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Re: Best Fluorescent?

Paul Hubers asked for advice on the best fluoprescent bulb
for growing plants, saying, in part:

> . . .I have had good results with
> a TRITON bulb in the past and will probably use one with
> this tank. What other bulb
> would pair up with the TRITON to give me the spectrum I
> need?

The good news is that you, like many of us, probably care
about this more than our plants do.  Certainly some plants
behave different with a given spectra than do other plants,
and all plants behave somewhat differently with different
spectra, but by and large, any of the triphosphor bulbs
(VHOs, PCs, NOs) will serve you well if you have enough of
them.  How much is more important than what color.

I think the differences between triphosphors falls into the
category of "Tweaking" and while a triton might tweak a
little more red out of this plant, a coralife might tweak a
little more out of that one.

Personally, I find the "bluer" bulbs around 6500K more
pleasing visually than those around 5000K -- and that
overall illuminatory effect takes into account, or
outshines, the differences they cause in the plants.

A metal halilde is a nice addition to a fluorescently lit
tank, it gives disctinct shadows and that nice sparkle that
you can't get from the diffuse light of fluorescent tubes.

Among normal output fluorescents, one of my favorites has
got to be the Penn-Plax Ultra-Tri-Lux but I don't know if
they are still available.  They have excellent output, nice
color, plants like them, and they don't mind being
overdriven a bit if you decide to go that way -- say, with
a 4x32 ballast electronic ballast running two bulbs.  

The URI Aquasuns are whiter than the Ultra-Tri-Lux,
although the 10,000 K rating that URI gives them is
probably due to a sharp spike on the blue end -- they don't
look excessively blue.  In fact they render very much like
sunlight, imo.

For a variety of reasons, I prefer Panasonic and Philips
power compact bulbs over NOs and VHOs.  But my preference
is probably much greater than the that of the plants ;-)

Hope that helps a little,
Scott H.

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