PAR Meter Data

VaughnH

Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Jan 24, 2005
3,011
94
48
85
Sacramento, CA
I got first crack at the local plant club PAR meter, so yesterday I made a simple plastic holder for it so I could easily hold it in position in the tank. It is just an acrylic rod, with a piece of acrylic tube glued to the end, with the rod bent in the oven.
IMG_3063.jpg


Today I took some readings on my 45 gallon tank:
IMG_3064.jpg


The tank has a DIY light fixture housing a 2 x 55 watt AH Supply light kit, with GE9325K bulbs.

My data is:
45galPARdata.jpg


I am surprised and very pleased by the evenness of the lighting over the substrate, and the intensity is about what I was aiming for when I raised the light. This is the tank with the RFUG filter, with CO2 enriched water from the canister filter going into the inlet, so it flows upward under the plants. The plants are all growing slowly, with only one bulb installed. Today I installed the second bulb and will leave it installed.
 

ccLansman

Guru Class Expert
Jan 22, 2008
375
0
16
Vista, Ca
pics are worth a 1000 words, thanks for the specs. Let me know how the co2 injection at the substrate goes. If it works well i may plumb a substrate level outlet onto mine as well.
 

VaughnH

Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Jan 24, 2005
3,011
94
48
85
Sacramento, CA
Today I did some testing on my 10 gallon tank, which has a Home Depot Hampton Bay 27 watt PC desk light, heavily modified into an aquarium light fixture. They look like:
IMG_2966.jpg
IMG_2929.jpg
IMG_2868.jpg


Continued on next post:
 

VaughnH

Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Jan 24, 2005
3,011
94
48
85
Sacramento, CA
The 10 gallon tank has grown a little GDA on the glass, so first I tested it with the glass "dirty". Then I cleaned off the GDA and did one more test to see if the improved reflection off the glass adds to the intensity. It did, but the water was not yet clear, since I did a water change too. Tomorrow I will retest to see if the intensity goes even higher. The difference between the dirty glass number and the clean glass number shows the minimum boost we get from reflected light off the front and back glass. Minimum, because the glass wasn't really all that "dirty".

Here is the data, in tabular form and plotted on log-log paper:
10galTankPARData.jpg
10GallonTankPARDataPlot.jpg


This, I find absolutely fascinating! For this light fixture, the light intensity truly does drop with the inverse square of the distance to the bulbs, and it doesn't matter if the distance increase is in the water or in the air above the tank. If this can be repeated with other light fixtures it points the way for estimating how far we need to raise a light fixture to reduce the intensity at the substrate the amount we want. And, it helps in estimating the effect of tank depth on light intensity.
 

VaughnH

Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Jan 24, 2005
3,011
94
48
85
Sacramento, CA
I just repeated the measurement at the center at 1inch above the substrate, and it is now 79, after the water cleared up from cleaning the glass, and doing a 50% water change yesterday. So, with slightly fogged glass from GDA I had 70 micro mols per sq. m per sec, and with clean glass I had 79. That means at reflection off the front and back glass increases the intensity by at least 12%, probably more. This intrigues me. So, I just cut a couple of pieces of clear acrylic sheet to 9" x 12", and spray painted one side with flat black paint. When they dry thoroughly I will slip one down against the front glass and one against the back glass to see how that reduces the intensity.

If the light reflection off the glass were not significant, a 4 foot long fixture would produce the same intensity right under the center of it in any size tank of the same depth. A 55 gallon tank or a 75 gallon would both have the same light intensity from that light.
 

SuperColey1

Guru Class Expert
Feb 17, 2007
503
0
16
46
Lincoln, UK
I have no idea on the science you are talking about. lol but am looking at the reflector you are using and thinking that with a better suited light/reflector combo (same wattage) that the results could be much different.

By that I mean if you had 2 15W T8s with individual 'curved' T8 reflectors that it would give out a better light than the flat surface with 4 tube so close together that you have.

Picking straws I know but I think this sort of measurement could go the way of the WPG rule where one person who has 15W with superb reflectors could have double the light to the tank as someone who has 15W with poor reflectors at the same height and therefore we would have a 'rough guide' to height etc as we currently see with the outdated WPG rule.

Would however be interesting at the scientific end of course.

;) Looks good though. I think a lot of the 'old' high light beliefs are starting to disappear and pretty quickly in favour of better or more even spread/penetration.

Keep up the good work

AC
 

VaughnH

Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Jan 24, 2005
3,011
94
48
85
Sacramento, CA
With flat black acrylic panels at the front and back of the tank, the intensity was 69 micromols per sq. m. per second, and with the panels removed the intensity was 81, just about the same as I measured this morning. I turned the panels around so the shiny side was towards the water, and the reading went to 72 (I'm not sure what that means.)

Taking the numbers at face value, that means the intensity was increased by about 17% by reflection from the front and rear glass. And, it suggests that even a haze of GDA on the glass drops the light intensity by almost as much as having the inside of the glass painted flat black. Of course the accuracy of these measurements is such that the 17% could be 12%, but the effect is definitely there.
 

Tom Barr

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 23, 2005
18,696
747
113
FYI, by raising a strong light source up higher like HQI, PC, or T5's, you can actually get more total growth over an area than you can be placing the light closer to the water.

Seems counter inituitive.

But the nice even light over the entire tank bottom is more effective than more intensity over a smaller area, and those areas have plants that growth much faster, have much different demand for nutrients etc, than the entire tank overall.

So they often will out compete the other plants for nutrients, particularly CO2. If they are slower grower and the other plants in the darker areas are better at CO2 acquisition, then you get algae, or if the CO2 in general is not good, you get algae.

Getting nice even spread of light is important.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Gerryd

Plant Guru Team
Lifetime Member
Sep 23, 2007
5,623
20
38
South Florida
Hi Tom,

So glad you posted this:

FYI, by raising a strong light source up higher like HQI, PC, or T5's, you can actually get more total growth over an area than you can be placing the light closer to the water.

Seems counter inituitive.

I had always thought that CLOSER was better, but over time I did not see this proven to be true with my MH fixture......

Nice to have confirmation, as it was puzzling to me...........
 

VaughnH

Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Jan 24, 2005
3,011
94
48
85
Sacramento, CA
Even with my linear tube AH Supply setup I got much better consistency with light over the entire substrate when I raised the fixture. So, no argument about that. The little 10 gallon fixture is one I made just to prove to myself that I could do it, making use of an otherwise wasted desk lamp. It would probably work very well on a 5-7 gallon, more nearly cube tank, but isn't good on the 10 gallon - the ends of the tank are really poorly lighted. After I finish experimenting with the 10 gallon tank again, I expect to try to sell the light fixture and possibly the tank.