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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This thread is a place for members who use the PAR meter to record their results, and compare to others information. I suggest you use the "quote" option to copy this form into your post and then fill in the blanks.

PAR DATA COLLECTION
10 October 2011


Please fill out this form as completely as possible. Use a new form for each aquarium. You can also submit the information on the DFWAPC forum on Aquatic Plant Central and it will be immediately available for everyone.

Aquarium size:
(gallons and dimensions)

Type of light fixture AND reflector:
(power compact, T5 NO, metal halide, mirror polish reflector, white paint, mylar, etc.)

Number of lamps, bulbs, or tubes, and wattage:
(examples: "2 T5 HO tubes, 24 w" or "1 metal halide 150 w")

Age of lamps, bulbs, or tubes:

Other information:
(brand, color temperature, spectrum, etc.)

Distance from light fixture to substrate:

PAR VALUES MEASURED AT SUBSTRATE:
(Tip: you may want to measure PAR in several different locations. You can report multiple measurements, or calculate an average.)

Comments: (Are there other conditions affecting light levels? What types of plants do you grow? Was the meter easy to use? Were you surprised by the results?)

Thank You!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I will start with surprising data from one of my tanks.

PAR DATA COLLECTION
10 October 2011


Please fill out this form as completely as possible. Use a new form for each aquarium. You can also submit the information on the DFWAPC forum on Aquatic Plant Central and it will be immediately available for everyone.

Aquarium size standard 10 gallon, 20" x 10" x 12" tall
(gallons and dimensions)

Type of light fixture Cheap office desk lamp with screw-in spiral compact fluorescent
(power compact, T5 NO, metal halide, etc.)

Number of lamps, bulbs, or tubes, and wattage 1 spiral CF, 26 w (bought it at Walmart)
(examples: "2 T5 HO tubes, 24 w" or "1 metal halide 150 w")

Age of lamps, bulbs, or tubes 6 weeks

Other information GE, 6500 K
(brand, color temperature, spectrum, etc.)

Distance from light fixture to substrate 13"

PAR VALUES MEASURED AT SUBSTRATE: 60!
(Tip: you may want to measure PAR in several different locations. You can report multiple measurements, or calculate an average.)

Comments (Are there other conditions affecting light levels? What types of plants do you grow? Was the meter easy to use? Were you surprised by the results?)

This is higher PAR than any of my other tanks, with compact fluorescents and T5 NO lighting! The plants are a solid carpet of pigmy chain sword and miscellaneous easy species, with some floating plants.

Thank You!
See, that was easy!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I have added a request for information about the reflector. This makes a huge difference, and I forgot it in the first version.

Thanks!
 

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PAR DATA COLLECTION
10 October 2011


Please fill out this form as completely as possible. Use a new form for each aquarium. You can also submit the information on the DFWAPC forum on Aquatic Plant Central and it will be immediately available for everyone.

Aquarium size standard 10 gallon, 20" x 10" x 12" tall
(gallons and dimensions)

Type of light fixture AND reflector OLD hand me down T8 fixture w/ no reflector
(power compact, T5 NO, metal halide, mirror polish reflector, white paint, mylar, etc.)

Number of lamps, bulbs, or tubes, and wattage 1 x 15 Watt 18" T8 Phillips grow light
(examples: "2 T5 HO tubes, 24 w" or "1 metal halide 150 w")

Age of lamps, bulbs, or tubes ~1 month

Other information 6500 K
(brand, color temperature, spectrum, etc.)

Distance from light fixture to substrate 13"

PAR VALUES MEASURED AT SUBSTRATE: 3 - see comments. Just under the surface of the water I measured 101.
(Tip: you may want to measure PAR in several different locations. You can report multiple measurements, or calculate an average.)

Comments I have a lot of floating plants.
(Are there other conditions affecting light levels? What types of plants do you grow? Was the meter easy to use? Were you surprised by the results?)

Thank You!
..
 

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PAR DATA COLLECTION
10 October 2011


Please fill out this form as completely as possible. Use a new form for each aquarium. You can also submit the information on the DFWAPC forum on Aquatic Plant Central and it will be immediately available for everyone.

Aquarium size 15 gallon Long, 24" x 12" x 12" tall
(gallons and dimensions)

Type of light fixture AND reflector Cheap clip on desk lamp with white paint as reflector
(power compact, T5 NO, metal halide, mirror polish reflector, white paint, mylar, etc.)

Number of lamps, bulbs, or tubes, and wattage 1 x 26 Watt spiral CFL
(examples: "2 T5 HO tubes, 24 w" or "1 metal halide 150 w")

Age of lamps, bulbs, or tubes ~1 month

Other information GE, 6500 K
(brand, color temperature, spectrum, etc.)

Distance from light fixture to substrate 20" (8" above waterline)

PAR VALUES MEASURED AT SUBSTRATE: at substrate 14; just under water 49
(Tip: you may want to measure PAR in several different locations. You can report multiple measurements, or calculate an average.)

Comments This tank is a rimless with a vine growing from the hob across the back of the tank, so I have the fixture tilted to put light on the tank and vine. Less than optimum par values are expected at the substrate.
(Are there other conditions affecting light levels? What types of plants do you grow? Was the meter easy to use? Were you surprised by the results?)

Thank You!
..
 

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PAR DATA COLLECTION
10 October 2011


Please fill out this form as completely as possible. Use a new form for each aquarium. You can also submit the information on the DFWAPC forum on Aquatic Plant Central and it will be immediately available for everyone.

Aquarium size 40 gallon, 36" x 15" x 16" tall
(gallons and dimensions)

Type of light fixture AND reflector 1 x 36" T5 NO dual bulb with original reflector (mirror polish)
1 x 24" T5 NO dual bulb with original reflector (mirror polish)
(power compact, T5 NO, metal halide, mirror polish reflector, white paint, mylar, etc.)

Number of lamps, bulbs, or tubes, and wattage 1 x 36" 10,000K 21 Watts
1 x 36" 6,700K 21 Watts
1 x 24" 10,000K 14 Watts
1 x 24" 6,700K 14 Watts
(examples: "2 T5 HO tubes, 24 w" or "1 metal halide 150 w")

Age of lamps, bulbs, or tubes Average ~ 1 month except the 24" 10,000K which might be 3 years old

Other information
(brand, color temperature, spectrum, etc.)

Distance from light fixture to substrate 13"

PAR VALUES MEASURED AT SUBSTRATE: I am having trouble keeping any color except green in my tank, so my testing focused on how much light my glass top filters out.

@ substrate
Measurements with both fixtures: w/ glass 83, w/o glass 97
Measurements with only 36" lamp: w/ glass 48, w/o glass 54
Measurements with only 24" lamp: w/ glass 42, w/o glass 44

@ top (~ 1-2" below water line)
Measurements with both fixtures: w/ glass 365, w/o glass *
Measurements with only 36" lamp: w/ glass 281, w/o glass 303
Measurements with only 24" lamp: w/ glass 240, w/o glass 247

As you can see there isn't too much of a difference with or without the glass.

(Tip: you may want to measure PAR in several different locations. You can report multiple measurements, or calculate an average.)

Comments lights were arranged for optimum par values. Background of tank is overgrown and would skew results.
(Are there other conditions affecting light levels? What types of plants do you grow? Was the meter easy to use? Were you surprised by the results?)

Thank You!

*at 1-2" below the surface, there was not enough room for both lights to illuminate the same area. Most of the light from each lamp, because of the reflectors, is aimed straight down and I was unable to aim both at the sensor simultaneously.

I, also, just for fun measured, in roughly 2-3" increments, the par value from the substrate to the surface without the glass top using only the 36" fiture. These values are listed below.

Just under surface of water: 255
183
118
75
56
@ substrate: 52
directly under the light without any water: 609

Furthermore, for further reference to real sunlight: at 3:00 pm this afternoon I measured the sun in open air, and the meter showed about 2,000! A few inches below the water's surface in my pond values were still as high as 1,000.

Something else to add, I noticed something interesting involving the front glass of the tank. It seemed as though the glass would
reflect light back into the tank. Meaning I measured higher par values as I moved the sensor closer to the glass. If someone would confirm this, I would appreciate it. I'm not entirely sure my reflector aims straight down, so it might have something to do with this as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Here is another tank at the low end of the light range. This time I used the "cut and paste" commands to copy the form, and deleted some redundant stuff.

PAR DATA COLLECTION

Aquarium size: 20 tall, 24" x 12" x 16"

Type of light fixture AND reflector: power compact, flimsy mylar reflector

Number of lamps, bulbs, or tubes, and wattage: 1 power compact, 65w

Age of lamps, bulbs, or tubes: 3 months

Other information: Coralife fixture and tube, 10,000K

Distance from light fixture to substrate: 20"

PAR VALUES MEASURED AT SUBSTRATE: 16

Comments: There is a very thick background of vallisneria which blocks some light. Using the old watts per gallon rule, this is high light (3.25 wpg!). Now I know why nothing will grow on the bottom of this tank except moss.
 

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Some more outdoor pond measurements, taken last month at about noon:

Just above the surface--1,700
12" below the surface--1,200
24" below the surface--800

I think we may need to change our definition of "high light".

BTW, thanks to Virc003 for posting all his information. He is a new member, and only lives 3 blocks from me, so he borrowed the meter this afternoon.
 

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I forgot to add too that I checked an actinic bulb on my 40 just for kicks (so 13" to substrate). With the 36" fixture and the 10,000K bulb and an actinic bulb, I got a 36 on the par meter at the substrate.
 

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*
Something else to add, I noticed something interesting involving the front glass of the tank. It seemed as though the glass would
reflect light back into the tank. Meaning I measured higher par values as I moved the sensor closer to the glass. If someone would confirm this, I would appreciate it. I'm not entirely sure my reflector aims straight down, so it might have something to do with this as well.
I have been doing a lot of reading on PAR measurements lately and have seen more than one person make the same observation.

For the sake of consistency people should probably try to take readings close to the center of the tank away from the glass.
 

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Virc003 & Michael,

Were your spiral CF's mounted horizontally or vertically?
 

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Here is another tank at the low end of the light range. This time I used the "cut and paste" commands to copy the form, and deleted some redundant stuff.

PAR DATA COLLECTION

Aquarium size: 20 tall, 24" x 12" x 16"

Type of light fixture AND reflector: power compact, flimsy mylar reflector

Number of lamps, bulbs, or tubes, and wattage: 1 power compact, 65w

Age of lamps, bulbs, or tubes: 3 months

Other information: Coralife fixture and tube, 10,000K

Distance from light fixture to substrate: 20"

PAR VALUES MEASURED AT SUBSTRATE: 16

Comments: There is a very thick background of vallisneria which blocks some light. Using the old watts per gallon rule, this is high light (3.25 wpg!). Now I know why nothing will grow on the bottom of this tank except moss.
Is this a 4' bulb hanging 1' over both ends of the tank?
 

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So an outdoor pond's PAR value is 800 at the substrate (at 2' water depth). How can I have a tank that is so brightly lit at the substrate? How much light do I need? Can I keep it clean and algae-free?

Let's look at Michael's 40 gallon tank (36" x 15" x 16" tall). It's not 2' tall but it is about 3/4 of that. So I will need a PAR reading of 600 to simulate an outdoor pond's 800 PAR hitting the bottom.

And here are the (amusing) numbers:

Michael's tank with 2 light fixtures on top (70 watts of light) receives 97 PAR:
"@ substrate: Measurements with both fixtures: w/ glass 83, w/o glass 97"

So 70 watts = 97 PAR at the substrate.
=> To get 600 PAR to the substrate we will need 6.2 times the light he has now.
6.2 x 70 watts = 433 watts!

No fluoresent bulbs can be crammed on top of a 40 gallon tank to add up 433 watts of light. There isn't enough room. You will need a 400 watt Metal Halide. Now imagine - a 16" tall tank with a huge, hot, 400 watt Metal Halide on top. Right... You are better off just placing the tank outside, under the open sun.

And here's my usual attack at popular half-baked approaches; I want to see a 40 galon tank with 433 watts of light use EI or PPS. In other words - "How do EI and PPS relate to Nature?". Since they are such great and so popular approaches they should let you take care of such a Natural tank, right? Of course not. Needless to say there will be ultra-fast plant growth (4" a day not uncommon with stems), deficiencies developing overnight, and insane work to keep up with this speed demon of a tank in some resemblance of a balance.

Or... You can emulate the outdoor pond:
1. Rich substrate
2. Good flow
3. Water void of nutrients


Game over. If you care to think, that is.

Funny thing, if you go on one of Australian planted tank forums and look for the pictures of the guy that has an outdoor aquarium plant growing facility you will see exactly that: Sun blasting the super clear water, good flow, and tons of super healthy plants... Ah yes, almost forgot - and MUD on the bottom. That's it. How novel.

--Nikolay
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Niko, quick correction--the 40 gallon you describe belongs to Virc003, not me. I've been making a few minor changes to my 40, and will post PAR results soon.

I hope everyone is as excited about the club owning a PAR meter as I am. For the first time, we can actually measure light levels, instead of guessing based on wattage, charts, traditional advice, etc. We are all in for some big surprises, and will learn some big lessons.

To Niko's observations on natural light in a pond vs. artificial light in aquaria, I will add another surprise. I've posted PAR info for my 10 gallon--the one that has 60 PAR with just a cheap spiral CF. As an experiment, I put that same fixture on my 40 gallon. Now this tank normally has a dual tube T5 NO Coralife fixture (the brand I love to hate) on it, and it gives about 30-35 PAR at the substrate.

The cheap desk light with the cheap SCF in it gave 60 PAR in the 40 gallon too! So why are we paying $100s for special aquarium fixtures when we can get twice the light for $10 worth of stuff from the hardware store?
 

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Because in this hobby it's a habit to not ask simple questions and go with the flow.

I see that Luis Navarro will be coming to speak on one of the club's meetings. He used to have a 30 gallon cube tank with a 250 watt Metal Halide on top. It would be interesting to hear how he maintained that tank.

--Nikolay
 

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just tested my tank.

par data collection, 10/23/2011.

aquarium size 45 cube (24x18x24)... oceanic.

type of light fixture zoo med 2 bulb t5 h.o.(high output). square reflector both bulbs use the same reflector.

number of bulbs 2 t5 h.o. 24w each bulb so 48w total

age of bulbs 4-5 months old.

other info.
one is a gisemann midday (6,000k) the other is a coralife colormax.

distance from light fixture to substrate is 22 inches. my light fixtures is 2 inches from the top of the tank using the legs that came with it.

the surface par when the sensor being right in the water gave a reading of 71.
at the substrate... the sensor gave me a reading of 22.

comments. I bought the zoomed hoping to have medium light on this tank. it turns out that I only have low light which isn't to bad. the fixture was bought new for 65.00 so it was money well spent.

plants i'm growing are misc- cryptocornye(crypts). , misc anubias, java fern, and some type of hyprophill. the meter was easy to use it reminds me of a engine diagnostics reader. i'm wanting to go to medium- high light. so i have a 4 bulb t5 h.o. light fixture and going to see what the reading are with that.
 

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just did another test on my tank.

par data collection, 10/24/2011.

aquarium size 45 cube (24x18x24)... oceanic.

type of light fixture current sundial 4 bulb t5 h.o.(high output). cured single reflector all bulbs use the same reflector.

number of bulbs 4 t5 h.o. 24w each bulb so 96w total

age of bulbs 4-5 months old on 2 of them, and 2 new bulbs just bought yesterday and put in this morning.

other info.
one is a gisemann midday (6,000k) one a coralife colormax(purpleish/pinkish bulb), and the other 2 are new coralife 6,700k.

distance from light fixture to substrate is 22 inches. my light fixtures is on the top of the tank,can't find the legs that came with it.

the surface par using one new coral life 6,700k and the 4-5 month old color max, when the sensor being right in the water gave a reading of 108.
at the substrate... the sensor gave me a reading of 15.

using the other new coral life 6,700k and gisemann 6,000k at the surface was 107, and soil was 20.

now for the kicker and surprize. all 4 bulbs on. (2 new coral life 6,700k, a 4-5 month old coral life colormax, and a 4-5 month old gisemann 6,000k) - surface was bouncing with numbers from 265- 326 then slow down and gave a 312 reading. at the soil it gave a reading of 53.


comments. I bought the current fixture to put over my saltwater tank, but don't need much light, so i have now switch the fixtures around. the zoo med is on the salt, and the current is on the planted.

plants i'm growing are misc- cryptocornye(crypts). , misc anubias, java fern, and some type of hyprophill. the meter was easy to use it reminds me of a engine diagnostics reader. after the reading, i will be switching the plants out and wanting to trade them for stem plants, and harder to grow fore ground plants.
 

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Ok everyone in the following posts i will give you the readings of 5 of my tanks. it turns out on most of the tanks I am growing nothing more than low light plants but as you will see with the results are really intresting. the last tank in the list will be my 75g and it pearls after the lights have been on for 2 hours and those of you that know i seem to be able to grow almost anything in it which is why i was so suprised with the par readings. Well here it goes
 
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