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ADA lighting at Aqua Forest and nice low PAr values-who knew?

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by Tom Barr, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Hi, no, sorry, we do not have many brands here you might.
    No comparatives to offer.

    My main question was measuring the ADA lights which many hold up as "super", but no one has bothered to measure their output in real scaped tanks.

    Folks can compare other brands etc with a PAR meter themselves :cool:
    I'm not going to do all the work, just the questions I have, it's your question, you do the work:)

    I'm kidding, but you get the idea.

    I wanted to see and show folks that ADA lights are more form over function, they look nice etc, cost 2-3x as much and only put out 1/2 the light.

    But this is not an economic issue or an aesthetic one for me, it's more about how the ADA lights, CO2 measurements, sediment and light weight dosing works and why.

    I've done measured the liquid ferts, the sediments, and the light, CO2 is easy with a CO2 meter, but I already know enough to predict that parameter.

    Probably does not do much for ADA light fixture sales..........but oh well.
    Sorry, I'm not making them or selling them, just testing them.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    You should.
    I used the same meter and measured 2-3x as much light on my home tanks the same day, so it's not the meter which agreed well with my LiCOR.

    ADA vs Coralife.

    See what you think.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    FL room light is about 5(or less), not much at all.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  4. Jeremy1

    Jeremy1 Prolific Poster

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    So if we conclude that Amano uses low light, can we say that he also uses less nutrients and CO2 or perhaps just less nutrients. Maybe that is why a single glass diffuser tucked away in the corner of the tank is sufficient. Also, I don't ever see him using powerheads or 10X's the filtration or in-line reactors to boost circulation for nutrient and CO2 delivery. How is it that ADA scapes can get by with less circulation and using lilly pipes only.

    Jeremy1
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Based on the 6 tanks I' measured, each with ADA light(except one), and the other tank's I've measured, there's a trend that suggest the light is about 1/2 that.

    The ADA Bulbs burn brighter in other fixtures(eg bulbs are not the source of the low light). This is confirmed by 4 other folks as well.

    I think you are correct, the low light is "how".
    Everyone has been running around playing with nutrients, or "magic".

    But it was light intensity all along, at least based on these results.
    Amano told me in person he uses low light and only 3 hours at most the HQI's with the PC/HQI combo's. Even the HQI onlys are not run more than 8-10 hours.

    I'm not sure why Amano has not come out more aggressively with lower light is better. I can assume that he/ADA does this for higher % success rate using their lights/products etc, and as a sales benefit for those buying the complete system.

    But the business about nutrients, algae, and CO2...........well....we have experience and simple test to show that's not correct, however, the trade offs are we have to add more CO2 and nutrients with the higher light.

    This makes sense and we have good agreement with our growth model in each and every method now. Without testing light and measuring it fairly with respect to plant growth, you really could not say much about CO2 ppms, nutrient demand etc.

    Now we can and it is in agreement with the observations.
    I'm a little bit pissed off at the ADA loyalist and no nothings that went after me about this and the ADA data. Not one of them suckers measured anything nor measured the most basic parameter to support their arguments.
    Instead, I ended up doing it. I was always suspicious however but left it open until I measured the tanks, then I knew what was up.

    Faith, magic, BS like "there so much we do not yet know", "there are other methods that can produce luxuriant growth"......these are not support. That's baloney aquaschister talk. It starts with observations and what determines plant growth, algae growth, fish health, breeding etc. A basic understanding, not some marketing crap and flowery fuzzy warm make you feel good talk. That's not nature.

    I just cannot see how some can claim the need for testing, speak as if they really understand plants and how they grow and measuring things and have never even bothered to test this stuff. Then poo poo on me. Talk as if they are humble noble questioners looking for answers and yet cannot pose some rather basic insightful questions and test to answer things. Funny how that works. Furthermore, some claim what they are doing is "Science".Hope they stick with this hobby and do not make cars or planes:) I get many things wrong but I learn each time and rule out things step by step. Then I get closer and closer to the answer, or maybe I'm just too lazy then and eventually get around to it. Still, I then at least know what it is not. I cannot be sure what is really is this way, but ........I have a good idea and can go from there. It's a bit safer this way than making some BS up that you want to believe and sounds nice. Other folks might be attracted to it, but that pull does not mean it's correct. I'm here to help folks and learn and be as correct as I can within reason.
    Not to sway folks to belief.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. Pockets

    Pockets Prolific Poster

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    What where the wattage's of the MH lights for this tank?

    Do you know how high above the water surface they were?
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    About 12" above the tank, 150W each

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  8. Pockets

    Pockets Prolific Poster

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    Thank you ... BTW I sure appreciate this thread!
     
  9. ccLansman

    ccLansman Guru Class Expert

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    Hey Tom any thoughts on this flow rate question? It seems to be a recurring topic.
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    If you look at this tank, there are 2 large canister filters and two sets of lily pipes on each end, it's not nearly the low flow as you might think.

    ADA's largfe home tank is also well filtered and good flow, George and I both like lots of filter on our tanks, I might take it a bit farther, but we are both in the same camp about flow and filtration.

    Even my Altums like good current, as long as they and other fish can go where there is slow water movement, but they like swimming agaist the current and most fish seem to feed better if they have some exercise and a good work out, sort of liek a treadmill. Not much room in the small glass boxes.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. nelumbo74

    nelumbo74 Junior Poster

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    Hey Tom -

    This is my first time posting on your forum, but I found this specific thread in a Google search. I am so glad to finally find others, who have this same opinion regarding light & CO2. I get tired of all these people, who swear by having this huge battery of high wattage bulbs, doing a big midday blast of light for 1-2 hours, etc., and then complaining about all the problems they have with algae, maintenance and so forth. When I try to recommend they reduce the wattage of the tanks, I am treated like an idiot. It happened just today on APC.

    One question, what is your opinion on spectrum? I noticed in one of the posts in this thread that you compared ADA lights to Coralife. I personally love the Coralife T5 bulbs, due to their affordability, as well as their peaks in the red spectrum, actually the 10000k and 6700k peak in the orange range, but the colormax peaks in the red range. I have a 45g tank with 4 - 21 w bulbs (2 - 1000k, 1 - 6700k and one Colormax). This gives me 1.86 wpg, but I get the most steady, even and healthy plant growth. I've grown the "hardest" plants out there, especially the very difficult red plants, and I have wonderful growth, ample pearling and no visible signs of algae.

    Thanks,
    Kevin
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Welcome to the club:)
    I've been treated like an idiot for many years.

    It's easy to do on a forum or on the web, much harder to do in person:cool: But the personal jabs do not matter, the issue is the topic at hand. Stay on topic and test your assumptions and beliefs. Many folks get really personally upset if you ask them to challenge their beliefs no matter how illogical they might be. This is a social issue, not a plant issue. For all the banter about being open minded and accepting of new ideas.........it's the definition of irony.

    I mention this because I want folks to see how to approach such cockamaney and male Bovine manure. So do not get personally pissed off. Let them do that.
    After multiple personal attacks, it was not worth it for me to post on the APC and I have not been back in years since nor will. There are plenty of other forums without that behavior. However, I test assumptions, even the basic ones such as light and CO2 and actually ask questions and make test that answer the BIG picture.

    Any clown can use google and rehash and parrot what someone else said and claim it to be their own advice and words. They do not know if what was said is true or not, they have no background about how to go about it logically.
    Information is not knowledge.............

    We will see dramatic changes in the Planted hobby coming up this next year about light and how it relates to ADA, scaping and CO2./nutrient demands. Folks are getting some cheap light meters that measure PAR, so we will see a lot more folks doing things in this area.

    This is good news. Easy to measure and quick.
    the light changes but only every slowly over time, so once measured, you do not have to do much thereafter. That's a test worth doing.

    I've always known this and used this to target a general non limiting level for any light level(which is why I chose very high light to come up with estimation of the EI method). What I did not have was a bunch of nice scapes with low light to prove the point, but when I saw the chance and actually brought the meter with me for once, the data did not lie.

    Still, it was testing my assumptions and curiosity, not assuming that all light types are equal in terms of the plant actually uses for photosynthesis. This avoids the issue of brands, color temps and watts, reflectors etc and we can measure all of those relative to a standard that is specific for plants.
    The key is having a standard reference to begin with and also some nice low light tanks as examples.

    I think it matters only in the respect that you personally like the perception you get from your own eye balls:)

    As far as growth rates from the plants: PAR units are what count or...rather, they are the bets units we really have for now, certainly better than many on the APD enjoy doing, "guessing" the light and the CO2.

    I'm not comfortable doing that.

    Since ADA is often referenced as the defacto best way to do things based on the Amano scaping skills, it seem wise to measure the light, then the CO2, and lastly, the nutrients.

    I've measured the light, the nutrients in each liquid and have done the sediment as well recently(the next newsletter). I can measure the CO2 at Aqua Forest but it changes throughout the day depending on what time you come in. So ideally a data logging graph for several days for each tank would be best.

    Steve and George would not mind I think.
    But the CO2 device is 2000-3000$.

    Light meter is a lot cheaper and quick. Since the light is controllable and stable in aquariums, measuring it is much easier than taking field readings as the sun moves and the angle changes:p

    I found in several aquariums that the CO2 could vary as much as 10X even with high current and low biomass low cut pruned scapes. 40-100ppm near the CO2 outflow, 30ppm at 12", 20 at 36" away and in the plant beds 10-15ppm. At the surface it was about 20-25ppm. I have 18X per hour turnover. Hardly low flow, Steve and George also like higher flows and have an extra filter on each tank.

    Guess where folks take their CO2 readings?
    Not all these places nor in real time.
    pH meters do not detect such differences.
    Other aquatic botanist are not surprised by the readings either.

    Let the no nothings believe their own thoughts.
    You just keep showing examples of nice tanks, plants and sell them to the same haters. By falsifying what they say, any rational person will see the reality, and few will go to their side and think and believe the same things. I am rather adversarial about BS, so they do not like me too much, but I have a strong reaction to BS when I see it, just how I am and come across on line.

    In person, I ask you directly and look you in the eye for an answer. Then it much harder to BS me and everyone else standing around looking at the readings. Many can come across as some expert on line and with google, but not in person. Some just get personal to avoid the question as it makes them look bad. So.......stick to the topic and keep after it and ask them to answer the question "how" if what they claim is true, is this possible? You might not ever know the real cause of their issues, poor plant growth, algae etc, but you will know what it is not.
    One step at a time, you can rule out causes.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  13. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    We are used to referring to aquariums being "high light" or "high tech", vs "low light". I have been thinking about this and it leads me to wonder if a much better set of standards would just be "good CO2", "low CO2" and "non-CO2", or something similar, to change the focus to CO2 instead of light.

    I started thinking this way while trying to write a "how to decide what kind of tank to start" article, largely to clarify my own thinking. As I did this I ran into a block when it came to lighting. I'm so used to thinking of "high light" and "low light" with high light meaning over 2 watts per gallon or so, and low light being under 1.5 watts per gallon or so. But, those ADA tanks make that approach seem ridiculous.

    Would we in this hobby be way ahead if we looked at light intensity as the last part of the set up instead of the first part as we do now? In other words, say I decide that the biggest tank I can handle for various reasons is 50 gallons, so I pick one that has a shape and appearance that pleases me. Then, instead of seeking the right light to go with that, I instead look into whether or not I want CO2 or non-CO2 (I would look at Excel as a minor variation on the non-CO2 approach.) Once I decide I want CO2, because, for example I want to have an HC lawn, I next look into how I will get CO2 into the water. Once that is settled, and I have ordered the hardware I need, only then do I look at lighting. Ideally I would have a chart of some kind, for various tank sizes or tank depths, that gave examples of light fixtures/bulbs that give 35-55 micromol per square meter per second light intensity at the substrate. From those I would decide if I preferred a pendant installation, HQI fixtures for the shimmer effect, T5 for the energy efficiency, compact fluorescent for the low cost, etc. and pick a fixture to acquire.

    Does this make sense, and is it a sound approach?
     
  14. Peixetos

    Peixetos Junior Poster

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    I think according to what is presented in this thread, the set of standards for the hobby would have to be "high plant growth rate" or "low plant growth rate" and of course the subdivisions in the "low growth rate" set: "non-CO2" or "CO2" (pressurized or home-made). Under these concepts one then should know how to approach a "high plant growth rate" (extra good water circulation and CO2 distribution, together with higher light) and a "low plant growth rate" with still good CO2 distribution (non-limiting CO2) but with lower light (for the people who don't want to work so much pruning very often). All the set of standards should assume non-limiting nutrients, using EI for example. I hope I've formulated my ideas clearly (I'm Spanish..).
     
  15. ame

    ame Junior Poster

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    Hello Tom

    After following EI with Light >3wpg and Pr.CO2 for years ,I was thinking if there is any way to - 1. avoid high rate of plant pruning(to save the layout) , 2. reduce electricity bills ,3. reduce heat from the lights.

    Reading your findings gives me great Hope.:)

    My next planted tank will 120cm(100Gal app) ,with ADA substrate and Pressurized.CO2. I dont have a light meter nor does anyone I know has.I have a DSLR camera.Can that help?I read somewhere the lighting levels(not PAR) can be measured using a DSLR.

    If I use 4x54 W T5 H.O for this tank will that be sufficient ? Ideally I would like to use lower lights without restricting plant choice and growth.(RATE of growth is not an issue) I would prefer slow but healthy growing plants.

    CO2 -I intend to use an inline reactor .How do I ensure that CO2 does not become the limiting factor?

    Thanks in advance.

    Regards.

    ame
     
  16. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I think what Vaughn mentions is critical to reshape the hobby and it's approach to both CO2, and light, but also, the nutrients and how they are delivered.

    Starting out with a good question then trying to go about answering it with some logic and reasonable common sense is a very good method.

    Science is not any different.

    Some folks however assume the conclusion 1st, then, go back and try and explain things t fit that conclusion..............bad idea.
     
  17. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    You were very clear in stating your ideas. I see light and plant growth rate as a range of values, instead of "high plant growth rate" and "low plant growth rate". If we set up the tank with sufficient concentrations of all of the nutrients, especially CO2, then we can almost dial in the growth rate we want just by adjusting the light intensity. We could just dial it in, except as the growth rate increases, the demand for nutrients also increases, so higher concentrations would be needed. But, if we carry the EI dosing idea to the logical conclusion, perhaps that isn't a concern, because we just maintain a high enough concentration to accommodate any growth rate, then the weekly water changes prevent the concentrations from ever being a problem.

    I'm even wondering about "high light plants" vs. "low light plants". I know from my experience that "low light plants" do very well with "high light", and the ADA tank light readings suggest that "high light plants" might do fine with "low light", just growing slower. That last point isn't at all certain yet. For one thing I do think that plants assume better color when the light intensity is above some value. And, there may be plants that really do need "high light" in order to grow at all healthy.

    I'm still thinking about how non-CO2 tanks or Excel tanks fit into this scheme. Without CO2 you clearly can't drive up the growth rate just by increasing the light intensity.
     
  18. Chiya

    Chiya Prolific Poster

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    Hi all,

    It's very interesting where this discussion is going. And it sure opened up a lot more questions.

    I transplanted some HC from my 50G to my 15G (the one with 1WPG).

    This led me to think, HC needs some time (2-3weeks) to get used to the new conditions before growing. Does light intensity make a difference in this grow out period?
    My HC used to die a bit before growing back, (slowly, but the net gain is +ve) so I'm curious if a low light tank will create enough growth to balance off the dying leaves.

    More light = more growth, if all other nutrients are sufficient. Does it influence recovery? From replanting?
    Wont an old creaking car spoil faster if we floor the pedal every time?

    Understand from the pictures that maintaining at low light with CO2 is a good idea. How about from the start point? Do we go high light, then low? Or just low?

    Comments??

    Regards,
    Ryan
     
  19. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    This is a good question, based on what I have seen in ADA tanks, and knowing what their light intensity is, it seems that there is little point in adding lots of light that first 2-3 weeks before the plant gets going, this is true for Hair grass a bit less, and applies well t Gloss also.

    Once they have a stable root system, then they grow like most stem plants... ...fast.

    You certainly need time to allow the plants to adapt and recover.
    Then do the test. Some species are very fast, some very slow.

    Folks fail with Hc mostly from too much light and not enough CO2.
    Excel works also with HC, so that can help some folks and works pretty well at low light.


    Trimming HC is a labor. You can pull it and replant like stems, but it's a lot of labor and few weeks before it starts to root again. Mowing it requires a lot of skill and patience(Unlike say Hair grass), same for Gloss, but they bounce much better this way.

    At higher light, these plants do tend to grow really fast. So we get more time between trimmings. Maybe that is not important to you and not a goal, in that case, sure, wait a few weeks till you see new leaves/runners, then crank the CO2/light. Still, if you are a grower, then you should just do DSM in trays, that's easier and does not require an aquarium even:)

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  20. Chiya

    Chiya Prolific Poster

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    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for your valuable input.

    It's so much clearer now.

    We start with low light intensity and wait for the plants to settle in (grow roots??).
    Then crank up the lights / CO2 / nutrients accordingly if we want more growth.
    Then we turn down the lights to slow plant growth for easier maintenance.

    This will prevent algae issues from the start since there isnt much light to trigger any big algae bloom.

    For the conservative, low light all the way!! No algae issue, low maintenance.

    Excellent!!

    Will root tabs be the new thing in our tanks :) ? To aid in the settling in period??

    Regards,
    Ryan

    /note to self : PAR Meter!!
     
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