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[APD] Re: Aquatic-Plants Digest, Vol 12, Issue 53

On Fri, 27 Aug 2004 12:04:26 -0400, Phillip Grobler wrote
> Are there any disadvantages to using natural light for a very large 
> planted tank.( about 3000L.)

Skylights are notorious for leaking.

Using natural light reduces your lighting costs and gives you very rich and
authentic color rendition.  The problem is that you probably will not be able
to use natural light alone.  You need some way to set up artificial light so
that it doesn't block a lot of the natural light.

My 150 gallon tank sits under 2 2'x4' non-leaking skylights.  The skylights
are domed and frosted so they produce a diffuse light with a pretty even
distribution through the day.  I love the effect.  Artificial light is
provided by compact fluorescent lamps in a rack over the otherwise open-topped
tank.  Without artificial light the light on the tank is just sufficient to
get pearling late in the day.  When the light rack is in place it reduces the
natural light a little -- probably about 1/3.  When I first set the tank up I
felt that the combination of artificial and natural light was too bright and I
timed the lamps to come on in the late afternoon.  Once the tank settled in
(and the lamps dimmed a little) I had no trouble keeping the lamps on during
the day.  Now I have the lamps come on at 10 in the morning and run 'till 10
at night.

> I'm thinking of using Solar tubes/ Skylight to provide the bulk of 
> the light needed to support plant growth and adding  metal Halides 
> from 6 to 9pm so I can enjoy the tank.

I'm very happy with my setup, but I expect your experience may be somewhat
different.  I'm in a high desert where the sun is not only very strong but
very dependable.  We never get extended periods of overcast.  From your email
address you are in the UK.  I expect your sunlight will be much weaker and
less dependable than mine. Still, it can't hurt (except perhaps your heating
bills) and it can help.  A larger area of skylights might be helpful.

> I'm I right in asuming if I keep the water parameters in check then 
> the sunlight itself should not cause more algea problems than 
> artificial lights ?

There should be no special problems from the sunlight.  It might help if you
can rig lights on a light sensor so that artificial lights come on when the
sunlight is too low for good growth.

Roger Miller

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