Finding High Watt Lights
I have been unable to find any fluorescent lights that are above 18 Watts to put in my 55 gallon. I have 2 hoods that hold 1 18" bulb. I got these 18 Watt ones from Home Depot. All of the aquarium specific lights (at pet stores and at Home Depot/Wal-mart) of this size have less Watts than this (usually 15). I have not looked at Marine specific lights, as this is a freshwater tank. Where can I get higher Wattage for a size 18" bulb?
So far I have 2 frilly plants, 1 red ludwigia, 1 dying java fern, 2 sword-looking grass plants, and 1 floating hornwort. Other than the java fern, they are doing fine and the frilly plant grows the most. The lights are on for 10 hours a day.
Wattage is incorrectly used to determine the best light for aquariums. The rule is archaic and not valid. Data that should be used to select the proper bulbs would be lumens, spectrum, Kelvins. Wattage is only used to show the of power consumption, not the amount of light given.
An example of the problem of using the wattage farse is the amount of light given off by a 40w incandescent light is not equal to the amount of light given off by a 40w fluorescent bulb. the intensity of the fluorescent light gives off much more light.
I don't think you'll be able to just stick different bulbs in your current hood, as it is only rated to a certain wattage. I may have misunderstood, but you've already got the light fixtures? Also, freshwater plants grow best in a spectrum between 5,000k-10,000k, 6,700k being the standard. Are the fluorescents you bought full spectrum and within those parameters? My best recommendation is to get the AH Supply retrofit kit for those hoods, power compact is MUCH better. It puts out more light and bulbs don't need to be replaced nearly as often.
If you want to get new lighting fixtures as well, you can get 24" ones as a standard 55 gallon has room for two of those. I have three 24" coralife single strip power compacts for freshwater and they are 65 watts each. They also make double ones which are the same length but twice the wattage, which is plenty for a 55 gallon tank.
Well I was wrong and I actually only have two 15 Watt fluorescent bulbs, not 18 Watt. The light output is 940 lumens.. so apparently that is way below the range for optimum freshwater plant growth. I will look at the lumens rather than Wattage next time I am at the store. Is it alright to use saltwater bulbs in the tank? And, where do you get your power compact bulbs.. are they sold at Petsmart/Home Depot/Wal-mart or would I have to get them online?
fish_4_all, thanks for the link. However all of those are bigger than my two hoods, mine is only 18".
In the future I would like to build a canopy to house 4 ft. bulbs, but that is not an option right now.
The compact florescent bulbs won't fit in your current light fixture, you'll have to get a new one, or retrofit your current one. Did you check out AH Supply? They have some really great, cheap and easy kits. Your LFS will carry compact florescent bulbs, although it will probably be cheaper online.
Saltwater lights come with half 10,000k and half actinic. Actinic is a blue light which is beneficial to coral growth, but absolutely useless for freshwater plants. Plants grow using mostly the green and red spectrum of light. So you'll basically be wasting half your wattage on light that won't help your plants.
You CAN however get saltwater fixtures and switch out the bulbs. As long as they are the same wattage and the same shape, you're good.
With a slight modification of the hood you have, a 24 inch fixture will work over a 10 gallon tank. Switching to the glass hoods will allow you to simply set the 24 inch strip on it. The light surface is only 20 inches or so.
20 inch power compact fixture, click there. This light fixture willw rok fine, but you might want to replace the bulb with a full spectrum bulb instead of 50/50 with actinic.
Remember, it may only 28 watts but is 35% brighter than standard flourecents so it rates at almost 38 watts with a full spectrum bulb.
She's got a 55 gallon anyway, so if it's the standard size, two 24" lights will fit perfectly.
Thank you fish_4_all and okiemavis for all of the advice. I'm still sort of confused about what will be able to fit on my tank. I understand about the wattage though, I believe. It looks as though I'm going to have to order online to get some lights with high light output. On AH Supply, there is a 2x55 watt bright kit which has 2 22" reflectors (I don't know what a reflector is?). Then there is a 1x36 watt bright kit whose reflector dimensions are 17.25"L x 4"W x 2"H. It says it requires a 36 watt compact fluorescent bulb. Is a compact fluorescent bulb like one of the energy-efficient ones that are tubes swirled into a spiral? I use those all over my house.
On the two lids I have now, you can take off the light hood and it is separate from the lid (which has glass that protects the light from the water). Now are you saying I can put one of these 20" or 24" on top of this lid/glass, just remove the old hood? Or would these new fixtures fit themselves (like the "Coralife 20" Aqualight Power Compact Strip Light") without the hood/lid?
Oops, confusing my threads again. Anyway, for the least expense, go with the 2, 55 watt bright kits from AH supply. They will fit right in the fixtures you have right now. Or you can buy the other fixtures and modify the top of the tank so they fit. AH supply will provide you all the help you need to make sure you do it right and get everything set up in the current fixtures if you go that way.
Power Compact flourescents are long tubes that have pns in them that plug into a socket. Very different from screw in types but very efficient. Combined with the reflectors from AH supply and you will have alot of light to play with.
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