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Reasonably Priced Lighting????

Jeffrey wrote:

>> I read Karen Randall's column in the latest aquarium magazine on
>> lights.  Karen recommended Tri phosp types with an M shaped spectral
>> distribution.  How do I know what tubes have this distribution.

George wrote:

>Didn't she recommend something? Shame on her. Guess you can't offend
>advertisers <g>.

First, although George included a "<g>" let me state for those of you who
_don't_ know, (and George does) the editors at AFM have no problems with us
using brand names in the magazine.  Neither do I, when one product is
clearly better than another.  It was not an oversight  that I didn't
include brand (or model) names.  The main point of the column (which, BTW,
was not an in-depth look at lighting, but the answer to a specific reader's
question) can be summed up in one sentence, and I suspect George would agree:

When discussing lighting in the planted tank, while spectrum certainly
plays a role in plant growth, INTENSITY is the number one factor of

The tank of the reader I was responding to was underlit by most aquatic
gardeners' standpoints.  We can (and do<g>) debate the relative merits of
different bulbs ad infinitum.  I've seen a lot of beautiful planted tanks,
and I rarely meet two aquarists who do it exactly the same way.  I'd rather
leave it to the individual whether they'd prefer to use a lesser number of
$20+ tubes, or a greater number of $5 tubes.  Both will work, either may
suit the needs of a particular aquarist better.  

I don't like to make "recommendations".  I do not do product testing for
_any_ company unless it's a product that I think might be of value to me
personally in my own tanks.  If I don't test and compare products, I can't
make a fair recommendation, because I don't _know_ how one product stacks
up against another.  I will, happily and upon request, tell people what I
use personally.  

I use almost no T-12 lighting.  Energy conservation is important to me, as
is conservation of $$$.  I use energy efficient T-8 lighting. (which BTW
compares favorably with even the most expensive T-12 specialty bulbs in
terms of lumens/watt, and at 1/4-1/3 the price)  The specific bulbs I use
are GE SPX-50 (5000K) and Sylvania Octron (6500K).  Why? Because they are
energy efficient, inexpensive, have a very slow degradation curve, I like
the look of the tank with these bulbs, and most important, the plants grow

Why didn't I mention these bulbs in my column?  Besides my above reasoning
against recommendations in general, T-8's are not readily available to the
average hobbyist.  Remember please that this list does _not_ represent the
"average" hobbyist.  Not only must T-8's be purchased from specialty
commercial lighting suppliers, but they also require a specific electronic
ballast that must be retrofitted into the fixture.  That means you either
have to have the confidence to do this yourself, or have a handy husband.
(I, alas, fit the latter category<g>)

Standard T-12 technology is being phased out.  It won't be long before
_everyone_ is using the newer energy efficient technology.  For the moment,
however, the average aquarist is pretty much stuck with the available T-12
technology.  For their 55G 4' tank, they can either buy a $100 double bulb
fixture and two $20+ top end bulbs, or they can buy 2 $10 shop light
fixtures and 4 "regular" fluorescent bulbs for $5 each. Which one is the
better value?  I'll leave that to the individual to decide. (BTW, if you
want a model number that I  like, try GE's F40SP65... but I'm sure there
are others that work as well)  Either way their plants will grow well.