
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Go ahead and get a 2 bulb t-5 fixture. T-5's now have a very great range in the lighting spectrum for color and brightness. Hellolights.com is where i used to get my lights for when i had saltwater.
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post #5 of 9 Old 01-03-2012, 02:37 PM
Not to thread jack, but I have several 'surplus' standard 48" shop lights that are T5/40w fixtures. Are there 6500k bulbs available for 40w fixtures?

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post #6 of 9 Old 01-03-2012, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
Not to thread jack, but I have several 'surplus' standard 48" shop lights that are T5/40w fixtures. Are there 6500k bulbs available for 40w fixtures?
Depends. If by 48" shop fixtures you mean older ones that were designed for the T12 tubes (the "original" 1.5 inch diameter fluorescents), the newer T8 tubes sometimes work but some say they may burn out faster, something to do with the ballasts I think. I have one of these older fitures over my 33g and the T8 tubes work but take several minutes of flickering to come on each day.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #7 of 9 Old 01-03-2012, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffnsa View Post
Go ahead and get a 2 bulb t-5 fixture. T-5's now have a very great range in the lighting spectrum for color and brightness. Hellolights.com is where i used to get my lights for when i had saltwater.
The problem with T5 is the brightness. T5 was initially developed for marine aquaria, to provide more brightness with fewer tubes than is possible with the standard T8 lights. But when used over freshwater, the increased brightness is not always good.

The commonly-available tubes for T5 are HO (high output) and each tube is approximately 1.5 times more intense (bright) light than the same size T8 in the same spectrum. Using NO (normal output) tubes will work, as these are basically identical to the same size/type of T8; but NO tubes are not easy to find. Probably because no one is going to spend considerably more money for a T5 fixture and tubes when the less expensive T8 provides the same.

I experimented with T5 about two years ago. One of my older T8 dual fixtures gave out, so I bought a dual T5 fixture (48-inch tubes). It was far too bright over the 90g it was intended for, so I tried it over the longer (5-foot) 115g. Too bright over that too [I think my fish were ready to ask me for sunglasses], so after a week it went back to the store and I got a dual T8 fixture.

The intensity of light over freshwater is a significant issue for the fish. Most of our fish occur in very dimly-lit waters. Another issue is algae; in planted tanks, T5 HO can be too bright for the majority of plants if one is using a natural method, and algae can proliferate. With CO2 diffusion and daily nutrient supplementation, the T5 HO tubes can work. But otherwise, I consider them much too bright. A single T5 fixture would be ideal, but these are very hard to come by; again, this lighting was developed for marine tanks and there is no call for a single tube.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #8 of 9 Old 01-03-2012, 04:29 PM
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Depends. If by 48" shop fixtures you mean older ones that were designed for the T12 tubes (the "original" 1.5 inch diameter fluorescents), the newer T8 tubes sometimes work but some say they may burn out faster, something to do with the ballasts I think. I have one of these older fitures over my 33g and the T8 tubes work but take several minutes of flickering to come on each day.
Well these are the basic shop lights you get at Lowes or Home Depo (I had many of them for starting garden plants). Basic 48" fixtures with 40w florescent bulbs (prolly an inch and a half) - I don't think as a smaller T8 (1") bulb would work in them?

Father Knows Best but Abbey knows everything! I once knew everything, then I asked one question.
` •...><((((º>` • . ¸¸ . • ´` • . . . ¸><((((º>¸ . • ´` • .. . ¸ ><((((º>
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post #9 of 9 Old 01-03-2012, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
Well these are the basic shop lights you get at Lowes or Home Depo (I had many of them for starting garden plants). Basic 48" fixtures with 40w florescent bulbs (prolly an inch and a half) - I don't think as a smaller T8 (1") bulb would work in them?
As I mentinoed, i think it has to do with the ballast. I remember the older fluorescents always flickered a bit when they came on--like those we had when i was in school (1950's here). My original aquarium fixtures with T12 tubes did the same (1980's). The fixtures I bought two years ago to replace old ones that gave out completely are instant on. I think they have "electronic ballast" for this, but I'm not certain this is it. Anyway, T8 tubes come on instantly in these, but in my older remaining fixtures the T8 tubes flicker for several minutes.

T12 tubes are being phased out everywhere because they use more energy than the newer T8. And, the T8 can be 32w to produce the same light as the older 40w T12. Plus, the T8 use less mercury so there is a further environmental benefit. Last, they last longer and their intensity lessens much slower than the T12.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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