11-22-2010, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by RCinAL
Thanks, Byron. Your knowledge is impressive and your willingness to share it is appreciated.
I do have the standard light fixture that came with the hood. It houses one very old 48" full spectum bulb I bought at the aquarium store. These bulbs last a very long time and work great for showing off the fish for years, but I was under the impression that in order to grow full, healthy plants you had to change them often - something I am just not willing to do. They do seem to lose their "luster" after 6 months or so.
It is also a constant struggle for me to keep the glass underneath it clean enough to allow maximum light to penetrate the tank. Not a problem for viewing fish, but I felt not doing this all the time had to be bad for plants.
Am I wrong about any of this? How often do you change a bulb that is not completely blown?
I will assume the fixture is a "regular" fluorescent [the newer T5 types are different but fairly recent]. The tube is probably the old T12 type, the original fluorescent tubes. The "T" number refers to the diameter in mm I think it is; anyway, T12's are being phased out everywhere because the slimmer T8 tubes use less power and last longer. The T8 tubes last 2-3 years before they should be replaced [T12 are done in less than 1 year]. As you have noticed, the intensity of light depreciates as the tube ages, and quite drastically if you were to measure it with a lux meter. But a package of two full spectrum T8 tubes at a hardware store is only a few dollars [here in Canada they are $8 for a pair] so that's 5-6 years of good plant light for $8. Just make sure you get the tube with a 6500K rating or around that.
Aside from the plants, a weak tube actually encourages algae. One clue that your tubes need replacing is an increase in algae. Of course this is in planted tanks; in non-planted tanks any light will cause algae if steps aren't taken to deal with it.
As for the cover glass, yes, that should be cleaned every water change. As the water is siphoning out of my tank, I clean the cover glass. If not done regularly, and depending how hard your water is, the mineral deposit can be quite difficult if not impossible to remove after a time. Weekly cleaning with a paper towel suffices; vinegar can be used if it is really bad at first, but I only use the water on the glass with a paper towel, then a small cloth towel to buff dry. And clean it both sides, dust collects on the top surface.