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Old 01-13-2012, 05:03 AM   #1
Blah4Life
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Noob Needs Help With Lighting


Hello folks!

I'm new to aquariums, and new to the forum. I recently moved into an apartment and inherited a 50 gallon tank (48x20x12 I think) with a stand, hood, new 3-stage Sandman pump, and some other stuff.

I've never had an aquarium bigger than a fishbowl, so I'm a total beginner. What I'd like to do is set up a simple, but attractive planted tank. I know I'm going to have to spend some cash to get started, and I'm fine with that, but I want to keep it as cheap as possible. I'm a fairly handy guy, but I'd rather not get into building anything too crazy.

From what I've read, I need to first get my lighting in order. The hood that came with the tank seems to work, and holds two 24 inch florescent tubes. I understand that for what I want to do (planted tank) that this isn't going to be enough. Is there any way that I can use this hood and maybe just replace the two bulbs with some fancy new ones with a higher output?

If not, and I have to buy a completely new hood and light setup, what are some low cost, pre-assembled suggestions?

Thanks in advance for your help! I'm looking forward to hearing from you!
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Old 01-13-2012, 06:20 AM   #2
Higher Thinking
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The kind of lighting you want is going to be dependent on the types of plants you want to keep and that kind of maintenance you are wanting to do . Some people prefer a low light set up because they don't want to run CO2, don't want to trim plants very often, or just deal with the algae issues that can come about from too high of light.

The little bulbs are not going to be adequate to grow much of anything. A low light set up would be a pair of t8s running the length of the tank with decent reflectors and placed on the tank. The watts per gallon rule of lighting doesn't really mean anything considering all the variables involved with lighting, such as what I just mentioned: light height from tank, reflector quality, bulb type, etc. You are going to want a unit that runs 48".

Use the search function of the site as many of these common beginner questions have been asked and re-asked with new information added pretty regularly. Perhaps someone can jump in with some specifics...off to bed for me!
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Old 01-13-2012, 04:21 PM   #3
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According to this webs site you have a 45L tank.

Check out Trallen's low tech tank which only has a 48" 32 watt 10,000K bulb.
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Old 01-13-2012, 04:31 PM   #4
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I'd recommend one of these if you want enough light to support "low light" plants but avoid the need for CO2: http://www.amazon.com/Aqueon-Coralif...petsupplies_10
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Old 01-13-2012, 05:05 PM   #5
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Coralife light strip cheaper at petblvd.com

I think the SolarMax is better for has a better reflector. Jacob has it over his 20 G tall tank.
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Old 01-13-2012, 05:13 PM   #6
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A better reflector (more light) is not always a good thing for a low tech tank.
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Old 01-13-2012, 05:36 PM   #7
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Is that because of algae, or why?
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Old 01-13-2012, 05:42 PM   #8
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Sort of...

The more light you put over a tank, the more quickly plants grow. The more quickly plants grow, the more nutrients you have to feed them- especially carbon, which is the nutrient they need in the greatest quantity for photosynthesis, but also a balanced supply of all the other macros, micros, and trace they need.

If the nutrients are NOT available but lighting is high, the plants will still put out growth, just it will display the various deficiencies and eventually the plant will fail. These types of conditions favor algae over plants.

Low tech tanks are all about finding just the right balance of light to support plant growth, but not trigger growth so quick that it outstrips the available nutrients in the tank.
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Old 01-13-2012, 06:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilde View Post
Coralife light strip cheaper at petblvd.com

I think the SolarMax is better for has a better reflector. Jacob has it over his 20 G tall tank.
The SolarMax has an actinic bulb, would that have to be replaced for better plant growth?
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Old 01-13-2012, 08:02 PM   #10
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Yep.
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Old 01-13-2012, 08:19 PM   #11
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Default Noob indeed.

Thanks sooo much for all the info guys!

I'm learning so much from this forum. It's pretty overwhelming how much I still need to know. I guess a lot of it will be trial and error for me.

If I were to get a stronger light such as the T5HO, and set my tank up using dirt (miracle grow organic), will I still need to worry about CO2? Or will the dirt provide it? I've been reading in the dirt tank thread, and I seem to remember someone saying that CO2 with a dirt tank will be fine for around the first year, and then may taper off.

As far as CO2 goes, I'm not opposed to going the DIY Jello route, but not sure if I want to go all out and do pressurized. At this point anyway.

Also, as I said in my first post in this thread, I have a three stage HOB filter, but according to the guide supplied with the pump, it is recommended for up to a 30 gallon tank, and my tank is around 50. Should I also invest in a canister pump and powerhead?
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Old 01-13-2012, 11:27 PM   #12
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A dual bulb T5HO fixture over this tank will put you into the moderate to high light category (depending on fixture), and make it mandatory for pressurized CO2 and a good fertilization regimen.

It's increasingly difficult to achieve good CO2 distribution and consistent levels over time with bigger tanks, you'd be looking at at least 2-3 DIY setups, with a yeast/sugar mixture that would probably need to be changed out every week. IME that much work (plus trimming & other maintanance) is likely going to burn you out quickly, so you'd be much better off going with a pressurized setup instead.

If you decide to put CO2 on this tank then you'll really need a canister filter as it's the best for helping with CO2 distribution and not outgassing CO2 like most HOB filters will.

Whether or not you'd need an additional powerhead in addition to a canister or your current filter is really a matter of trial and error; different tanks need differing amounts of flow over time as the plant mass fills in and dead spots develop. The main thing to keep in mind is that flow = filtration (as it keeps debris from settling to the bottom before getting sucked into filters) and nutrient distribution. So that's something you can play by ear, there's no "one size fits all" answer to that question.

So IMO right now you need to decide on your goals (how much time you want to spend working on your tank on a weekly basis) and your budget, and those two will then drive whether you go with T5HO, CO2, and a high light/high tech setup, or stick with lower light and optional CO2 for a low tech setup.
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Old 01-13-2012, 11:38 PM   #13
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On my 70g I am just running a $10 Home Depot shop lite with 2 65K T8 bulbs.
The Anubias, Java Fern and Hornwort are doing great. In fact the Hornwort is really doing too well, and that is 17 in deep.
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Old 01-14-2012, 02:18 AM   #14
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Hi all! I hope u don't mind me interrupting this thread....I'm so trying to learn this light thing.@ Mrbprint, the fixture u got from home depot, do u just have it sitting on ur tank or is it hanging? Thanks :-)
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Old 01-14-2012, 04:19 AM   #15
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Default great info!

Thanks a lot for the advice Lauralee!

I definitely don't want to get burned out, so maybe I need to go with a simple setup to start.

@mrbprint: Do you use CO2 with your 70g tank?
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