Photoperiod vs Evening 'Viewing'

Tom Raffield

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18 Apr 2017
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Coulsdon, UK
So my newly planted Juwel Vision 260 is up and running (see Journal Thread: Tank Reborn).

I am aiming for a low maintenance, low tech and easy to look after setup hence the degree of 'easy' plants. I used Tropica Aquarium Soil and have micro and macro ferts from Aquarium Plantfood UK. I am yet to dose these but might put a small dose every few days in the initial stages; I want to avoid EI dosing and the huge water changes that accompany this method of dosing. Eventually I want to use the Duckweed Index to help me to know when to dose but am yet to fully read up on this. I am also running a small amount of CO2 to get the plants established, I have a pressurised setup from my previous tank, before reducing down to a very low level of CO2 injection.

What I have now been considering is the photoperiod for the plants. I am aiming for 6 hours at the moment and will extend to hopefully 8 or so hours when the tank is established. My tendency in the past has been to run the photoperiod in the afternoon and evening so that I can enjoy watching the tank when I am home from work. However, the tank is in a very naturally well lit room. There is no direct light on the tank but we have huge windows at one end of the room and then a wall of glass at the other so the room is filled with natural light all day. Should I be running the photoperiod at a more 'normal' time of day for the plants? Say 10am to 4pm? But if I do this what can I do about evening lighting as I don't want to over light the tank and risk algae.

How do you guys juggle the 'plant needs' versus your 'viewing needs'?

For reference, I have the Juwel light unit with two brand new Arcadia Tropical 54W T5s. Would this be considered low or medium light in my tank?
 

Nick72

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Much like you I have a lot of natural light in the room with my aquarium.

I found the plants were opening by 9am regardless of the lights being off.

This was a sure sign I would have algae problems with an evening photo period.

My answer is to have lights come on at 09:30am, 1 hour ramp. Photo period 10:30-17:30, ramp down and off by 18:30.

I've got used to watching my fish in a dark tank, and not suffering with algae.
 

Zeus.

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How do you guys juggle the 'plant needs' versus your 'viewing needs'?

Well till tanks fill in (increased biomass) I shield the tank from natural light esp in spring and fall as the low sun gets to tanks in those periods
 

Tom Raffield

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I've made the changes to the timers for a more plant friendly photoperiod. My CO2 is coming on two hours before lights and running at the same as Day 1. I will lower CO2 once the tank is fully established.

Although I do have some questions which are probably silly! I have this Solar and Effect system which is too small for my tank but I am talking to JBL directly about an exchange for the correct size and therefore changing my T5 tubes to LED.

--> I have two 54W T5 tubes currently.
--> Considering to move to one LED Natur (57W) and one LED Effect (16W).

The Effect unit is not really for plant growth I don't think but the Natur is. Will dropping from 108W of T5 light to having the one main 57W Natur LED be more detrimental to growth than positive? Or does it not work like that when moving from fluorescent to LED? I am not really in the know when it comes to lighting units and lighting levels. A positive of the JBL system is the ability to programme sunrise and sunset which should give me some more time with the lights on in the evening whilst not overdoing the powerful light during the growing period.

I am only asking so that I can possibly make some use of this LED system by trading it up rather than lose out completely. If the 'upgrade' to the JBL LED system is not really worth it from a plant perspective then I will look at other ways of moving the system on and stick with my T5s or research another system entirely.
 

Tom Raffield

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I have also discovered my reflectors in the garage.

Should I be adding these to my new setup? The plants appear to be doing alright. I'll post a few photos today on the journal.

Also, any thoughts on the T5 to LED switch?
 

rebel

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I have my photoperiod from 1700-midnight daily. Otherwise I can't see the tank after work.
 

oreo57

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I have also discovered my reflectors in the garage.

Should I be adding these to my new setup? The plants appear to be doing alright. I'll post a few photos today on the journal.

Also, any thoughts on the T5 to LED switch?

Somewhat a complicated question.
Factors that influence that are
1)T5 reflector quality
2)Led diode efficiency.
3) Geometry (i.e how much light is currently lost outside the tank)
4) ramping up vs on/off
5) LED color adjustments.

t5 watt efficiency is around 70-100 Lumens per watt
LED watt efficiency is about 60-150 Lumens per watt.
IN A VERY general sense due to efficiency (sometimes, current sub 1W LEds are 100Lumens/watt) and adding the increased direction-ality (all the time) of LEDs many recorded measurements show one could
assume 1W LED = 2W t5 w/ average reflectors.

Personally usually one can't go wrong matching w/w and making sure one has a dimmer.
108 vs 73 is what you are currently looking at.
Roughly 75% of current output so you should be good to go.
I know watts are passe but if one has nothing to start with..well

Keep in mind that when you start dimming channels/ramping time periods you mess w/ the cumulative daylight photons
as opposed to on/off t5's.
Also increasing photoperiod will make up for any decrease in output. 50ppfd over 10 hours = 100 ppfd over 5 hours.
 

Tom Raffield

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Somewhat a complicated question.
Factors that influence that are
1)T5 reflector quality
2)Led diode efficiency.
3) Geometry (i.e how much light is currently lost outside the tank)
4) ramping up vs on/off
5) LED color adjustments.

t5 watt efficiency is around 70-100 Lumens per watt
LED watt efficiency is about 60-150 Lumens per watt.
IN A VERY general sense due to efficiency (sometimes, current sub 1W LEds are 100Lumens/watt) and adding the increased direction-ality (all the time) of LEDs many recorded measurements show one could
assume 1W LED = 2W t5 w/ average reflectors.

Personally usually one can't go wrong matching w/w and making sure one has a dimmer.
108 vs 73 is what you are currently looking at.
Roughly 75% of current output so you should be good to go.
I know watts are passe but if one has nothing to start with..well

Keep in mind that when you start dimming channels/ramping time periods you mess w/ the cumulative daylight photons
as opposed to on/off t5's.
Also increasing photoperiod will make up for any decrease in output. 50ppfd over 10 hours = 100 ppfd over 5 hours.

Thanks for this summary. It's a complicated world out there but I can get my head around this.

I'm still waiting on JBL to get back to me about exchanging my LED unit. So for the meantime I'll keep my T5s running and clean the reflectors ready for if I install those too. If the JBL switch is a no go then it will be T5s for the foreseeable future.

T5, T5 + reflectors or LEDs, I just need to be careful as I don't want to take myself out of the low/low mid light category.
 

Tom Raffield

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How much ambient sunlight does this tank recieve between 07:00 -17:00?

I too was wondering this. It can't be much at all?
My tank receives so much natural light that I can't have full on lights in the evening even if this was my main photoperiod.

This is why the LED sunset, moonlight options are of interest to me to actually enable me to 'view' the tank in the evening for a few hours without creating another photoperiod.
 

Tim Harrison

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So my newly planted Juwel Vision 260 is up and running (see Journal Thread: Tank Reborn).

I am aiming for a low maintenance, low tech and easy to look after setup hence the degree of 'easy' plants. I used Tropica Aquarium Soil and have micro and macro ferts from Aquarium Plantfood UK. I am yet to dose these but might put a small dose every few days in the initial stages; I want to avoid EI dosing and the huge water changes that accompany this method of dosing. Eventually I want to use the Duckweed Index to help me to know when to dose but am yet to fully read up on this. I am also running a small amount of CO2 to get the plants established, I have a pressurised setup from my previous tank, before reducing down to a very low level of CO2 injection.

What I have now been considering is the photoperiod for the plants. I am aiming for 6 hours at the moment and will extend to hopefully 8 or so hours when the tank is established. My tendency in the past has been to run the photoperiod in the afternoon and evening so that I can enjoy watching the tank when I am home from work. However, the tank is in a very naturally well lit room. There is no direct light on the tank but we have huge windows at one end of the room and then a wall of glass at the other so the room is filled with natural light all day. Should I be running the photoperiod at a more 'normal' time of day for the plants? Say 10am to 4pm? But if I do this what can I do about evening lighting as I don't want to over light the tank and risk algae.

How do you guys juggle the 'plant needs' versus your 'viewing needs'?

For reference, I have the Juwel light unit with two brand new Arcadia Tropical 54W T5s. Would this be considered low or medium light in my tank?
I'd have the photoperiod coincide with your viewing time, otherwise what's the point. Ambient light isn't usually a problem, direct sunlight can be. Either way just try it and see how you go. As always plant heavily from the outset and keep on top of maintenance.
 

rebel

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How much ambient sunlight does this tank recieve between 07:00 -17:00?
Not much direct during the week. During weekend there is some direct sunlight for short periods. I do get plenty of GDA/BBA etc but I can manage that.
 

Tom Raffield

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I'd have the photoperiod coincide with your viewing time, otherwise what's the point. Ambient light isn't usually a problem, direct sunlight can be. Either way just try it and see how you go. As always plant heavily from the outset and keep on top of maintenance.

I intend to keep up with my water change schedule until the tank is fully established. But as I am aiming for low tech and easy to care for I am trying to remain in the low/mid light category. The room is exceptionally light during the day even in cloudy conditions so having the lights on during this period does make sense to me. That said there is no direct sun on the tank at anytime. Downside to daytime lighting is the lack of light in the evening.

How quickly can plants adapt to change? Say I decide to go back to an evening photoperiod and things go wrong. Could I instantly change back to a daytime photoperiod or would it need to be slowly altered hour by hour over time?
 

Tom Raffield

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An online retailer has potentially offered to 'exchange' my JBL Solar units in return for buying the right sized units from them (plus the WiFi control unit which I am interested in as it has so many options and controls). Am sorting final details with them but looks like I might be heading in the LED direction.
 

Tim Harrison

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I intend to keep up with my water change schedule until the tank is fully established. But as I am aiming for low tech and easy to care for I am trying to remain in the low/mid light category. The room is exceptionally light during the day even in cloudy conditions so having the lights on during this period does make sense to me. That said there is no direct sun on the tank at anytime. Downside to daytime lighting is the lack of light in the evening.

How quickly can plants adapt to change? Say I decide to go back to an evening photoperiod and things go wrong. Could I instantly change back to a daytime photoperiod or would it need to be slowly altered hour by hour over time?
I wouldn't worry unduly, often times I program my light to come on around 2pm and off at 8 - 10 pm with no problems. I also think you're okay to experiment with the timing of the photoperiod. I doubt it'll do much in the way of harm so long as everything else is well balanced and you don't chop and change too much.
 

Tom Raffield

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I wouldn't worry unduly, often times I program my light to come on around 2pm and off at 8 - 10 pm with no problems. I also think you're okay to experiment with the timing of the photoperiod. I doubt it'll do much in the way of harm so long as everything else is well balanced and you don't chop and change too much.
Thanks Tim. I'll see what happens with the store and then I'll know if I am definitely making the LED switch.
Am liking the ability to programme full sunrise, daytime and sunset with the main photoperiod being the most intense light. The lightning and cloud effect bits and bobs are a bit of a gimmick I guess but might be fun to watch :cool:
 

Wolf6

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Netherlands
I am looking at starting a new tank sometime in the coming year and I'm considering the same problem. I am (without corona to keep me at home) normally away during daytime, mostly seeing the tank in the evenings and mornings. The location where the tank would be has a lot of daylight because of the rooflights. I've come up with 2 solutions for my own situation, but I'm not sure about either yet. Either way its costly :(
On the one hand I'm thinking I might get a twinstar 1200 for photoperiod light during the day, coinciding with the natural light, and then get a seperate type of spotlight that only illuminates part of the tank for the nighttime/early morning viewing. Hopefully I can find one with a nice shimmer effect that isnt too expensive. At the same time I'm also worried that might cause more algae, so it would have to be pretty low light or come with a decent dimmer, but would that be enough to get the desired shimmer effect...
Alternatively I've also considered just getting 2x AI prime HD lights and just using the moonlight (or very low intensity) option for the nighttime viewing, this supposedly has decent shimmer. Downside is that it is less good for the plants (not saying its bad, just not as good as twinstar as far as I've read), and that I might need 3 instead of 2 on the intended tank (120x60x50, meaning its also a lot more costly. I havent decided yet which of these is safest (algae wise and best for plants. I've always found fish to be at their most beautiful in relatively low light conditions, so both options would suit the main viewing time (nighttime) quite well in that regard. Kessils could be better then AI prime, but thats overstretching the budget even further then the other options :)
 

Onoma1

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I have been eperimenting with this during lockdown. I found that using floating plants allows me to have a much longer photo period. I would probably go further and say it requires a longer photo period.

It also seems to lead to less stressed fish, more control (duckweed index), more diverse mico-fauna and increased breeding behaviour. I also noticed that more fry survive and the water quality seems to have improved. The colours on my fish also seemed to have intensified.

You also get to view your fish for longer :)

Which as my wife doesn't see the point of a tank which is dark for 18 hours is also a win ...
 

Sergey

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I've been using siesta regimen in my non-CO2 or constant-CO2 tanks, lights are on 7AM-11AM and 3PM-8PM, so I can view my tank before and after work.
Plants are growing fine, no algae except some green dust on the glass.
 

Tom Raffield

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I've been using siesta regimen in my non-CO2 or constant-CO2 tanks, lights are on 7AM-11AM and 3PM-8PM, so I can view my tank before and after work.
Plants are growing fine, no algae except some green dust on the glass.
I've always been interested with this approach and there are mixed opinions. Never tried it myself but it does make sense in terms of being able to view the tank without inputting too much light.
 
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