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Vivarium Lighting Guide

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  • Vivarium Lighting Guide

    The following is all that I have learned about lighting in the past week. Please let me know who here has done well growing indoor terrarium plants and how much lighting everyone here has used.

    You need proper lighting for indoor plants. Here is a good guide on different lighting options:
    ACF Indoor Plant Grow Lights & Information Guide

    Your light options can range from using CFLs bulbs, High Output T5 (48") strips, and HID lights like Metal Halide (MH) or High Pressure Sodium Vapor (HPS). The differences are described in the above website. Figure out whether you need UVA or UVB. Mercury Vapor bulbs are mainly used as UVB & heat sources for reptiles that need UVB, while Sodium Vapor operates in the UVA wavelength. Both get hot, but Mercury Vapor gets hotter. I've had bad experience with UVB on my plants. You also don't want to burn your plants unnecessarily and UVB is harmful if used improperly.

    Plants use the chemical process of Photosynthesis to make its own food

    Photosynthesis = Carbon dioxide + Water + Photons
    Light bulbs all have Lumen ratings, wattage and color temperature.

    Photons in our case is gauged in terms of how much light the human eye perceives defined by the amount of Lumens. Lumens is the measure of light intensity of a light bulb. Scientific experts will say the correct measurement of how much radiation used for photosynthesis should be Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) and not lumens or lux. Even PAR doesn't tell the whole story because plants "cherry pick" energy from different wavelengths 300-700nm at different amounts. However, not everyone has a $300 PAR meter and government law requires light bulb manufacturers to put the Lumen rating on the box, so Lumen is good enough "rule of thumb" for now.

    Wattage is the measurement of electrical power a light bulb consumes to generate light.
    Despite wattage being an electrical measurement, it is still proportional to the lumen output of a bulb. The wattage-to-lumen efficiency is different depending on the light technology.

    Color Temperature for Plants: Hydroponics Black Magic
    Color temperature is the visible color that the specific bulb generates
    Approx. 5000-7000K for green growth (White to Bluish light)
    Approx. 2000-3000K for flower growth (Yellowish light)

    It is a misconception to believe that a plant can see color temperature ie. 6500K bulb which is blue. Humans and animals see in color. What plants do see is the wavelength of that spectrum. Each color temperature has its own wavelength distribution. If photosynthesis operates in the 400-700nm wavelength, you want a bulb that has a even distribution across all wavelengths.


    Above plots show sunlight operating in wavelengths across the board. The last plot is an incandescent bulb which is bias towards longer wavelengths and doesn't give much under 600nm. Therefore, incandescents shouldn't even be considered for growing plants.

    Compare Wavelengths at different Degrees Kelvin
    http://www.gelighting.com/na/busines...ion_curves.htm



    CFLs are the cheaper of the bunch but output the least amount of lumens. There are higher wattage CFLs online, but gets pricey and not best bang for the buck. It's debatable whether or not if CFLs can even sustain most plants as you won't see lumens above 3000 in this light technology. HPS and MH require special ballasts while CFLs use normal lamps you buy anywhere. Hydroponics recommends something like 10,000+ lumens for a 1-2 sq.ft area. Natural sunlight outputs something like 50,000+ lumens per sq. ft.. and 100,000+ in other regions.

    I have compiled a spreadsheet that compares different lighting technologies.





    Excel Spreadsheet Download
    Lighting.xlsx

    CFLs are the cheapest lumens you can buy, but eventually become inefficient as it uses more and more power that more photons you want to generate. HPS appears to be the most efficient, however these high powered light bulbs operate in the 2000K color range and won't promote green growth. HPS are to be used as supplement spectrum to a blue light source in the 4000-7000K range like CFL, Metal Halide, or T5. Also keep in mind that High Output T5 (HO-T5) fluorescents output 5000 lumen per strip at 54W. 54W T5 come at 48" long. So T5 lumens is proportional to wattage is proportional to length.

    Inverse Square Law: E = 1/r^2
    Energy dissipates with distance squared, so the energy seen by the plants will be different further away the light is. See below for the Lumen depreciation due to distance.

    Distance Loss = 1 / 4*PI*R^2 This is the light lost due to distance from bulb



    Reflectivity
    Reflectivity Loss = Light Emitted x [1 + Reflectivity '%']
    Light Received = Light Emitted - Reflectivity Loss]
    Depending on how well light is reflected from a dome or canopy/hood, you would theoretically lose less of the total received photons due to the Inverse Square Law
    http://www.4dpnr.org/articles/Layout_Room_Lighting.pdf

    Lumen Addition
    I am still doing research on lumen addition as this is a very controversial topic whether or not lumens add up by adding multiple bulbs. Some definite data indicates Lux does add with a light meter by increasing light bulbs.
    http://www.rollitup.org/indoor-growi...ng-all-up.html

    Light Received = Light Emitted - Distance Loss - Reflectivity Loss
    Light Received = [Light Emitted + Light Emitted x Reflectivity '%'] x Distance Loss

    Note: Marijuana growers say 10,000 Lumens per sq. ft. will give good growth. MeiK from Geckos Unlimited has shown that terrarium plants can do well at the 6 month mark on 1000-1500 total Lumens (at foliage)

  • #2
    Very informative guide to lighting. Almost exact with how I light my planted tanks.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Poke View Post
      Very informative guide to lighting. Almost exact with how I light my planted tanks.
      Thanks! What plants do you have and what are you running?

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      • #4
        Im doing a all brom tank. Running a 13watt cfl 6500k about 6 inches off the top of the cage.

        But when i typed planted tanks i was talking about fish tanks lol. Sorry so use to putting planted tanks on the other forum im part of. But with my planted fish tank im running 2 t5ho lights about 3 inches off the top of the tank. Im doing a dry start which you take aquatic plants that can grow immersed and submersed. And you grow them out of water with 90% plus humidty in the tank. Made some rearranging cause the plant in the back left corner was growing way to fast so took that out. This is what it looks like.

        First week


        This is about 45 days

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Poke View Post
          Im doing a all brom tank. Running a 13watt cfl 6500k about 6 inches off the top of the cage.

          But when i typed planted tanks i was talking about fish tanks lol. Sorry so use to putting planted tanks on the other forum im part of. But with my planted fish tank im running 2 t5ho lights about 3 inches off the top of the tank. Im doing a dry start which you take aquatic plants that can grow immersed and submersed. And you grow them out of water with 90% plus humidty in the tank. Made some rearranging cause the plant in the back left corner was growing way to fast so took that out. This is what it looks like.
          Interesting. So you use a pure soil substrate for your aquariums?

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          • #6
            Yes the substrate im using there is called aquasoil it has most of the nutrients that you need to grow any aquarium plant. But there are also ones that dont already have nutrients and you have to supply some sort of fertilizer.

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            • #7
              Have you any idea about Solid state sun spectrum grow lights about plants indoor ,
              Is it better or not ???
              Last edited by Jan harvey; 09-22-2014, 02:12 PM.
              You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Jan harvey View Post
                Have you any idea about Solid state sun spectrum grow lights about plants indoor ,
                Is it better or not ???
                If you're talking about those full spectrum LEDs, it sounds like a pretty good idea since it tries to replicate the full spectrum of sunlight. My only concern would be whether or not it only comes in LED form which means its limited by if it has enough lumens. Then comes $$$

                I was looking at this light:

                http://highpower4s.com/wp-content/up...P4S-Logo-3.pdf

                Looks super expensive... i'm not sure if you have the dough or not, but i'm doing well with just CFLs. And if I need a larger spectrum, I'll run multiple color temperature bulbs.

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                • #9
                  FWIW I am using CFL grow lights for my vivs. The plants are doing OK. I am keeping an eye on the price of LEDs that emit in the right spectra for plant growth (red and blue). Right now, they are still too expensive for me to bother switching over. I think in 5 years or so they will be affordable.
                  3.3.0 Correlophus ciliatus (crested geckos)

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