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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you, Aaron. That as a very nice looking DIY.

I'm buying one or two of the single LED flood lights today. This guy is local to me and I talked to him about going to his place to see the colors and intensity so I decide which wattage to get.
http://stores.ebay.com/the-jonvh/Pr...03749018&_sid=353350128&_trksid=p4634.c0.m322

My concern with all LED is the spectrum. Unless it was designed for planted tanks the spectrum is not like that of a T5HO made for that. I guess if LEDs work for corals they should work for plants too - just like in the old days a bulb now considered utterly crappy was used to grow beautiful plants. There are a few posts of good results in planted tanks using LEDs but I still wonder how they compare to a top of the line T5HO like Giesemann for example. A 50 Watt LED flood light produces 5000 Lumens. A single T5HO produces 5000 lumens at 80 watts. But the T5HO has a much broader range of wavelengths.


So the with the price not being a problem I'm trying the LED flood lights on a 30 gallon cube tank and on a 30 gallon standard size tank. If they work I will be getting 2 or 4 of these lights for my 6' long tank - the shimmer is a very attractive thing.

Also I could see DIY-ing a fixture looking like the old HQI+Fluorescents. But instead of the HQI to use an LED flood fixture. This way one can possibly get the best of both worlds - good spectrum + strong shimmer.

Will keep everybody posted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Allright. So I got a 30 watt 10,000 Kelvin LED flood light.

First look - housing is very well made, not a flimsy feel to it. Black, powder coated. The LED inside can be changed, guy told me it was about $10 and housing is very easy to open.
All the floods (10, 20, 30, 50 watt) run VERY cool. The housing is barely warm to the touch even after hours of operation. The guy showed me the refugium under his reef tank. It was lit with a 10W LED flood light and did not cause any overheating issues inside the stand.

Visual tests over 4 tanks:

1. The shimmer effect - it is VERY nice ONLY if the light is suspended at least 9 inches above any height tank.
But if the water flow on the surface is very strong and stirs it you can place the light 1 inch above and it will produce a shimmer too.


2. Over a 2' tall, 6' long tank.
Placed 1" above the surface of the water makes no shimmer.
Intensity is not good at the bottom.

Placed 1' above the surface of the water there is a good shimmer but the intensity is very low. The fish cast well outlined shadows on the bottom.
Using both 160 watts of T5HO fluorescents + the LED flood kills the shimmer.


3. Over a 30 gallon standard tank (30" long, 16" tall, 16" wide)
1" above the surface produces very nice shimmer and great intensity. But the tank has a lot of surface water movement.
1' above the surface the shimmer is even stronger. But there is too much light spill around the tank.


4. Over a standard 55 gal. tank.
Very low intensity and shimmer. Raising the light is pointless.


5. Over a 30 gallon cube (18 inches tall)
1" above - great intensity, but not a very exciting amount of shimmer
1' above - nice shimmer, intensity is good. I guess the shape of the tank makes a difference.
Tried using an 24 T5HO bulb over the cube together with the flood light. Got the best of both worlds - intensity and shimmer.

This is it for now. For anything other than a 30 gal. cube tank I'd get a 50W LED flood light.

I will post again when I have some observations if this light actually grows plants ok.
 

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Makes sense that it works well on the cube. There's evidence to suggest that the light reflects off of the inside of the sides and back into the tank. In a longer / wider tank this wouldn't happen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I do think that the shape of the tank makes a big difference. I came here now to post a pretty shocking experience I just had and I do believe I won't see the same thing in the 55. As I said - the LED light looked very different there.

So tonight I rigged a temporary support for the 30W LED Flood over the cube (2 metal tubes resting on the rim of the tank and the LED flood is on top of them). The flood is 1-1/2" above the water surface. I left the existing 24 watt T5HO Giesemann Midday too. What I wanted to see is how it all looks in the evening, without ambient light. And to be able to step back and not hold the new light over the tank with my hand.

Well, it is here that things became interesting. By the time I adjusted the temporary support and stepped back the plants started pearling heavily. That was after only about 2 minutes of exposure to the new light. The last 10 minutes I've been looking at the tank from far and close trying to figure out if the color of the mixed light (10,000K from the LED + 6,000K from the T5HO Giesemann) is to my liking. By itself the LED produces a very stark white light. The Giesemann Midday definitely adds the colors of life to the tank. But it is the LED that makes the neon tetras really glow in an amazing way.

In the course of the 10 minutes the small Oxygen bubbles started to emerge from more places and now I have 2 leaves that release huge Oxygen bubbles every second! The heavily pearling plants are 2 swords. I also have 2 Lotuses in that tank but their leaves deteriorated after being without light or CO2 for a few days in that tank.

So what I see so far, 10 min, into running the 30W LED flood over a 30 gallon Oceanic cube is that it makes the swords pearl very fast and very strong. The tank has no added fertilizers in the water or the inert gravel. There was a 30% water change yesterday. The gravel is old and has some mulm. CO2 is 1 bubble per second diffused with a glass diffuser. 4 neon tetras are the only fish. Bottom line - very basic environment, nothing to warrant the heavy pearling other than the new LED, maybe the mulm, and very likely whatever food reserves the swords have in them for now.

Tomorrow night I will take some pictures and a video. I'll set the camera on Manual and the pictures will show the aperture and speed with the T5HO only, T5HO+LED, and LED only. So let's hope that the same heavy pearling wil happen tomorrow again. And the day after tomorrow...

Wow! This is getting exciting! And as usual - I got more cool news, this time about a piece of equipment of real value and beauty made right here in the U.S.A. You see it and you will want it for several reasons. But I will post about it in another thread.
 

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I had a 50w spot light over my 2.5 foot cube. It had a great shimmer effect and the plants grew well. It last about 1year and one day before the led blew. It is now just sitting in my shed. Au$120 wasted

I purchased a au$30 led and drive repackage also off eBay and it has been a better light and the plants are going better than ever. The manufacturer stated that it had a lm of 5000 not sure how true it is as i dont have a meter. I did put 90 degree optics on to get down the 2.5 feet.

The light all up cost me au$60 all up including the heat sink fan and optics and the spot light cost me au$120. That's half the price and a better light in my book.

I now have the light running at 7 hours a day other wise I get BBA and green spot everywhere.

The spot light itself was a good light an it had a great shimmer. However, my new led has a good shimmer but a better light for growing plant.

I will try to find the link for the led and post it soon.

Spot light


And light.


New led
 

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Awesome, thank you.

I'd like to add a request and take this thread for affordable lighting to a common baseline: why did you folks pick these ~$100-150 LED flood lights vs, say, a Metal Halide pendant at the same price? Keep in mind MH bulbs can be had for cheap and at least some of you (niko) state that light is not important. (niko uses old bulbs; I agree light is not that important!; most gardeners agree light is not so important!). MH and LED get shimmer. $150 MH looks cooler than the examples in this thread. Has anyone quantified the operational cost?

Are either of you willing to grow and document a stem we all agree is demanding of light? There's value here and sets a practical benchmark.

(If not, I volunteer and offer a 7gal almost-cube Fluval thing. I need a stash tank anyway. I also do not mind keeping it dry why following this awesome thread ;) )
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Halides - I don't like the size, the heat, the need for a bulky ballast. One thing that I personally dislike is a device that uses a lot of energy and emits a lot of energy being close to the tanks (or in the house for that matter). T5HO bulbs emit some kind of electomagnetic field, even if they are grounded and I always wonder if that affects things in some way. Also a Halide cannot be placed close to the water surface. It has a lot of light spill when hanging up high. Even the ADA pendants whose light, if installed correctly, is supposed to hit the rim of the tank spill quite a bit of light around the tank. With a high hanging light that is not exactly tailored to the tank size and strong reflections from the surface of the water you are good until the tank is close to a wall or in a corner. Then the dancing light reflections above the tank get really distracting.

The point of LEDs being long lasting is apparently laughable. A commercial light installer told me that from what they have seen LEDs don't last nearly as long as the manufacturers state. And he was talking about them going out. How soon they lose their light loses its original parameters is another interesting question. But for the price I got that LED flood I think it made sense.

This 30W LED flood was $70. Last night I tried to see how much it would cost to make my own from ebay parts - LED, heatsink, driver and whatever else is needed (cord, resistors, optics). I could not find a cheaper deal than the plug-and-play flood I got for $70.

I wanted to try an LED flood primarily because of the shimmer. The original idea was to have it over a tank at my church - a 30 gallon standard. The tank is for the kids and flat looking fluorescent light is not what presents the blue-graveled tank best. It needed some movement and sparkle. Also the fixture has to be safe for the kids. After trying the new LED flood over that tank I took it home and put it over all my tanks, which I described above. I liked the low profile of the fixture, the fact that it is sealed very well, stays cool, and it is $70. Apparently it works better over certain shape tanks. The main question though is "Will it grow plants?"

From what I gather nowadays you can find powerful LEDs pretty cheap. DIY or ready-made like this outdoor light flood that I'm trying out now. But they are advertised in a stupid way - you can easily see that the parameters are flimsy claims. Often the same product, with the same picture is advertised with a slightly different parameters. So I bet it is possible to find an LED that is both good for plant growing and has all other good things I like. Rambozo has apparently found one very much by pure luck. But unless someone tests a few we will never know which are actually good for the plants - just like Wet suggests. Buying an $70 LED flood is such a narrow aimed shot.

Let me see how this LED flood performs over the course of a few weeks. If the swords pearl good every day I think we'll all agree that the light is good. Then I can get very much any plant I can dream of (and probably more) from the local DFW folk. If that goes well too then we need to see how well does this cheap LED wonder performs in the long run. My take on that is that if the $70 light is good for 1 year it is worth it. Now, how to find other LEDs that are better for plants I do not really know other than buying and trying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
This is crazy, more or less! I've observed things like the following only with strong T5HO Giesemann Midday bulbs with individual reflector on each bulb. 480 watts over a 160 gallon tank made all the crypts pearl within 2 minutes. Now I see something very similar but with a cheap LED light.

So it is 5:30 PM, one day after I installed the 30W LED flood. Last night I forgot the CO2 running for the first time during the night. The 4 neon tetras could care less so I have nothing to worry about. I turned off the LED at 10:30 last night. I turned it on at 5:15 today. The tank had the T5HO running since 4PM. No pearling.

Here's the news. It is big and I just took pictures + a video.

There are 3 new leaves - one on each plant in the tank. The swords' new leaves are almost 3/4" now. They were less than 1/2" last night when I turned on the LED for the first time. The smallest Lotus' leaf has doubled in size since last night but there is also a baby leaf now that did not exist last night.

The pearling definitely starts within 1 minute of turning on the LED. While taking the pictures I had the LED off and the pearling stopped within 30 seconds. It resumes within 1 minute of turning on the LED. There is an exposed tip of a root on one of the swords and a big bubble comes out of it every 2 seconds. Last night it was every 1 second after about 1 hour under the LED.

I will link to the pictures and the video later tonight. They show the new leaves, a stream of Oxygen, the big bubble coming up too. I guess I will have to make sure that the shimmer is visible on the video too, I may make another one later. I did the comparison of the manual photo exposure with a T5HO only and with T5HO+LED. From what I can tell the tank is at least 4 times brighter with the LED (the exposure on one side of the tank shows an entire speed step down and on the other side if the tank it shows two speed steps down!). Someone correct me if I'm wrong on the relationship "1 step = 4 times more or less light."

So far the results are pretty mindblowing for such a cheap light and in a tank with an unfertilized water column or substrate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
This is starting to look really strange!

It's 9:05PM now and I just saw 2 tiny brand new Lotus leaves. They were not there at 5:30PM! So the baby leaf that the big Lotus had last night doubled in size by 5:30PM today, a second leaf had started to grow, and between 5:30PM and by 9PM a 3-rd baby leaf has shown up! Actually 2 of them because there is a short baby Lotus plant by the big one and it has sprouted a new leaf the last 3/5 hours too!

Also the 2 new leaves on the swords have visibly widened in 3.5 hours. One is definitely 1 inch long now and the other one is 1-1/2 inches. At 5:30 they were about 3/4" long each!

At this time, 3.5 hours after I turned the LED on today the undersides of the sword leaves are covered with hundreds of Oxygen bubbles. This is inaddition to the stream of tiny bubbles and a few big bubble soures blurting bubbles every 2 to 5 seconds.

I just put 3 new plants in the tank. Tiny portion of Pellia, about 2 cubic inches of Najas sp. "Roraima", and a tiny Java Leaf baby. The Java fern is one of the heaviest pearlers out there and I want to see if that small plantlet will make some visible bubbles soon.

This is all fine and dandy and one can say the LED is some kind of a miracle but about 2 hours ago I discovered that the pearling slows down considerably if I turn off the 24 watt Giesemann Midday T5HO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Allright, here are some pictures:

Big sword:
http://i45.tinypic.com/2em2y2s.jpg

Small sword:
http://i50.tinypic.com/34nqxcj.jpg

Lotus:
http://i49.tinypic.com/nbqdzl.jpg

Did not upload any video. Quality is too low on my camera. It is obvious what is going on in the tank.

Added 30 neon tetras on Day4. As I expected algae appeared on the glass one day later (today). It's the brown kind and this has happened before in this tank when adding 30 other neons all of a sudden.

Pearling on Day 5 is like on Day 1, but only after a 30% water change. Before that there was pearling but not as much as on Day 1.

To recap:

1. Plant leaf mass has increased immensely (3 new leaves on the big sword, 3 new leaves on the small sword, 6 new leaves on the lotuses, the second lotus bulb has a first new leaf)

2. Added Java Fern - as expected it pearls heavily

3. Najas sp. "Roraima" likes food in the water. It shows a slight pearling though.

4. There were some fluffy algae on the rocks even before I added the LED light. Grey like BBA but fluffly like diatoms. They pearled well on Day 1 as well as right now on Day 5 after the water change

5. Under the 10,000 Kelving LED the neons glow very intensely. Think of police officer's red and blue lights in the night - it's the same impression, except that here this is happening in a brighly lit tank.

6. On Day 4 I noticed a tiny amount of short hair algae showing up on some leaves. When I say tiny I mean like 15 hairs, very thin and noticeable only under a certain angle. You can see the same algae in some of ADA's tanks if there is a macro shot. The water in the tank had evaporated about 1/2 inch. The filter outlfow was stirring the surface pretty good and there was a nice underwater light shimmer too. But I gues the CO2 level had dropped. After one night (on Day 5) there was only a few hairs of that algae left. Darkness does not do it well and lack of food in the water is not good either. The 30 new fish apparently didn't help it either.

I don't think that at this point there is any doubt that this mix of a 30W 10,000 Kelving LED Flood light + a 24W T5HO Giesemann Midday is an excellent mix for growing plants. The question remains how long the intensity of the LED will stay good.

I will be posting an update once a week. And I foresee a very careful fertilizing of the water. The tank has inert gravel. The growth in the last 5 days has been nothing short of amazing because of that. This cannot go on without any food forever. As you all know I will be fertilizing at very low levels - so a test will not show anything but the food will be there.
 

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Niko, this is a digression sparked by our telephone discussion of Nymphaea. The lotus in the progress looks like N. micrantha to me, based on leaf color and shape. Do you have a whole plant photo?

Interesting discussion, I look forward to your updates.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Update on this tank and light:

Day 12:
Today I did a second water change after installing the lights.
No fertilization since the first water change.

Plants are pearling every day. The new growth of the swords looks washed out. The red leaves seem a mix of white and red when they come up. The green just come out very, very light green, almost white. But they keep coming. I've seen this in another well lit tank (5 wpg + 100% RO water).

Algae: The algae that appeared on the glass after adding the 30 neons have increased a little. I'd say 25% more in comparison with the first day they appeared. So they have a hard time growing too - show up in 1 day, increase 25% in 6 days - this is not how slow algae grows. They were brown in color, not green. The new leaves that the plants produces are much, much more mass wise compared to the increase of algae mass.

So today after the 2-nd water change the pearling is once again increased from its usual rate. It is VERY obvious I need to supplement with nutrients in the water. The substrate is inert after all.

Judging by the very slow growth of the Java Fern and the Najas sp. "Roraima" what I need is Macros. So here I go. Very carefully.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yes, I do think that this LED by itself would not be that great of a light. Is is missing too many wavelengths. No reds for sure.

Here's something that may have to do with LED having a narrow wavelength: Today I noticed something interesting in another tank. That other tank has a 15 watt fluorescent bulb + a strip of 24 one watt Epistar LED. 12 of the 24 are blue and 12 are 6500K white. I used that strip over that tank to make the neons really sparkle blue. It is in the kids area of my church so blue colored substrate and sparkling blue fish is the very thing to detract a kid from the real beauty of Nature.

After 4 days with that blue light I noticed something very strange. Big areas of the Java moss in that tank have turned brown. Thing is the brown areas are not dead. They are either alive or mumified. No falling apart. The brown is somewhat strange too - it is not the usual brown but it has some kind of red component. I wonder if the blue LEDS change something in the pigments or the Chlorophyll iteself. Anyway - I attribute that to blue light that is hitting the plants pretty strong. There is an article on the Advanced Aquarist website that desribes transfomations of the pigments under different color light. And of course - I maybe totally wrong and the moss maybe just rotting. But it does look very odd brown-red color (with the blue light turned off).
 
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