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Lighting directions outdated?

Discussion in 'Estimative Index' started by jonny_ftm, Apr 16, 2009.

  1. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Hi,

    A bit provocative, but I'm getting more and more concerned from what I read on recent topics about light intensity recommended for the long-run

    When I found EI method, what was mainly highlighted is the fact it was built up on high light aquariums and can be extrapolated to others.

    I thought I was good to go with a very good lighting system and upgraded to a 4x54W T5 hanging system with 6500 Lumilux De Luxe 965 bulbs for my 60G tank (only 40G water).

    Since I begun EI, my tabk is really getting great and without algae

    [​IMG]


    My gallery is at 3.5-4in above water surface and the fron part with slow growing plants is shaded with some Ceratophyllum and Salvinia. There's a Plexiglas between the T5 bulbs and the water that avoids water and dust from reaching the reflectors (one big reflector not individual ones)

    I'm now wondering if my lightening is too high and if I should lower it somehow for the long run. Also, if I lower my lightening, will it cause the lower leaves to fall? Also, some plants growth is impressive and I have to prune heavily 2-3 times a week (Limnophila, Ceratophyllum, Hygrophila Corymbosa)

    Many thanks for advising me
     
  2. Henry Hatch

    Henry Hatch Guru Class Expert

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    I think your tank looks nice. Even with lights raised above the tank I suspect you have a good deal of light.

    I don't think EI was designed to provide dosing guidelines for high light tanks per se. My understanding is that the method was designed to establish a dosing level which would be sufficient for most tanks using co2. Dosing combined with large weekly water changes bring nutrient levels down to prevent excessive build up. I don't think it is generally necessary to extrapolate for lower light tanks unless you reduce light to a much lower level although Tom has never said you must dose at his recommended levels in all situations.Things like f ish load and bio mass must be taken into consideration.

    I don't think reducing lighting would cause lower leaves to fall. It's more likely to be a result of shading in your tank which appears heavily planted.

    Your tanks looks good. If you have problems in the future you might look at reducing light and/or increasing co2. If you reduce lighting I would raise the lights rather than take out bulbs. This will help to keep good distribution of light.

    If it ain't broke I would not fix it.

    Henry
     
  3. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Many thanks for clarifying it,

    Indeed, I was really thinking that high light is the way to go until I read the new posts in the forum where Tom is saying hese own and clients' tanks are becoming more and more low lighting tanks...

    My problem now is that the plants took the place of the algae :confused: I was invaded by algae, and now, I'm getting invaded by plants. What an irony

    Here's my pruning on Monday
    [​IMG]


    And today, 48h later:
    [​IMG]

    I do this 2-3 times a week since I begun EI with my new lighting. How could I stop this disaster. I really feel invaded by the plants. They reach the water surface at an amazing speed especially the Limnophila Sessiflora and aquatica

    Anyone ever noticed that with EI, plants become really a time consuming problem, just like algae?
     
  4. ccLansman

    ccLansman Guru Class Expert

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    lol switch to slower growers :p
    The more exotic stuff takes longer to grow... that may help..
     
  5. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    The primary reason I gave up on fast growing stem plants, and lowered my light intensity, was to get away from needing to always be pruning. It is fun for quite awhile, and the first few times it is amazing to see all of that growth, but it does get to be a job after awhile.

    I wouldn't switch to slower growing plants, whatever you do. With high light and slow growing plants comes algae. It is those rapidly growing plants that keep algae from even considering trying to grow in your tank.

    If you cut down on the light intensity you can keep growing the same plants, as long as you keep using good CO2, but they grow much slower.

    L. sessiliflora is a very fast growing plant, no matter how you grow it. I would definitely give that one up. Even L. aromatica can grow fast enough to need pruning twice a week, but it, at least is so beautiful it is worth the effort. For sure we have so many different plants we can grow that there have to be good choices available for any situatiion.
     
  6. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Guru Class Expert

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    Low light plants? SLow growing plants? Under 'highlight' they all become fast :)

    You have 4 lights available but you don't have to use them all. If they are independently switched you can turn a couple off, give the plants a week or 2 to adjust, turn the CO2 down to match the light and then see what you want to do next. Preferably with a luminaire I would use the second from the rear and the front.

    Alternatively you can play with the height of the unit. This is a crude example of light spread.

    You can see from the pink areas that raising the fixture loses more light sideways (even with very good reflectors)

    The yellow area shows the 'usable' area of light.

    The higher the fixture goes the lesser the 'angle of entry' for the light. It is closer to vertical the higher you go and therefore casts less shadows and less plants are shaded by others. However the higher you go, the more light is lost and the more distance between water and fixture. Therefore you have options.

    [​IMG]

    Do you want to use less light or use the same light but lose more of it. the latter will give better spread but do you need more spread?

    This is one of the reasons I made my LED setup. I can use lower light whilst being able to space the light out better so that the light can be close to vertical in much more area of the substrate. Saying that even though I thought it was low light (1.1WPG) the unitis now 40cm above the water surface as plants are giving me a 'PAR' reading higher than I expected :)

    I use only 'slow' growers (Ferns/Anubias/Crypts) and they grow fast which sort of defeats the 'slow growers' myth :) Stems are super fast growers but IME in height more than width. I personally like the width of the plants.

    On the EI thought. I have always used full EI wether it be a 1WPG T8 tank or 3WPG PC tank. I see no problems with it and the fish don't mind.

    Your tank looks nice BTW

    AC
     
  7. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    If you want to lower the lighting level you could always try some small floating plants to limit the amount of light getting to the substrate.

    Alternatively, since you're already in there, does anyone know if the plants in question are A) edible and B) tasty? Might be something to consider. Home grown food, at least you know where it came from... :)

    -
    S
     
  8. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Thank you all for the hints,

    I'll get rid at time from Limnophila varieties, I'm really getting tired with them.
    I understand your explanations VaughnH. I will replace Limnophila by another fast growing plant, but maybe not a so fast stem plant


    Now, SuperColey1, your explanations on how to reduce my lighting are very informative. I understand the energy saving arguments, but as a beginner and with only one reflector common for all the 4 T5 bulbs (instead of separated 4 reflectors), I'll opt for increasing the height of my luminaire. Making the luminaire higher will also make my life easier accessing the tank

    Now, looking at my tank and plants, what's the optimal hight you suggest? Should I increase the height in one step or in, let's say 4 inches steps every few weeks? Also, the plexiglas protection between the bulbs and water, should I keep it or remove it (it protects the reflectors and bulbs from dust and water drops, I also clean it regularily with a non abrasive cloth)?

    Many thanks for helping me take the good steps and not the algae way (I have very bad records of algae)

    By the way, this is my first tank and thanks to EI I could transform it (without total restart from zero), from a real algae bloom to what it looks like now. Here's where I was 4 months ago:


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Most plants you see invaded were pruned and restored, except the first one, the Ludwigia Glandulosa that I sacrified
     
  9. ccLansman

    ccLansman Guru Class Expert

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    holy wow, its like santa cluases beard in there... lol

    I have quite a bit of blanx that i use so i dont have to trim my mid ground/foreground stuff. For the back i used L.Aromatica which grows sorta fast, since its so thick it takes a while before i need to trim it even running 4x65Wpc lights for 12hours a day. I have two others that are slow growers but look nice ill have to snap a pic and post it.. I gave up on quite a few plants due to your same reasons, aka cambomba, mermaid and sunset hygro, its just not worth the time and effort :) Another thing you can try is adding more flow across the back, when i did that my L.Aromatica laid down a bit so now it grows up and sideways and give me more time before i have to trim it.

    ahh here we go...

    [​IMG]
     
  10. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Guru Class Expert

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    This of course depends on your aim. How much do you want to slow it down?

    How much risk are you prepared to take?

    How adaptable is the rig - hanging with screw clamps?

    You can go whichever way you want:

    Raise it up an inch a week until you see the desired result and leave it there.
    Raise it 4 inches a week until " "
    Raise it 2ft above and then lower it incremently "

    You are the one with the knowledge of your setup and what you are aiming for so is for you to decide ;)

    I personaly would move it up as far as I could until I saw poor growth and then pull it back down to get the 'slowest' growth possible. similar to the way I push the CO2 as hard as it will go ad the fish are at the surface and then back it off a couple of notches :)

    I think going from flat above the tank upward you will find that you reach a point where growth actually speeds up and improves (through the tank as a whole) as light spread becomes better and the plants that weren't doing so well get more light. then after this point and the light goes further upward the speed will slow down but improved growth continue.

    Much like a large LCD TV. Sit a foot away and the picture is all grainy You move away and reach a point where the picture looks perfect, move further away and it starts to still look clear but detail disappears due to the distance. Simple similie but shows what I mean.

    With my setup I raised from 4" to 10" to 12" and then to 15". But then I have a tank of 'slow growers' only and no need to slow it down too much. I just wanted a more equalised light spread whilst not having to take handfuls of Fern leaves out each week :)

    AC
     
  11. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Hi,


    Many thanks all of you for the informations,

    I'll try to change the plant biomass and sorts + increase the light hight at 15 inches and set it from there depending on the plants behaviour

    Many thanks again, it reassures me that I'm not alone to have expierienced such a bad feeling seeing my plants being too much healthy
     
  12. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Hi,

    I put my luminiaire higher today, 14 inches.

    My lights are turned on for 8h. I didn't see bubbles on most plants. Only some injured/pruned ones leaking. Does it mean I need to lower my luminaire or it is normal not to have bubbles on low/medium light power? Or maybe because the plants have to adapt? Or should I increase light periode to 10h?


    Before, when the luminaire was near the surface, all the plants were covered by the bubbles
     
  13. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Guru Class Expert

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    pearling only means that the plants are producing more O than the water can soak up.

    If the water is not saturate then the O that would've formed bubbles will diffuse into the water so you don't see it.

    This is why you see pearling someway through the photoperiod and not immediately the lights are turned on. The O is diffused until the point the water is at max and at that point the bubblesappear instead.

    AC
     
  14. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    What I meant is, before elevating my luminaire, the plants photosythesis was enough intense to saturate my water in O2 about 4-6h after the lights turn on. Now, even after the end of the day, I don't see it. This means the photosythesis is slower, whilch is normal since there's less light. But, should I worry about it? Increase light period from 8 to 10h on low light tank?
     
  15. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Guru Class Expert

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    I wouldn't worry about it unless algae starts to take over. You may get algae outbreaks because you are altering the system but if they get too severe then something went too far. minor ones should 'heal' themselves.

    AC
     
  16. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Ok, many thanks for your help.

    A last question, how should I continue with EI? same as before or reduce dosage or frequency?
     
  17. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Guru Class Expert

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    I personally would keep it the same for a couple of weeks and then every 2 weeks reduce it by 1/8th. Once I see algae/defficiencies at the end of a 2 week spell I would then up it to the previous level.

    AC
     
  18. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Hi,

    I'm a bit anxious about dosing the same in fact. I didn't lower my CO2 and it ended up now by a new spike and the death of the remaining C. Japonica survivors from my previous CO2 spike.

    I guess that the need for nutrients is really less important as I now had to greatly reduce CO2 to get the same coloration from my CO2 test

    Edit: ok, thinking at it twice, with water change of 50%, the meaximum build up is twice what I dose, so nothing dangerous after all. I'll follow your instructions for dosing reduction

    Thank you again, but I know now that CO2 should be really better lowered when shrimps and snails are in the tank. C. Japonica, Neritina and Trumpet snails don't support CO2 at all
     
  19. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Guru Class Expert

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    CO2 goes with plant growth of course.

    Don't agree about trumpet snails though. I came home from work a couple of years ago to a yellow DC, empty CO2 tank and dead fish, shrimp, trumpet snails.

    Clearing the snails into a bucket after half an hour (nowhere near all of them) I notice loads are climbing the walls of the bucket :D

    They are all part of the Seagal Family 'Hard to Kill' :)

    AC
     
  20. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    In my case, I lost many of them during these spikes. Now, hopefully there would be still a few of them left, but for now I didn't catch them climbing during the night.

    I won't introduce any new living creature in my tank unless the luminaire height and CO2 are fixed. My Dennerle CO2 Pro valve is really hard to adjust. I have one Ideal Needle Valve that I should give a try maybe
     
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