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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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    This is something I predicted and told folks a long long time ago. The thing is, most critics in this hobby rarely(lots of hot air) do much and many good scapers are not the most quantitative bunch either.

    As far as the notion you might conclude here:

    To control the rates of growth, change the light.

    This is something I've been suggesting for several years. Mostly to wind bag critics of EI or anything that added more than 5ppm of NO3 as they claimed it caused fish to be sick once they gave up proving excess PO4 caused algae, they kept moving on to the next thing after getting falsified for each new hypothesis.

    But it makes good logical sense, reduce the light=> reduces CO2, reduces nutrient demand= reduces pruning demands=> reduced labor and => more stable tank.
    This makes it much easier to prune/keep etc. But it does nothing to satisfy some of my critics...............they will look at nutrients till the cows come home. Light is a far more stable parameter to change and vary than any nutrient and certainly much easier than CO2.

    We all can see and acknowledge this, it's common sense and now we have hard evidence + several tank replications. Hardly a fluke. Now folks can manipulate/experiment and see for comparison purposes. That's useful/powerful.

    If you did PMDD 15 years ago, then you likely had low light, ADA did as well then.
    So nutrients and CO2 where pretty easy to measure and play with.

    Driving things faster with light, now you have scale the other nutrients/CO2 up correspondingly.

    That's all I did with the old article in 1996 I wrote and Steve Dixon reviewed.
    Later I simplified it and tossed out some testing and stuck with 50% weekly water changes. Then it's EI. Do it daily etc, then it's PMDD +PO4 a bit richer.

    However, unlike nutrients/CO2, this parameter when lowered, reduced=> less algae no matter who you speak with, few would even attempt to argue the reverse, yet still.............many suggest more light.

    Why?

    I just don't understand that.
    More = better?
    But not with ferts and CO2?
    What part of contradiction is not understood here?
    This is extremely poor logic/no common sense.
    This is why I come across harsh to some critics.
    They deserve it.:cool:

    I deserve it too when I'm that hard headed.


    Root tabs can be DIY.
    I'd suggest that or go with a commercial ADA aqua soil.
    You may also consider mineralized loam, clays, cat kitter, Zeolite sands(Pool supply places sell Zeosand), soils etc.

    You can DIY soil by mixing with water and freezing the mud.
    Mud cubes can be added into the sediment to re enriched the soil etc.
    A New Zealand friend some years ago mentioned the mud cubes, nice idea(Ain't mind). Peat is always a popular mixture to add.

    You can make any number of macro or trace or both mixes, go organic, clay any sort of mix and see.

    As far as the usefulness, well, plants will go for nutrients wherever. So adding it tothe sediment makes dosing a bit easier I'd say and argue. It lets up some water column dosing pressure and for folks that forget.

    At high light, I think you have to be fairly good about dosing routinely if you go all water column. Less so and leaner if you use sediment ferts as well.

    Still, the synergy between water column and sediments will give you the most out of both and extend the life of the sediment longer.

    Also, at lower light, if you prefer...................you can chose either method(sediment or the Water column) and be much more successful at either. It's only when you push things with high light + high CO2 will you start to need to focus more on both locations or richer water column ferts.

    Such notions also extend to the non CO2 planted tanks as well.
    So this is a universal application that crosses various methods.
    No small potato and now we have some good data for support.

    I loaned the light meter to the owners at Aqua Forest. I talked to them a bit about what to measure, what are typical limits and ranges. They are excited to see themselves and play around.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  2. Neil Frank

    Neil Frank Lifetime Charter Member
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    Tom,
    I didnt read entire thred, so this may have already been mentioned: Amano has always used less light in larger tanks than most hobbyists, say 1-2 wpg. Apparently the current tanks are consistent. Check the survey scatter plot on the KRIB done 10 years ago. All of Amano's points are below the rest of the participants. See
    Lighting Level for Aquatic Plants That what i still do. I thought you used to be in that school. :)

    With adequate CO2, less macros and lower light, plants can grow slower and also be redder... Red does not always come from high light.... and as you say, with more light you need more nutrients.
    --Neil
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Hi Neil, long time no hear. Those who are not aware, Neil was the past editor/President of the TAG/AGA for like, 11 years? Back in the bad old days.:eek:

    I've long preached this but you tell them, they do not believe you:p
    Many think more light = redder plants.

    I know for a fact what your light was and the Rotala macrandra you always sent was redder and fuller than anyone's I've seen at high light............if they can even grow it well:rolleyes:

    For most cases, the above link is what many have been claiming what was needed. Using a PAR meter takes this several steps farther and makes comparison's even better.

    Some of the LiCOR equipment measures CO2, light, water transpiration etc, everything in terrestrial systems, at once(eg the LiCOR 6400- not cheap).
    We do not have an aquatic counterpart.

    So with a good globe PAR sensor, light based CO2 dissolved meter, light basic LDO O2 meter, and a good spect for colormetric measures for nutrients and good sediment abalysis methods, you can go over the entire routine for any tank and system.

    Still, ADA is a good example of how high light is not required and may be a source of issues for many aquarist. The main point of the entire thread: ADA lights are much lower in terms of their PAR than say the T5 lights or my Coralife fixtures.

    So when comparing the watts, this skews things by 50-40 % less with the ADA lighting when we use units of PAR.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  4. nelumbo74

    nelumbo74 Junior Poster

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    This is why I was so pleased to find this thread the other day, and brought up the topic of spectrum earlier in the week, but have just gotten the chance to reply. I have observed that most new hobbyists are drawn to the hobby based on the photos they see of colorful plants, particularly red ones. However, if the bulbs are not emitting any of the red spectrum, even with 5wpg, how can one acheive the red coloration? Many new hobbyists quickly become disheartened thinking they will not be able to acheive the expertise that all the "masters" online have acheived, and therefore they leave the hobby after several serious bouts with algae. Unfortunately, in my opinion, this hobby has taken on a sort of elitist mentality that provides little common-sense much-less scientifically-based help to a lot of people, and that is unfortunate.

    I have experimented on my own, although not in a true scientifically controlled manner, with 4 T-5 10000k bulbs with very little orange or red spectrum and then with 4 T-5 6700k also mostly blue through yellow spectrum. However, only a total of 1.96wpg over a 45g tank. I used a Current 36" T-5 4-bulb fixture (the older model without individual reflectors). I got very good, even growth AND pearling, but the plants (Proserpinaca palustris and Ludwigia repens in particular) stayed entirely green or lost any red coloring they originally had. However, in each setup, I replaced one of the 10000k bulbs and one of the 6700k bulbs with one Colormax bulb that emitted a high amount of red, but still a total of 1.96, and saw entirely new results. The P. palustris leaves turned a nice rusty orange and they became very finely serrated. The L. repens turned a nice shade of red, and maintained very good, even growth. I finally changed the setup to 1 - 10000k bulb, 1 - 6700k bulb and two Colormax bulbs, and the P. palustris became strikingly red (not rusty) and the L. repens deepend in color as well. Also, the amount of pearling increased dramatically. The combination of the 10000k and 6700k blended well with the Colormax bulbs, and a red cast over the aquarium was avoided. I verified the results by removing the Colormax bulbs after 6 weeks, and replacing them again with the "standard" bulbs. After about a week, all new growth reverted to green, or faded dramatically. After 4 weeks, I put the Colormax bulbs back in, and the coloration began to return.

    I tried this same experiment with other bulbs and a higher total wpg, but those experiments were not successful when I exceeded 2.67wpg (2 - 39w T5 & 2 - 21w T5). Again, this was a very un-scientific experiment. I have also grown pretty much any plant you can name from HC and Toninas and beyond with 2.67wpg or less.

    I did this experiment after reading Kasselmann's book years ago. She recommends not following the wpg rule, but instead providing ample CO2 and bulbs that emit adequate amounts of light in the red end of the spectrum. I have found that this provides extremely satisfactory results. I also follow her recommendation of only fertilizing when signs of deficiency are observed, which might also create disagreement within the hobby.

    My goal is to help hobbyists, especially those who are not horticulturally inclined, to achieve the results they see in some of these examples online, without spending an arm and a leg, and also without dealing with all the juggling that comes along with using insane amounts of light. Inevitably though, most people disagree with me without ever experimenting on their own (even people who are complaining about algae infestation). Trust me, I've tried the 4-5 wpg. I've tried the midday burst of high light for 1 or 2 hours, and these methods always ended in disaster for me, or were incapable of being maintained for any reasonable amount of time without so much labor that any satisfaction was quickly negated.

    I wish I could provide photos of the results I achieved. Unfortunately, photograhy is not one of my hobbies. :rolleyes:
     
  5. Neil Frank

    Neil Frank Lifetime Charter Member
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    The role of the Colormax bulbs may be 2 fold. Provide energy to allow the plant to turn red and the correct spectrum to permit the plant to appear red when it is in the tank.
    See http://www.orbeducation.com/Samples/Previews/Science/Pack21_Colour.pdf
    A red object looks red because it is reflecting red light. If there is no red in the bulbs, then the plant will not appear red even if it is red.

    First, it would be interesting to know if the plant is not red when you use 6700K bulbs +1000K or does it not look red in the tank? I was wondering if you looked at the plants outside the tank? i.e. there may not be enough emitted red light to make the plant appear red.
    Second, I wonder whether the 1000K bulbs simply dont have enough PAR, but since you said they were pearling and growing, I wonder if there was plenty of PAR and with adequate nutrients they simply may have been growing fast. Yes?. Did the switch to Colormax slow down the growth?
    It would be interesting to see if you would have had the same problems with four 6700K. That is what i will be using on my new tank (Giessman) and hope i dont run into the problems you describe.
     
  6. nelumbo74

    nelumbo74 Junior Poster

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    I used the following configuration: 2 - Giessman 9325k T5 (39w) & 2 - Coloramax (21w) for a total of 2.67wpg, and achieved the best results in terms of red coloration. However, I was pleased with the results of the above 1.87wpg, and continued using that confuguration for the long term. I also used a battery of 4- Giessman 9325k (39w), and again had poor results from the high wattage.

    This was all carried out over about a one-year period, and again was a very unscientific experiment.
     
  7. nelumbo74

    nelumbo74 Junior Poster

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    I forgot, I have also used the AquaMedic 10000k Ocean White and the AquaMedic Planta Bulbs, which I liked as well. The Ocean White are comparable to the Giessman 9325k, and I have been told they are manufactured by Giessman, but marketed under Aquamedic's label. I have not been able to confirm this though. The Planta are a higher wattage than the Colormax, but they appear to give off more of a light pink glow, and I didn't notice any improved red coloration on the plants.
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    While color is all nice and dandy, it's not something I can measure with a light meter measuring PAR.

    Also, PAR drives CO2 demand and thus uptake of nutrients. So when it comes to control of the rates of growth, this is the important parameter, not the color of the bulbs............this is aesthetics, not growth. The question of red plants and being able to grow nice red color is something a PAR meter can also answer.

    Unlike Kasslemann, I do not agree with waiting till plants are already deficient, it's like waiting until the lawn is suffering before tending it. Such methods can only apply practcially under lower rates of growth. At higher rates, this is a very poor solution to maintenance. Pretty obvious and simple to see.
    The goal here is not support one method, rather to understand each method as it relates to the demand of light, CO2 and nutrients/their location etc.

    Horticulture and the ability to do it well depends on human habits and keeping on top of things. No nursery grower will wait till they see signs of deficiency to add ferts to the fertigation (90% or more of all container nursery crops use this type of agricultural system). It's like waiting till the fish are starving before feeding them. Why is this notion that less and the min amount of ferts is somehow good, better, preferred? Is ther ereal evidence that supoortsI can see the reason for control of the growth rates using light, perhaps CO2, but the nutrients are farthest down the line here and I know, I do not have to guess, that excess non limiting nutrients do not cause any algae or poor plant growth morphology. This way I know it's not due to nutrients, rather, due to low light or C2 etc.

    This is a much better way to rule things out and investigate vs running everything down to the nub, edge. This has nothing to do with "popularity" or prevailing whims............it's simply put, good logic;)

    Likewise, you can go back and do the same with just CO2.
    Or, chose really high light and do this as well knowing the light is non limiting to growth. Then you can learn to grow plants at low, med and high light, with and without CO2 etc. No longer are you a one trick pony, now you can do all the methods and change the rates of growth to suit whatever goal and labor effort you want.

    Kassleman, I spoke with her after she spent a considerable amount of time showing all this water column data during a presentation, then showed and suggested that this was ideal for aquatic plants based on her findings in nature(and mostly of Sword plants) yet not once did they/she bother to do any sediment testing...............that is where the nutrients where/are in many systems. This was a huge oversight in my mind and most anyone working in wetland science. I figured she just left it out. So..............I asked her if they did any testing of sediments/pore water etc, she said "no".
    Did not want to discuss it apparently even though she kept asking folks and showing them this very ultra low RO like water:cool:

    And off she went with a quick about face...........
    I'm more interested in speculating and thinking about how and why I guess...........you can do a lot of work and get no where.

    Or you can do a few simple but elegant things to uncover far more...............maybe I'm just lazier.......

    If there is nothing in the water column, and plants are growing, then the sediment is where to look. You can also look at nutrient rich streams and rivers, many in Florida/Mato Grosso are full of aquatic plants far richer and denser than nutrient poor regions and have a much higher production rate.

    Aquatic plants are opportunistic, they will take nutrients from anywhere. However, the demand is far greater if they are light limited or CO2 limited more than the supply of ferts.

    It has seemed to me that some folks assume the lower levels of nutrients are best without ever assessing any risk. Testing goes out the door then. Then faith and quackery comes creeping in. So they start with a conclusion, try and back it up with some data from a selected natural system, which is nothing like our tanks in most cases, then go about looking for evidence to support their conclusion.

    Look for evidence first, see if there is a risk really, then test, manipulate etc, look at the results, then make a conclusion based on what you found...............I made assumptions about this lighting with ADA, I was wrong and have said so and am telling folks about it and my test results.

    Some folks only want to be right, heck I make plenty of errors, but I learn from them and get better and test my assumptions to make sure they are valid and pass the muster. We can learn a lot from mistakes and proving things to be false.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. nelumbo74

    nelumbo74 Junior Poster

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    I should clarify my statement. Kasselman actually recommends relying on a nutritious substrate for providing nutrients via the water column, which I do use a nutritious substrate. I guess this got the thread a bit off topic.

    I understand it would be difficult to measure the color emitted by bulbs. Therefore, we have to rely on the data provided by the bulb suppliers, and we must hope they are being genuine with their data. That's why I won't purchase bulbs that do not provide a graph of their spectral output. I'm still curious though, how can people grow "red" plants in low light or even super high light if their bulbs are not emitting red? This is why I think, although I have not scientifically tested it, that it's important to have a bulb that emits red light if you want to have red plants.

    I'm just trying to help new hobbyists, or less scientifically inclined hobbyists, to accept the fact they don't need to spend tons of money on light bulbs and fixtures that provide soooooo much light. Your reserach proves that high light is not critical, and I appreciate the data very much.
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I really do not know how red light affects our preception of red color in aquatic plants.

    This is a very different question and measuring color is possible certainly, however, not something a PAR meter will do. There's no reason why a bulb cannot have a high amount of light skewed to the blue and not the red and still produce a red plant.
    Plants will still make red pigments.

    Our perception may change however.
    The other thing, the red color removal is not all or nothing here, various bulbs almost all have some red(some more, some less, few are totally absent of all reds in their entire spectra), so you still will see some reds.

    You can look at the ADA bulbs, any bulb for that matter for the spectra output, but that's not the point here in the thread. Only the part that matters to growth, PAR.

    We already know the bulb's out put for ADA, so you can conclude what you will based on that and the PAR readings.

    I have some data for their ADA NA bulbs, the FL's but not the ADA HQI though.
    Then someone will come along and add reflectance or color and spectra output in here:)

    I think light is neat, but you have to be careful what questions you are asking and keep things narrow and specific. One test at a time. You will not learn everything all at once with some grand test, you can however, pick away at things bit by bit;)
    Often times, it is indirect test and answers that uncover what is really going on and that opens up a dozen new questions much like this test I did.

    I made some rather bad assumptions.
    I assumed that the PAR and watt/gal was somewhat close to other HQI light set ups and PC lamps. It was a reasonable assumption............but it was still wrong. However, curious that I am, I tested it to see having done a lot of work with PAR meter readings at work and for some clients.

    So now I'm not assuming, now I am confirming . Then accepting this and changing the conclusion and questions I had, now it makes a lot of sense.

    Paul Sears made this mistake with PO4 causing algae, but never confirmed.
    I and everyone else at the time bought the argument and it sounded very reasonable.

    But it was wrong..........

    These are good examples of how our assumptions/are they reasonable or not still get us/catch us. We need to be careful and confirm. And if you have confirmed, then you know the difference. Some things are easier to confirm than others.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. phanmc

    phanmc Lifetime Charter Member
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    Growing Ludwigia sp. guinea and Ludwigia sp pantanal with a 50/50 6700k and actinic in one of my tanks, was using full 6700ks prior. Didn't notice any difference in coloration or growth patterns. The 6700ks don't have a particularly high spike in the red spectrum either.
     
  12. nelumbo74

    nelumbo74 Junior Poster

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    I grew L. Guinea aka L. senegalensis, also under 6700k and 10000k with low red emission. The green/yellow stripe down the middle of each leaf widened and became almost solid green. The red coloring on the leaves narrowed to just a sliver along the edge of each leaf. However, when I added back two bulbs with a higher red emission, the red along the leaf edge widened, and the green strip in the middle became a bright yellow. I still only had 1.87 total wpg, but I did notice differences in the coloration.

    I agree with Tom, it isn't the point of this thread. I do think it is an interesting point to ponder though.
     
  13. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Since the color we see is the light reflected, not absorbed by the leaves, how would having lots of red in the light spectra have any effect, except perhaps in inducing the plant to work to "reject" that color? Or, the more red in the spectra, the less the light can emit in other colors, so a red bulb would be a weaker bulb, if the plant is reflecting away the red.
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Let's start another color thread. This is not specific to ADA lights or intensity based PAR meter readings.

    The main idea here is that the ADa lights that we assumed are somewhat close to the watt = watt of other HQI and PC lights are similar, however, they seem to be about 40-60% less.

    This means those so called high light tanks are really low light and we can understand how a 15ppm of CO2 and low water column nutrients, along with slower growth rates makes things easier once you compare the PAR as a standard measure.

    Does anyone have the spectra outputs for the ADA HQI bulbs?
    I have the ADA Na lamps.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  15. nelumbo74

    nelumbo74 Junior Poster

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    I've not been able to find a spectral output graph for the HQI. ADG's site appears to have the NA graph on all the lights, which appears to be incorrect. Also, ADA's main site does not provide the spectral output of their bulbs. Suspicious? Hmmmmm. Perhaps the guys at AquaForest could provide this data?



     
  16. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Don't bet on it.
    I can give PAR, but that's all I am equipped to do.
    I care about growth for what I do typically, not color aesthetics really;)

    That's a rather subjective area.

    I can measure the amount of pigment per unit of weight between two treatments, this will give you a better comparison that what your eye balls tell you, but most do not care about that, they care only about what their eye balls tell them.

    So that, not the reality, is all they care about.
    So light color really is what you like, the rest gets into more an issue of PAR and growth rates.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  17. dapellegrini

    dapellegrini Lifetime Charter Member
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    This is a great thread. I didn't see this asked, sorry if it is a repetative:

    If an ADA light fixture puts out less light, would this suggest that it also extends the bulb life? Or would it do the opposite?
     
  18. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I'm not sure, I'd say extends it.
    But that's a guess.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  19. evandro.carrenho

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    PC vs. T5

    Regarding PC and T5 bulbs. Is there a rule to say that the given the wattage, PAR reading will be higher on T5 over PC's, or vice-versa?

    Thanks,
    Evandro.
     
  20. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I think we know that T5's are more efficient at giving light intensity per watt, but the use of PAR meters is so new among hobbyists that I don't see how there could be much data available yet. Also, you would need to measure the intensity with the PAR meter for 3 bulbs of different wattage, but the same reflector, same fixture, located in the same position, for both the PC and T5 bulbs, then plot the results. That would let you see how two equal wattage bulbs compare. And, to do a really good job you would do all of those tests with and without the reflector, to separate out the reflector's enhancement of the intensity. It would be a very good test for someone to do though.
     
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