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Thread: How to select LED lighting?

  1. #1

    How to select LED lighting?

    Hello, 4A friends—
    I’m ready to replace my compact fluorescent aquarium lighting with LED lighting. It’s a 50 g planted tank with typical dimensions: 48” L, 12.5”W, and 20.5 in high.
    I think a fixture that is approximately the length of the aquarium would be better than a flood lights, or suspended lights. I read that choosing the right amount of light for a planted tank is not that easy. The area of the tank in sq in./ lumens = Lumens/sq in. or L.S.I. (In my case: 600 sq in/ lumens) and that for a medium light output 10-25 L.S.I. is preferred.
    Can anyone recommend an LED light for my tank? I got confused by the selections on Amazon and need some guidance.
    Thanks for any advice you can provide!

  2. #2
    I've had great success with Finnex stingray's. I have also wanted to check out Dustin's fishtanks lights.

  3. #3
    i would first see what your aquarium plants prefer or need to have as minimal lighting, for example, if you have only anubias and java fern, your tank can use any type of lighting you want, but if you have plants that are considered high tech plants, a brighter light would be recommended along with co2. If you have high tech plants, a low tech light will not be enough for the plants to survive. I have never had a stingray before, so i can't say anything about it, but it probably would work just fine, based on what i googled.

  4. #4
    Unfortunately, this question comes up a lot and the answer is "We Don't Know".

    That's not entirely true... people have tried to explain it to us and we have nodded our heads, but the knowledge we have does not extend far enough to giving advice to others.

    The gist of it comes down to LEDs and PAR and spectrum limitations, and the fact that cheaper LED systems do not have a PAR rating listed anywhere, and the ones that do are too fiendishly expensive for people to actually own. So we buy things, try them, and it works or does not work for us... which is a far more complicated process than just lighting can account for and makes anecdotes wildly inconsistent. The only real way to know involves a $3000 tool none of us admit to owning.

    I use the ones from and they grow my lower tech stuff just fine, for what it is worth.
    - Jeremy

  5. #5
    There are a lot more variables (beyond lumens per sq. in.) that should be taken into account when trying to selecting the best lighting for an aquarium, including (but not limited to):

    - the types of plants
    - the level of planting density
    - the color temperature emitted by the lights
    - the use (or non-use) and quantities of ferts and CO2 you will be using
    - the type of substrate
    - the free iron levels in your water
    - the temperature of your water
    - what your water change regimen is
    - the level of filtration and water movement that is being provided
    - the photo period and photo schedule
    - the levels of sun and ambient room light that hit your tank (and how long your tank is exposed to them on an average day)
    - etc.

    I literally have had setups running for years and did nothing more than thin out some "overgrowth" and the tanks went from being virtually algae-free to having to fight algae for several months before it cleared up. Nothing else changed besides the planting density.

    I also had a tank where the plants grew without any problems at all and suddenly last year some of them started wilting and I got an algae bloom. Nothing had changed on my end so I was flummoxed. I found out later that my local water company switched up their chemical treatment levels and apparently some of my plants didn't like the new ratios. So I had to change up my fert dosing and tweak the CO2 levels so that my fert/CO2/lighting triangle came into balance again. Crazy.

    Providing a response that would be useful to you would sort of be like trying to answer the question "What tires should I get for my vehicle?" while knowing only that your vehicle has seat belts. I hate to tell you that it's nothing but "trial and error", but ultimately only you will be able to figure out what works for you and what doesn't.

  6. #6
    You’ve received plenty of good information from other posters on things to consider when purchasing lighting. In terms of straight lighting recommendations, I can vouch for Fluval and Finnex fixtures. If I was trying to accomplish a low light environment on that tank for cheap, I would go with a Finnex Stingray in either 48” or a pair of 24” fixtures. Smaller fixtures are going to probably be easier to resell if you decide to upgrade in the future.

    For medium lighting, I think the Fluval 3.0 is an excellent fixture for your money. It will be about twice the price of the stingrays but has more output and built in customization. You can download a free application on your phone to remotely automate lighting intensity and schedule as well as sunset/sunrise. I don’t believe that siesta schedules are accommodated yet through their current firmware.

    Finnex Planted Plus is probably a step up in terms of PAR values (I don’t have a meter but the intensity of output next to the Fluval 3.0 in person is noticeable), but I replaced mine with the 3.0 due to a power supply failure. This is a known issue with these fixtures. These do not have built in automation or sunset/sunrise features.

    If you decide down the road you need more light, you can always double up whatever you end up buying. Good luck!

  7. #7
    Hello, 4A friends-- Thank you for the replies to my request for information regarding LED lights. I think CLINT404 had the best recommendations. Here's what I decided to do. I have an inventory of Eiko DT55/65/RS Duo-Tube 6500K 2G11 Base Compact Fluorescent Halogen Bulbs, 55W, that I used for my coralife fixture. I was able to find a replacement fixture on Ebay. These are Coralife "old school" aquarium lights that have been out of production for a long time. Each fixture holds 4 duo-tubes and has a moonlight feature. I have put it into service and, for the present, have delayed my research for LED lighting. Once this replacement coralife fails, I will have to turn to LED lights. Hopefully the current fixture will last for more than one year.

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