06-07-2013, 11:35 PM
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I think the T8 bulbs will work well, probably need the dual bulbs and that would give you "low" light levels. It may be be insufficient light (if you keep the floaters) for stem plants.
One note regarding light "intensity". I have a PAR meter that measure the photosynthetically available light for plants. While the T5HO bulbs do put out a ton of light compared to the old T12 bulbs, I think you are fine with the lighting and floating plant cover you have. If you have very sensitive fish, then you can try different bulbs such as the T5HO Zoomed "FloraSun" bulbs rather than some others. The FloraSun gives off much lower light than Zoomeds "UltraSun" bulbs. You can also use fiberglass window screen - just cut a strip to fit inside your lights splash guard. Each layer reduces the light by about 40% and the screen is much cheaper than a new light!
Another thought. While the light we see beaming into the tank appears intense from a T5HO fixture (my dual T5HO output measures right at about 70 micromoles/m2/sec at the substrate surface in my 55 gallon so I have to raise the fixture), a typical PAR reading in full sun tops 1200 micromoles/m2/sec! So even the very bright lights we use come nowhere near what fish may be exposed to in nature. Admittedly, the fish in nature have the option to seek deeper water or shady/dark areas that our aquarium fish don't!
I applaud your concern for our fishy friends well-being, and I think you could make the T5HO lighting work with just minor tweaking and save some money for those fish you want!
Last edited by DKRST; 06-07-2013 at 11:38 PM..