Originally Posted by wonder woman
Yeah, I realize I don't exactly have a high-light system, and at the time, I didn't think I'd want or need one. I'm on a steep learning curve, and have only had this 100g set up for about 2 months. I bought the JBJ for several reasons. First, it was more light per gallon than I had in my previous planted 30g (up from 2 wpg to 2.6) which I though would be good enough, second it was (relatively) cheap (no retrofit, so no canopy needed) and easy for me to find (at my lfs). I wanted better surface coverage of lighting, but unfortunately, they don't have ready-made, easily available 60" fixtures.
Now that I've learned more about plants in general, and about the bigger light requirements of red plants specifically, I can see that eventually, I'm going to need more lighting. I've accomplished being able to grow nice and healthy swords, crypts, etc. Now, on to the next challenge... I've tried growing rotala wallicki, red ludwigia, red hygro, sunset hygro, and various other red plants (not to mention non-red plants like dwarf hairgrass), but have met with failure. The rotala didn't grow fast enough, and its' leaves got clogged with algae. The ludwigia faded to green, but is still growing. The sunset continued to grow, barely, but the new growth was crinkled and had white veins instead of red. I ripped it out last weekend.
I guess my next set of goals, beyond finally going pressurized, is to get my current green stem plants to be less "leggy", more lush (especially the ambulia). And I would like better side light coverage. But most of all, I would like to be able to grow all of those BLAZING red plants and get that crazy fiery red or bright fuschia that I've seen from others. (All this without experiencing an algae outbreak- I've been algae-free for about 1 month now).
I think eventually, I might plunk down $500 or so for a Hamilton 60" fixture with WAY better wpg (or retrofit, but then, I'd have to go and spend $120 on a canopy). But this is not something for the near future. The good news is, I shouldn't have a problem selling the JBJ.
WW, not sure if you have that covered, but since you are talking only about light and CO2 I would like to bring up the other part of healthy plants: nutrients. I have the same size tank, and started with pretty awful lighting (165W of T8 bulbs, mostly). DIY CO2 as well. My plants started to grow, then stopped, turned light green or yellow, pale, skinny, etc. This is when I started to look into nutrition. Adding NO3 (which was absolutely zero at that time) and K made a huge difference.
Just want to spread some caution here... 260W of CF light is NOT low lighting, and the problems you describe could well be signs of severe lack of nutrients. You mention that you can grow Swords and Crypts, which take much of their nutrients through their roots, and you fail with stemplants... But correct me if I am wrong, and your NO3 is between 5 and 10 ppm, and you regularly add K and Micro nutrients!