Aquatic Plant Forum banner

1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Walstad low-tech 40 B, central FL biotope, creator of Jordanella floridae x Mobula birostris hybrid
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I'm getting back into the hobby with a new project, and need advice on lighting.

The setup: 40 Breeder tank, going to be a Walstad low-tech planted, no filter/no ferts/no CO2 (I'm another willing victim of Foo The Flowerhorn...) I have bought & read Ms. W's excellent book. It will be an East Central FL (Space Coast / upper St. John's River) biotope, using only locally-collected plants, fish, wood, etc. I'm seeking small, native inhabitants like flagfish, topminnows, mollies, pygmy sunfish, grass shrimp, snails, tadpoles, etc. I don't yet know what species of plants I'll have beyond "the local ones" :D I'm starting bottle tests on substrate shortly.

I decided to try to DIY everything but the tank itself, partly due to a tight budget, but mostly just to learn, be creative, and make things like I want them.

Building the stand went well, but the next leg of the journey... the lights... has proved to be quite frustrating thus far. I know how to make basic electronic stuff, but after 3 design cycles of sketching things up, sourcing parts, etc., something was still just not seeming right.

The lightbulb finally came on (groan...) when I realized lots of folks were reporting growing lots of plants with cheap, low-lumen LED lights. It seems I may have made some bad assumptions about how much light I really need, which is where I need help.

The info I gathered said that "low", "medium", and "high" LED lighting is calculated at 15, 30, and 60 lumens/liter respectively. For 40 gallons (151 liters) that totals 2265, 4530, and 9060 lumens. (Tank height is 16 inches and I have a glass lid, BTW.) I also found a seemingly knowledgeable source using 50 lm/L for "medium high" light, which totals 7550 lumens.

My understanding is that "high" light needs CO2 injection, which I have no interest in.

Thus, a "medium high" (7550 lumen) design with a dimmer seemed like a good idea for a versatile light. I can do that with about $50 in parts, but it's wasted money if it will only ever be running at a fraction of that brightness in reality.

I know it's all complicated by not knowing the plants yet, and by using lumens instead of actual PAR values, but... around how many lumens do I realistically need my light to have? Sure, you can build a 12,160 lumen, 6500K/2700K combo light for about $60. But if I actually only need a few hundred or couple thousand lumens, that's a significant cost savings in parts and electricity.

Also, will plants be happy with 60% of their light from 6500K white LEDs and 40% from 2700K (to get more red)? Is it worth adding significant additional cost to include pure red or blue LEDs on top of that?

Any advice or opinions are most welcome. Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,433 Posts
You can buy a 5 meter led tape and a 12vdc led power supply for pretty cheap. I tape the led in an aluminum c channel you get at the hardware store. Add more strips if you need more light. It’s very modular. the smaller the led, the more efficient it is. I used 5630 smd led with a CRI rating 90+ (which makes a difference in brightness). You can add an electronic PWM dimmer but I don’t see the need to.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
You can buy a 5 meter led tape, and a 12vdc led power supply for pretty cheap. I tape the led in an aluminum c channel you get at the hardware store. Add more strips if you need more light. It’s very modular. the smaller the led, the more efficient it is. I used 5630 smd led with a CRI rating 90+ (which makes a difference in brightness). You can add an electronic PWM dimmer but I don’t see the need to.
I think this means you are less worried about lumen/liter or whatever measurement is suggested over knowing what has enough light for this size tank? I've never understood (zero offense to anyone who uses it) the watts per gallon or whatever per whatever while ignoring the inverse-square law for light moving through air. I have no idea what water does to wavelengths. Does anyone measure light PAR?

OP, I'm pondering a 40 as well, so thanks for asking this question!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,433 Posts
I think this means you are less worried about lumen/liter or whatever measurement is suggested over knowing what has enough light for this size tank? I've never understood (zero offense to anyone who uses it) the watts per gallon or whatever per whatever while ignoring the inverse-square law for light moving through air. I have no idea what water does to wavelengths. Does anyone measure light PAR?

OP, I'm pondering a 40 as well, so thanks for asking this question!
Yes, I measure PAR. 2 strips of my light 16inches away will give me 40 par.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,832 Posts
Welcome to APC, 11thEarlofMars! Is that a reference to Burroughs' Barsoom novels?

I can't answer your question directly, but I suggest you do a search for Hoppy's excellent discussions of DIY LED lighting.

Please post photos of your EC Florida biotope tank--that region is rich in fascinating species.
 

·
Registered
Walstad low-tech 40 B, central FL biotope, creator of Jordanella floridae x Mobula birostris hybrid
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Actually, the username references a 1976 Genesis song, based on the (true) story of John Erskine, the 6th Earl of Mar, and his inept effort at a Scottish uprising in 1715. (Hear it here) With a little SpaceX thrown in. LOL

I'll look up Hoppy's thread. You're right, Florida is very rich in species, both aquatic and otherwise. It's almost going to be tricky staying with truly native species, as pretty much every animal or plant from anywhere on Earth that can live in a warm, rainy climate seems to exist here with established populations... often, much to the detriment of our natives. If you could count up all the fish in any random body of water in my area, I'd bet at least 30% are not native... tilapia, cichlids, walking catfish, hoplos, plecos, guppies, koi, even snails and mussels... you name it. (At this point, I honestly wouldn't be too surprised if someone found some random Florida canal to be overrun by Chinese paddlefish or Devil's Hole pupfish!)

I'll post some photos at some point. Hoping it will be worth seeing, although at the moment it's still just an empty tank. :)
 

·
Registered
Penn Plax Curved Corner Glass Aquarium Kit, nominal 3.4 G, Planted "El Natural"
Joined
·
10 Posts
Hello all,

I'm getting back into the hobby with a new project, and need advice on lighting.
Any advice or opinions are most welcome. Thanks!
As a newbie in the natural "aquariland" I am going to thread carefully, but... Understanding lighting needs was one of my major issues when starting a natural tank, but reading Diana's book (and some other nice references) I found that different plants need different lighting levels, which may be something to consider, beyond the hight-tech "standard" lighting levels. In my short experience with my nano tank, I found that to avoid some early symptoms of algae development I had first to move my superfancy 3 zillions cree 10 W LED so far away that eventually I went to a more humble 4100K CFL reflector... Super low-tech, but my plants are thriving and and the green biofilm never got traction and dissipated. Being someone who swears by formulas and spreadsheets, however I ended up going with what the tank liked as opposed to what I wanted it to like and look...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
119 Posts
As a newbie in the natural "aquariland" I am going to thread carefully, but... Understanding lighting needs was one of my major issues when starting a natural tank, but reading Diana's book (and some other nice references) I found that different plants need different lighting levels, which may be something to consider, beyond the hight-tech "standard" lighting levels. In my short experience with my nano tank, I found that to avoid some early symptoms of algae development I had first to move my superfancy 3 zillions cree 10 W LED so far away that eventually I went to a more humble 4100K CFL reflector... Super low-tech, but my plants are thriving and and the green biofilm never got traction and dissipated. Being someone who swears by formulas and spreadsheets, however I ended up going with what the tank liked as opposed to what I wanted it to like and look...
I know what you mean. I've spent the better part of this past week scanning a great many decade old threads on lighting and it is fascinating to see how the conversation has shifted between the years when people were still comparing wattages and incandescent and florescent bulbs and when LED lighting completely disrupted the industry with its virtually limitless ability to mimic "natural" sunlight (great, if you don't mind all of that blue light reflected back at your retina from the surface of your tank.)

In the end - and I don't remember who said it first - but, sometime within the last 12 months someone posted this handy theorem: That aquarium lighting essentially boils down to two things 1) intensity and, 2) duration. One doesn't necessarily cover the sins of the other, but you can certainly play around with each factor until you get the results you want without shelling out a lot of money.
 

·
Registered
Walstad low-tech 40 B, central FL biotope, creator of Jordanella floridae x Mobula birostris hybrid
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
You guys have to worry about Burmese Pythons too.
What, me worry? Naahhh...

We're into reptiles too (2 snakes & a beardie) and Florida's invasive reptile situation really make me sad. I've spent a ton of time trying to educate people on how great and beneficial and non-threatening snakes are, but then there's always this big asterisk because of the invasive pythons in the Everglades that actually are potentially dangerous to humans (and definitely terrible for native animals). I feel sorry they have to be killed, it's not their fault they're there and doing what pythons do. But the devastation to the ecosystem is pretty intense, and it's not like there are good homes awaiting the tiny percentage of pythons that can be captured. Even worse, they're so full of mercury you can't even use the meat, only the skins. sigh Now the authorities are systematically outlawing popular pets like tegus, iguanas, etc.... as if that will have any positive effect on the long-established wild populations. Sure has thrown the herp community into chaos, though. (Typical politicians... kill lots of jobs, actually make the problem worse, then brag about it...)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
I'm fairly sure I know who released various Avicularia tarantulas in Florida, wholesalers who wanted even cheaper stocks.

Did someone find the LED thread? Or more what are you planning for lights, 11thEoM? I'm starting to think less light for shorter periods is better? PAR of 40 is quite dark? I can also bugger off this thread and ask elsewhere, not trying to derail the OP.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,433 Posts
I'm fairly sure I know who released various Avicularia tarantulas in Florida, wholesalers who wanted even cheaper stocks.

Did someone find the LED thread? Or more what are you planning for lights, 11thEoM? I'm starting to think less light for shorter periods is better? PAR of 40 is quite dark? I can also bugger off this thread and ask elsewhere, not trying to derail the OP.
Try this

Try to find tapes that'll give you the best lumen or watts per meter. It'll run hot instead of cold or warm.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,433 Posts
I'm fairly sure I know who released various Avicularia tarantulas in Florida, wholesalers who wanted even cheaper stocks.

Did someone find the LED thread? Or more what are you planning for lights, 11thEoM? I'm starting to think less light for shorter periods is better? PAR of 40 is quite dark? I can also bugger off this thread and ask elsewhere, not trying to derail the OP.
This looks like bright LEDs
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
119 Posts
Has anyone messed with "color" as well?
I'm doing that now. Until about six weeks ago I only had plants with low light requirements (anubias and lucky bamboo)that didn't even require soil. And then I was persuaded to try my hand at growing a potted plant from the "bulb" stage. A couple of weeks in, and it became obvious that I would need a lot more light. Because of my set up (a 10 gal. porcelain bowl), I restricted myself to screw in bulbs that could fit a floor lamp.

At first, I followed the conventional wisdom and tried bulbs with the highest lumens and "K" rating I could buy and the almost immediate result was an algae/diatom bloom. I probably could have lived with that and was actively exploring the possibility of getting snails and/or shrimp.to take care of the brown algae. But, it was having almost no effect on my potted plant which by all accounts should have been sprouting emergent leaves that far into its existence.

So, someone (who shall remain nameless) recommended using some combination of red and blue lights. Well, I didn't have a tray of LED lights to play around with; I only had one bulb, a floodlight, focused on the potted plant. So I made it a red one.

It's only been a week, but I have to tell you - I'm impressed. It's one of those multi-color bulbs from G.E and even at its "daylight" setting only emits 650 lumens. To the human eye, the day-glo colors barely illuminate the bottom of the bowl and the red setting is probably the darkest of all the hues.

But, the plants seem to love it. My slow-growing anubias is sprouting new leaves almost overnight. Even the floaters are beginning to resume crowding out the surface area (there was a two or three day period where it seemed they were getting used to the new lighting.) As for the potted plant? The most I can say is that running the red floodlight 24/7 doesn't seem to be hurting; it's still growing a new leaf a week. No sign of emergent growth. But, so long as the rest of the bowl is happy, I'm happy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Simplistically explained, angiosperm chlorophylls (there are 2 main types) are best driven by 680 nm and 700 nm light. But the associated pigments in the chloroplasts are able to also absorb, Stoke's shift and fluoresce ~420 nm light to the less energetic 680 nm and 700 nm wavelengths.

PAR measures light between 400 and 700 nm, and many of the detectors are poor with narrow-band light sources. Since photosynthesis is driven by narrow bands (plants reflect green!), but we measure PAR over wide ranges, we have a conflict.
Plants also tell time with ~460 nm light (just like us) but also 670 nm and 730 nm, depending on the species.

Color ratings on bulbs are only an indicator of blue to red, but that doesn't really explain the spectrum nor what wavelengths they're high in.

My primary issue is not knowing enough about algal photosynthesis and photoperiod. Oh! I did see a few terrestrial plants are possibly using green light physiologically, which would likely be something of interest in our systems as green light is likely to be transmitted through aquatic systems.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,433 Posts
Simplistically explained, angiosperm chlorophylls (there are 2 main types) are best driven by 680 nm and 700 nm light. But the associated pigments in the chloroplasts are able to also absorb, Stoke's shift and fluoresce ~420 nm light to the less energetic 680 nm and 700 nm wavelengths.

PAR measures light between 400 and 700 nm, and many of the detectors are poor with narrow-band light sources. Since photosynthesis is driven by narrow bands (plants reflect green!), but we measure PAR over wide ranges, we have a conflict.
Plants also tell time with ~460 nm light (just like us) but also 670 nm and 730 nm, depending on the species.

Color ratings on bulbs are only an indicator of blue to red, but that doesn't really explain the spectrum nor what wavelengths they're high in.

My primary issue is not knowing enough about algal photosynthesis and photoperiod. Oh! I did see a few terrestrial plants are possibly using green light physiologically, which would likely be something of interest in our systems as green light is likely to be transmitted through aquatic systems.
There's a guy on youtube that did an experiment where one lettuce plant received blurple light, one received white light. Both equal PAR. The lettuce grew better by weight under the white light and tasted better. The blurple one tasted bitter. You can draw a conclusion from this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
There's a guy on youtube that did an experiment where one lettuce plant received blurple light, one received white light. Both equal PAR. The lettuce grew better by weight under the white light and tasted better. The blurple one tasted bitter. You can draw a conclusion from this.
Yes, the purple light stressed the lettuce out and the white was pushing nonphotosynthetic photons. I'd assume the purple light sample also had more anthocyanins, or "antioxidants."
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top