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Re: Lighting rule of thumb

Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) is the parameter that should be 
discussed in terms of lighting for aquatic plants. Unfortunately, you 
need a sensor and electronics worth (at least when I was using the 
equipment) over a thousand dollars (cdn) in order to measure PAR. The 
next best would be Lux (lumens per square meter)... this is not as 
specific as PAR and again, you need a sensor etc. This leaves us with 
Watts for advising the average aquarist.

Yes, tank dimensions, hood reflectivity, natural light and a host of 
other factors will influence the effectiveness of your 'Watts per gallon'.

The compensation point of aquatic plants varies at least from 20 to 80 
uE/m2/sec PAR and the light saturation level from at least 500 to 1000 
uE/m2/sec PAR. I dont think, therefore, that I difference of 50 or 100% 
between the low end and high end of recommended 'Watts per gallon' is 
unreasonable. The higher the light, the more different types of plants 
you should be able to grow.