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What is Appropriate Lighting ???

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Professor Myers, Nov 4, 2006.

  1. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    Please define the following parameters in Watts per gallon. Much of this would depend on nutrients and addition, and type of Co2 used, so feel free to throw in a qualifier.

    1. Adequate

    2. Good

    3. Better

    4. Best

    5. Criminally Insane
     
  2. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    Well alright then...

    I'll go 1st.

    1. Adequate = 1.5 WPG < Suitable for low light plants, and non Co2 sytems

    2. Good = 2 WPG < Suitable for low light plants, and easy growth speciecs with Low Co2

    3. Better = 2.5 WPG < Suitable for most plants with good Co2, and Tanked Co2 is definitely a consideration ! EI Nurient dosing parameters really come into play.

    4. Best = 3 WPG < with 20 to 30 ppm Tanked Co2 using EI nutrient dosing parameters. Consider a balance of both dissolved Co2, and Misting for optimum results. (Way too easy to maintain these parameters, and continued success is inevitable)

    5. Criminally Insane = 4.5 to 6 WPG < Excess Lighting becomes an Impediment requiring constant tweaking of both Co2 and Nutrients often requiring unstable levels of Co2 in excess of 30 ppm. Nutrient potential exceeds the limits of Some plant species, and Especially Fishes, and Inverts. Losses in livestock may occur. Maintenance and monitoring of system becomes excessive, and personal Enjoyment flys right out the window !!! :eek:

    There is such a thing as Too Much Light ! ;) JMHO Your mileage may vary ? Prof M
     
  3. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I am becoming convinced that there are only two levels of lighting of interest:
    Low - for low tech, no CO2, slow growing plants - about 1.5 to 2 watts per gallon.
    Good - for high tech, pressurized CO2, for almost all plants - 2.0 to 2.5 watts per gallon.
    All watts per gallon referring to quality PC bulbs in a AH Supply quality reflector, located 2 - 4 inches above the water surface.

    Just my opinion, and that tends to change quite often.
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Best 2 w gal
    Better, 2-3w gal
    Good 1.5 w/gal and 3-4 w/gal
    Nuts: 5-8w/gal


    Note, the above is using CO2 for all.

    For non CO2: 1.5-2w best,
    1-1.5w/gal better
    Good: 2-2.5w/gal
    nuts: 3w/gal

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    So optimum is even lower then ?

    That's even less than I anticipated. The larger point being that too much light is actually detrimental. Perhaps not to the plants themselves, but certainly to the overall balance of the system, and balance and stability will produce optimum results in the long run.

    I am actually accustomed to clinical systems, and even I find it tedious to maintain stable conditions over 3.5 to 4 WPG < I don't think tedious is what many of us had in mind for this hobby ? Again not a matter of "could it be done" but "Should it be done".

    15 years ago my best results were acheived with 120 watts on a 40 long. 1 cool white, 1 warm white, and 1 royal blue. Still not sure how to feel about Blue bulbs, but Why on earth would I have expected plants to adapt to the industry ??? :eek: 15 years or not, the plants don't appear to be getting any smarter ? LOL. HAGLOM Prof M

     
  6. Wet

    Wet Lifetime Members
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    I think another factor here is aquarist burn-out. Though I usually find pruning is relaxing, maintaining a high light stem tank can become so obsessive it can make the hobby a chore. I also find it's hard to progress with scape with such conditions, but in my case that's not just because of light :)
     
  7. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    You're Really a lot more polite than I am...

    I find pruning, planting, water changes, and general chores quite relaxing, but given the peace and beauty achieved by those endeavors I find the chronic dinking with equipment, test kits, and light cycles an inane act of mental masturbation and an otherwise vulgar assault on sensibility, and reason ! :p

    But Hey...that's just me. :D LOL.
     
  8. Vladimir Zhurov

    Vladimir Zhurov Lifetime Members
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    I think the best is 2-2.5 with CO2 and 1.5-2 without. Interesting that 2 wpg seems to be the sweet spot for any type of tank when using CF or T5 tubes with decent reflector and 10 hours (on average) photoperiod.

    The rest ranges from questionable (3-4 with CO2) to insane (people asking what can be done with
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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  10. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    Misconception or Misinterpretation...

    Of events. Take your pick ? Cause and Affect. Past poor growth was likely due more to a lack in Co2 and nutrients, possibly spectrum ? Once Co2 is applied, and nutrition is uninhibited...then acting on the blind presumption that light then becomes the limiting factor. Still when you look at the lighting systems availble right out of the box you begin to wonder why ??? If you don't have enough light you can always buy another light, but when you have too much light yer pretty much sub-marined from the git go ! Design, Industry, and Marketing may have changed, but they are still the same plants. Still it's easier to sell high output lights than to sell decent substrate, but which does more good ? ;)
     
  11. George Farmer

    George Farmer Lifetime Members
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    2wpg T8 10 hours works just fine for me - carpet glosso no problem. I've tried 4wpg - PITA long-term.

    Glosso planted for 2 weeks
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Jimbob

    Jimbob Junior Poster

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    IMHO, I'm having a very hard time understanding why the freshwater community is still so bent on the "WPG" watts-per-gallon rule.

    Not all light is created equal and thus, not all watts are equally useful to our inhabitants. The saltwater reef guys picked up on this several years ago but the freshwater community still seems to stick with the old WPG rules.

    As an example:

    I have 60 watts (4x15W T8) of normal output fluorescent lighting over my 22G tank. Each of the 15W bulbs has a lumen output of ~600 lumens for a total of 2,400 lumens. These are mounted two each in the standard two bulb all-glass/Perfecto style lighting hoods that we are all familiar with. Suffice it to say, these fixtures do not exactly act as a well-engineered reflector by any means so the amount of lumens actually penetrating the water is reduced substantially.

    A 55W PC fluorescent bulb (much like those 55W kits from AHSupply) is actually 5 watts less in output than my set-up described above. Despite the lower wattage output, however, the bulb has a lumen rating of ~4,000 lumens... approx. 1.6 times the lumen output of the above set-up. Add to that a good quality parabolic reflector that punches most of the light to the water and you are actually getting much higher lumens into the tank but with less watts (and thus less WPG).

    Now lets look at a 24" length 24W HO T5 fluorescent bulb. Each 24W HO T5 bulb has ~2,000 lumens of output, meaning that with only 48 watts of output, we are getting the same 4,000 lumens as we would get from the 55W PC bulb. The big difference here is that each T5 lamp has it's own parabolic reflector. This individual lamp reflector, combined with the smaller diameter of the T5 bulb (smaller diameter = more efficient light (more like a point source... light travels farther from smaller point source)), creates a situation where there is a very high amount of available lumens making it into the tanks.

    Now, an even better way of measuring the usefulness is by measuring the PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) value the light emits. PAR is what plants (and the symbiotic photosynthetic algae in corals in the saltwater world) use to do their "job." HO T5 fluorescent lighting, when used with a high-quality engineered parabolic reflector, is absolutely and unquestionably the highest efficiency lighting available, providing the greatest amount of PAR to the surface fo the gravelk bed (or sandbed in reef aquaria). Based upon measurements taken at the sandbed surface, a single 54W T5 lamp has been shown to put out more PAR than a 150W double-ended MH lamp.

    Sorry for the rant... I'm just surprised that so many in the freshwater circles still stick to the WPG rule. We abandoned that rule close to 10 years ago in the reef aquaria world.

    -Jimbob
     
  13. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    Wow...:p How bout that !
     
  14. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Imagine you are a guy who has seen a really nice aquascaped planted tank and decided he wants to try that. So, you find a good price on a 75 gallon tank and buy it. Now you need to buy the lights. So, you go to the store and ask for a 1000 PAR light. Guess what the store clerk's reaction will be? So, you decide to DIY it. You go to a light bulb store and look thru the stock for a 1000 PAR bulb - nary a one to be found. Don't forget you still have to decide on a substrate, a filter, a CO2 system, a heater, some plants, some fertilizers, etc. That's why we all like to just use watts per gallon instead of PAR per gallon.
     
  15. Jimbob

    Jimbob Junior Poster

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    With all due respect Hoppy, if I were to use your analogy, then it shouldn't matter what type of substrate anyone uses right? So long as they have ~2" of substrate, nothing else should matter?

    General rules are nice, but there should be some onus on the aquarist to learn and understand some of what is actually taking place in their tank. Understanding lighting and what the chlorophyl inside our plants use to create carbon to feed our plants is very valuable knowledge to acquire.

    I don't beleieve I suggested that someone should go to a LFS and ask for a lighting system rate at a particular PAR value (or a bulb for that matter). What I was trying to point out is that the three set-ups I described above all have similar wattage output. The 2x24W T5 system, however, has nearly three times the amount of PAR at the gravel bed as does the 4x15W system and the single 55W PC falls in between the two.

    Do you not feel soemone should have knowledge of this before making a decision soley based upon WPG:confused:
     
  16. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    Honestly ? Given the quality of lighting available...

    It's almost a no brainer. But Lighting is still only a fraction of the hobby, and quite honestly too many people focus on it Myopically. This is still a hobby, and lots of people still enjoy it, as irresponsible as that may seem.

    I'm pretty upset none of you guys ever told me about this darned Onus ! Now I feel under dressed !!! :eek:

    The larger portion of members here demonstrated their sincerity by showing up. intellect and responsiblity were never really a requirement ?

    Wouldn't I love everyone to have an I.Q. over 150. No, Not really ! and as much science that goes into the details I've learned plenty from guys with a Jr. high education.

    While the old WPG rule is a bit arcane it still serves a purpose. If You personally choose to commit to any exotic lighting then Yes You should expect to cover some new ground, and when you do this is one of the very best places to learn about it !!! but I have yet to see anyone shamed or ridiculed into an eduction. This is a H O B B Y... :p

    Mi Dos Centavos, Prof M
     
  17. dazzer1975

    dazzer1975 Prolific Poster

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    Hoppy, what does AHS stand for?

    and this from someone with an I.Q. score above 150, although my average is lower:p

    Science has always, and probably, will always be an enigma to me

    Ah never mind, I have been informed as to what the AHS stands for.

    Cheers and carry on LOL
     
  18. turbomkt

    turbomkt Lifetime Charter Member
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  19. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I agree with you 100%! Those of us who enjoy really digging into this hobby should dig deep into the specifics of lighting also. And, of course, watts per gallon is in reality pretty meaningless unless you also specify what bulb types, what reflectors, what distance from the water, etc. you are talking about. If you enjoy getting into the details and learning as much as you can to understand what you are doing, then a PAR meter would be a device you could use effectively.

    Similarly, with the same rationale, you would want a quality set of test kits, or a colorimeter like Tom talks about, to judge accurately what is in your tank's water. And, you would not be using EI (in my opinion), but would be attempting to provide exactly what the plants need at all times.

    As far as substrate goes, that rationale would, in my opinion, lead you to use ADA's substrate in preference to an inert substrate like quartz gravel or even Soilmaster.

    I think most of us, as the Professor pointed out, just view this as a hobby where the fun ceases when we have to work too hard at the science end of it. It is for that group, which includes me, as well as most people starting out in this hobby, that watts per gallon continues to be a usable guideline - as long as we always keep in mind that the watts we are talking about are AH Supply quality reflectors with PC bulbs in them, mounted close to the water above the tank.

    If I came across as discourteous in my last reply, please accept my apology.
     
  20. Jimbob

    Jimbob Junior Poster

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