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Old 03-31-2011, 09:41 PM   #61
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It's really more of a design and proof of concept rather than a build thread. Here's my fixture. Here's what it can do.

I suppose it is a bit hypocritical that I don't have a background. In my defense this wasn't supposed to be the tank I did the LED build on. I was going to do it on my 40B, but I chickened out because I had zero faith in my electrical skills and I wanted to minimize the financial hit when all the magic smoke escaped from the circuit. I've been debating whether I should try a black laminate background, try to figure out how to paint the back of the tank with it set up, or just leave it and grow the plants thick enough to block out the back glass.

Thanks. The scape is a work in progress. I actually just pulled out the wad of guppy grass because it was annoying me and I spread out the telanthera a bit. The little cave/castle is actually my wife's. She likes it in the tank, so I leave it there. She actually wants to put a bigger, very similar castle in the tank. I feel like the tank needs some kind of hardscape, so we'll see.

I'm pretty excited about the glosso at the moment. All the new growth is practically flat on the floor of the tank. It's going to look like the tank is tiled with little green leaves at this rate.

The light green plant in the back left corner is asian ambulia. I didn't realize it was so demanding of light when I traded for it, so it died back to just a few sprigs. It's coming back nicely now and I'm hoping it'll get back to the thick bushiness it was when I got it. I can actually see how much it grew today alone.
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Old 03-31-2011, 09:48 PM   #62
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I don't have a background on my 30 gallon tank. I was planning on putting a black piece of plastic behing the tank like I did on my old 10 gallon, but I decided against it. I, working towards grossing a wall of anacharis in the back but not to the point where it completely blocks out the back wall. I like being able to see light behind the plants. It makes the aquarium seem bigger and not so cramped.
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Old 03-31-2011, 09:50 PM   #63
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Jim, I call dibs on the first trimming of the ambulia (maybe we can trade some plants at that point?)... I'm searching hard for it... since some is illegal, nobody seems to carry any. I got some from KaiofCanada a while back, the only legal kind I know of, and it all died from my noobism to plants. I thought thats what it was, but wasn't sure.
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Old 03-31-2011, 09:51 PM   #64
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I would actually disagree with that. I think a dark background really gives the tank a sense of horizontal depth. I like it so much on my 40B that I wish all my tanks had painted backgrounds.
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Old 03-31-2011, 10:04 PM   #65
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mfd, I think I actually got the ambulia from FishEggs here on AA. You could try PMing him. Otherwise, you've got dibs on the first trimming. I haven't found anything saying asian ambulia is banned in Illinois, just that it's an invasive species and you're encouraged not to propagate it. All that means is I have to be responsible with any trimmings I have.
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Old 04-06-2011, 12:08 AM   #66
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I got my phosphate, nitrate, and hardness kits today. Here are the readings I got:
NO3 <5ppm
PO4 1.0-2.0ppm
GH < 17.9ppm (solution turned to final color with one drop)
KH 6dKH

Looks like I need to add some nitrate and reduce the phosphates in my fert mixture. I also need to do something about the GH. I'll have to do some research.



Full tank shot



The telanthera is looking awesome. The top half of the stems are almost blood red.



The nesaea is doing ok. I was losing some of the lower leaves so I spread out the stems.



The rotala is finally starting to grow noticeably. The moneywort is also growing nicely. I can't believe how bushy it's becoming.



The asian ambulia is growing quickly. The light green parts of the plants are new growth from the last week or so.



The glosso is starting to fill in. Keeping some of the small pieces planted has been a real challenge.
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Old 04-06-2011, 12:41 AM   #67
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I'm loving how everything is looking. I'm excited to see how the glosso turns out. I was thinking about going that route for ground cover, but decided on dwarf hairgrass instead.

My GH (=170ppm) and KH (=20ppm) are polar opposites of yours. I've been working to get them lower but the won't budge. Now, it could be the test kit I have. I use the strips that test a lot of things at once, but I've heard they aren't very accurate.

So, I've finally finished my LED system. I have two parallel strings of 6 lights in series (12 total LEDs). The LEDs are XR-E R2WC which put out 118 lumens nominal. I glued them to two pieces of aluminum L-rail which I then bolt to my aquarium hood. They are driven by a 1A Buckpuck (as I mentioned before) which uses about 22 watts of power and produce a total of ~1,850 lumens. The rails are fairly effective at dissipating heat. With all the LEDs, driver, and power supply tucked inside the hood, the temperature of the L-rail behind the LEDs gets up to 110 degrees F. With a fan installed, the temperature is 80-90 degrees depending on the fan speed.

The only problem I have with the system is the excessive amount of light flickering because of the rough water the filter outputs. It kind of gives the tank a strobelight effect. Have you experienced similar things with yours?

I'd like to thank you, though, on motivating me to get my lighting system done. I've been dreaming about this for a while and your success pushed me. I included a picture of my tank below along with the plants and inhabitants:

Dwarf Hairgrass - front right
Anacharis - Back right
Variegated Baby Tears - top left
Java Fern - back left
Java Moss - front middle

1 Chinese Algae Eater
1 Apple Snail
2 Ghost Shrimp
2 X-Ray Tetras
3 Glowlight Tetras
3 Zebra Danios
3 Dwarf Sunset Gouramis

I have DIY CO2 and have recently begun adding Flourish. I'm trying to do more research on ferts, so hopefully I'll be able to begin adding those soon.

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Old 04-06-2011, 09:55 AM   #68
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Glad to hear your LEDs are up and running. I looked at the XR-E R2s, but they were more expensive and harder to find any information for than the Q5s I used. I don't think Cree even had them listed on their page.

I get the strobing effect. The best way I've found to combat it is to fill the tank up so the water is touching the glass canopy. This stops the surface agitation, limiting the strobing effect. It has the side benefit of trapping the CO2 more effectively also. My 20H isn't sitting perfectly level, so I generally fill the tank so the water is touching half to three-quarters of the canopy. It's a nice compromise where I still get some shimmer effect, but it's not obnoxious.

You're off to a good start with your tank. It needs more plants! I've had a lot of trouble with anacharis and hair algae. I have a hunch that anacharis sucks down the nitrates without using much phosphate. I've also noticed that java fern grows better under lower light. As an experiment, I threw a couple baby ferns in my 20H with the ferts and the high light and they didn't grow as well as the ferns in my low-light 29g.

I think you might have some trouble with your fish list. CAEs get big and aggressive and gouramis usually don't like to get along. Just a couple issues to watch out for.

Look into the PPS Pro regimen. It's cheaper than the EI dosing and requires minimal testing once you get your ferts balanced.
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Old 04-06-2011, 11:01 AM   #69
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Sweet build! I've been reading up quite a bit on LEDs recently for SW applications. I haven't seen many FW builds, and planted even less.

I just breezed through this thread so forgive me if I repeat something...but here's my 2 cents...

w/r to comments about cooling, the heat dissipation properties of U-channel is plenty if the fixture is in open air and the LEDs are more than a few inches apart. If you want a longer explanation, I can go into the maximum operating junction temps and why they are never reached in open-air fixtures, and why it really doesn't mean much even if they are because by the time your driver burns out (which will likely happen first) you'll upgrade your LEDs because it will be cheaper to do that....but I digress!!

As far as the square channel, check out Home Page there is a blower fan that fits into the end of the tube and blows through it. Perfect for square channel.

Pressurizing Cooling Fan

Actually originally designed for a TV that isn't in production anymore, so it's like $16. But you still really don't need it if you go with U-channel. Square channel, maybe.

As for water cooling - overkill. Just like those huge finned heatsinks. Not necessary, unless you want the warm fuzzy. You can even make fixtures with the LEDs mounted to a sheet of aluminum and put little CPU heat sinks (less than $1 each) on the back and that works too, no active cooling.

Just curious if you are concerned about the location of your power supply?! Putting it on top of the tank like that seems like you are asking for an accident, and it would decrease the lifetime of the unit because of corrosion. Why not just set it off to the side of the tank or in the stand?
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Old 04-06-2011, 11:13 AM   #70
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I decided to keep this a minor engineering project by foregoing most of the heat transfer calculation. The square channel has worked for me so far. It's warm to the touch, but not outrageous. I may have to add a fan in August when it's hot, but I'd like to avoid adding any more circuits to this fixture if I can.

I'm not really worried about the power supply location. The fixture all but clamps onto the tank and I've got a glass canopy between the fixture and the water. No salt creep to worry about either. I like the power supply where it's at because the metal box and frame help dissipate the heat from the supply.

If you saw the mess I can make doing PWCs and trimming, you'd understand that everything electrical is safer above the water line.
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