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Need help with freshwater Aquarium Lighting please...

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by WhiteMountainsRanch, Feb 14, 2012.

  1. WhiteMountainsRanch

    WhiteMountainsRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Background: About 10 years ago I used to be really into planted freshwater aquariums. I've grown all different kinds of aquarium plants and I have a lot of experience with planted tanks. Mostly Val's, Nana, Anubias etc, nothing too difficult and mostly low to medium requirement for lighting.

    Problem: My Ballast has gone out and I need a new lighting system. I used to use compact fluorescent fixtures and the one that quit was a SunPac 65w Dual Daylight Twin Tube lamp (compact f.) it's rated in a 6700k and 10000k in one. I don't have money for metal halide and other super expensive systems.

    Now: I only have one 30 gallon planted tank left and it's chock FULL of plants. You can't even see through it. I use a c02 injector, and have about 30 guppies.

    Issue: So I guess I am a little outdated for knowledge of lighting systems. After a little bit of research I've found that LED's are probably the best to go with (and cheapest)... but the problems that I am finding are that 1. they aren't "rated" there is no 6700k or 10k on the bulbs, no wattage or anything else. I did find some "nm" measurements and found an article that says plants grow best between 300 and 700nm, but the other problem is that the LED fixtures RARELY give the nm ratings. All I see is "white" or "blue", obviously blue is for nighttime.

    Soooo, are all LED bulbs the same? Will it work to just get a bunch of cheap white ones (that don't have any rating on them) or should I spend the money for a nicer one?

    I really want to do this as cheap as possible, but still get the most light for my money to help my plants grow.

    Here are two examples I found on ebay:

    Example "cheap ones":
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/WaterProof-...6?pt=UK_Pet_Supplies_Fish&hash=item5ae51c74a8


    The nicer one:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/24-30-LED-A...ltDomain_0&hash=item43ad3ce8ec#ht_1681wt_1112


    Or am I completely off base and these won't grow plants?

    Please and thank you!!!
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2012
  2. WhiteMountainsRanch

    WhiteMountainsRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow I'm very surprised there aren't any replies yet! BYC is usually the place for everything... where's all the smart people at?!?! [​IMG]
     
  3. AquaEyes

    AquaEyes Chillin' With My Peeps

    I had a beautiful 75gal planted aquarium a few years ago, and am looking forward to setting one up again sometime. Unfortunately, I've fallen out of the loop with regards to the technology involved, and will have to start researching again when I think I'm ready to start up again. I had 200w compact fluorescent over it (this was before the LEDs were coming out), but when I get the itch to check things out again on the web, I hear all about the LEDs. I never used CO2 injection myself, so I also can't offer much advice on that one -- but I did use substrate heating cables. I suggest checking out some of the planted tank forums to find a better informed audience (unless there are others here into planted tanks, but after all, this is a poultry forum, so your odds might not be so great).

    All I can advise is to not bother spending money on something that MIGHT be ok, because if it's not, you'll end up buying what you KNOW is ok anyway -- and then you're out more money than if you just did it right the first time. Pick up some aquarium magazines and scour the ads -- that's how I started learning what was available. Then read some planted tank forums and see what they are using. There are also some yahoo groups you might want to check out.

    Oh, and while this isn't exactly an answer to your questions, I'm taking this thread as an excuse to post some pics of my former glory.

    [​IMG]


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  4. WhiteMountainsRanch

    WhiteMountainsRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    BEAUTIFUL TANK!


    Thanks for answering, unfortunately I too am outta the loop and getting more and more confused with research. [​IMG]
     
  5. Compost Girl

    Compost Girl Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 22, 2011
    Hello!

    My Mom's doc has one of the new LED's on his tank, and I have to say that is is a pretty thing. The light is "purer," if you know what I mean - rather clear as it cuts thought the water, without being too bright. The difference in appearance between the LED and the compact fluorescent is like the difference between the compact and the regular fluorescent. You can really see the clarity, but depending on what kind of plants you have in there, it may or may not make a difference. If I had an indoor tank that was a showcase tank (like in an office), I'd consider the LED, because the look is nice.

    Pet Kingdom on Sports Arena has (or had) the metal halides on their plant tank, and I can't say as that I really noticed that much of a difference in the look of the plants, between that and the compacts.

    When I was up to 6 tanks they were all semi-biotope tanks, and pretty heavily planted. My 60's had the regular old 48" Home Depot shoplights on them, but I put one pink bulb and one "sunlight" bulb on there - bulbs also from HmDpt, and my plants did really well. Everything I had started to breed (mostly dwarf gouramis) and bloom, and they didn't seem to care about the cheapie bulbs. The only thing that bugged me was that when the lights go on, they hum. The good ones didn't do that.

    Now I'm back down to 2 - 60's, and I have compact fluorescents on both of them. No CO2, no big water changes, etc. I kind of almost ignore the tanks. The plants still grow like mad (if you want some Vallis, just let me know, as I keep throwing it away). I have kind of come to the conclusion that, depending on what kind of plants you have, they may not even notice the difference, as long as there is a decent bulb. I've been out of the hobby for a bit now, too (except for my two here and a few ponds, and a tank at my Mom's).

    E
     
  6. AquaEyes

    AquaEyes Chillin' With My Peeps

    Definitely make sure the color rating is within the recommended range for live plants. If no color range is provided, choose another product. You don't want to be putting too much light of non-ideal wavelength into a tank -- that's an invitation for algae overload.

    As to "wattage", well, that's not an accurate measurement of light -- it's actually a measurement of electricity used, and since LEDs use less energy, a 100watt LED will give way more light than a 100watt compact fluorescent. Try and find out the actual lumens you need, and use that as your guide for LED output. As to what those numbers are, I can't answer that now, since the last time I went light-shopping, LEDs weren't even an option.

    I'll have to do some homework again if and when I decide to take the plunge again, but I'm about to be moving in two and a half months, and might have to move again in a year or two (if I don't get into my first-choice grad school). Once I know where I'll be attending, I'll think about it. But I'm guessing you don't want to wait until then to get an answer from me, so again I'm recommending that you check out some of the aquatic gardening forums out there.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. WhiteMountainsRanch

    WhiteMountainsRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you guys both for your responses! I remembered that I have a 48" double strip fluorescent hood in storage and even though it doesn't fit on the tank I am going to use that temporarily until I have money to splurge on a new nice lighting system. It'll keep my plants alive and well until I take the plunge. And thanks Elara for the offer of the Vals... I have a ton though, they are so thick it's like a jungle in there. I have two different varieties actually. I even have the Giant Val if your interested in some. =) I've been selling a little bit here and there on ebay. I really like Anubias the best and am trying to get more of those. [​IMG] Thanks guys!
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2012

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