Low-tech planted tank lighting

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Sploke

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What are folks using for lights on low-tech planted tanks nowadays? I'm finally getting a big tank back, doing a low-tech planted 220gal. I'm leaning toward LED fixtures, for 1) lower power consumption and 2) don't want to worry about bulb changes, but it's been a while and I don't really know what's out on the market now that's any good. Suggestions?
 

the loach

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The problem with LEDs is that they don't have a lower power consumption as T8 fluorescents. You can check this by yourself by comparing Lumens per Watt. But manufacturers know this so most of them don't give any specifications on Watt, Lumen, CRI, temperature.
Yes all of them claim "lower power consumption". But you're also getting at least equally less Lumens.

Another problem is that LEDs will also fade in intensity just like fluorescents. But with fluorescents we have graphs and specifications on how much they fade and when, and they are cheap to replace, with Led's it is just a promise or an estimate. And it won't be a $5 or $10 replacement.

There are good arguments for using LEDs like space and heat production, and some folks just want the most modern/expensive stuff no matter what, but economical it is not. There are still top notch T8's around for around $5.
 
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dougall

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Mar 29, 2005
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I think that unless you specifically go high end, a 220 g (assuming 6'x2' footprint) is going to be fairly low light.

if you want to be super cost efficient the easiest way to do it will be to go to walmart/lowes/home depot/wherever and get a bunch of 4 foot LED shoplights, and stagger them over the tank, maybe 2 right across and 2 in the middle.

There has to be a good reason that 75%+ of the folks growing aquatic plants are doing it using LEDs right now. It's not 10 years ago, Unless you are incredibly picky and want to go out of your way to spend hundreds on specifically colored fluorescents and reflectors, there really isn't much other way to go.

If you want to go higher-end, and have more control over spectrum and intensity, look at 3 Aqua Illuminations fixtures, but it's gonna run you around $600


I'm also pretty intrigued by the UNS fixtures too.
 

Sploke

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Through a cursory search, looking potentially at two of these units, they seem to be decent value. I'm not too interested in going the shoplight route, I really just want something plug and play that won't require any extra work around building a canopy or mounting several different fixtures. The tank is going to be an in-wall installation, but viewable from two sides. One side is our basement rec room and the other side is my daughter's bedroom, so I'd like whatever I go with to be relatively clean and finished.

 

the loach

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So what is the reason?

Super cost efficient is getting 4 foot T8 fixtures (what are they nowadays, $5 to $10 a piece?)
Then get for example the Osram Skywhite 36watt or the Phillips 865. They are also between $5 to $10.
And you would be hard pressed to find LED's with the same CRI and temperature as the Skywhite anyway.
 

dougall

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if you are gonna go with 2 fixtures, I'd go for 46" long, not 24, I'm not a big fan of a dark patch in the middle of the aquarium.

for control and stuff, and plug + play, I'd go with the Flucal planted 3.0, it's controlled by bluetooth, rather than IR, so there are less annoying receivers to worry about, and it is much easier to keep them in synch.



or take a trip to North Jersey later this month for reefapalooza, if you have a couple of weeks, there are likely to be lots of different things on offer.
 

FreshyFresh

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I'm very happy with my 48" Current Satellite over my 55g. It's been going strong 8-9hrs/day for 3yrs. Tank is full of crypts, anubia, java fern, a sword, etc. I've had terrible luck with Odyssea T5s and off brand aquarium LED strip lights. The electronics are poorly made on much of the no name stuff.
 

Sploke

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So what is the reason?

Super cost efficient is getting 4 foot T8 fixtures (what are they nowadays, $5 to $10 a piece?)
Then get for example the Osram Skywhite 36watt or the Phillips 865. They are also between $5 to $10.
And you would be hard pressed to find LED's with the same CRI and temperature as the Skywhite anyway.
Please show me where I can find a T8 shop light for five dollars, new. The best I'm seeing is between $18-25 for the bare bones ones. I won't argue that the shoplight route would not be cheaper, but I think you're overstating how cheap they actually are. But, like I said, I've done the unfinished, rough install plain white shoplights before, either under a canopy or behind a wall where they weren't visible. For this installation I'm looking for something much more finished that doesn't require building a canopy.

if you are gonna go with 2 fixtures, I'd go for 46" long, not 24, I'm not a big fan of a dark patch in the middle of the aquarium.

for control and stuff, and plug + play, I'd go with the Flucal planted 3.0, it's controlled by bluetooth, rather than IR, so there are less annoying receivers to worry about, and it is much easier to keep them in synch.



or take a trip to North Jersey later this month for reefapalooza, if you have a couple of weeks, there are likely to be lots of different things on offer.
good call on the length, I was not paying attention there. I think my thought was if I hung them I could get them a little higher up to spread the output to avoid dark spots, but that might reduce the light too much.

Mostly the reason I like the LEDs is the color and intensity control, to be able to do fades and a moonlight kind of setting.
 

the loach

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I just had a look and you're right about the price of those fixtures. Last time I bought those was 20 years ago... still using them. Those things have really gone up in price. You probably can get them used for very little, as they are now old fashioned.
 
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