Originally Posted by yodapoolman
As always, Byron, you never cease to amaze. After reading around on the forums (which I admit I should have done first
) I tend to agree with the wisdom you impart. I'm not looking for higher-tech setups where I'll trim the "grass" or have some aquatic Nth wonder of the world lol. I just want a tank that's pleasant to look at and provides the essentials (filtration, shelter, habitat, etc) to keep the fish healthy as best I can. Rather than stress them out and cause illness which would result in loss of fish or expensive treatments.
Your many years of experience and helpful insights based on trial and error are priceless on these forums. That is why I enjoy spending time reading and learning.
One followup tho: I was in a local Home Depot looking for T8 lights for 48" if I went dual on them. Correct me if I'm wrong, but having 1 would suffice for most low-light plants, but a dual would allow a better range of plants, even those in the med-bright requirement range?
Here are some specs on the lights. I want to see if these would fit a basic hood and would meet the requirements:
Light output: 2750 lumens
Life: 30,000 hours
Color Rendering Index: 82
Color Temperature: 6500k (it is titled as a daylight bulb)
I didn't see any special coloring (like a red or whatever that would provide more of the red spectrum, as an example). So would a dual setup of those be ok?
Thank you for the kind words--and for your trust.
Your options for a 4-foot 55g are 1 T8, 2 T8 or 1 T5 HO. All cases intending full length, 48-inch tubes. As Boredomb has subsequently pointed out, two T8's is bright. And over my 70g it is brighter than over my 90g and 115g as I mentioned previously. Restricting the light period can help offset this, a bit, but one must understand that as long as the light is "on" it is that intensity. And nutrients have to balance, and this might only last for a few hours before CO2 is exhausted. Then you have algae taking advantage. Current thinking in the UK is that planted tanks can manage well with six hours minimum. So that is a possibility. Plus floating plants.
A T5 HO is approximately equal in intensity to 1.5 T8 tubes, when considering the same type of tube (spectrum, kelvin, length). So 1 T8 gives you 1 "x" light intensity, 1 T5 HO gives you 1.5 "x" intensity, and 2 T8 gives you 2 "x" intensity. T5 are much more expensive, for fixtures and tubes.
For the plants, you should have no problems with swords, crypts, Pennywort, with 1 T8. As an example, Wisteria will likely not last; I can't keep it with 2 T8's in the 70g. Many stem plants are similar, needing more light. Vallisneria should work. If you move up to one T5 HO you increase the options a bit. Dual T8 increases a bit more. But there are still limitations.
In most cases, CO2 can become the limiting factor to plant growth when it is not being added via diffusion. Light should always be the limiting factor, to avoid algae issues. Finding that balance can be tricky.
To those tubes you mention. Diana Walstad in her book says she will buy any tubes that have either a CRI of 80-100 and/or a 6000K-7000K colour temperature. I have had good results with the latter, I have never payed attention to the CRI. In Home Depot here (Canada) they carry Phillips tubes; their Alto Daylight Deluxe 48-inch T8 is now 32w [energy efficient, still equivalent to former 40w intensity], 6500K, 2800 lumens, CRI 85. Life is 24000 hours. You may be looking at the comparable Sylvania, HD used to carry these but don't now in Canada. I used the Sylvania for years, worked very well, as does the Phillips. I do find it just a tad warm (red) compared to my favourite, the Life-Glo 6700K. But otherwise near identical. I have one Life-Glo 2 and one Phillips on my dual tube tanks now.
You can ignore the life expectancy; tubes lose intensity as they burn, quite fast actually; some say you can manage 2-3 years with the T8, I find they are noticeably dimmer after 12-18 months. I replace mine between 12 and 18 months. I noticed algae increasing at 18 months, which suggests the tubes are weak to the point the plants are struggling so algae is taking advantage.