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Questions about lighting

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by viejo, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    Hi again. As I've been said, I'm planning a new 300 liter non-CO2 planted tank, but I cannot find any low light plant that fits my tastes.

    I am raising a bit the amount of light of my project, around 210w. It's excessive for a non-CO2 tank?

    Will plants with "medium" light requirements grow there without CO2? Will I have algae booms?

    I am trying to find formulae or "thumb" rules about amount of light, and I've just managed to find some numbers by myself:

    For 300 liters (I'm european, sorry again*):
    - under 100w -> nothing will live happy
    - 100-150w -> low light
    - 150-250w -> medium light
    - 250+ -> high lighting, CO2 required

    I could not found a wpl or wpg with that low-med-high distribution, just the 1.5wpg "thumb rule"... are my assumptions right?

    I am planning to start cutting the plywood for my lighting system this week, and I want to know if the light I'm planning to deliver (between 192w and 216w) will be excessive without CO2 or not.

    Thanks again for your help, and my apologizes to did not been able to find this information by myself.


    * sorry for use liters and not gallons, not because I'm european
     
  2. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Guru Class Expert

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    The 210W will be far too much without pressurised CO2!!!

    You should be looking closer to a max of 130W of T8 or 80W of T5!!!

    As for the above it is BS!!!

    150-250W would be high light IMO. 250+ would be verging on the pointless!!!

    On a 300 Ltr 70W of T5 will grow plants well. 70W of T5 and pressurised CO2 will grow most plants well. A little higher for carpets but I think someone is leading you on the algae path if they think those figures are true!!!

    AC
     
  3. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    First of all: Thanks for your reply.

    (not sure what "BS" means, I use those letters in a very rude way usually, I will suppose you say I'm really wrong)

    Let me make my points more clear:

    1- I want NOT to use CO2
    2- I don't care if a plant grows in a week or in a year, if the plant is healthy itself
    3- I want plants like Hygrophila difformis (defined as "medium to high light requirements") growing (at its pace) in my tank

    If 200w it's far away from "medium", ok. But 70w seems a bit too low for those requirements... I want the maximum light without crossing "the CO2 line". I need more figures to "play" with.

    About T5/T8: I've read a lot of things everywhere I could put my eyes over, and almost all places say the same: "count the 'brute' wattage, not the brightness".

    From my readings, it's far more important the reflectors used and/or the distance from the light focus to the plant than the type of bulbs (except old incandescent ones, of course).

    It means, from what I've read, a T5-24w and a T8-25w count as almost the same light. If not, I will need to re-think all my plans, but I need confirmation about that, and some numbers (ie: how many T8w are a single T5w and so... the same about PL).

    Algae will be fight with natural ways: light control (of course), fish and/or inverts AND fast growing plants like Egeria densa.

    Please, don't think I'm ignoring your advice, but it will be my first "true" aquarium (I have a 38 liter fish'necropolis), and I want to manage it as best as I'll can. And to do that, I need all available information and experience from other people (like yours).

    I've read some posts here and there, and found some numbers from Amano tanks (yes, the name everybody must talk about once per life) and those numbers put my tank around 170w.

    :eek: Holy goddess! I've made my numbers using 300 gallons! :eek:
     
  4. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    I've find this from VaughnH in other thread (page 4 of this forum)

    Then, when people says me 1-1.5wpg are talking about T8 or T5 watts? I'm reaching the answer to my questions :)

    --------------

    And what about "delimited" lighting? I mean, fluorescent tubes for "global" tank lighting, and focuses or high intensity tubes per zones (like carpeting, high demanding plants or so). I can do it using PLs and not tubes, and/or adding focuses (ie LED focused lightings)... This madness could work?
     
  5. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Guru Class Expert

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    IMO and this will be controversial ;)

    T8 linear beats CF/PC purely because of the light spread.

    T5 = 1.5-2x T8 as Vaughan says. They are the same W but W = power not light. T5 is thinner therefore there is less restrike, they are more expensive and there are much better reflectors available for them. They are also much more intense and virtually all run on electronic ballasts rather than magnetic.

    My preference on fluoros would be T5 - T8 - PC

    I'm not a fan of PC purely because it is not so versatile in that you pack a huge amount of light into 1 small space without being able to spread it like you could with 2 T8 linears.

    You guessed right with BS.

    Non CO2 look at max 1WPG of T5 or 1.5WPG T8. This assumes that you have reflectors and not the white pieces of card some think are reflectors :)

    AC
     
  6. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    Nice, we are reaching to conclusions :p

    Few numbers:
    - 1w T5 ~ 1.5w T8
    - low light (non CO2 tanks) -> 0'5-1wpg (T5)
    - rounding 'a la european' -> 0'5-1w / 4l (T5)

    About PL vs tubes, it's a matter of space if you manage to make reflectors for them.

    Light reflection:
    whithout reflectors (low quality reflection)
    - white paint: low but better than nothing
    - aluminium foil: medium
    - mirrors: good

    with reflectors (talking about TUBES, we must remember they are cilinders, not lines)
    - angled (inverted "V" or "L"): low to medium
    - half-circle (down facing "C"): medium
    - parabolic ("U"): good
    - curved M shaping: the best, because the "peak" of the "M" allows almost vertical lighting to be reflected to walls

    I've got this information about reflectors from a lighting post from VaughnH, will try to recover it asap (it deserves a sticky, I think). About the "M" shaped reflectors I've read about them in the same thread, with a nice link... It's a very interesting thread to read, I just missed some numbers for 300 liter tanks ;)

    Reflectors for PL will require more special shapes, being double cilinders...
     
  7. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Guru Class Expert

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    The main problem I have with PC/CF lighting is the proximity of 2 tubes (I know its one but you know what I mean) to each other.

    So for example you have to have 36W of light in a small space and the '2' tubes are within 1cm of each other.

    With 2 x 18W T8 you can space them further apart getting better spread and therefore better results in most cases.

    The other problem is reflection!!!.. with T8 and T5 linear the light comes out of the tube and is redirected to the walls. The best reflectors are made to minimise restrike where the reflected light hits the tube on the way back and therefore is lost.

    With CF/PC then this is almost impossible to match because you then have to redirect light from 1 tube not just to not restrike the original tube but both. this would mean to match linear would be a very costly exercise and not cost effective!!!

    IMO best to use 2 more 'simple' reflectors on 2 linears and get the benefit of spread and more 'useable' light.

    1 tip with LEDs. To get the spread you use many point sources (in other words you spread many LEDs in the hod/luminaire.) They are also much better than T5 Linear in the average tank (no idea on deeper tanks.) This means to go the non CO2 route you would not be able to use too many LEDs and therefore would lose some 'spread'

    I use 15 x 3W (underpowered at 2.8W) LEDs in mine and from Drop checker observations and plant growth I can tell that 42W of LED is making mincemeat of the previous 48W of T5!!!! This is however an 18" tall tank and therefore I cannot say if they are better for penetration in a tlaler tank. I would guess with the right reflector/lense angles they would be pretty good!!!

    AC
     
  8. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    The tank I'm planning (a process of four months planning now, no one would be able to say I'm doing it in a hurry) is a 300 liters with measurements 120x50x50mm... in inches is like 47x20x20.

    I found some Spanish forums talking about DIY lighting with LEDs, where they are used with different angles (20º for deeper lighting, 60º for "normal" and 120º to light the whole surface) and intensities. Anyways, the lighting I'm planning will use T5 tubes (almost from my last sketches).

    I'm not sure if it will be overkill, but getting the height of the tank, the glass top that will present condensation and calcium coat, I will start with 3 tubes of 54w. If I'll have algae booms, I will start lowering the amount of light or raising a bit the light source. I will coat the internal part of the lighting with aluminium foil (no reflectors yet) to not "force" the intensity.

    My last sketch has been something like

    ..................rear..................
    =================== 54w
    ---------------------------------- empty or black light to peek fish at night
    =================== 54w
    =================== 54w
    ..................front.................

    I will let the empty row in the rear because the tank will have some sort of daylight from there (it's near a window and I want not to cover it -yet- ). Without reflectors and the humid tops maybe I will not have most algae than my SAEs would be able to eat. If I'll do, I'll be rid of one of the front 54w and play with reflectors.

    I though about PL because their sizes fit better my tank's ones, allowing me to "play" better with light placements.

    If I want some special plant with higher requirements, I will develop a "light focus"
    for it, with LEDs, if able.

    I know I'll be near the 2wpg and 1.5 is the most people thinks it's safe. Time will tell who is right.

    Thanks again, and don't hesitate to continue giving me your thoughts and/or experiences, I learn a lot with each post.
     
  9. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    A single 54 watt T5 light fixture is used by some people on a 55 gallon tank and they are able to grow even carpet plants, but they use CO2 also. So, with good T5 light fixtures, those that use a somewhat parabolic highly polished aluminum reflector, one watt per gallon is very close to being "high light".

    About reflectors: My testing showed me that white painted reflectors get just about the same amount of light in the aquarium as aluminum foil or aluminized mylar. If anything, the white painted reflector was better than the other two materials. I was shocked to learn that, but it is true. Glass mirrors are not good light reflectors.

    Reflector shapes: Parabolic reflectors are great with a line source of light. Any bulbs we use are far from being line sources. T5 bulbs, being the smallest in diameter, come the closest to being suitable for parabolic reflectors. The best shape is one that collects light that will otherwise be spilled outside the aquarium and redirects it into the aquarium. That can be a reflector consisting of flat planes, curved surfaces, or a combination. The best one will have the bulb mounted down in the reflector far enough that you can't see the bulb unless you are looking almost straight up into the reflector. For good dispersion of the light over the entire tank, the reflector must be considerably wider than the bulb diameter - up to being as wide as the tank is. And, raising the light fixture further above the tank greatly improves the uniformity of the light intensity in the tank.

    If you don't want to use CO2 you need to keep the light intensity at the substrate to about 50 micromols per sq m per sec or less, which will require you to stay below 75 watts of T5 and most likely to raise that light a few inches above the tank.
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I think he meant the idea, not you or being rude towards you personally.
    Bull manure is generally what I say, I call it BM:)
    Male Bovine feces better?
    It all smells the same:)

    Great, that answered the point I was hoping you got prior in the other thread.
    Go non CO2, maybe the Excel/Easy Carb method with a few small water changes for house plants.
    You can also use the Excel for the first 1-2 months until the plants get well established then stop adding it and things should be fairly stable as you go 100% non CO2.

    I think you want about 120 W with reflectors for 300 liter 120cm long tank.
    Nice sized tank.
    I'd consider the Excel for the start, note, it will melt some plants, like Egeria/anacharis/Vals, but everything else does pretty.

    I'd use 3 bulbs 120 cm long, spread apart as best you can to cover more area(eg, do not bunch them all together).

    I think the T5's might be a bit much light for this set up.
    Try T8's, they will cost less also and be fine.

    A key part is adding lots of fast growing plants from the start. After things have grown in, then you stop adding the Excel etc, and start adding Egeria densa etc and other plants.

    I'd add lots of Crypts, make a nice hedge of them through the tank, Java fern in the darker areas, a few stem plants(money wort etc), maybe a sword plant, some Crypt spiralis for the rear, Pondweeds(Potamogeton) work well also, Milfoils, some Water sprite floating etc.

    Hair grass and Gloss can be grown later even.

    Soil based Sediment is a good thing to add in mineralized form.
    Less reliance on dosing, but.............more messy and if you uproot things, move things, you will need to be careful. You can dose the water column etc, see the non CO2 article here on how to do that, adding sediment enrichment will help that method.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    Humm... merging chaotically all... what about a pair of 36w T8 with a single 54w T5?

    It will deliver a "crude" amount of 126w (the figure Tom said) and around 180w if we do the T5->T8 watts conversion.

    I can use the T5 in the foreground, where I would want to plant some medium-low light carpet grass (eleocharis parvula, maybe?) while the rear T8 will receive an additional help of the small amount of natural light that crosses my window in the morning.

    No reflectors at the start (just white paint or aluminium foil) to test, dosing small amount of Excel, and keeping the Egeria in the darkest corners. I will use soil for sure, I'll just must remember to take care when replanting. It assures me nutrients from the first months. I will overfeed a bit while keeping the fish a bit under the normal amount (but not as low as DW says).

    I will use my old internal filter to help cleaning the first weeks/months and will try to remove it slowly until the plant mass will be able to do the filtering.

    It will mean a lot of tests and work initially but if this hibryd method works, a lot less in the future, and less water changes.

    Doh... I will start working again in my stand. I want to finish it today to be able to start tomorrow with the lighting. And the next week will try to get the tank.

    Phase I: planning is near to be finished. Just four months of read and small tests with my 38 liter necropolis...

    Thanks again all you. But don't think you've got rid off of me, I will return here to ask more questions when they pop my mind, and to explain how my project goes.

    Wish me luck (and more to my plants and fish... they will need it more than me)
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    The light sounds fine. Just do the white paint on the inside of the hood.
    Maybe later, several months of good growth, you can add the hair grass, consider adding a reflector. More is not better here.

    Seems like a decent plan, also, mineralize the soil prior to adding it!
    Soak for 2-3 weeks in shallow tray of water and let the bacteria do the work and mop up the soil for you. This means less mess, better conditions and less algae.

    Consider adding some KNO3/KH2PO4 and GH booster, you will not need much, about 1/8" teaspoon once a week of the KNO3/GH and maybe about 4x less of the KH2PO4.

    You will want to add some traces, say Tropica master grow, once/twice a week, at about 3-5mls.

    With adding Excel, add about 2x this much.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  13. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    What will melt those plants? The Excel or the light?

    I though about to use Egeria from the very start, because it's a fast growing plant, and because it gets nutrients from water, being a useful way to fight algae booms. Is there a way to prevent this "melting"? I know from my experience that Egeria can live floating (I have some fish in my 38 that seems to joy uprooting my Egeria). If I can find a "solid" Excel product that I can put in the soil, maybe I can use Vallisneria while "excelling" just the other plants, while Egeria can survive floating and getting the excess of nutrients from the water column.

    Am I right with my assumptions?

    Edit: I cannot find "solid" Excel to put in the soil... can I provide carbon to my plants' roots with organic waste? (ie: putting fish meal under the sand or so)?
     
  14. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Excel will cause melting of Egeria, vals, and a few other plants. Excel will do the same to all plants at a high enough dosage, but the dosage that harms Egeria and vals is much lower than that which harms other plants. To fight algae blooms, use any fast growing stem plant, such as Ludwigia or Hygrophila, which aren't bothered by normal dosages of Excel.
     
  15. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    Doh... I was planning to use my 38l's Egeria, but wanted not to keep it in the new tank for long. Will try to find those plants you said, then.

    Thanks.
     
  16. viejo

    viejo Prolific Poster

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    Just for clarify, I've find the BS origin, and I agree with it. Let's remember my "BS":
    Today, reading again older bookmarked articles, I found "my" numbers here
    I've made my numbers from memories, but I've found they were right made if we trust him.

    Anyways, as I tend to trust two experts a bit more than just a single one, and knowing the numbers made by Tom and Vaughn were done knowing my tank dimensions, I will stick with the recommended lighting, increasing its levels if plants ask me for it (wrong growth, that does NOT mean slow growth).

    Three tubes:
    - rear T8 36w 865
    - middle T8 36w 845
    - front T5 54w 965

    The idea is to use the higher intensity of the 965 to reach deeper waters and help carpeting, while the mid-read combo will help plants growth without hurting the view.

    I've read some posts from here (from Mr Vaughn, if memory works for me) arguing that the lights temperature really doesn't count for plants growth as soon as they have enough light intensity. I'm not really sure about it, but in any case, if temperature really doesn't count, I will not hurt my planting if I use those temps :p

    I just will need to keep enough room for another T8 or to change one or two T8 for T5, and I will be able to fix any lighting lack.

    And to help the "system" to get a good starting, I will feed with Excel in the starting weeks, lowering slowly the weekly dose. The fast growing plants will be hygrophila polysperma, helped with hygrophila difformis, cryptocorine crispatula and ceratopteris thalictroides (that will growth slower because it requires more lighting). Those plants come from Thailand, as my SAE, that will help me to keep algae under control.

    Thanks again all the people who helped (and will help) me with my project (what is in stand-by until I will be sure I will do things as good as possible while I'm colleting components for my lighting system and so).
     
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