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A new setup - lights

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by essabee, Oct 15, 2009.

  1. essabee

    essabee Prolific Poster

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    Although I have been keeping planted tanks for nearly 50 years, still I only started learning your way of tank keeping and the all the gadgets you use 10 years back, that was when I came to town and discovered the internet. I lived most of my life without electric supply or running water. Communication or required goods meant to take the day off and travel to the nearest town for it. Naturally my own way of keeping planted tanks was unique and different from you all but it was satisfaction to find that I was on the right lines generally.

    I used to dream of building a large tank, lighted by direct and indirect sunlight (which was what I was using out in the wild) with electric pumps working the UGF (its my design not a normal UGF) when I finally settle down in town. 8 years back I built my dream and over the years I made changes to it using what I learned from you all. That tank 6' 3' 2' which I call "Incomparable" is doing well as a planted freshwater community aquarium.

    The internet though a good source of information, I have found is also good at instilling dissatisfaction of what you have. So many beautiful fishes and plants to crave. So I decided to build a new tank on the same lines as the incomparable with the changes I made and also with some added features.

    Sunlight - Used from the top (not from the sides) is economical but very strong at times and weak at other times; and controlling it is nearly impossible. Other than green spot algae, I did not have much problem with other varieties. I added lights and used dark tinted glass on the top sunny side and I had better control of the lights, and the algae problem under control. I wish to continue the same light system ie. sun through tinted glass and also artificial lights.

    I have been reading up what all of you have been talking about when it comes to the spectrum of light to be used. I find that there is a great variation of opinion. So I did some experiments on my own with multiple light sources and mixing several types of bulbs. I neither own a spectrometer nor any PAR- meter. So it is an extremely amateur experiment. Broad results show that a flat spectrum is the way to go for plants to attain colourful attire.

    In a sense it is the EI-principle. Give the plants each colour band light that they need without any colour band becoming the limiting band and let them pick and choose what they want. So I have decided to use 3X 150W MH 3000K, 2X 150W MH 10 000K, 4X 36W PLL 6500K spread over the top of the tank.

    The tank dimensions are L-65 inches, W-37 inches, H-25 inches. Yes it will have CO2. I am still in the process of completing the tank but need to order the light fixtures and therefore invite you all to this discussion. To give you all a better idea of the actual tank I am adding the following attachments:-
     
  2. hydrophyte

    hydrophyte Prolific Poster

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    I have never used natural sunlight in a setup, but I imagine great potential for plant growth and also lighting effects. This looks like a cool project.
     
  3. Gilles

    Gilles Lifetime Members
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    and algue growth... Be carefull and make it so you can shut off te sun if needed.
     
  4. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    50 years of aquatic plants is an amazing thing. It must have taken you a lot of work to figure out everything without electricity. You should write something about your experiences doing this; I wouldn't be surprised if you could get an article published on it at very least.

    I think you should have your lights on timers, and not all of them on at once. Your lighting is very, very intense for a tank that size. Trimming would certainly be a lot of work for the light levels you've decided on.

    -Philosophos
     
  5. essabee

    essabee Prolific Poster

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    Algae won't be a problem as I found out from the incomparable. The lights are intense and I would need to have lots of plants to absorb it to prevent algae. I will start with the dry system to get my foreground plants to spread before planting the other plants and filling the tank with water. That and frequent water changes during the first few weeks will take care of the extra nutrients leeched from the substrate for prevention of algae.

    Trimming is a weekly chore in the incomparable and it to be so with this tank too. Living a retired life that is not a problem but an occupation for me. My time is spent on my several tanks, my dogs and a small garden.

    I made this post for drawing your valuable comments on the spectrum of light I intend to use. I do need to order the lights and I am waiting for all your views before I do so.
     
  6. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Personally I make my choice on spectrum based more from appearances than anything. Light can be added or taken away from to get the PAR required to grow plants, but the wrong colored bulb can not be fixed to look more pleasant without losing even more efficiency

    -Philosophos
     
  7. essabee

    essabee Prolific Poster

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    ............... and beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. So much for the spectrum.

    For me that is only one aspect of lights. I have posted questions before too about if there was any link between the spectrum and the colours developed by plants - without eliciting any answers. Perhaps those who know had not read those questions or perhaps they read and refused to express themselves.

    I suspect there is a link - for any colour on the plant means that it is reflecting those colour bands - that is rejection of use of those bands of colour. I believe such rejection could only be because the plant has sufficient energy supply for the colour bands absorbed. This belief comes from the observation of certain plants colouring up under more intense lights also the colours developed at the upper tips of certain plants as they approach the surface and receive more intense light.
     
  8. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    You know, it's a question I've asked as well. I thought perhaps a light with a very high 500nm output might encourage a plant to develop less cholorphyll A and more carotenoids. Part of the problem is finding bulbs that provide a spectrum graph that have this 500nm spike and other values either low or out of good PAR spectrum.

    -Philosophos
     
  9. ordloh

    ordloh Prolific Poster

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    You could use green LEDs, LEDs usually give out pure light.
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I like the idea certainly, you can use screening, or light shade cloth(garden nurseries sell this in varying degrees of block %.

    I use 90% at the lab for sunlight enclosures.
    Works super, gives me about 150-200 micromoles of sunlight
    It's also adjustable.

    So you can add more/less light pretty easily.

    Full sun is about 2000 micromols at noon in the tropics.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Intensity within anything typical to the aquarium obviously isn't the answer; that one's been nailed dead. 2,000nm is a ton though, I'm really curious as to what many of these plants look like under ideal conditions with very intense light, lean nutrients with high overturn rate, and full bursts of sunlight-like intensity.

    Color screens may be the cheapest way to start in terms of filtering light for nm. Perhaps do the primary colors plus a control at 6700k or similar.

    I wonder if transitions between various light colors and intensity would change growth forms or leaf coloration much.

    I'll have to spend some time thinking on how to speed up that group buy so I have a way to standardize intensity :p

    -Philosophos
     
  12. essabee

    essabee Prolific Poster

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    Using direct sunlight like I do, the intensity of light will no doubt saturate/surpass the energy demand of a particular plant to the extent that it can afford to reflect away some extra bands of light. Do these plants that colour up under intense light have any option for the colour they develop - both in intensity and shades of colour?

    Are the colours of the plants in the beautiful pictures published in the various boards/magazines a result of light and nutrient?

    Or are they result of selective breeding - and most of us cannot get our hands on the quality breeds?

    Or are they only a result of clever photography?

    Yes I am envious of those who are blessed owners of these plants. I wish to join their group. I hope these beautiful plants are a result of light and nutrient so that with good meaningful management I too can be a proud owner of such plants.

    I am scratching my head and looking into every post to find the clue - even if you cannot direct me - at least send me good wishes that I succeed.
     
  13. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    I've bought red plants often enough and had them turn back to green. I know for a fact that limiting N and P is a way to turn plants red, but it risks the health of the plant.

    Work in photoshop to edit pictures is something that's also common in competition, and even accepted to a certain degree. I can't say I like this idea, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I think it's accepted because in the case of some competitions, the pictures become rights of the company running the competition and are later published. It's a lot easier to keep the illusion going if the true appearance of the tank has never been seen.

    -Philosophos
     
  14. essabee

    essabee Prolific Poster

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    Plants do colour up in my aquariums, I do get the reds, pinks, violets, browns, coppers, yellows - but never to that degree I find in some published pictures. It is that I am craving for.
     
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