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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm trying to get new lighting and pick plants for my tank and I need a couple of things clarified. Firstly how many watts per gallon is low, medium and high light? Is 2 wpg low or medium light? Secondly do I choose my lighting on the maximum capacity of my tank or by the actual amount of water in there. For example my tank is an 84 gallon tank but taking into consideration substrate, rocks, wood etc I estimate the actual volume of water would be more like 65 g which do I use for wpg ratio?
Thanks!
 

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your questions illustrate why this method of determining lighting requirements is inexact at best and almost completely useless at worst, and this is without even getting into the different types of lighting - some produce more light per watt than others

it might be easier just to list the tank dimensions and intended plants and let others comment on their experience with various lighting options
 

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Yah. Distance to the bottom is more of a factor than water volume. A tall tank will need more watts for substrate plants to receive adequate light. Then there are tubes, CFLs, LEDs which cannot be readily compared based on wattage anyway.

If you have fixtures that give a lux measure (some do and for one or two different depths) then 1,500 to 2,000 will be a good low through medium light plants (I have about 1,700 is what I have, 8 Watt LED array, and it works for almost everything that I have tried so far, 3 failures out of about 30). Surface plants will impact this as well. I am finding that I need more light because of this so in hindsight I would consider going higher than needed and adding more surface coverage to compensate, plants, physical shading etc.

Some are using the PAR measure now which makes more sense but I don't know if the fixtures will be rated with this as often in order to compare.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Good point, tank size is 60 x 18 x 18in I don't want to go too high tech and freak the fish out with too much light but still want to grow plants with 'low to moderate' lighting requirements. Was thinking of a combination of daylight 65000k and something with a blue/red spectrum? I have not seen a lux measure on any of the lights/bulbs I've looked at (or listings I've seen). At risk of sounding like a fool here :oops: but what is lux anyway? Any help would be appreciated as the whole lighting issue has me a bit :shock:
 

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Good point, tank size is 60 x 18 x 18in I don't want to go too high tech and freak the fish out with too much light but still want to grow plants with 'low to moderate' lighting requirements. Was thinking of a combination of daylight 65000k and something with a blue/red spectrum? I have not seen a lux measure on any of the lights/bulbs I've looked at (or listings I've seen). At risk of sounding like a fool here :oops: but what is lux anyway? Any help would be appreciated as the whole lighting issue has me a bit :shock:
The lumen is the measure of the total light energy output of a bulb.

The lux is the measure of how much of that light energy arrives over a given surface area, this is the intensity... 1 lux = 1 lumen/meter squared.

For example, a light with an overall output of 1,000 lumens that is focused on an area 1 meter by 1 meter results in 1,000 lumens per square meter or 1,000 lux. Raise the fixture and the lux drops as the focus of the light covers a larger area.

This avoids the whole watt comparison. I think the downside is that this has more to do with the light as seen by human eyes and it falls short unless tied in with the light spectrum components, which is where the 6,000k comes in. Using the lux and the spectrum get us in the ballpark for plant light needs.

Jeff.
 

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I can certainly help with T8 lighting for the tank you mention, but bear in mind there is also LED and this I have not tried. LED is making great strides these days, it is still a very new concept, and if one knows what they are getting, it can provide good light. But it can also be a failure...and it is very expensive compared to T8.

I use T8 over my tanks that have fluorescent tubes. The "T" refers to the diameter of the tube in 8ths of an inch, so a T8 is 8/8 or 1 inch diameter; a T5 would be 5/8, etc. But these are not interchangeable, so the fixture has to be made for T8 or T5. The older T12, which was the original fluorescent tube, is being phased out as the T8 and T5 are more energy efficient, less damaging to the environment, etc.

I have a 5-foot 115g tank which is close to yours, only 6 inches deeper. I use two T8 tubes and you can see the plant growth in the attached photo. This is what I would go with, two 48-inch T8 tubes. There are several manufacturers of these, check fish stores or online suppliers (probably will be less expensive online). If you're gifted carpentry-wise, you can make a hood with a "shop tube" fixture.

As for the tubes themselves, you want at least one to be from 6000K to 7000K. "K" refers to Kelvin, the colour temperature of light. Scientific studies have shown that aquarium plants respond best to this light. The second tube can be the same, or it can be warmer or cooler. These terms refer to the white tone, warmer having more red and cooler having more blue. I won't comment further on this now, but we can pursue it later. I use tubes with a 6500K or 6700K rating, these are shown in the photo. In your case, for low and moderate light plants (which is what you see in the photo), you can use the less expensive tubes made by GE, Sylvania or Phillips; all three make a "Daylight" with 6500K, and I use them.

Byron.
 

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I don't know about florescents so I like reading these posts. I use LED but the lux allows to compare any bulb with another.

Jeff.
Following Karen Randall's advice (she is a long-standing member of the Aquatic Gardners Association) I also use Lumens or Lux as a guide, as one or both of these is sometimes given for fluorescent tubes. I appreciate that others think this is a false measurement, but it works for her and has for me in the experiments I did on my 29g.
 

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Following Karen Randall's advice (she is a long-standing member of the Aquatic Gardners Association) I also use Lumens or Lux as a guide, as one or both of these is sometimes given for fluorescent tubes. I appreciate that others think this is a false measurement, but it works for her and has for me in the experiments I did on my 29g.
I didn't really mention lumens as that is the total output of the bulb. The issue with that is the reflector or lens will affect this. A straight fluorescent bulb might put out 3,000 lumens but with no reflector you might get 300 lux at 20", a good reflector might bring that up to 2,000 lux (example only). The reflector can make or break the light level... which is one of the reasons I like LEDs, they are not so much reflected as they are focused... which is part of their efficiency as well as less heat... more of the light produced goes where you want it so you don't have to put out so many lumens to get equivalent lux.

Jeff.
 

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The LEDs I used in my custom fixture produce about 685 lumens each. That's close to a typical 18" T8 flourescent that does 750 lumens.

However, like mentioned, an LED has all that energy focused (in my case, a 120 degree cone) while a flourescent is omni-directional.

Those suckers are so bright they literally blind if you look right at them. I probably should've gone for lower power, and more numerous than just two individual high power LEDs ;) They work though.

The only commercial LED fixtures I've seen that people have had success with and you can easily find in stores is the Marineland Double Bright.
 

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I am about to try out the Marineland Aquatic Plant system. it would be similar to a double doublebright with more RGB spectrum added on top of that. I use the doublebright now.

Extras, besides the high price... multistage timer for dawn, day, dusk and dark (hey D^4) and 50,000 life expectancy hours.

Doublebright specs are 600 lumens and 1750lux at 24" or 19 PAR at 24" for the 24" model.
Aquatic plant specs 2240 lumens and 4810 lux at 24" or 83PAR at 24" for all the sizes.

I am a little concerned about the increase in light levels in my low light tank so I am growing out my duckweed and pennywort surface plants in preparation to provide more shade.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I currently have a single T8 4ft above the tank and was going to use this instead as a moon light together with the new fixture. I was thinking about having 2x 48inch 54w T5 (plus the moon light) since having 3x T8 bulbs might make space a bit cramped on top of the tank (sadly no carpentry skills). Even though I have heard good things about LEDs they are too pricey. The light listing I am looking at doesn't mention lux or lummens but I have emailed the store to find out and will have a look in the local stores at the bulbs they have. What kind of lux/lumen level should I be aiming at?
Byron your tank is beautifuly lush! How long did it take for the plants to get to this stage? I actually wish I had gotten the extra height on mine as I don't think I have enough height to keep Angel fish. I would like mine to be a lot like yours with many floating plants and broad leaves but with more driftwood, caves and maybe groundcover. On Tuesday I drive to the Airport to pick up some Apistogramma so I have their time in quarantine to sort out issues in the main tank. I want to plant the tank up but first need to fix the light so they don't all die (the plants not the Apisto's);)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Jeff, I just had a look and I love the multistage timer on your new kit! I can see that just that feature alone makes it appealing. Looks very slim line too but may I ask what is prompting the upgrade? Are your plants not growing to your satisfaction?
 

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I'm running with just under 2,000 lux on my tank which is about 20" tall and low and medium light plants do well. It's an LED system but lux are lux as long as the spectrum is right, 6,000k to 7,000k.

The bulb can say whatever it wants but the fixture they are going in is the important factor in getting all those lumens where they need to be.

If you have an iphone, although I am sure there is an android app too, you can download a lux meter to get some relative numbers... I didn't have one but just downloaded one right now... cool. I'm going to measure my light when I get home and see if the specs are right.

Jeff.
 

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Jeff, I just had a look and I love the multistage timer on your new kit! I can see that just that feature alone makes it appealing. Looks very slim line too but may I ask what is prompting the upgrade? Are your plants not growing to your satisfaction?
I am setting up a low light tank at work and moving my existing light to it and upgrading at home. I like to tinker and this gives me a cheaper way to upgrade (work allowance for the new light and paying the difference etc). I am curious to see how the much higher light levels affect my tank occupants and looking forward to getting some serious floating plants... right now too many floaters block far too much light.

Had I the time I would build my own custom setup for far cheaper. If I did that I could even hook it up to my phone for control and viewing... but I am lazy right now.

Jeff.
 

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I currently have a single T8 4ft above the tank and was going to use this instead as a moon light together with the new fixture. I was thinking about having 2x 48inch 54w T5 (plus the moon light) since having 3x T8 bulbs might make space a bit cramped on top of the tank (sadly no carpentry skills). Even though I have heard good things about LEDs they are too pricey. The light listing I am looking at doesn't mention lux or lummens but I have emailed the store to find out and will have a look in the local stores at the bulbs they have. What kind of lux/lumen level should I be aiming at?
This is going to be way too much light. I put two 4-foot T5 HO tubes over my 5-foot tank and used it for a full week. I took it back and got the dual T8 fixture. I think my fish would have been crying out for sunglasses had I not done this.

With a high-tech system using CO2 diffusion and daily nutrient supplements you can use T5 lighting, and have lots of floating plants to shade it. But when T8 provides what is shown in the photo I posted, why bother? Up to you. But I can guarantee that with T5 HO tubes, you will have algae soup in a natural or low-tech method planted tank. [Check out the thread from Mitch who had this problem.]

Byron your tank is beautifuly lush! How long did it take for the plants to get to this stage?
The photo posted was taken on July 19, 2012, and that tank was set up with new substrate (changed from gravel to sand) in July 2011, one year prior. I had the plants before, obviously, but they were in rather bad shape, as the first photo attached below shows, which was this tank at setup. The second photo below is what it looks like today, or April 18 to be exact.

I actually wish I had gotten the extra height on mine as I don't think I have enough height to keep Angel fish. I would like mine to be a lot like yours with many floating plants and broad leaves but with more driftwood, caves and maybe groundcover. On Tuesday I drive to the Airport to pick up some Apistogramma so I have their time in quarantine to sort out issues in the main tank. I want to plant the tank up but first need to fix the light so they don't all die (the plants not the Apisto's);)
You could manage angelfish, I have thought of them (or discus) in my 70g which is 20 inches in height (and 4 foot length). I think angelfish look better in a more natural aquascape though, with a shallow sand substrate (corys on the bottom), lots and lots of chunks of wood, and only floating plants. For a more planted tank, smaller fish seem to me to work better. Third photo below is my 70g Flooded Amazon Forest tank; this is only 2 months old, as I tore this tank down to replace the Flourite substrate (waste of money) with sand in February this year. The plants were thin ed out of course, but they are already sending out runners and soon the substrate in this tank will be completely hidden if I don't prune the pygmy chain swords. This tank has the same lighting, two 4-foot T8 tubes, same spectrum as the other. I have to watch the algae more closely, as the shallower depth means more light is getting down, but with no more than 8 hours daily it is balanced.

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Ok fine!!! I'll get another T8 and scrap the moon light idea for now:( BTW my tank has nose prints all over it from my face pressed against the glass so I can see Puppy my Black Ghost doing his acrobatics at night. Then if I don't get growth like yours I'm coming to America to KILL YOU SLOWLY with A BLUNT SPOON :twisted: -insert evil laugh-!!!
I'm trying to plant South American species (although there will be some Anubias as I can't find any SA plants that will attach to diftwood) and so far I have compiled the following list, better tell me if any are inappropriate for a NPT also open to alternative plant ideas-

Lilaeopsis or hairgrass (know it will grow much longer in low light)
Echindorus 'Red Sails" (know it won't be red but like the shape)
Echindorus Devils Eye
Bacopa Salzmannii
Mayaca fluviatilis
Myriophyllum mattogrossense
Eleocharis Belem
HC
Banana Lilly
Althernanthera mini
Bacopa monnieri

plus pygmi chain sword and hydrocotyle which I know is ok 'cause its in your tank :-D.
Thin Val
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I think angelfish look better in a more natural aquascape though, with a shallow sand substrate (corys on the bottom), lots and lots of chunks of wood, and only floating plants.
Byron.
I thought both Angels and Discus liked a planted tank?
 

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Ok fine!!! I'll get another T8 and scrap the moon light idea for now:( BTW my tank has nose prints all over it from my face pressed against the glass so I can see Puppy my Black Ghost doing his acrobatics at night. Then if I don't get growth like yours I'm coming to America to KILL YOU SLOWLY with A BLUNT SPOON :twisted: -insert evil laugh-!!!
I'm trying to plant South American species (although there will be some Anubias as I can't find any SA plants that will attach to diftwood) and so far I have compiled the following list, better tell me if any are inappropriate for a NPT also open to alternative plant ideas-

Lilaeopsis or hairgrass (know it will grow much longer in low light)
Echindorus 'Red Sails" (know it won't be red but like the shape)
Echindorus Devils Eye
Bacopa Salzmannii
Mayaca fluviatilis
Myriophyllum mattogrossense
Eleocharis Belem
HC
Banana Lilly
Althernanthera mini
Bacopa monnieri

plus pygmi chain sword and hydrocotyle which I know is ok 'cause its in your tank :-D.
Thin Val
With the mention of a Black Ghost Knifefish, I would go a very different route. This fish can be stressed with overhead light. [I'll have more when I respond to your next post, as it is relevant to all mentioned fish.]

Some of the plants in this list are higher light, namely all with red leaves, and even in my tanks they don't do well and stem plants won't last. I also think fewer species works better than too many, if you are after a natural setup. If you look at my previously-posted photos, you will see no more than 6 or 7 species (including the Java Moss) and several of these are from the same genus. The more species, the more likely different lighting will be an issue, plus there is Allelopathy.
 

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I thought both Angels and Discus liked a planted tank?
These fish occur in streams and rivers that very rarely have any living plants growing in the substrate. Most vegetation is marginal and thus terrestrial, with branches extending out over the water. The forest canopy in the tropical rainforests is generally so thick that full sunlight rarely gets through to the water.

During the wet season, the forests flood for up to six months, and in some places the flooded forest has a water depth of up to 30 feet, so we are talking major flooding. The fish all move onto the "land" to spawn, since hiding places among the now-flooded vegetation is easily had, and food (insects, worms, etc) is plentiful. The fry develop in these conditions and return to the bare streams as the waters recede for the dry season of another six months. They tend to remain among fallen debris, under overhanging vegetation, etc, for safety, and also food is likely more available.

The aim, if we want a planted tank or a true biotope, is to provide plenty of cover, be it substrate-rooted plants, branches, and/or floating plants. And as little light as necessary. At this point I will copy over my coments in another thread on a true biotope setting for the knifefish and angelfish at the Vancouver Aquarium.

A floor to ceiling (8 feet) tank, several feet deep (front to back) and wide (4 feet width at the front glass, but wider in the back). Very dimly lit, you have to stand in front of the glass for several moments to adjust your eyes to be able to see into the water. This tank contains a group of some 7 or 8 Black Ghost Knifefish, and a shoal of about 10-12 angelfish that at present are about 4-5 inches in length. Pterophyllum scalare, the most common species and the one from which all variants have been derived. The angelfish shoal remains gathered around a vertical set of branches at one side of the tank close to the front. The knifefish swim among the rocks and branches at the rear and sides of the display. The angelfish have their hierarchy; watching them one can easily see the dominant male, but he simply looks toward the subordinate male and they turn away; the dominant ignores them further. The group remain within a few inches of each other, always. Rarely swimming other than to inspect the branches for food, and interact. This is how nature made these fish, and it is very instructive.

Byron.
 
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