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Discussion Starter #1
I'm trying to figure out the lighting aspect of my vivarium build and I checked out the Lighting 101 thread and some of the links it contained, but I'm still looking for some guidance.

Color temperature seems to be one of the biggest considerations, so I know to look at that when I'm checking out lights and bulbs. It seems like the consensus is to look for lights somewhere in the 5000K to 7500K range, so I've been looking mostly at 6500K lights.
That's about where I stop feeling like I know what I'm doing. I know some types of bulbs get hot and can increase the vivarium temperature too much, but I don't know if there's a way to tell that by looking at the specifications unless you already know how hot certain types of bulbs get.
After color temperature, what would be the next most important specification to worry about? Lumens? Wattage? Some other measurement I don't even know about? Are there rules of thumb to follow as far as how much light is needed based on tank size?

I do have a specific question about one particular light I plan on using for a 10-gallon tank, but I'm holding off on asking it because I was hoping this thread could be helpful to a wide range of people as kind of a general information source since specific lighting questions seem pretty prevalent.
 

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I don't think you are doing it, but don't confuse the color temperature (in Kelvin) with actual sensible heat temperature. You are on the right track with 6500K lighting. It will generate a spectrum that mimics noonish sunlight and will probably include spikes in the ranges that photosynthesis can use. For me, though, it is mostly about getting a tank that doesn't look "off" with regard to color. Some of the best grow lights (best for plants) are purple. That might work well for plants but it makes a vivarium look silly, I think, and will definitely shift the colors on the frogs.

As far as heat goes, that's why many people opt for LED lighting. There are a few holdouts that still think t5 or even compact fluorescents are a worthy substitute, but using those lights can generate enough heat that you need to find a way to mitigate it (such as a fan). If you stick with vivarium-designed LEDs, heat and spectrum (K rating) are usually not much of an issue.

There are lots of options for lighting out there that fit a variety of budgets. The ones that TopDogSellers on Ebay sell are a pretty good budget option. A lot of people like the EVOs with 3-watt diodes. I have had really good luck with these lights, though they will eventually wear out. Jungle Dawns are another option, though I have not found these to be nearly as reliable in the long term as I would like them to be. There are also lots of higher-end solutions such as Jungle Hobbies lighting and some specialty aquarium lights that work great and have lots of good features. Lately, I have really been enjoying my Spectral Designs lights. They seem to be much more effective than their wattage would indicate. I may replace some of my lighting in the future with more Spectral Designs lights.

So, rather than worry about specs like lumens and wattage, I would just check out the threads on here to see what people have used in similar situations. There isn't a lot that hasn't been covered on this board at one time or another. If you still have questions, ask them.

Best of luck,

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'm trying out an Aquaneat LED aquarium light strip I found on Amazon for the 10-gallon tank I'm setting up now.

I want to eventually get a 40-gallon breeder set up, so I'll be keeping tabs on this thread for future reference when I go to light that one.
 

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You will be able to grow lower-light plants with that just fine, I would guess. You won't be bringing out much red in bromeliads, and ground cover plants would be reaching for light. It's not a terribly bright light and the actinics aren't going to help you (grow plants) much at all and will make the light a lot bluer than a lot of people like on their vivaria. Tough to beat the price, though :)

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I also found out last night I have an ExoTerra canopy I forgot about in my basement, so if the cheap light from Amazon doesn't do the job, I can find some new bulbs for the canopy instead.
 
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