Apologies - question from a beginner - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-05-2004, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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I am a long time fresh water aquarist but never delved into plants due to the whole ballast, wattage, and other elctricity terms that scared me away. But now, I really want live plants. I will soon have in my possession a 55g tank (very excited about this) from Top Fin (Ptesmart brand). Its got two 18" bulbs I think, one on each side (its a split hood). I want to just start with low light plants, nothing high maintenance.

What do I do??? The only thing available in my lfs (Petsmart) are the 15W bulbs from Coralife that say they are for plants. There's really nothing else. One said 6700K on it. Where do I go for the right supplies and how much is this gonna cost me??

Thanks in advance for your advice!
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-05-2004, 04:54 PM
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Welcome Dwarf1
Well, 2x15 watts is not even enough for a low light plants. There are couple of choices. Is the tank 48" long? :
1. Buy a glass canopy and get a 48" shoplight fixture from HomeDepot and change the bulb with either sunshine or daylight bulb (phillip) availabe at Home depot also.
2. Get a 96watts Power compact fixture. Coralife Aqualight has one that comes with 6700K bulb. Will cost you around $100.

You need light close to 2 watts/gl to grow low light plants. Some people have success with slightly over 1watts/gl but I think closer to 2 watts make it much easier.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-05-2004, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
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wow! Thanks for the rapid response. Is it really that simple?? I can get the bulbs at Home Depot and it will be enough? That would be cool. But it probably won't look as flashy as the hood that comes with the tank. Where would I get the equipment you suggest in #2? Is there a web site you could recommend (reputable web dealer)?

And finally, what plants would you recomend would do well with this setup?

Thank you thank you thank you
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-05-2004, 06:01 PM
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Yeah, if you want the look, you should go with second choice. I got mine from www.aquarium-supply.biz. Look for the Aqualight for freshwater. The salt water one comes with 50/50 bulb. If cost is not a factor, you can get the 2x96watts fixture. Just incase you want to switch to high lighting tank. You can always use one bulb only. There are many online stores that carry them so you can browse around.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-05-2004, 06:17 PM
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Oops, miss-info. If your tank is 48" long the fixture will be either 2x65watts or 4x65watts.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-05-2004, 10:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks again!
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-05-2004, 11:23 PM
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If your a Do It Yourselfer, you can build a canopy to house 2 x 55 watt kits from www.petsupplyliquidator.com or www.ahsupply.com

Actually, if you can just remove the lights that came with the tank out of the plastic casing, you should be able to easily put in the two x 55 watt kit from www.ahsupply.com with the ballast mounted on the back of the plastic casing/light strip. I have done this before and it is very easy.

John 3:16 Romans 10:9
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-06-2004, 02:41 PM
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I found the AHSupply route the easiest and cheapest way to increase my lighting.

The PC bulbs fit in your existing light strip, so there is no need to replace your tank cover.

The ballast goes on the back of the strip, and is hidden unless you are looking down at it from the top. Even then, it is just an aluminum rectangle.

I'm a total dork at home repair, and I installed the AHSupply in a couple of hours - really taking my time while drinking coffee on a Sat a.m. No tools needed other than drilling a couple of holes and a screwdriver.

Only minor complaint w/ AHSupply is no switch is included, so you either need to go with a timer, or plug and unplug fixture manually.

Regarding plants, start off with low-light hard to kill species such as java fern, crypts, and anubias.

With just under 2 wpg and the AHSupply reflector, DIY CO2, and ferts, currently thriving in my tank are various anubias, crypts, java fern, small-leafed sag, red hygro, corkscrew val, ludwigia brevipes, ludwigia palustris, parrot’s feather, giant hygro, bacopa, marselia quadrifolia, pennywort, anarcharis, and hornwort.

With a little experimenting, you'll find that some plants do better in different places in your tank.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-06-2004, 03:07 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the review and comments/suggestions! Also thanks for the suggested plants! This is very helpful. I'm so glad I found this site. It was recommended to me from the dwarf puffer web site. Imagine two tiny dwarfs in a 55g, they will have so much room they'll be lost . . .
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-07-2004, 03:25 PM
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I too was intimdated for the longest time until I began researching this stuff. I took about three months to do research, mostly on this site before I dove into faster growing tanks.

I hate to go agaist the grain here, but I think it's important to know what type of plants you want to keep. The reason i ask is that in addition to the two faster growing tanks, I have one very low light tank that has been growing like crazy for years. I have a 55 gallon with only two 15w GE plant and aquarium bulbs. The only kind of plant that is in the tank are anubius barteri and beleive me they are huge and thick. I have trained one plant over time that is nearly ten inches tall. I don't beleive that this is the norm for low light set ups, but it works great. The PH is about 7.4, KH 11, GH 6 ish. The substrate is regular gravel that is about ten years old now. I only do wanter changes every 3-4 months, add two drops of Flourish every six to eight days and yes *sorry I know its a no-no*, but the only filtration in this tank is a ugf. My phylosophy is why fix what isn't broke here. The tank consists of about ten lemon tetras, two cats, a flying fox and a pleco. I have had the tank set up for some time, but only vacume the gravel about once a year. It's stays very clean all on its own.

Don't know if this helps, but I wanted to share what is probably a break from the norm regarding low light tanks. At any rate do your research, because there is nothing that will turn you off of this incredible hobby more than haveing repeated failures. Most of all have fun!)

Currently tankless for the first time in 24 years... Getting the itch again
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