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Re: [APD] Which compact flourescent?

--- NYCMags <heavensabvus1 at yahoo_com> wrote:

> Hello all-
> Have decided to bite the bullet and get a compact
> flourescent for my new 65 gallon tank.  I'd like to
> grow stuff like glosso and riccia so I'm guessing at 3
> watts per gallon.  However, the tank is 24" from top
> to bottom, so perhaps I need more?

Hmmm. More compared to what? An 18" tank. You probably
won't notice the diff. Bulb and plant placement will
proably have more effect on glosso illlumination than going
for, say, 3.5 versus 3 watts.
> Scanning ebay, I see different configurations but most
> seem to come with 10,000k and actinic and some with
> moon lights.  If you buy one of these fixtures, are
> the bulbs interchangeable with others (given the
> straight or square pin configuration)?  I'm figuring I
> need all 6700 daylight bulbs with maybe one 10,000k
> bulb.  

Actinics are for reefs. Water absorbs the shorter
wavelength so down in the reef water, there's a lot of blue
light. Actinincs are meant to help "replicate" that
condition in an aquarium. But for freeshwater plants,
actinics are not so hot. It's not the spectrum that's not
useful, it is, but the amount of output in the useful
range, being restrcited to the deep blue range, is often
relatively low. You'll get more bang for the buck with a
5,000K to 10,000K. Anywhere in there and your plants will
do fine.

Your plants aren't likely to care which of those you choose
but the appearance to your eye will be diff. So choose
based on whether you want light that is more toward the
bluish or towards the reddish or yellowish end of the
spectrum. As a rule, the higher the temp rating, the more
bluish. But it can veary somewhat depending on what parts
of the spectrum any given bulbs produces.

> Any reason to have legs to lift the light off of the
> tank?  I would think that that could be annoying if
> you are sitting in a chair nearby -- to have thelight
> shining at you.

If your lamp/hood/reffelctor doesn't spread light enough,
raising it can help. If you want plants to grow out of the
tank, it helps to raise the lamp out of the way. Otherwise,
it's mainly a method of increasing glare in the room, just
as you suspect.
> How do I accomplish the right amount of watts given
> the configurations available.  Two different strips or
> one strong one?  Tank is 36" long, 18" front to back,
> 24" top to bottom.
The amount of watts isn't some exact target that you have
to achieve. You can grow plants with less than 2 and more
than 4. And, of course, the array makes a diff as far as
having dimmer spots in the aquarium. Some folks like to
have very even light throughout the tank. Others, don't
mind the shady places. Think about what might look nice to
your eyes.  Pick the lighting level you're after, the bulbs
yo want, then think about whether you'd prefer one or two
hoods, etc.

> I'm looking for the most effective, best value (cost
> is important).  I currently have 1 65 watt power
> compact, and 3 20 watt strip lights.  The more I look,
> the more I am confused.  I'll be using DIY Co2,
> Flourite and TMG.  My light is my weak link.  

You probably have a very manageable set up with what you've
got. More light will speed things up and you'll need more
ferts and more maintenance. That can be fun. But don't fret
over it. If it's starting to give you a headache, then back
up and take a breath. There's lots of room to move --
margin of error -- flexibility of plants. Light is one of
the easier things to adjust -- not like substrate or tank
size ;-)

An economical way to go is to make your own light boxes out
of inexpensive plywood and drop in a kit or two from
AHSupply.com. AHS even has some info on its website, as I
recall, for building your own box. Take a look at the
website and give them a call if you're interested. They can
give you good advice too and won't try to sell you all the
lights your wallet can handle. You can probably fit a pair
of 96 watters over your tank and get all the light you'll
need or want for most situations. 

A milder step up would be to keep your 65 and add 1 96watt
bulb in place of the 3 20watt bulbs. If later you decide
you're comfortable with that level of light and have a deep
desire to make your tank grow faster -- or insist on some
especially tempermental, light hungry plants, then swap out
the 65watt bulb for a 96 watt bulb and run 2 96watters. If
you trade an AHS 96 watt kit for the 3 20watt bulbs, the
electroic ballast and AHS reflectors will give more of an
increase in light than merely counting the watts would

Good luck, have fun.
Scott H.

Want to get dirty but stay clean? 

Diana Walstad, author of _Ecology of the Planted Aquarium_ will discuss soil supplemented aquarium substrates at the 2004 AGA Convention.

Convention Details/Registration at aquatic-gardeners.org & gwapa.org
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