Category Archives: Aquarium Lighting

Aquarium Hydroponic Conversion- SHO Light: Lighting Requirements

Last Revised: 1/8/2019

Disclaimer: The purpose of these articles is not to support illegal or intended illegal action of the reader. It’s to show how aquarium products (lighting in particular) can be used in an industry that is ever growing. The author is in no way responsible for how this information is used.

Cannabis plants are very “high energy” meaning they require a lot of energy from the sun. This energy or total flow of light from the sun is measured in Lumens. One Lumen would be equal to one flow of light from a very small wax candle.

To find the efficiency of a bulb/lamp/LED used in a grow room, you simply take: lumens/watt = lm/watt

For example: A 85 watt SHO bulb that produces the same wattage as a standard 425 watt incandescent bulb has a Lumen output of 4,680 lm (Lumens). So the efficiency of the bulb is 4,680lm/85watt = 55.09 lm/watt.

LUX is actually the intensity of light hitting a surface and is used to determine the proper amount of grow light needed for plants. It is measured in lm/m2.

Measuring out a Lux

To find the Lux a bulb produces, you would take the bulb and direct all the light towards a surface area measuring 1 square meter.

For example: Using the same 85 watt SHO bulb that products 4680 lm. You would take 4,680/1 lm/m2 = 4,680 lux (4,680 lumen distributed over 1 square meter)

1 meter converts into 3.3 feet or 39.4 inches

On a clear summer day, the sun gives off something close to 32,000-130,000 lux in the direct sun. This is relative where you are located on a longitudinal axis. The closer you are to the equator, the more direct sun your plants are getting. 5,000 lux is minimal for life of a ‘high energy” plant. 90,000 lux is considered the max Lux and anything more would damage the plant. 25,000-50,000 lux is optimal for fast growth.

Different strains of plants require more light to grow. This is why Sativa and Indica strains naturally grow in two different climates of the world. Sativa requires much more Lux to grow than Indica. Plants that are “high energy” require a minimum of 5-8 hours of this direct sunlight when grown outdoors.

Growing indoors gives you the ability to control the amount of light given to a plant at different stages of growth. For strong high producing plants, they will require 18-24 hours of light for 4-6 weeks. This is called the Vegetative Stage. Many growers use 18 hours of light believing that 24 hours will produce unneeded stress for the plant and the difference between 18 hours and 24 hours shows little difference in plant’s yield. Low amounts of Lux in this stage will result in slow growth and less vegetation. Plants will grow taller rather than outward, resulting in the end yield to be much less. This stage may need to be extended longer than 4-6 weeks if a low amount of Lux is being used.
Simple Hydroponic Lux Compair
Plants shown in above pictures were grown from seed at the same time. One was planted in an outdoor garden, while the other in an indoor grow set-up.

After the Vegetating Stage is the Flowering Stage. During this stage, the plant will need 12 hours of strong direct light and 12 hours very dark. Low amounts of Lux in this stage will result in slow vegetation growth meaning few buds. 30,000 lux would be considered to be a low amount of Lux for the Flowering Stage.

More light can always be used, but keep in mind that more light means more heat output and generally more cost. This is something that the grower needs to consider during the beginning stage of setting up our indoor/enclosed grow set-up.

Light Requirements of “High Energy” Plants

Amount of lux Plant Growth
1000 – 5000 lux Min. necessary for life
10000 – 15000 lux Min. necessary for consistent but sparse growth
20000 – 25000 lux Min. necessary for robust growth
25000 – 30000 lux Max. Efficiency for Sub Tropical varieties
25000 – 50000 lux Max. Efficiency for Equatorial varieties

Type Wattage Temperature Focused Lumens Height to 1 Sq. Meter* Lux
SHO 65 Watt 6400K 3600 15 Inch 3600
SHO 85 Watt 6400K 4680 15 Inch 4680
SHO 105 Watt 6400K 5600 15 Inch 5600
PAR 38 12 Watt 6500K 61140 625 Inch 1140
GroBeam 500 12 Watt 6500K 1140 15 Inch 1140
GroBeam 1000 12 Watt 6500K 2850 15 inch 2850
CFL 13 Watt 6500K 800 Lumens N/A 800
CFL 15 Watt 6500K 930 Lumens N/A 930
Red LED Supplementary Light and Night Vision
Reflector 12 Inch Focus

*Height the light is mounted before it tailors off outside a square meter
Note:The numbers provided in this table are from lights that are mounted between 15-25 inches (the height required to fill an entire square meter). Realistically, You would never want to mount your lights 15-25 inches away from your plants, unless the lights you can afford have a very high Lumen rating. Lumens are lost when the lights are mounted to high. The closer the light source is to the plants, the more intense Lumens the plant is receiving. Mount your lights on a pulley system and always keep the lights 3-5 inches from the plants. Hoods and reflective surfaces will amplify your light source. Measuring Lumens in anything smaller than one square meter can be tricky. Remember the Lux rating listed above is over a square meter.

How to build a quick and cheap 10 gal hydroponic system out of an aquarium:


10 gal Aquarium*
Light Source
9’’ x 19’’ Styrofoam
(3) Styrofoam Cups
Aquarium Air Pump
Air Line Tubing
Air Stone
Grow Medium*
White Card Paper
Black Card Paper
Simple on/off Timer
Plant Fertilizer (water soluble)

*Keep in mind that the larger the aquarium you are using, the more plants you can grow. This also means a larger light source is required.
*Different grow mediums can be used. For a cheap medium, try volcanic rock.

The Build:

1. Start by taking your aquarium and making it so it’s going to retain as much light as possible. Tape white card stock around the whole outside of the aquarium. White card stock is going to make it so all light shined into the hydro system is reflected back to the plants leafs. This is giving your plant as much light as possible with the lights you are using.

2. Next, tape black card stock right over the white card stock. This blacks out any lights that is not reflected and is trying to escape. Set the tank aside for later.

3. Take the Styrofoam cups and trace the diameter of the top of the cups onto the piece of 9’’ x 19’’ Styrofoam. Make sure that the cups are evenly spread and centered on the Styrofoam. The cups will slide into the holes cut and will float onto of water. This is the platform your plants will grow on so making them balance under weight is key. Cut these holes out.

4. Make small holes around the entire Styrofoam cups. This will allow for roots to reach the nutrient water.

5. Fill Styrofoam cup with grow medium. (Note: if you are growing your plants from seeds, you can germinate the seeds in these pods by putting a thin layer of soil on the grow medium. Place seed in soil and rubber-band clear plastic around the top of the cup. Once green growth can be seen, remove clear plastic)

6. Fill Aquarium about ¾ of the way full. Add nutrients to water at this point.

7. Add air pump to aquarium with the air stone attached to the air line tubing. Roots that are sitting in water need oxygen; the more oxygen the better. Try and use an air stone that has medium size bubbles; so not to damage the plants roots.

8. Float Styrofoam piece on water in the aquarium. Gently place Styrofoam cups into the whole. Styrofoam set-up will float.

9. Suspend lights over aquarium tank. At first, lights will most likely sit directly on the aquarium. Use a reflector for your light if need be. As plant grows, the light will need to be raised to be directly over the top of the plants Usually 3-5 inch will work. Set timer on lights to turn off and on for amount of time light that’s needed.

Wholaa, and there you have it. This is a very simple (one of the simplest) hydroponic set-up. Remember to track your plants progress so you can make adjustments as needed.
None-the-less, if you can only afford an inexpensive light source, this hydroponic set up works great for clones.

Also, something to keep in the back of your mind are insects and temperature of the hydro set up. Using a fan can help protect your plants, keeps the set-up cool, and helps builds strong stems.



Copyright 2019
By Steve Allen

T2 Subminiature Aquarium Lights; Review, Planted, Reef, Fish

Revised; 1/8/19

T2 Aquarium Lights; Review

Although not as well known as their larger T5 and T12 cousins, the T2 subminiature aquarium light offers a unique small yet higher output of PUR per watt of electricity used over their larger cousins.
Information Source: Aquarium Lighting, PUR, Useful Light Energy

Despite what others such as a misinformed member at Aquatic Plant Central said (Niko), these are not just “to mount under kitchen cabinets”.
Yes, the original T2 Light fixtures were just that; for high light in a small space, generally storage, cabinets and similar. But the same can be said for almost all other aquarium lighting from T8, T5, to LEDs; these all got their start for other lighting applications and then correct Kelvin, reflectors, etc. were added to make these work for aquatic applications.

What is unfortunately missed by anecdotal comments such as those made at Aquatic Plant Central (admittedly this post is almost two years old, but others still read this when searching for answers), is that the aquarium industry as a whole is but a needle in a haystack and that much of the equipment, treatments, even quality fish foods have been developed in other industries since there is little development funding in the aquarium industry due to its size.

Please see the above/left planted 60 gallon aquarium that is lighted with (6) 13 Watt 6400k T2 Lights.

Planted 10 gallon Aquarium with T2 6400l lighting, lightsOr see the picture to the left for a 10 gallon planted aquarium with only two 11 Watt T2 Lights.

Neither tanks are using supplemental CO2 other than Flourish Excel.
Product Source: Flourish Excel from American Aquarium

Both pictures can be enlarged by clicking on.


Back to Aquarium T2 Lights:
With the new rotating focusing lens and the Tropical Noon 6400K daylight lamps, the T2 is viable alternative T5s and especially T8s and CFL lights.
The lumen output is 73 lumens per watt (better than any CFL), with a slightly higher blue content (with slightly less useless green/yellow light energy) than comparable CFLs.
The bottom line is; the best 6400K T2 lights with their high lumen per watt and PUR output require as little as 1 to 1.25 watts per gallon for a planted aquarium!

The picture above left shows the underside of an old Bio Cube Aquarium hood with two new CFL 6500K Daylight Bulbs (one 13 watt and one 15 watt) plus the addition of just an 8 Watt 6400K T2 Retrofit!

Recommended Product Source: T2 Aquarium Lights

The Picture below is this same 14 gallon Bio Cube showing the light differences in the aquarium. It is noteworthy that the T2 is more forward in the hood, so when only the T2 is on the back of the aquarium is slightly dark. This said, it is still obvious that the One 8 Watt T2 completes quite well with Two CFL lights of approximately 75% higher wattage.
The reader should also note that the T2 produces a slightly more crisp light.
(Both pictures can be clicked on to enlarge)

Below is a top view of just many ways to mount these VERY versatile lights, which can be simply placed on top with spacers, mounted into a hood, mounted into a shelf above, mounted into a wall or board behind the tank, or many other ways anyone with just a small amount of creative skills can think of!!
This picture shows a creative way two of these lights can be tied together using included parts so as to make a double light for placement on a smaller high light requiring planted aquarium:
t2 Aquarium Lighted top view mounting

For marine aquariums, the T2 fall short for applications much over 12 inches in part due to the fact they are currently available in 6400K daylight (which is generally the most PAR/PUR optimized kelvin temperature), however higher kelvin temperatures of 9000K to 14000k are necessary for increasingly deeper aquariums.
This said, the T2 can still be used in a marine/reef aquarium lighting mix with T5, LED, etc of higher Daylight Kelvin as well as blue/actinic.
Also the T2 6400K daylight is excellent for many Reef Aquarium Refugium and/or sump applications.

Information Source: Marine Aquarium Care

Back to Planted Freshwater or Fish only freshwater, these T2 lights are unbeatable for the light output in a small space, with exceptional plant growth to prove it.
This is based personal use as well as a many friends in the aquarium industry now using these lights. In fact one friend told me that he knows of a client from NASA who has purchased several on many occasions (what he used the lights for, I do not know).

Information Source: Planted Aquarium Care

Probably the biggest draw back as I see it for the T2 Light is the fragile size of the lamp, but even here I have seen few difficulties other than the very small contact area between the lamp and the fixture which is easy to move the lamp “out of place”, resulting in the lamp not functioning.
This is one reason the T2 Aquarium Light is not available in sizes over 21 inches; however this too is overcome with the nice linkable feature that each fixture comes standard with which basically makes each light fixture into a larger one.

AAP-Aqueon Freshwater Aquarium LED Clip On Light
It is noteworthy that as of 2018, T2 aquarium lights have been discontinued due to the economy of the professional aquarium industry.
This said, if one is looking for a lower cost light, that still is of modern technology, consider the AAP Clip On LED light for standard or planted aquariums.
AAP/Aqueon Freshwater Aquarium LED Clip-On Light-

Further References:

Aquarium Lighting

Or for the best in premium hot cathode replacement UV Bulbs for aquarium or pond UV Sterilization, please follow these two resource links:
*Premium UV Bulb, Lamps, Lights
*UV Sterilization; How Aquarium or Pond UV Sterilizers Work

Copyright 2019; Steve Allen

TMC GroBeam 1000, & New 600/1500 Ultima Review

Revised 1/8/19

20 Gallon Planted Aquarium with one GroBeam LED and one T2 Light20 Gallon Planted Aquarium with one GroBeam LED Light
The above is a couple of 20 gallon planted aquariums that the pictures were forwarded to me that has been using ONLY ONE American Aquarium GroBeam and ONE T2 Aquarium Light.
She told my friend this about these aquariums with a GroBeam LED this:
“The plant production out of these two small tanks has been amazing. I trim about every 2 weeks and sell the excess at my LFS.”
This pictures can be enlarged by clicking on (photos by Patricia Grice).

Product References:
American Aquarium GroBeam LED Lighting
American Aquarium T2 Lighting

Section 1; Customer Review
This is a consumer review sent to me (by a friend of a friend).
The output is similar to the GroBeam 500/600 since the emitters are identical (although there are differences in the drivers), so those looking into a GroBeam 500/600 can certainly find this review useful as well.

GroBeam 1000 LED Planted Aquarium Lighting“1. – Extremely well packaged and arrived in perfect condition. I’m only using one light for the next two weeks until I get my big tank set up.

2. – VERY WELL MADE lamps from the water resistant covers to the sockets. These are very sturdy lights. You get what you pay for.

3. – I LOVE these Gro-Beam 1000 lights! I may have been using an old 175w metal halide bulb, but these lights are every bit as bright and concentrated as metal halide. I love the “beam” effect it has when punching through the water. The color is beautiful, and it truly looks like my tank is in the sun.

4. – NO light pollution – the light goes where it is directed. I had light going everywhere with my metal halide. It is a more calming light. When I’m on my couch starting at the aquarium, I don’t feel like I am looking into stage lights.

5. – Have you done a PUR study on these? My plants have NEVER pearled as much under halide as they do with this light. It’s kind of like looking through a weak glass of 7-up. Outstanding! So, I know my plants are loving it if they pearl within and hour and oxygen saturation has occurred within that short time frame.
Reference: Aquarium Lighting; PUR, Photosynthetically Usable Radiation

6. – The dark corners when the light is close to the water (for the next few days, it is sitting on the glass canopy) gives a beautiful appearance of great depth or distance to the tank. It isn’t a light explosion like with UGLY fluorescent lighting. Extreme lighting in all areas which can be accomplished through HO fluorescent is far from calming to look at. With the GroBeam 1000. It looks like I am underwater looking at the items – there are shadows, glitter lines, and a sense of depth which is natural in nature.
See product link: American Aquarium AquaRay Lighting; GroBeam

7. – These two lights will pay for themselves in 3 years vs. metal halide or other LED systems. I ran the numbers, and with the amount saved and the 5 year warranty, they can’t be beat. After seeing and experiencing the build quality, I can now certainly confirm this.

8. – Bye Bye to my metal halide, the heat, the very warm ballast, and the feeling I was always under a sunlamp when working in my tank.

9. – Bye Bye to the expensive bulb replacements and the special handling they require. You aren’t supposed to touch the halide bulbs with your fingers – hmmmmmmmmmm, how do you replace them then, with gloves? If oil from the skin can damage a metal halide bulb, why are we using such “delicate” things? I always used my bare hands but always worried too what would happen.

10. – and finally, HELLO to the LEDS!!! Welcome to the new technology and the safety of them. They are worth every penny. I’m looking forward to having to prune my planted tank often. That’s what makes the hobby fun.

GroBeam 1000 Video



I decided the plants take precedent over my preference of color which is why I went with the appropriate lights rather than the XG1500 9000K. I had a 175, 6700K Metal Halide over my 22 gallon cube, and then switched it over to a 14K bulb I had when I used to do saltwater just to see the difference. I didn’t like the blue appearance nor how it made the plants look odd. True, my neon tetras glowed more blue as did my beta, but the plants looked weird. I went back to the 6700K last night to make my final decision. Everything looked much better under that light. It is under 6700K that I got explosive growth when I added a good, CO2 reactor (I use the Red Sea Reactor 500 – although some don’t like it, I think it is wonderful!)
See product links:
TMC 1500 LED Lights
CO2 reactors, economy

P.S.I purchased some fish magazine off the shelf and was looking through it last night. There were bunches of ad for LEDS, 155 1 watt bulbs!, etc. I just had to laugh when I read them 🙂 I hope people truly do their research!!
Reference: Aquarium Lighting Facts & Research

By Gary S.

Section 2; GroBeam 600 & 1500 Ultima

Please Click pictures to enlarge


• The New (as of January of 2013) GroBeam XB-D Ultima 1500 Tile & 600 Strip is an over all wide angle 65K High Light Planted or Fish Freshwater Aquarium Light.
See this product link: Aquarium LED Lights; 1500 Tile & 600 Strips

These new emitters seem to run even cooler than earlier emitters with a voltage variance that likely will be less sensitive to voltage spikes that moisture in an aquatic environment can cause.
As well the PAR is higher than that of the previous versions

• These newest adaptation of the Natural Daylight LED, aka the GroBeam now has the patented Cree Natural Daylight XB-D LED emitters

• The 1500 consists of 10 x 6,500K extremely high output NEW patented Natural Daylight XB-D LED emitters while the 600 strip utlizes 5 of the new patented emitters
The 600 Ultima consists of 5 x 6,500K XB-D LED emitters.

Please see the picture above for a 45 gallon “Cube” planted freshwater aquarium with two GroBeam 600 Ultimas

• For “High Light” Planted Aquariums, best results achieved under 25 inches of depth (the Marine White can be supplemented 1 to 2 for deeper planted aquariums)

• Excellent for Marine Refugiums as large as 38 gallons for the GroBeam 1500 or 15 gallons for the GroBeam #600

• The 1500 tile achieves 2058 Lumens, and a PAR of 148 uEinsteins/sec/m2 @16 inches.
The previous 1000 GroBeam Tile has a PAR of 123 uEinsteins/sec/m2 @16 inches

Please Read/Reference:
Aquarium Lighting; Facts & Information
PUR, PAS, PAR in Aquarium Reef/Planted Lighting

For Marine Reef Aquariums, see the related:
American Aquarium Reef Lights; Ultima 600, 1500, 2000

Also see:
Product Feedback @ American Aquarium Products

Copyright 2019
By Steve Allen


For Help Finding a High Quality Hot Cathode UV-C Replacement Bulb:
UV Bulbs; Guide