Lighting Issues...
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Lighting Issues...

This is a discussion on Lighting Issues... within the Beginner Planted Aquarium forums, part of the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium category; --> So I have a 55 gal that i bought as a complete kit. It came with 2x 24" Flourescent light fixtures. Each fixture has ...

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Old 06-20-2009, 10:57 AM   #1
 
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Question Lighting Issues...

So I have a 55 gal that i bought as a complete kit. It came with 2x 24" Flourescent light fixtures. Each fixture has 1x 15 watt bulb. The problem is that I want to grow real plants and this lighting is not sufficent. I guess the general rule for the plants I want to grow is 1-2 watts per gallon. I was thinking about getting 2x Zoo Med Flora Sun T8 bulbs rated at 5000k. These bulbs are only 15 watts as well. My question is will this be sufficent? If not does anyone have any suggestions on what I should get. I don't have much money to work with, so some exspensive setup is out the question. Please help! Thanks.
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Old 06-20-2009, 01:04 PM   #2
 
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You had the same question on another thread to which I responded before seeing this one (yes, good to start another thread with new if related questions), so here's my response copied over:

Yes, lighting can be costly, but you may be OK now or perhaps with new tubes alone.

If the tubes that fit your fixture are 24 inches, they should be 20 watts, not 15w. Note, I'm talking tube length, not tank/hood length, and referring to standard fluorescent fixtures/tubes. If this being a newer unit has the compact or new type tubes, they could well be less wattage but equal (or greater) light, same as the household compact bulbs one can now buy that are for example 15w but equivalent to a 60w regular bulb. You should check this out to be sure before investing in new lighting which is very expensive and probably not necessary.

Once you sort out the type, make sure you have full spectrum tubes. This type of light is strong in the blue and red (which plants require most) but balances with the green/yellow that the plants can't use but it makes the colours of plants and fish look natural. Full spectrum is equivalent to the sun at mid-day. The Flora Sun may be similar, but I would check and compare the spectrum charts before purchasing them. Most of the tubes come in a package that has a spectrum chart on it so you can see the light strengths, or you can go online and view them for most companies. As I mentioned, you want light that is strongest (or at least high) in the blue, then red, and last some green/yellow to balance. With just the blue and red, the purplish cast is rather ghostly and the plant and fish colours are not natural. The K (Kelvin) rating is the intensity of the tube, and most agree it should be above 6500K. Some tubes emit 11,000K or higher. And remember that all these tubes should be replaced every 12 months as the light intensity decreases fairly rapidly as they burn.

I have one Tropic Sun 5500K Daylight tube over my 90g, along with a 11,000K Lightning Rod T6 Ultra Daylight tube which is a bit higher in the important blue range; the Tropic Sun is warmer (more red and green) and balances the other for a more natural colour. You can see the result in my Aquarium photos. On my 70g I have a Life-Glo 6700K and a Daylight Deluxe for a similar type of light. The photos I have posted look a bit greener than in reality due to my cheap camera, but it will give you an idea of the effect.

Byron.
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Old 06-20-2009, 02:02 PM   #3
 
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I would replace your lighting fixtures with one 48'' fixture if I were you.Here is a inexpensive fixture with the bulbs you will need.Aqualight with Colormax and 6700K Fluorescent Lamps - 28W - 48 in. - T-5 | T5 Lighting | Lighting Systems | Aquarium - ThatPetPlace.com
This is a great light for aquariums without CO2,and lowlight plants.
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Old 06-20-2009, 02:16 PM   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
You had the same question on another thread to which I responded before seeing this one (yes, good to start another thread with new if related questions), so here's my response copied over:

Yes, lighting can be costly, but you may be OK now or perhaps with new tubes alone.

If the tubes that fit your fixture are 24 inches, they should be 20 watts, not 15w. Note, I'm talking tube length, not tank/hood length, and referring to standard fluorescent fixtures/tubes. If this being a newer unit has the compact or new type tubes, they could well be less wattage but equal (or greater) light, same as the household compact bulbs one can now buy that are for example 15w but equivalent to a 60w regular bulb. You should check this out to be sure before investing in new lighting which is very expensive and probably not necessary.

Once you sort out the type, make sure you have full spectrum tubes. This type of light is strong in the blue and red (which plants require most) but balances with the green/yellow that the plants can't use but it makes the colours of plants and fish look natural. Full spectrum is equivalent to the sun at mid-day. The Flora Sun may be similar, but I would check and compare the spectrum charts before purchasing them. Most of the tubes come in a package that has a spectrum chart on it so you can see the light strengths, or you can go online and view them for most companies. As I mentioned, you want light that is strongest (or at least high) in the blue, then red, and last some green/yellow to balance. With just the blue and red, the purplish cast is rather ghostly and the plant and fish colours are not natural. The K (Kelvin) rating is the intensity of the tube, and most agree it should be above 6500K. Some tubes emit 11,000K or higher. And remember that all these tubes should be replaced every 12 months as the light intensity decreases fairly rapidly as they burn.

I have one Tropic Sun 5500K Daylight tube over my 90g, along with a 11,000K Lightning Rod T6 Ultra Daylight tube which is a bit higher in the important blue range; the Tropic Sun is warmer (more red and green) and balances the other for a more natural colour. You can see the result in my Aquarium photos. On my 70g I have a Life-Glo 6700K and a Daylight Deluxe for a similar type of light. The photos I have posted look a bit greener than in reality due to my cheap camera, but it will give you an idea of the effect.

Byron.
So basically you're saying, if I do get new tubes, the ones I mentioned will be good? Also 24" is what it says on the housing. The actual bulb is 18".
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Old 06-20-2009, 03:07 PM   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zombiefish610 View Post
So basically you're saying, if I do get new tubes, the ones I mentioned will be good? Also 24" is what it says on the housing. The actual bulb is 18".
If the tube is 18 inches and it is a standard fluorescent tube [not one of the newer compact type] then it would likely be 15 watts. Seems strange though to have two small tubes in a fixture over a 55g. Assuming this is a 4-foot long tank (?) I would agree with fishbum that replaceing the fixture with a 48 inch fixture (containing two 48" tubes) would be better. But again, trying to save you money, if your fixture is the compact type, it is probably sufficient.

As for the type of tubes for whichever fixture, I just checked the Zoo Med online site and their specification info says the tube peaks in the blue and red area of the spectrum [good for plants], and the spectrum graph indicates this, along with green. The specs indicate it is good for a planted aquarium, but I would want to see what the aquarium looks like when lit by this tube before I bought it. If dealing with a good lfs, they will probably allow you to buy one and try it and be willing to exchange for another if you don't like it. I will say that this company's Tropic Sun tube is good (I have one of these as I said on my 70g), and they are less expensive than comparable spectrum tubes [about 1/3 less where I live].

If we are talking standard fluorescent tubes, a minimum of 1 watt per gallon is needed. Two standard 48" (40w each) tubes over a 4-foot 55g tank would provide ideal light in my view, at just over 1 watt per gallon. I only have one watt per gallon, and I grow healthy swords, crypts, anubias, sagitarria, vallisneria, ceratopteris (floating) and even some stem plants. Stem plants as opposed to rooted plants generally require more light, and mega light gets you into CO2 systems, something I have never bothered with and don't intend to as I'm satisfied with the plant growth I can achieve.
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Old 06-21-2009, 11:13 AM   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
If the tube is 18 inches and it is a standard fluorescent tube [not one of the newer compact type] then it would likely be 15 watts. Seems strange though to have two small tubes in a fixture over a 55g. Assuming this is a 4-foot long tank (?) I would agree with fishbum that replaceing the fixture with a 48 inch fixture (containing two 48" tubes) would be better. But again, trying to save you money, if your fixture is the compact type, it is probably sufficient.

As for the type of tubes for whichever fixture, I just checked the Zoo Med online site and their specification info says the tube peaks in the blue and red area of the spectrum [good for plants], and the spectrum graph indicates this, along with green. The specs indicate it is good for a planted aquarium, but I would want to see what the aquarium looks like when lit by this tube before I bought it. If dealing with a good lfs, they will probably allow you to buy one and try it and be willing to exchange for another if you don't like it. I will say that this company's Tropic Sun tube is good (I have one of these as I said on my 70g), and they are less expensive than comparable spectrum tubes [about 1/3 less where I live].

If we are talking standard fluorescent tubes, a minimum of 1 watt per gallon is needed. Two standard 48" (40w each) tubes over a 4-foot 55g tank would provide ideal light in my view, at just over 1 watt per gallon. I only have one watt per gallon, and I grow healthy swords, crypts, anubias, sagitarria, vallisneria, ceratopteris (floating) and even some stem plants. Stem plants as opposed to rooted plants generally require more light, and mega light gets you into CO2 systems, something I have never bothered with and don't intend to as I'm satisfied with the plant growth I can achieve.
i don't know what the compact type looks like. It says 15 watts on the bulb.
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Old 06-22-2009, 12:58 PM   #7
 
compact bulbs are super thin, if you have one, compare it to a normal flourescent bulb. It should be way thinner.
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Old 06-23-2009, 11:26 AM   #8
 
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ok duh...i'm a idiot. They are not compact.
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Old 06-23-2009, 03:02 PM   #9
 
well usualyl for standard bulbs what it says is what its giving, but if your watts are low but ur bulbs full spectrum, you are still getting more light than what the watts to gallons ratio states. MY tank runs a little under 1 watt per gallon but i change my bulbs every 6 months and always use full spectrum bulbs so im growing plants that require 2 watts fairly well.
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