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Old 04-15-2017, 10:19 AM   #1
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LED light project - Planted tank

I have a new project I want to attempt. I have never made LED lighting for an aquarium. I have always contented myself with T8 or T5 tubes - usually preinstalled in existing lids.

So, I am getting 2 x 220 lit aquariums. I'm guessing around 1m in length 45cm deep and 50cm high. Neither have a lid nor lighting. I have a temporary solution but want to make a new lighting system.

Multi chip or single diode in series ? Lenses or not ? What colours for full spectrum planted tank ? How many of each colour ? How many watts per litre ? Lumens or Kelvin ? So here is the "problem". I do not know much about LED. So many options out there and so I turn to fellow aquarists for advice. Online, nearly all DIY LED setups are for marine aquariums so blue and red are the only colours.

Looking around, it seems Multichip offers great possibilities as I can mix and match for a single connection. But then there is Cree lights connected in series ..... Then there is a question of channels I have read about, but I think I can get a sparky friend to help me with connections. But he knows nothing about growing plants, let alone in an aquarium.

What would you suggest ?
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Old 04-17-2017, 02:42 PM   #2
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those are usable light spectrums for plants.

However if you used nothign but red and blue LEDs you'd have a tank that looked like this




SO what you need to do is use primarily white LEDS that encompass the color range needed, and then add in some red and blue specific LEDs to help intensify the plant specific spectrum's

When it comes to white light cool white encompasses blue hues... and warm uses more reds




I haven't built one yet, but spectrums and led types are your 1st step.

now do you want a powerful light low tech light or medium light. You have to decide on a .5 watt, 1 watt 3 watt or 5 watt systems. More watts more heat more power.

You also have ot think about lenses... A 120 degree lens will spread light more where a 60 degree lens will ultra focus the beam straight downward tot he substrate. If you can raise you light up a foot or 2 you can use these lens to focus less power but get similar results. Or if you want more coverage use the 120 degree lens and leave the lamp a little close to the surface.


some others will need to chime in on some of the other parts
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Old 04-17-2017, 02:57 PM   #3
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Thank you for the input. I really appreciate it.

I have been looking and and trying to cost out such a light as opposed to purchassing a ready made one. I am not an electrician but am willing to turn my hand where possible and if not too complicated. I am on a tight budget which is why I am looking to a DIY option.

To begin with, this is not easy because most LED setups are for marine tanks. Too much blue or pink or simply "blurple". Ugh !!! When I seek DIY components, I fall right backinto marine combinations .... missing greens and UV and even white.


But in my searching, I have come up with a combination that I think could work. My trouble now is whether to havethis made up into 3 COBs or with single chips. Do I need lenses or not? I would like it to be programmable, at the very least on a timer, but preferably programmable so as to be able to mimic sunrise and sunset.


I understand that I would need channels. I am here at a loss as to what I shoud be aiming at. My calculation is a 100W rig. I envisage the following:


70 x 10000k daylight cool white
16 x Actinic 460 nm blue
8 x 620 nm red
6 x 520 nm green


This represents 100 units @ 1W each. My tank is 220 litres, 100 x 50 x 45 cm. The tank is not for breeding per se. A planted theme tank, Asian varieties of fish.


I have tried to find something that resembles this make up but have come up empty. I live in Switzerland and buying this individually is way more expensive than buying a commercial one. Online I find some of what I am looking for but not all. If I combine sets, I'm back to more expensive than a commercial one.


Can you suggest something I can do? Buying from the US is simply too expensive ... although slightly cheaper than here (without import taxes). I have looked at AliExpress but have come up empty in my search.


I am hoping you may be able to assist inthis endeavour. Please feel free to suggest whatever comes to mind as I might even have my composition wrong.
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Old 04-17-2017, 03:22 PM   #4
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Todays DIY LED projects are fun.. But I don't see lots of savings anymore. Just nice custom setups


I personally bought my light off amazon.. its a Chinese cheapo buts it rocks. I spent $90 USA on that. Beamswork .


If you go DIY your on the right track for LED selection. You could even use 90 degree lens on your white leds and use 120 on your color leds this will focus the whites some and dispersed the colors across.. Could blend the spectrum's for a nice look. But that is my hypothesis and untested.


You will need a good aluminum mount / heatsink. A couple of LED drivers to drive each bank of leds. How far you want to take the light is the next question cause you can add dimmer circuits for sunrise and sunset effects but now your opening the wallet a little more and adding some build stress because the more you add the more that can go wrong..


Basically you get a powersupply that reduces voltage down to the proper amount. or you connect power to you voltage drivers. Ensure proper output at the drivers. I believe a good driver should have built in circuit protection and voltage control in it. Get good reviews and don't go cheap

Then I would look into mounting your lLEDS with heat sink epoxy. Your gonna have to design your layout for the colors you choose so they are evenly dispersed. How you lay it out is dealers choice. But only so many leds per driver.

if you have a good aluminum heatsink as a light mount you probably won't need a cooling fan as long as there is plenty of air circulating over it naturally. If its enclosed ensure you hjae fans for heat.


For the record I am an electronic technician by trade. Just have not done a full LED build on my own. SO lots of little tidbits are lost on me right now. I plan on doing some LED stuff for my hydroponic systems but that's in the future a few months
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