55 Gallon upgrade..... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-01-2003, 12:40 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 67
I have a well established 55 gallon community tank with ~1 watt per gallon using standard fluorescent fixtures. I've had good success with "low light" plants and now want to get more adventurous.

I don't want to go beserk ($$$) but want to upgrade the lighting using power compacts. Here's my question - sounds dumb, but give it time .... I'm thinking ~4 watts per gallon should allow me to grow ~anything - but what should I buy? I'm reading quotes like "PCs give four times as much light per watt than standard fluorescents". I guess that it's lumens and wavelength that really count.

BigAlsOnline seem to have plenty of choice, but when choosing PCs, do I want to go to ~200W for my 55 gallon or is that complete overkill? I obviously don't want to spend more than I have to.

Put simply - how many "watts" from a PC system will I need to grow "high light" plants in a 55 gallon.

I'm somewhat bemused! Thanks for any advice you can give.

PS I'm prepared to use CO2.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-01-2003, 12:58 AM
Algae Grower
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: McKinney, Texas
Posts: 45
If I had a 55 gallon (or any other 48' wide) tank I would purchase a JBJ FORMOSA DELUXE. I found this link on Ebay seems like a good price.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=20755. If you want to build a custom hood you can do a retrofit kit from http://www.ahsupply.com/. Hope this helps
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-01-2003, 01:06 AM
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Location: Portland Orygun
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Only problem with that link is the bulbs are totally wrong for a planted tank. I would go to Aqua Botanic and get the light, pay a little more but get the right bulbs. Robert is the only place in the US selling the JBJ lights with plant bulbs.

Now to answer the question. You have been doing fine with low light plants and you want to move up. Going from 1 wpg to 4 wpg is a huge leap. You need to study up on fertilization, you will need a CO2 system, pressurized is best. You really need to think about it. If I were you I would head on over to AH Supply and get a 2x55 watt kit and retrofit it into your strip light. This will give you a 2 wpg tank. And you will be able to grow a lot more plants. Once you have mastered this level then you can think about moving up. I have a 55 gallon tank with 220 watts over it and you need to stay right on top of it or it will explode on you. Depending on what you call high light you will need from 3 wpg gallon and up.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-01-2003, 01:55 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 67
Thanks for the advice Rex. If I read you correctly "a watt is a watt" and I should ignore the quote about PCs giving "more light per watt".

I certainly don't want "explosive' growth, just a wider variety of healthier plants. At 2 watts per gallon will DIY CO2 do the trick? - obviously something is always going to be limiting with respective to photosynthesis and I don't think I'm ready to upgrade to a fancy system on this tank (I have plans for a more sophisticated 75 gallon set-up later this year if funds & wife allow!)

Given your comment about bulb type - if I upgrade to 2 x 55 W, do you have any particular recommendation on bulb type/make for all purpose use?

Thanks again.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-01-2003, 02:53 AM
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A florescent watt is a florescent watt. DIY CO2 can be done on a 55 gallon tank but you are going to get tired of it real quick. You will need to run at a minimum of 4 liters of mix, and 6 liters is more realistic. And you will be changing bottles every few days. The biggest problem with DIY CO2 on a tank this size is that fluctuating CO2 levels can lead to outbreaks of BBA. If you shop around you can set up a CO2 system for around $100. You don't need a solenoid or a pH controller. I run my CO2 24/7 and it's a pressurized system feeding two tanks and soon to be three tanks. That's the nice thing about it too. You can get the 75 gallon tank later on and as long as they are fairly close you can use the same CO2 tank and regulator. You would just need to get a manifold (around $4) and another needle valve. As far as bulb type it's a sticky subject. I like the look of the 5300k bulbs. The 6700k will give a "whiter" light. But just this week one of the customers on my route set up a tank with a All-Glass brand CF strip on it and the color of those lights looks pretty good also. They run 9325K if I'm not mistaken. They look pretty good also, but they are a little harder to find and quite a bit more expensive.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-01-2003, 03:29 PM
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For a ridiculously in-depth discussion about bulb wavelength and selection for planted tanks, check out this thread:
Lumens and PAR

Those 9325K bulbs have always tested high for both red and blue output important for Photosynthetically Useable Radiation. I also like their look, but prefer mixing them with "daylight" bulbs like the 5700K-6700K range bluish bulbs.

- Sam P -
plantedtanker in limbo - all tanks currently in storage
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-03-2003, 02:21 AM
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Location: Minneapolis, MN
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I have an all-glass PC setup, and the 9325 K bulbs are awesome! The plants look nice under them and the bluish color they give is nice to look at.


Tank in transition! 55 gallons, hard water.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-06-2003, 06:04 AM
Algae Grower
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 46
I use the Coralife 10000k for my plants. I had a reef setup and upgraded. The colors in my discus really reflect beautifully. Im definitely replacing them with some lower temp bulbs next bulb change because some plants are growing out of control, especially my Echinodorus tennellus. Its at the top my 30gal. I almost thought about discontinuing CO2 use, but ill just cut it like a lawn until I replace the bulbs.

Sorry to hijack, but how do you trim your tennellus when it goesa crazy and flowers everday? Its supposed to be a foreground plant!

Light:4x54w T5HO 2x10000k and 2x6500k
Filter/Heater:Rena XP3, Fluval 205
Substrate:100% Flourite
CO2:5lb pressurized, glass diffuser into powerhead
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