Tired of using lighting. Downsides of the sun?
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Old 03-14-2012, 11:28 PM   #1
Bunfoo
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Tired of using lighting. Downsides of the sun?


on a tank with only plants in it? Other than algae growth of course, what are the advantages of a light (23w daylight bulb) over the sun for a small (5g) tank with only plants? It's my clippings (and now a single pond snail haha) tank and I'm tired of having to use my lamp. Electricity is expensive here, too.

Other than algae, would I damage the plants by putting the thank in a sunny window?
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Old 03-14-2012, 11:49 PM   #2
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Most plants like 8-12 hours of light evenly thought out the day. also a window that gets good sun during the summer might get bad sun during the winter sense the earth likes to pivot. you also have to think about length of days from summer to winter. If you ever get a storm that lasts a few days your plants are going to go without sun for that time also. Just something to think about, hope i helped.
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Old 03-15-2012, 12:51 AM   #3
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Mmm, good point. The tank is small enough that I can easily move it whenever I need. We do have storms here often so that is something to think about also, though we haven't ever had a storm last longer than a day, maybe two, yet anyways. Unfortunately we lose power a lot too, so that's also an issue.
The window I would put it in gets light in the winter from ~7am to ~6pm (Haven't measured how long exactly though, lol), not sure how long it gets in the summer. I'll have to find out I suppose.

I could run a small desk lamp over the tank for the stormy days? I'm not looking for optimal growth on the plants, just to keep them alive until I have a place for them.
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Old 03-15-2012, 01:46 AM   #4
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I think you would be fine...even on cloudy days the plants will get some light. Only real concern I have, aside from the potential for extreme algae, is the tank overheating. A small body of water in direct sunlight...etc.
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Old 03-15-2012, 02:40 AM   #5
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I have been using low light and next to a window for several years and the plants are growing better than when the tanks were away from the window. In the summer I use sheer curtains that cut the heat and some of the light, but it is still bright, and I turn off the lights for several hours in the heat of the day.
In the winter the sun comes in (no curtains) and the lights are on all the day time.

I have roughly 2 watts per gallon using T-8 or T-12 bulbs, daylight or cool white or 'plant and aquarium' bulbs. Nothing special.
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Old 03-15-2012, 02:43 AM   #6
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ooh, another good point. I keep the house at 63F in winter. I have an airstone in there for water flow that I think helps keep the water cooled down a bit. I'll put a container of water with an airstone in the place I plan to put and and see how it measures a few times though the day.

What temp would be "safe" zones for the plants? I hear 80F is as high as you should push it?
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Old 03-15-2012, 02:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunfoo View Post
ooh, another good point. I keep the house at 63F in winter. I have an airstone in there for water flow that I think helps keep the water cooled down a bit. I'll put a container of water with an airstone in the place I plan to put and and see how it measures a few times though the day.

What temp would be "safe" zones for the plants? I hear 80F is as high as you should push it?
They can tolerate higher than that, but you certainly don't want to boil them. I forgot this was a plant only tank...for that I doubt the heat will effect you terribly.
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Old 03-15-2012, 02:56 AM   #8
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82-84F is Max on most plants with 65-68F being at the other extreme. Any higher or lower your plants will do badly and maybe die.
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Old 03-15-2012, 03:55 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunfoo View Post
on a tank with only plants in it? Other than algae growth of course, what are the advantages of a light (23w daylight bulb) over the sun for a small (5g) tank with only plants? It's my clippings (and now a single pond snail haha) tank and I'm tired of having to use my lamp. Electricity is expensive here, too.

Other than algae, would I damage the plants by putting the thank in a sunny window?
As you've state the question this is a recipe for failure if it receives direct sunlight for many hours. Your plants will eventually die.

Running a tank that recieves some sunlight is a workable solution if you know what to do. People kept planted tanks before electric lighting.

I've been doing it that way for decades, but I do something you don't appear you will do ( you make no mention ), I inject co2. With direct prolong sunlight, co2 is absolutely necessary. That includes high light. You might have to increase the added nutrient level. Don't worry about natural changes in light intensity during the course of the day, or from seasonal changes unless your tank receives direct sunlight over many hours. My tank faces a window with an east south east exposure. During the course of the year starting in September and ending in late April my tank receives a few hours of direct sunlight in the morning hours. From April - September it receives bright light at most. Back in October I added a supplemental 50w full spectrum cfl bulb. It runs later in the day for a few hours.

Quote:
ooh, another good point. I keep the house at 63F in winter. I have an airstone in there for water flow that I think helps keep the water cooled down a bit. I'll put a container of water with an airstone in the place I plan to put and and see how it measures a few times though the day.

What temp would be "safe" zones for the plants? I hear 80F is as high as you should push it?
63F is too cold. You should have a heater. An airstone is unlikely to keep the tank cool. Any cooling is entirely from evaporation. A small fan would work. An airstone also drives off any co2 naturally occurring in the water. A small powerhead submersible water pump is a better solution for moving water around. I've had my tanks water reach a temp of 86F without any observed problems. 68F is the lowest my tank gets in Winter.
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Old 03-16-2012, 10:40 AM   #10
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No downsides to the sun. It's free, natural and 100% organic! Lol. Just make sure you're not getting many hours of direct sunlight or it may heat the water too much. I have a container garden that gets at least 2 hours of direct afternoon (Hawaii) sun. No problems. I throw stems I want to try to convert to emersed in there and they seem to do well. No co2. Just make sure the water temp stays reasonable. I'd say below 90.
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Old 03-22-2012, 07:49 AM   #11
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Water temp for sure stays below 90. I'm wanting to say the water is staying below 75 because of the airstone and current.

Slight update, my two "mystery vals" have turned red since being in the sun (new growth) so i think they may be "red tiger" val? My ludwiga has reddened up a bit too. ALL the plants have pearled. Unfortunately I think I am going to have to start dosing ferts in this tank because I am getting a lot of yellowing, especially on the anacharis and the dwarf baby's tears. i will have to wait until the fish fry/ snail eggs hatch before I can do that though. I am going to add small amounts of worm tea in the mean time and see if that helps any, or maybe move it to a window that gets less sun (this window gets light nearly all day)
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Old 03-24-2012, 07:17 PM   #12
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Interesting question! I've just removed the backing from a tank that sits in front of a northwest facing window. It's too early to say what will happen; I had originally covered it because of a lot of algae growth on the glass. Back then it was a grow-out tank. Now it has 2 adult bristlenose, so it's easier to tend to if that happens.

I did notice awhile ago, the temp has gone up to 80 today -- and it's only March! So we'll see. Keep us updated on yours.
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