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Thread: Aquarium lighting for dummies (me)

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    Default Aquarium lighting for dummies (me)

    Ok...let me preface my question by asking you to answer my questions like I am a pre-kindegartner. I know less than nothing about lighting systems and when the LFS tries to explain things to me, using terms like lux, kelvin, warm spectrum, cool spectrum, etc...i get dizzy.

    Anyway, here's the bottom line. I have a 155 gallon bowfront tank. Dimension are approx 72L x 24w x 24h. At first, I simply plopped on the old 4 foot long dual fluorescents that I had on my old 72 gallon. Immediately, I realized that this would not do, as the light was not nearly bright enough.

    So off I go to the LFS. The guy convinces me to go for a very expensive T5 setup which was comprised of 4 "mid-day" bulbs and 2 blue bulbs that I don't know what the technical term for them is. I found his level of knowledge to be very high, and I trusted his judgement when it came to meeting the needs that I described to him. Those needs were:

    1) A nice bright "white appearance"

    2) Something that would enhance the colors of the discus (my fish comprise pretty much every color...blue, brown, red, orange, white)

    3) Someting that would be helpful to plants, but not so much that algae would overtake the tank

    Anywho...I took home the setup and DOH! The damn thing was too big (wide) for my tank! I wouldn't be able to open the hinged doors on my glass top. Nevertheless, I fired it up just to see what the light looked like, and my feelings were mixed.

    I felt that the lights were obviously bright enough (possibly even too bright), and they definitely brought out the colors of the fish. However, to me the color of the light appreared a little "yellow" as opposed to white. For a $500 lighting setup I felt like even if it did fit my tank, I wasn't completely satisfied with the way it looked. So...it's going back and now I'm at square one.

    Please give me some suggestions as to what might work well for me, given the things that I'm looking to accomplish. I called the guy at the LFS to tell him that it didn't fit, and when I asked him for some more options he recommended that we talk about a power compact setup. Ok...that's fair, but I'm guessing that I'm going to have the same challenges with regard to picking out the right kind of bulbs to serve my purpose.

    Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!

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    Default Re: Aquarium lighting for dummies (me)

    Craniac, the blue tubes/bulbs will be actinics, they can make things a bit harsh. The kelvin the guy was referring to is whats called the colour temp of the light. lumens is a measure of outut or in simple terms (no offence) brightness. T5's are the type of tube and basically means the tubes are 5 one eigth's on an inch, ie 5/8ths of an inch in diameter. btw T5's are better than most other tube technology! Mid day bulbs?? probably meant daylight I gues, this has a colour temp of around 5600K- don't go to sleep on me yet there will be questions!!! mimics the sun!

    So this is what I'd recommend compacts are ok, most I believe use T5's. Colour temps to go for are 2 at 10,000K, 2 at 6000K (or 5600K or daylights) and maybe 2 at 3200K (sometimes called soft white or tungsten), I would not put blues or actinics on a planted discus tank.

    hth,
    Paul.

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    Default Re: Aquarium lighting for dummies (me)

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the input. Interestingly, I found that the tank looked a little better when I only had 2 of the blue and 2 of the white bulbs operating. When I switched on the remaining 2 whites, that's when things seemed to get a little harsh and appear somewhat yellow. What is it exactly about the blues that make you not recommend putting them in a planted discus tank?

    Also, if I were to stay with the T5s, I'd only be able to fit a 4 bulb setup on my tank. That said, what would your recommendations be?

    Thanks.

    Joe
    Last edited by craniac24; 01-11-2006 at 05:35 PM.

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    Default Re: Aquarium lighting for dummies (me)

    Im also in the middle of trying diffrent bulbs right now.

    I brought home a T8 lightstrip and 2 Daylight bulbs that supposedly are close to real sunlight effect showing the natural colors ....... and i too thought it was to bright and it actually gives off a haze making my water look cloudy.

    I think im taking them back and getting 1 of the warmer (enhances reds) and 1 of the cooler (enhances blues).

    Im just not sure if they would offset each other or not.
    I have 1 single 40 watt on my 100 gallon and it looks fantastic!

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    Default Re: Aquarium lighting for dummies (me)

    You can also experiment by removing some bulbs to have only one of a certain specrum..........like maybe remove one of the ones that make things appear yellow.

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    Default Re: Aquarium lighting for dummies (me)

    If you are looking at plants there is a lot to consider in the first place.

    If you want to do low-tech you will want to be ~2W/gal or less. If you start going over that you will invite algae growth unless you really want to start a high-tech tank (usually considered 2.5-3w/gal and higher).

    In that 2 W/gal range you are limited to the types of plants that will grow:
    Anaubias, java ferns, most mosses, bolbitis, some swords, Lotus, to name a few.
    Most stem-plants will not do well, some of the red plants like lotus and swords will do OK.

    As for bulb types on bow-front to get good lighting I would consider power-compacts you could get 2x65W, one ~6500K and the other bulb ~10,000K for the real white. AHsupply has really good retro-fit systems if you have a conopy. Otherwise http://www.aquatraders.com/index.asp...TS&Category=25 has some really good prices but not sure on how they would fit a BF tank and you would have to replace the atinic bulb for sure (if you want plants and not algae). Do not use colored bulbs, plants will not use the majorty of the light and it will only invite algae growth.
    110gal High-Tech Planted Discus
    65gal Malawi Community
    55gal BBB Discus Grow-Out
    55gal BBB Discus

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    Default Re: Aquarium lighting for dummies (me)

    On my 125 bb discus tank i have the T5 lighting. 2 10k bulbs (white light) and 2 actinic bulbs. I like the actinic (blue) bulbs as they bring out the colour of the fish. They are not recommended i believe if you have plants though that need alot of light.
    On my 90g planted tank, i have the corallife compact fluorescent bulbs.
    4 bulbs, 2 x 6700k, and 2 x 10000k. Works really well for me and my plants, as long as i dont leave the lights not too much, or algae starts up. Im very happy with both set ups.
    Sincerely, Chris

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    Default Re: Aquarium lighting for dummies (me)

    Actinics output light in the v.high frequency range, almost UV type light. hence whites getting tht 'glow' and blues become irridescent (almost). I guess it really depends on where your preference lay as to what type of lighting. The depth of the tank has a bearing on what plants grow as well, as light 'changes' through water. Basically different wavelengths of light penetrate further than others, red end of the spectrum being adsorbed first, ie goes least distance. OK so recommendations mmmm T5s or compacts, 2 in the daylight region (6700K, 5600K) and 2 in the 10,000K region. Fit reflectors and have them on a timer switch.

    As this is such a personal thing it is so hard to make solid recommendations. T5's give much better output than T8s, and the usable spectrum lasts longer with T5s too. so one I can make for certain is use T5s. I believe that the technology in the compact lamps is similar to T5s, not sure about the coatings though. Fit reflectors.

    hth,
    Paul.

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    Default Re: Aquarium lighting for dummies (me)

    Good info here:

    http://www.rexgrigg.com/
    22 Planted Tanks My Projects are located at ThePlantedTank.net*Sliding Glass Top*CO2 Reactor*Portable UV Sterilizer*PVC CO2 Manifold*Water Filtration/Storage/Distribution*37G, 46G & 55G Drilled w/PVC Heater/Reactor Manifold*110G Sumped w/Eheim 2215s & Magnum HOTs*My Fish Room*

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