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"Which Light Is Best" Questions

> Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997 16:44:24 -0500
> From: "Ken Guin" <kenguin at erols_com>
> Subject: Which lights
> I had the same problem a few weeks ago. I called four mail-order places and
> got their best ideas and they were ALL different (either they were against
> VHO and for compacts or vice versa). Of course, they all offered different
> opinions regarding bulbs too. I also searched the Web and even left a note
> on the APD.  I found a lot of information on the Web, but only got two
> responses from the APD.
> I was somewhat disappointed with the lack of response I received from the
> APD. There seemed to be more interest in what the word "combative" means or
> if plants think or not.  I am sure we will soon see a thread relating to how
> many angelfish can dance on the head of a pin?????

I think some of us in the APD might be getting tired of answering the same
question every 2 weeks.  The archives should have some good info from past
discussions (www.actwin.com/fish/aquatic-plants).  To a lesser extent, I
have gathered some of these on the Krib as well.  

There are many possibilities, and as you note, no one answer is the
best for everyone.  A business is usually going to recommend an option
that they can make money on.  Our local fish stores are not going to
recommend you go down to the quarry and buy 100 pounds of gravel for
$5 when they can sell you 10 pounds for the same price, for instance.
People on APD are going to recommend what has worked for them, and
there are people here who have different levels of technological
experience, patience, and fear of dealing with strange businesses (for
instance, going to the local pot growing supply house, or having to
pretend to be a company to order from Grainger).  Then, of course,
each solution is dependent on the tank setup.

Some things I've learned from APD, the newsgroups, and from personal experience
(perhaps I can add this into the FAQs sometime)

TYPE	Advantages			Disadvantages

T-12's	so-so efficient			specialty bulbs (Triton, etc) expensive
	Can get pre-made hoods		not as efficient as T-8's
	Can use a shoplight		specialty electronic ballasts expensive
	"De-facto standard"

[V]HO	"compact" high intensity	expensive, some DIY experience,
	good for big tanks		frequent replacement, some hard to find

T-8's	Cheap, efficient		harder to find, DIY experience
	great for 4' tanks		limited spectrum (typical 5000K)
	can retrofit into shoplight	limited form factor (mostly 4 feet)
	  (with new ballast)

9,13W	Compact high intensity		not so efficient, hard to find
CF's	good for small/hex tanks	DIY experience

"biax"	High efficiency (like T-8's)	limited spectra (typical 4100K)
	compact form factor like CF's	DIY experience, very new technology
	higher wattage than CF's

"Power	high intensity, compact		very expensive tubes and ballasts
Compact	good spectra available

MH	extremely high intensity	hot
	compact form factor		heavy ballast
	good for bigger tanks		expensive initial investment
	some pre-built models
	cheap maintainence cost

  - Erik

Erik Olson				
eriko at wrq.com