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Old 03-04-2011, 05:15 AM
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Question Is this lighting overkill for a 90-gallon vivarium?

Do you think 212 watts (4X 48" 54w T5s) would be overkill for a 90-gallon viv?

The bulbs would be Sunblasters @ 4700 lumens, 6400K, and ≥ 80 CRI from a hydroponics store. The fixture would be from a saltwater fish store simply because they're black and made to mount over a tank whereas the fixtures from the hydroponics store are white designed to hang from the ceiling, which I don't want.

I would like to keep all the different kinds of plants you would typically find in a vivarium, including ferns, moss, broms, and maybe even orchids if I'm so lucky. Inhabitants will be either green-eyed tree frogs or darts.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 03-04-2011, 06:11 AM
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Default Re: Is this lighting overkill for a 90-gallon vivarium?

Some people love to invest this much money in lighting. I personally don't and think you can get away with shop lights for plants as long as you have good output, reflector, and correct color temperature.

If it's just your one tank and you're not on a budget, T5s are great. I just think most bright light plants to great under regular T8 bulbs.

I have a dual shop light on my rack system. 48" with two GE daylight 6500K bulbs. I believe the bulbs are 32 watts but don't quote me. The reflector in the shop light unit is very reflective, and the lights are super bright. I paid $40 at home depot plus around $4 or less per bulb.

Only way I invest in T5s is when I'm doing a reef tank where I need a dual actinic and 10,000K.

I'm in no way a lighting or plant expert, but I get cuttings and plants from all over the place and have never considered if my lighting is good enough. Usually plants die for me if I mess up in putting them in a spot in the tank that is either too wet or too dry.

A lot of big collections I've seen recently have shop lights and CFL lights on their tanks I've seen some amazing tanks and rare plants.

I guess what I'm saying is that the pricing on T5 lighting that takes 4 bulbs has scared me off from looking any further. I'd rather invest the money on what's in my tanks and frogs.

Someone might have a different opinion and pull out a color and wave charts but I don't speak that language lol.

Take care and good luck!
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Old 03-04-2011, 08:46 PM
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Default Re: Is this lighting overkill for a 90-gallon vivarium?

Thanks for responding, DJ.

I have the round shop lights with 6500K CFLs on my refugium, but that's tucked away under a cabinet in my bedroom. This tank is going to be the center of attention in my living room so appearance is of a concern to me.

The reef T5 fixture is $225 and the bulbs total only $40, so it's a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of everything else.

For half the price Home Depot sells T8 fixtures for shops, both four and six bulbs, but they're quite ugly. I wish I had a top I could put it in but I don't. I could buy one but the stand is custom painted and I wouldn't be able to match it.

Another option is a custom aluminum hood that my brother could fabricate for me and powder coat. Not including labor that would bring the price up to the cost of the reef T5 fixture anyway.

I don't know what to do but at least I have some time to decide.

Question in the meantime is, would the light produced by the four HO T5's be too much for the plants? The hydroponics store from a plant standpoint seems to think that's perfect but then again they don't know anything about vivs.

Thanks!
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Old 03-04-2011, 09:22 PM
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Default Re: Is this lighting overkill for a 90-gallon vivarium?

It's really more a question of the heat. If you can handle the heat of four, you should be ok, but two T5's would probably be sufficient.
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Old 03-04-2011, 09:50 PM
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Default Re: Is this lighting overkill for a 90-gallon vivarium?

I personally think that you dont need 4 bulbs, dont forget that t5ho's put out way more heat than the t8's do. I have a 70 which i believe is the same footprint, 48" x 18". I used to have 2 48" t8's, and recently switched to t5ho. I now only have 1 bulb per tank with a good reflector that puts out more light than both the t8s did. I got a pretty cool ballast setup from "glo". It doesnt have the fixture, it has the ballast and and 4' leads with waterproof end caps that the end of the bulbs insert into. you need to have a hood, or rac setup. you mount the reflectors to your hood or rack/shelving, then the bulbs just clip into the reflectors. I really like this setup for my rack, because for the price, you get basically 2 4' lights that put out quite a lot of light.
ballast-$65
reflectors-$30x2
bulbs-$7x2
so, $139
With the extra $100 you could make/buy a nice oak or similar wood hood for your display tank, which I think would look much nicer on top of the tank in the long run than any fixture.
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Old 03-04-2011, 10:21 PM
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Default Re: Is this lighting overkill for a 90-gallon vivarium?

My recomendation is that a 4 bulb lamp is more than you need for a 90 gallon viv. A 2 bulb 48" T5 HO light would be plenty of light for just about anything you would want to grow, as long as you pay attention to placement and dont plant high light needing plants in the shade of something higher up.

I'm guessing you picked a 4 bulb fixture either A) because that is what the hydroponics store recommended, or B) common convention for aquariums is that for a tank as deep as a 90 gallon, you need more/stronger lights to get good light all the way to the bottom.
If it was the Hydro store, they are generally trying to grow high light needing plants and crops at a very high growth rate giving the plants an abundance of light and nutrients so the plants grow as fast and lush as possible. In a viv your plants wont be getting optimum (from the plants perspective) inputs of nutrients. The decomp of leaf litter and frog poop will add nutrients to the substrate but not like synthetic fertilizer would. Plus, especially for some plants (pothos comes to mind) you don't necessarily want your plants growing as fast as possible, you will be doing a lot of pruning.

I don't know how much of an aquarium background you have, but if you decided on a 4 bulb lamp due to the common conventions of aquariums, the "rules" that apply to lighting aquariums (reefs or fresh planted) don't really transfer over to vivariums much. Light is refracted/reflected/absorbed much faster when that light has to travel through water than when it is traveling through air. The need for high light levels in deep tanks is due to the steep loss of PAR in water (and peoples desire to do stuff like grow glossostigma under some tall canopy plant, or their desire to grow tridacna clams on the bottom of a 4 foot deep tank, but that's completely off topic here). While you do get refraction/reflection/absorption from gas molecules and dust in the air in the viv, it is negligible compared to a column of water (the glass top of a viv will be a loss of some light, but so is a glass top on an aquarium)

This is probably way more info than you wanted, but Knowledge is Power!

Good luck with the viv.

-Chris
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Old 03-04-2011, 11:06 PM
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Default Re: Is this lighting overkill for a 90-gallon vivarium?

One benefit of having so much lighting, spread out over the top of the tank, is it helps keep the tank evenly lit. Extra light won't hurt any of the plants, but you may need to have some fans to help keep it cool. The dimensions of your tank also might impact on how much light you need.
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Old 03-04-2011, 11:43 PM
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Default Re: Is this lighting overkill for a 90-gallon vivarium?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reptile Bob View Post
One benefit of having so much lighting, spread out over the top of the tank, is it helps keep the tank evenly lit. Extra light won't hurt any of the plants, but you may need to have some fans to help keep it cool. The dimensions of your tank also might impact on how much light you need.
Extra light will not hurt the plants, but it could stress the frogs. All extra light is going to do is cost you more in electricity, and probably cause you heat issues. You will get a marginal increase in plant growth rates, but is it worth the added costs?
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Old 03-08-2011, 07:46 PM
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Default Re: Is this lighting overkill for a 90-gallon vivarium?

Something folks haven't mentioned, don't forget that light drives the plants need for nutrients. Think of it like a foot on the throttle. In a dart viv most folks don't want to start adding ferts, which means that a lot of light is sooner rather than later going to lead to nutrient deficiencies, which WILL harm the plants.

So I would worry more about hurting the plants than the frogs, as in a well planted viv frogs can find plenty of shady spots to sit in.

Personally though I do prefer linear T5s to T8s or compacts. They are cooler running and more efficient for one thing. Or better yet, good LED units.

Ade
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Old 03-08-2011, 08:46 PM
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Default Re: Is this lighting overkill for a 90-gallon vivarium?

Check out the Solar T5HOs from Catalina Aquarium - Catalina Aquarium. That's where I got the fixture I run over my 90gal planted aquarium. I run only 2x54 watts. You might want to look at their 3x54 watt fixture. Since it has 2 switches, it gives you the option of running 1, 2 OR all 3 bulbs- and you can play with staggering the bulbs on timers to create a "noon burst" if you'd like.

If you call them, they can customize a fixture for you, add in LEDs for nighttime viewing, etc.

IMO a Solar T5HO is going to be higher quality than most of what you'll find on Ebay, though a step below Teks, etc but for a fraction of the price of the super high end T5HOs.

And you can either get a fixture mounted on legs or get a hanging kit to hang it from the ceiling or make a DIY hanging rod out of bent conduit to hang over the tank.
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Old 03-18-2011, 04:25 PM
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Default Re: Is this lighting overkill for a 90-gallon vivarium?

I have a 6 bulb Tek light by Sunlight Supply with Geisman bulbs on a 65 gallon tank. 36" (6X39 watt t5 HO).... I like nicely colored Neos. Lighting should be chosen for a particular biotope.
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Old 03-19-2011, 08:44 AM
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Default Re: Is this lighting overkill for a 90-gallon vivarium?

I don't think your wattage is overkilll. Just over 200 for a 90 is a little over 2 watts per gallon which tends to be just about right for plants/moss. If the tank is much taller then a standared 55 or 75 you might find you get better results pushing it to 3+ watts per gallon.
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Old 03-19-2011, 09:24 PM
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Default Re: Is this lighting overkill for a 90-gallon vivarium?

you can always build your own light fixture like i do. Cooling fans are easy to wire up, and take care of excess heat. just another option.
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