What fixtures and lamps can get you this magical mix of spectral quality with the most impressive of ease? And why not just use sunlight? The last question first. Natural sunlight is ill-suited for most set-ups. Common people live in houses, in the less-tropical parts of the world, and wish to see our systems flourishing whether the sun’s up or not. Besides, the sun has an annoying behavior of over-heating aquariums for the factors stated in the intro. There are many kind of lights made by each company, so we have to choose them according to what the fish really need.
For these factors artificial light sources are almost universally employed. I will especially address the major sorts of fixtures and lamps accessible to the hobbyist in a number of sections. For our aim here, I wish to rapidly dispense with the ‘losing’ technologies of incandescent, quartz halogen, metal halide, mercury vapor, and all except full-spectrum fluorescent lighting.
Incandescent bulbs may provide numerous of the desired spectra necessary by live plants, but the electrical cost of their surgery per amount of light generated is dismal, their concomitant production of waste heat prodigious, and lamp substitution interval all too short. a few ‘old-timers’ swear by them, and they do work; but those guys have hot homes and high electric charges, not to remark trash cans filled-up with burnt out bulbs.
Metal Halide & Mercury Vapor technologies aren’t for the mainstream marine aquarist. Though a few types of metal halides generate good quantities of the desirable qualities of light at a low sufficient cost, they also numerous drawbacks. permit me name the most notable:
1) They cost immense bucks to obtain and operate,
2) produce an abundance of ultraviolet radiation. be sure you hire units engineered for marine systems, and utilize the ultraviolet filters provided. For the sake of your aquatic costs and your own health, you have to be wary of too much UV exposure.
3) They’re hot; watch out not to burn yourself or your house to the area. Much more about this under the “Fixture” section.
Both metal halide and mercury vapor sorts of lighting share other difficulties. They should be mounted in hoods that could be raised and reduced for light and heat control, possibly will need motorized fans, and assimilate reflective mechanisms to direct and shield their super-nova blasts downward. in addition they are reduced to high wattages, most coming in a couple of to many hundred watt sizes, up. Admittedly, the efficacy of metal halides is growing, with operating lifespans, wattages and substitution costs rivaling fluorescents; but the facts stay: These fixtures are hot, often requiring specialized ventilation and other provisions for preventing over-heating of system water. A powerful argument could be made for the sheer beauty of the light and the fixtures of these light installations; there are a few that are gorgeous. Halides have their places; for enormous systems with requires for high outputs, desire for concentrated light, designer… But the bottom line is that they are functionally much more cash to obtain, operate and substitute than…
Full-Spectrum Fluorescent lighting. In standard, as contrasted with High Output (HO), and extremely High Output (VHO) ballasted formats has been and still is the absolute available, most adequate lighting method for 99.99% of aquarists. It brings the absolute quality and quantity light at the lowest up front, operational and substitution cost. Period.
And now to give credit to where credit is tremendously due, my singular and whole-hearted endorsement for the all-fish marine, reef system, planted aquarium, palludarium, vivarium lights par excellence: Duro-Test Corporation’s Vita-Lite (c) and Vita-Lite Supreme (c). The original Vita-Lite hit the market in 1967 (!) as the world’s first patented, natural-daylight-stimulating fluorescent tube. For through twenty 5 years (until the arrival of their Vita-Lite Supreme) Duro’s Vita-Lite was the closest simulation of natural daylight ever developed by anyone, anywhere. (No, i’m by no means being paid for this plug) Specifications: 5500 K, 91 CRI, 2180 Lumens. For folks look for more luminosity Duro-Test offers different lamp, the Vita-Lite + ; the only specification difference being the generation of 2,750 lumens. The Vita-Lite Supreme offers 5500K, a CRI of 96 at 2000 lumens; it is the absolute match yet to natural outdoor light.
These are superb (the absolute available) lamps for the marine aquarist, aquatic gardener, herptile keeper, photographer wanting to ignore filters, and human work place. They grow aquatic organisms better than the other lamp system, without specialized fixturing at the less cost. Beside that, your fishes and photosynthetic organisms look and live better under these lights. Yes, these goods are that good. In addition, in all fairness, I’d like to mention 3 other manufacturers of full-spectrum fluorescents. They are Philips with the Colortone 50, common Electric with their Chromaline 50 and Verilux with lamps of the same name. These companies in addition ‘private label’ full spectrum lamps for other labels. You will have to seek for the CRI, Temperature in Kelvin, Luminosity in lumens, power curve, and average life ratings to make your own purchaser judgments.
Some information involving ‘other’ sorts of fluorescent lamps. Be wary of lamps termed broad of wide spectrum. These aren’t the same as full-spectrum lamps which provide the total diversity of necessary spectra, this includes some UV. Daylight, cool-white, warm-white similarly aren’t full-spectrum and utilized by themselves won’t support hermatypic (or endo-symbiotic algal) life. nice white lamps, which are the most promptly available for residence and business use are the most practical for their intended use; that is, they generate the most lumens per watt of energy consumed of human-visible light . The wavelengths produced aren’t suitable for aquatic systems. nice Whites have a CRI of 62; yes, a pathetic sixty two.
The ongoing, “latest and greatest” technology involucres Compact Fluorescent lighting fixtures and lamps… these provide tremendous amounts of adequate irradiation at a low cost per helpful lumen… more and more being measured in PAR (Photosynthetically accesible Radiation) … the absolute indicator (yes, there are meters) for real helpful light energy generated.
I’m not saying that other lighting formats are a scam; my point is hopefully clear: Other light types can be better searching to any one person; that is a matter of taste. For the aspiration of keeping, growing, and showing marine aquatics, full-spectrum fluorescents are by far absolute. Fixtures could be made or purchased at reasonable cost, with small down-side of over-heating, burning you or your abode. The lamps recommended have functional life spans of about two years. The spectral shift and lumen depreciation are tractable and simply adjusted for.
Other appropriate Light Notes:
Lamp Rotation: For the purposes of Spectral Shift and Lumen Depreciation was mentioned a while ago. enable me to reinforce the require for replacing full-spectrum lamps, used on up to a 14 hour light ten hour dark regimen, every two years. Label the lamps, their fixture, a time-coded device in your personal personal computer… to keep tract; but do not wait until your photosynthetic life starts paling to verify on your lamps.
Also, I wish to be sure and remark the benefits of direct exposure of the lamps to the water’s surface. Do your absolute to keep nothing among the lamps and the water; all such barriers lower light transmission and phase shift the light.
By Robert Fenner
Reprinted with permission, from Bob’s website in San Diego: www.wetwebmedia.com