Getting the Lights Right - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 03:06 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Posts: 68
Question Getting the Lights Right

Hi All! I'm new here and could use some help...

I've been doing well with my 10 gallon planted tank. Red wendtii, frogbit, java fern, and some miscellaneous cryptocorynes. It's a nice low-light, low-tech tank. Hooray!

Now I'd like to try something more challenging. I bought a 30 gallon tank and put in flourite as my substrate, started cycling the tank and just added some zebra danios now that the levels are coming out well. We've even got a co2 pump that my husband / science guy put together.

But here's the thing. The hood has only one flourescent tube (20 watts or so) and what I want is a tank that can support mid- to high-light plants.

From my reading, I think I need two flourescent tubes at about 30 watts each to give me two watts of light per gallon. Is this right? What kind of hood do you recommend (I'll need a new one, since this one only fits one bulb). Or do you advise building a hood? My husband could do it, but we need some recommendations on what is needed!

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 05:44 AM
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Congrats on getting the new tank, only a matter of time before you have ten of them...
The watts per gallon rule is pretty obsolete as much new information and technology has surfaced. Light intensity is based upon a great deal of things such as bulb type, reflector type, distance to the substrate, etc.

Your options are pretty open regarding lighting selection. You said that you have a CO2 pump. What exactly are you referring to? A DIY setup with sugar/yeast or a pressurized system? Adequate levels of CO2 will affect the amount of light intensity your tank can handle as excess lighting without adequate CO2 has been shown to be really problematic with algae control. If you keep a consistent level of CO2 then you can really decide what light level you are shooting for.

Check out the sticky thread in the lighting section which details light levels for various bulbs. Reading that diagram can direct you to what types of lights you can get. This can either be purchased as a ready to use unit or you can build it yourself after a trip to Home Depot or Lowe's. I have done both and even a combination of the two with success all around. Good luck!
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 05:52 AM
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These are great for the DIYer. The best quality reflecters. I installed mine in a DIY pvc raingutter. It is suspended over the tank so that I can adjust the lighting level.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 06:00 AM
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 03:26 PM
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You can also remove the existing hood, and go with a glass canopy. Then you can put any kind of lighting system you want over your tank. A lot of people go with no hood/canopy, but I like to have one to prevent fish or shrimp from leaving the tank, and it also reduces evaporation.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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Thanks so much, everybody!

We have a jello and yeast set up for the co2 pump... this was built in anticipation of our lush underwater jungle!

There will be a trip to Home Depot later today so that we can pick up some parts and get rolling on a build... I'll post some photos as we go.

Thanks again for the advice - so nice to find such a kind and helpful group here!
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 04:39 PM
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When I had a 10G planted, I had 2x18w NO Fluorescent bulbs, and I don't remember there being anything that I couldn't grow. They're really small, shallow tanks. You don't need all that much light to run into problems.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 08:57 PM
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Enter, the geeky husband.

CO2 -- It's a standard yeast/jello-based DIY CO2 reactor, with power-head active diffuser. Although, given the bubble wall currently in the back of the tank, it's likely not improving the levels that much. The next project is a drop checker to measure dissolved CO2....

Light -- up until yesterday, we were running the 24", 20W T8 that came with the tank. After reading up on ODNO (overdriven, normal output) lighting, we now have a new (<cough>ugly<cough>) 2x24" T8 fixture that should be pushing about 80W or so of light.



Last edited by grnbrg; 01-03-2012 at 02:47 AM.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 03:28 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Posts: 68
Grnbrg is my tech guy - I'm the art to his science. Now that we've got better lights to go with the co2, hopefully the plants will take off. Can't wait!

30 g, fluorite, co2 pump – danios and moss balls - lots of other planted stuff
10 g, dwarf frogs, tetras, guppies, blue mystery snails
1 g, cherry shrimp / baby guppies / assassin snails
big fish bowl – betta
coming soon – custom “shrimpatarium!”
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canopy, hood, lighting, newbie, wattage

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