A $5 ballast is most likely going to be a magnetic ballast, which does a poor job driving a bulb to full output. It won't drive your two 17w bulbs to 30w a piece, though. You can use it to power two bulbs, though, and that would double your wattage.
But in a tank as tall as yours, that's still not a whole lot of light. Even a 55w compact fluorescent bulb would be barely enough to reach foreground plants but it is your best shot.
- Sam P -
plantedtanker in limbo - all tanks currently in storage