T5 means 5/8 inch diameter tube, T8 means 8/8 inch diameter tube, T12 means 12/8 diameter tube, etc. HO means high output. T5HO are 5/8 inch diameter tube fluorescent bulbs, which use a ballast that drives them at about 1.5 times the wattage as T5NO (normal output) bulbs. So, a 48 inch T5HO is a 54 watt bulb, but a 48 inch T5NO bulb is about 38 watts, as I recall. The HO bulbs are designed to be driven at the high wattage, and the ballasts for them are designed to baby them as they start up, so the higher power doesn't shorten their life.
Power compacts, or what we usually refer to as PC bulbs, are the two parallel tube, but interconnected, usually 5/8 inch tube, fluorescents, that are operated at a lower wattage per foot of bulb than T5HO bulbs are. In the UK I think they refer to the spiral screw-in bulbs as power compacts but I'm not sure. PC bulbs, in our usage of the term, have 4 contacts on the plug-in end, either in a straight line, or arranged in a square pattern. But, as far as I know we use them with a single power wire to each pair of contacts, so I don't know why they have three contacts.
Osmocote is used as a very thin layer, a dusting, under all of the substrate. I should then slowly release the fertilizers so the substrate has a continuing supply of them, until it finally runs out. Laterite is a form of clay, which has high CEC, and has lots of iron in it, which may or may not be very available to the plant roots. Mulm is a good source of good bacteria, which will more quickly establish the bacteria colonies in the substrate, and those colonies, as I understand it, convert the iron in clays to a more usable form for the plants.
A single T5HO bulb, with the typical single bulb, highly polished aluminum reflector, provides about 40 micromols of PAR at 24 inches from the bulb. Since your tank is 24 inches front to back, three bulbs spaced evenly across the top should give you about 60-70 micromols at the substrate, dropping a bit at the front and back glass. This would be about medium light intensity. Or, with 2 bulb fixtures, two of them - 4 bulbs total - with the two fixtures about 8 inches apart should give you at least 100 micromols of PAR at the substrate level, which would be high light intensity.
The best source of fast growing plants, stem plants, is a local aquarium club, Sacrament Aquatic Plant Society, for example. I think you joined? If not, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sacaquaticplant/ and join us, then send out a group email asking for plants. That usually gets you free cuttings, but only from the stem plants currently being grown in the group. The next best source is the Swap n Shop forum here.
GMYukonon24s, the problem with a light close to the water surface, with such a high tank, is that the light intensity near the top is many times what it is near the substrate. If you have low light at the substrate, you will have far too much light at the surface. You can try 5 inches above the tank, and it might work out alright. My gut feeling is that nearer to 12 inches would be better, but then you might not have enough light at the substrate.
The MH pendant lights would put out enough intensity that you could raise them over a foot and still have adequate light near the substrate. The watts per gallon is meaningless for this tank. Given that you will have high light in the upper parts of the tank, in any case, I think CO2 is essential however you light it. Otherwise you are very likely to have BBA which would be very hard to eliminate.
hey you posted on my 110 about putting the T5s a few inches above the tank
would 5 inches be good enough?
and am I right with the MH would give me 2.72 which requires co2
Ive been reading over 2 wpg you need co2 that's correct?