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Re: Light Quality

Karen Randall wrote:

> There is absolutely no question that you _can_ have a beautiful palnted
> tank with very high light levels... The question is, is there anything you
> are growing at this level that could not be grown very well at lower light
> levels?  And if not, does it make sense to throw our limited resources
> away in this fashion?  Obviously, even running a tank uses energy, and
> everything we do every day has some impact on our environment.  Everyone
> has to decide for themselves whether the benefits outweigh the costs.  I
> think we need to think about it, though, and make a rational decision
> rahter than just buying into the "more is better" mentality.  (I'm not
> accusing you of that... you may have gone through this thought process
> already.  I'm just asking each aquarist to do it for themselves)

And these are just the questions which are going through my mind 
as a result of this light intensity thread. I'm not a "more is better" 
kind of person in general, but I had come to believe that in the case 
of lighting, more was indeed better. Now I have reason to rethink 
that position. Certainly I'd rather not pay for the bulbs, ballast, 
endcaps, and electricity if it is not necessary!

> >and one 40 high @ 3 watts/gal. No 
> >reflectors, just white paint. In the latter tank I recently replaced 2
> >coralife 50/50's (there for color balance with the trichromatics) 
> The idea of "balancing" color with mixtures of tubes is a tricky one.  If
> your goal is to balance the color in terms of eye-appeal, that's fine.  If
> the goal is to somehow "balance" the color for the plants, you are fooling
> yourself.  The plants that are under the blue tubes will get the blue
> light, and those under the pink tubes (or whatever) will get the pink
> light.

I was balancing it for my eyes. The trichromatics look yellowish to 
me, the 50/50's combined to create a more natural color. I'd use 
cool whites instead if I could stand the color they create in a tank - 
I'm sure the plants wouldn't care.

> >with Ultra Tri Lux (a fine bulb!) and the difference in light level is
> marked. 
> >The plants notice it too. It's still 3 watts/gal, but it means 
> >something entirely different than it did before. 
> If your plants improved in growth with the change in bulbs, that is a good
> indication that it was a good choice.  Don't, however, be fooled because
> the tank "looks" brighter.  The part of the spectrum that we see best,
> (green light) is exactly the part of the spectrum that plants use least.
> So just because a bulb "looks" brighter, has no direct bearing on its
> ability to grow plants.  Some of the "dimmest" looking, purplish bulbs
> grow plants very, very well, if you don;t care how the tank looks ;-) 

Yes, I am aware of this. The tank does look brighter (which makes 
me happy) but the plants are also growing better (which also 
makes me happy!). I think the actinic element in the 50/50's was 
not contributing much to the needs of the plants. Tritons might 
have been a better choice for that "color blending". The nice thing 
about the Ultra Tri Lux bulbs is that not only do they provide a 
strong green component for our eyes, but they do a good job of 
providing the red and blue peaks for the plants as well.

Thank you for your input. I'll be keeping it all in mind.

Cathy Hartland