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Need Lighting Ideas

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by DGalt, Jul 2, 2009.

  1. DGalt

    DGalt Prolific Poster

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    So I'm not particularly fond of the lighting over my 15 gallon planted. Right now I had an incandescent hood that I've fitted with 2 more sockets, giving me 4 sockets that I've filled with 4 x 10W CFL spiral bulbs (6500K). It works alright, but I'm having issues with light spread and overall I just don't think it's a long term solution.

    That being said, I don't really want to enter the high light range. My tank consists mostly of mosses / anubias / crypts and some dwarf sag. I am in the process of growing a dwarf hairgrass carpet, but beyond that I don't really have anything that would fall into the "demanding of light" category (if such a category exists, I know some will argue it doesn't). My substrate is ADA aquasoil and I have a pressurized CO2 system, so really I just need a adequate level of light that will let my plants grow well (even if growth is slower than optimal) without my having to deal with major algae issues.

    Any suggestions are welcome. I'm thinking something in the mid 30W range (no higher than 40W I think), but I just can't find anything that would fit over my tank that fit those specifications. I found this: T5-ho 24" /2 lamp aquarium Light but even that's a bit beyond the amount of light I want to have.

    Thanks
     
  2. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Is your tank about 13" high? If so, just one T5HO bulb would very likely give you as much light as you would want. And, if you raise that light just a few inches you would likely get both good light intensity and pretty good uniformity of light. Don't underestimate how bright T5 lights are.
     
  3. DGalt

    DGalt Prolific Poster

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    yea the tank is about that high (from the water line to the substrate is actually only 11" at the deepest part and 8.5" at the shallowest part)

    One T5HO would be what in terms of wattage? 24W? Do you know of anyone that makes a single strip, all the ones I'm finding are 2x24W. Or would I just have to not run one of the light bulbs?
     
  4. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    You know, I've just been e-mailing with these guys over the past couple days. They seem kind of incompetent when it comes to customer service.

    English is their 2nd or 3rd language. The first time I contacted them, they didn't understand my question, or didn't know the answer, and told me to buy their products from their web site. When pressed, they told me they didn't know what kind of ballast their T5HO was, and failed to tell me for the 2nd time whether or not they could do a custom order. Three days later, they haven't gotten back to me as they said they would.

    As for their product, I've heard mixed reviews.

    If you want my opinion, head for a couple of T8's. Set them on a glass hood, or rig up a mini suspension system.

    Contrasty spectrum is forgiving; diffuse light on higher wattage, use colors, etc. if you want easy but good looking.

    -Philosophos
     
  5. cggorman

    cggorman Prolific Poster

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    Lights of America 24" under-cabinet T8 fixture. Available at Wal Mart and many big-box home improvement stores for about $10. Good base from which to build a cheap DIY hood. ....if you're so inclined....

    [​IMG]
     
  6. DGalt

    DGalt Prolific Poster

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    I'm going to take some trips around today to see what I can find before I go ordering anything. Building things is kind of a pita b/c I'm at school and am lacking much of what I would need in terms of tools / materials.

    If I were to get a T5HO it would most likely end up being a 2x24W (the only 1x24W I've found is $30 more than the 2x24W ones I've found, which doesn't make much sense to me).

    I was considering this fixture: Current USA Nova Extreme T5 X2 Freshwater Aquarium Lighting Fixture, 2X24 Watt, 24 inch

    It comes with "One 24 watt SlimPaq 10K and one 24 watt Freshwater T5 HO fluorescent lamp"

    what exactly does that mean? Is there a bulb that I could put into one of the slots that would add light to the tank without adding wattage (if that makes sense) or should I just remove one of them?
     
  7. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    If you can see the light produced, it'll contribute to PAR in some way. I suppose something in the 550nm range would be less efficient, but good luck finding a bulb that only contributes in this way.

    You could try diffusing or obscuring the light by putting something in front of it. If you can get tinted acrylic to replace the insert on your lighting system, that would work. It would also give you any color you like.

    I'm not sure about removing bulbs. Personally I get a little edgy about it, other people have done it in the past though.

    -Philosophos
     
  8. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I have read some reports on forums about T5HO 2 bulb fixtures not working at all with one bulb removed. I don't know why that would be true, but it has been reported several times. I have no experience with them.

    I agree that for the light level you want, and for such a low tank, a pair of T8 bulbs would be a good idea, and very cheap.
     
  9. DGalt

    DGalt Prolific Poster

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  10. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    T5HO is what it sounds like; T5 with higher wattage. The ballasts on the HO are better; regular T5's tend to have quick start rather than programmed start. This means the bulbs won't last nearly as long.

    The single reflector on it will make for less efficiency than individuals, but I can't see that being a huge problem in your case.

    I've found the colormax pushes pink a little too much on its own, but it might not be bad in combination with a 6700k. Coralife makes a decent fixture, it'll function well.

    -Philosophos
     
  11. DGalt

    DGalt Prolific Poster

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    Going with the DIY route, I'm a bit confused about fluorescent lighting (seems a lot more complicated than regular old screw in sockets).

    For example, that Lights of America unit linked above holds a 20W T8 bulb. Could I put a 15W T8 bulb in it or would that not work?
     
  12. cggorman

    cggorman Prolific Poster

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    It comes with the bulb. ...or are you thinking about replacment in the future?

    I think it actually includes a 17w bulb. I wouldn't blink an eye at replacing it with anything from 15 to 20, but I'm no electrical engineer.
     
  13. DGalt

    DGalt Prolific Poster

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  14. DGalt

    DGalt Prolific Poster

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    Just to be certain, 48W of T5HO is way too much for my tank right? I'm working off of that assumption, just want to make sure it's correct lol.
     
  15. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    48w of T5 with good reflectors is insanely high, poorly distributed lighting. You could elevate that amount of light higher over the tank for better spread, and obscure it with tinted acrylic to replace the original splash guard as a 2nd step. I'm looking at doing this my self for the tank I'm working on. Without these things, 48w will keep your plants growing insanely fast, the CO2 cranked up very high, and a very strict dosing routine.

    -Philosophos
     
  16. nerbaneth

    nerbaneth Guest

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    In general, it matters what wattage the ballast itself is rated for. If it is rated for 18w, I wouldn't use a 20w bulb because it will be drawing current out of the ballast too fast and your bulb will burn up faster than it should. Your ballast will also age faster.

    On the other hand, a deviation of 2 or 3 watts between the ballast and the bulb is going to make such a minimal difference that the life of the bulb and the ballast will not be noticed. Your bulb will also be slightly brighter than a correctly rated bulb for the fixture. Once again this will not be noticeable.

    -Nerbaneth
     
  17. DGalt

    DGalt Prolific Poster

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    About how high off the water would the lamp have to be? I'm thinking of building some type of suspension system anyway (can't put wholes in my ceiling, at school and they'd get made). Also, is there any type of acrylic that would dim the light without completely changing the color of the light? Or, if that's not an option, what color would I want to change the light to to keep the natural feel of the tank?
     
  18. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Height is something you'll have to tinker with. If you can borrow a PAR meter, it'll go quite quickly. Failing a PAR meter, even a lux meter will work, since it will allow you to compare the intensity of the light compared to its self. All else failing, I believe the inverse square law should be helpful too.

    Changing color is as open as you can find a manufacturer for. Acrylic can be turned to any color, and made to filter for what ever spectrum you like. Be more concerned with the color you want than the growth efficiency when it comes to the level of lighting you're looking at.

    Anything between red, blue, yellow and white can be used. For a more natural look, keep it subtle, and perhaps avoid any overtly pure colors; it's rare nature tosses purple at you. Green can go fairly intense, same with yellow, red less so. Blue tends to be something people have associated with marine, but it happens in lakes too.

    -Philosophos
     
  19. DGalt

    DGalt Prolific Poster

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    If I were to go with the Hagen Glo T5HO (more expensive than I'd like but getting to the point where for $20 more if I can solve this headache then fine lol), I have the option of either the 1x24W or 2x24W. The 1x24W is 3.25inches wide while the 2x24W is 4.75inches wide. How do you think the spread with just the 1x24W will be? Am I going to have the same issue I'm having now (i.e. I have my light above the center of my tank and the front of the tank is lit up fine but the back is dark) or will there be a nice dispersal throughout the tank. I can get the 2x24W for the same price as the 1x24W but if I get the 2x24W the only "tinkering' I can do is the change the height over the tank since it doesn't have the cover piece
     
  20. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Honestly, they pack T5HO's too close together. The wattage is usually overkill, too. You could try playing with the sunblaze mounting kit and reflectors, this what I've opted for.

    Odds are I'll be ripping off the plastic cover and doing my own thing with acrylic, and tinkering with the mounting for the right distribution.

    In your case, you could probably get 2 of these and leave the diffusers on, sitting in the hanging kit with reflectors, and end up with some decent lighting.

    -Philosophos
     
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