View Full Version : 48" bulbs, which ones are best?

09-17-2006, 07:18 PM
There are many bulbs ive seen that advertise they are for Planted tanks and aquariums. In the past I have just stuck with more or less standard bright florescent bulbs, and they worked fine for the most part, but im wondering now what bulbs are actually the best? I was in one of the fish stores I visit often the other day, and was picking up some misc stuff, and decided to buy one of the bulbs I came across to try it out. It is a Zoo med Flora Sun "max plant growth" bulb. It was a $20 bulb, and seemed like a good quality bulb, so I picked one up. I hooked it up, and after it came on ( it took about 10 minutes to fire upfor the first time), I noticed it wasnt as bright as the other bulbs I had, and looked very similar to the standard bulb that came with one of my light fixtures, a redish/pinkish colored light.

Well, the next day I was in Wal-Mart and walked over to their section for Florescent bulbs and found some GE made bulbs that were advertised as being made for Plants and aquariums, they were much cheaper, (about $5) so I grabbed 2 of them.

Right now I have a 2 bulb light fixture, and a single bulb light fixture. I have the two GE bulbs in the double fixture, and the $20 Zoo Med bulb in the single fixture. The GE bulbs are much brither, and their light is much more White, compared to the zoo med's dimmer Purple'ish color.

I would think it would be better to get a 3rd GE bulb, it would increase the brightness of the light on my plants, but would that be the best bet? Is it a good or bad thing to run 2 bulbs of one type of light and 1 bulb that is different? Would perhaps getting 3 Zoo med bulbs be better, or bulbs that are similar? I guess I just dont like how dim the Zoo med light looks in the tank. If I put just that one light on, the tank is very dimm, but the 2 GE bulbs are so bright and really penetrate all the way to the bottom. Thanks in advance for any advice or tips you guys can offer. I want to get the best 3 bulbs (or combination of 3 bulbs) for my plants. Cheers

EDIT: Sorry I didnt mention it but my tank is a Rectangular 75 Gallon.

09-18-2006, 01:33 PM
coral life is the brand i have always used, more expensive but work well, consider getting an actinic 03 blue bulb and 2 10000k daylight bulb, the actinic bulb produces UV rays which will greatly improve photosynthesis.

09-18-2006, 03:07 PM
thanks for the response, Ill look into these bulbs. I dont recall ever see any "Coral Life" brand bulbs, would probably have to buy these from the internet.

Any other feedback on the topic of plant lights and bulbs would be greatly appreciated.

09-25-2006, 02:36 PM
Ive researched my options a lot more on Lightning. Ive found some good Coralife Light fixtures for around $220 (4x60watt compact flurescent). Then there is an even more expensive option (Overkill for a planted tank I think)- Metal Halide fixtures, ive seen a good one for around $450, 2x 150w.

Ive grown a planted tank in the past using regular Flurescent lightning, 3x 40 watt bulbs, using simple Light fixtures that you can find in any home improvement store.

Right now I am using the same sort of strategy. I have 2 simple "Shop Light" Fixtures, 2x40w bulbs each. These 2 fixtures sitting side by side, take up almost all of the top area of the tank. This gives me 160 watts of lighting, or- 2.1 watts per gallon. The tank looks very well lit, but then again- ive never seen any of these better options in action.

Im basically wondering if it would be worth my money to go with a more expensive, better made, lighting solution, such as the $200 Coralife hood. The coralife hood would give me 260 watts of light, to my current 160 watts of light, which would equal out to 3.5 watts per gallon. Most of these light fixtures I'm looking at however, are geared for saltwater and reef tank set up's.

My plants thus far are growing fine, and fast, but there is very little crowding right now also, so light is able to penetrate all the way to the gravel very well, I am also growing some of the most hardy plants. I am looking to expand the species of plants, some of which will require more lighting than the plants I am growing now. I just dont know how much I would profit by dishing out $200+ on a nice light fixture. My lighting looks fairly good right now, but I dont really like using cheap $10 shop light fixtures. In the near future my 75 gallon tank will be heavily planted, Not just a few plants, but enough that you cant see the back of the tank.

Another good feature of the Coralife hoods Ive looked at, is that it comes with 2x 10k daylight bulbs and 2x actinic blue bulbs. This would probably be better for photosynthesis, but there again i dont know if it would be a noticable difference. 1 of my 4 bulbs right now is made for high output i nthe blue range, the rest are normal sunlight type bulbs. So, is the coralife (or similar ) hood needed? or will I be fine with my fairly cheap set up?

09-25-2006, 09:49 PM
sorry if I missed it since I only went through the etxt quickly but what plants fish do you want to keep?