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Old 04-16-2011, 08:38 PM   #1
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Best lighting for non-planted freshwater tank?

I have tried a lot of different fluorescent bulbs and non of them look good. I've tried Zoo Med Floramax, which is too red. I've tried Zoo Med Ultrasun, but that had almost no red and way too much blue.

Then I tried Coralife Colormax. It wasn't great either. It was harsh and gave me headache.

What's the best lighting for a non-planted freshwater tank?

I want something that has a nice even complete color spectrum. Every bulb I've seen has huge spikes in the blue, green, and or red, but they neglect all the other colors.

I want something as close to sunlight or incandescent, without a yellow tinge. I just want a pure, clean, complete white light.

I've considered led lighting, but I've already wasted a lot of money trying fluorescent bulbs and I don't want to buy it just to find out it looks bad too.

So, what kind of lighting will give me the closest color to sunlight?
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Old 04-16-2011, 08:41 PM   #2
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10,000k is about the best white light you can get. I had 10,000k's on all my tanks until I decided to try 6500k which I regret. Planted or not, 10,000k bulbs look best IMO.
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Old 04-17-2011, 11:24 AM   #3
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If you want natural looking light there are 2 things to look for; first is a high Color Rendition Index (CRI) number. This is generally on the tube or on the box. Sunlight has a CRI of 100 for comparison. The higher the number on the tube the better it will render colours naturally. The colour temp in K is the other factor. The colour of the sunlight at the equator at noon is around 5500K. With that in mind, there are a couple of economical choices available. I like the Philips Natural Sunshine which is a 5000K tube available from Home Depot. An alternative is the Philips Ultra Daylight which is 6500K. Both of these tube run around $4 for a 48" T8, but are also available in T12.
Incandescent lights are really horrible yellow that render colours poorly, as well as throwing far too much heat.
As far as 10000K lights go they are far too blue and expensive, IMO. For me, 6500K is already starting to look blue. Regardless, if you want natural colour (and many don't), look to the CRI first.
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