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needing help on lighting

This is a discussion on needing help on lighting within the Beginner Planted Aquarium forums, part of the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium category; --> Originally Posted by zombiefish610 So I have a 55 gal that i bought as a complete kit. It came with 2x 24" Flourescent light ...

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needing help on lighting
Old 06-20-2009, 01:00 PM   #11
 
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Originally Posted by zombiefish610 View Post
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.
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.

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Old 06-30-2009, 09:09 AM   #12
 
This is all very complex and somewhat confusing! i have a 55 gallon aquarium and am wanting to do a low light aquarium. so if im correct (and please help if im not) i will nee a full spectrum 20w bulb with a k rating of at least 6500?
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Old 06-30-2009, 10:19 AM   #13
 
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Correct me if I'm wrong but the Kelvin rating is not the intensity of the light but rather the color. Lumens measures the intensity. A 6500K bulb is sometimes referred to as the full spectrum light because it's color matches that of daylight at high noon. Obviously adding more bulbs increases the total lumens the plants receive but the color (6500K) remains the same.
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Old 06-30-2009, 10:23 AM   #14
 
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Originally Posted by abunari View Post
This is all very complex and somewhat confusing! i have a 55 gallon aquarium and am wanting to do a low light aquarium. so if im correct (and please help if im not) i will nee a full spectrum 20w bulb with a k rating of at least 6500?
To get about 2 watts of light per gallon, I bought this fixture about a year ago. You can look at my tank pics to see how it looks. It uses 3 - 32 watt bulbs. I just use GE 6500K daylight bulbs I bought from the local Home Depot.

Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting: Triple Tube Strip Lights
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Old 06-30-2009, 10:52 AM   #15
 
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Originally Posted by abunari View Post
This is all very complex and somewhat confusing! i have a 55 gallon aquarium and am wanting to do a low light aquarium. so if im correct (and please help if im not) i will nee a full spectrum 20w bulb with a k rating of at least 6500?
If you have a 55 gallon tank... with length of 48 inches.. you will need (preferably) fixture that is 48 inches long... and those kind of fixtures do not carry 20w bulbs.

you need 1 watts per gallon or little less for a low light tank... this has been talked about 100 times over and over again. Just read this post from the beginning. Byron explains everything there and I have posted a usefull link.. IMO .. for peps to read.
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Old 06-30-2009, 10:55 AM   #16
 
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Originally Posted by WisFish View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong but the Kelvin rating is not the intensity of the light but rather the color. Lumens measures the intensity. A 6500K bulb is sometimes referred to as the full spectrum light because it's color matches that of daylight at high noon. Obviously adding more bulbs increases the total lumens the plants receive but the color (6500K) remains the same.

5500K is sun at midday
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Old 06-30-2009, 12:23 PM   #17
 
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Originally Posted by abunari View Post
This is all very complex and somewhat confusing! i have a 55 gallon aquarium and am wanting to do a low light aquarium. so if im correct (and please help if im not) i will nee a full spectrum 20w bulb with a k rating of at least 6500?
Abunari, both WisFish and unrulyevil have correctly (in my opinion) answered your question, so I'm just adding my voice to the information. You've got the spectrum and kelvin rating correct, but the wattage is too weak for a 55g. A 20w full spectrum over a 55g aquarium will not be sufficient for good plant growth. You need at least 1 watt per gallon of full spectrum light. A fluorescent fixture made for a 55g will contain one or two tubes and the size of the tubes it will take will depend upon your tank shape. A 55g long that is 4 feet in length and 1 foot (or more) front to back will accomodate a fixture with one or two 48" tubes. These tubes will be 40w (standard for 48"). One tube would only be 40 watts and with a good quality full spectrum tube like a Life-Glo it would work, if just. Two tubes would be preferable.

Previous advice is correct, kelvin is a measurement of colour temperature, and 6500K is tropical sun at midday in terms of its light (the colours of the spectrum, and how it appears). Higher kelvin is cooler (more blue) and lower is warmer (more red). Blue penetrates water better than red, and plants need blue the most and second red, so with two tubes you can mix a high blue with a warmer tube and create a balanced colour while providing more of what the plants need most. The kelvin rating tells you which is which.

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Old 06-30-2009, 12:24 PM   #18
 
Ok thanks. I have 2 24 inch strip lights, not a strip light that goes completely across but i understand thank you byron you explain this well.

Last edited by abunari; 06-30-2009 at 12:32 PM..
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Old 07-03-2009, 11:11 AM   #19
 
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Here is the one I use on my 55 lowlight tank.Click on aquariums under my name to see a pic of it.
Aqualight with Colormax and 6700K Fluorescent Lamps - 28W - 48 in. - T-5 | T5 Lighting | Lighting Systems | Aquarium - ThatPetPlace.com
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