Scott's 55g DIY/high-tech journal - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 12:10 AM Thread Starter
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Scott's 55g DIY/high-tech journal

I tore my 55g cichlid recently and decided to relaunch it as a planted tank after my 35g hex tank that was supposed to be planted completely crashed and never successfully grew anything due to low light.

I'm considering this project to be part DIY and part high tech. The tank will be utilize pressurized Co2 but I will impliment cost saving features as well, including two spraybars I made myself for $1.50 each and the use of 3 6500k CFL bulbs I bought from the hardware store for $10 each that give me about 5.5 watts per gallon. I will also be making a suspended fixture for the lights myself, which cost me only $8.

I'm starting off the tank using the dry start method with Hemianthus callitrichoides and Echinodorus tenellus (pygmy chain swords). The tank will stay dry until after I return home from Christmas in January.

Here are some preliminary pictures from the project. Enjoy!

~Scott
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 12:43 AM
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Looking good, can't wait to see some growth here. I wanted to say though, you might have trouble with that much light. Algae is totally gonna love your tank, unless you get some bigger plants and dose ferts regularly... Maybe someone will pitch in that has a little more experience than I do.

I had a similar WPG, and the algae exploded. I had the worst time ever trying to get rid of. In the end, I tore everything down, let it dry, scraped it, and setup a new tank. Just fired up a journal about it if you want to check it out.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 12:50 AM Thread Starter
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Well right now I just have two lights giving me 3.6wpg so maybe I'll stick with that. I was planning on adding the third to have a more even light gradiant over the whole tank. The domes I have the lights in create more of a spot light effect rather than a wide spread.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 01:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottsTanks View Post
Well right now I just have two lights giving me 3.6wpg so maybe I'll stick with that. I was planning on adding the third to have a more even light gradiant over the whole tank. The domes I have the lights in create more of a spot light effect rather than a wide spread.
Where the hell did you find a 99w CFL? That would have to be nearly a foot long!

I think you're misinterpreting the label of the lights. Take mine, for example.

On the packaging it says 100w equivalent, though they are only 13w of actual light and power usage, though their light output is on par with a 100w incandescent bulb (and we're dealing with fluorescent).

If I'm correct, with all four bulbs, you will have around 1wpg, as you actually have 13-15w bulbs.

(edit: a 105w CFL bulb does exist, but it is like $30 and 9" long, 3" wide)


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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 02:56 AM Thread Starter
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Right now I have two 26w 6500k clf bulbs over the tank

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 03:01 AM
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i kept looking up and down this thread for my comment and then reilized you posted this on fishlore too haha


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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottsTanks View Post
Right now I have two 26w 6500k clf bulbs over the tank
That means you have 52w of lighting, which is ~1wpg, not the 3.6wpg you said in this reply:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottsTanks View Post
...Well right now I just have two lights giving me 3.6wpg so maybe I'll stick with that...
Two lights giving you 3.6wpg over a 55g tank would have to be 99w apiece.

Just trying to help you get things straight. It really looks good so far, and your lighting is similar to how mine on my main tank was, except I had four 26w CFls. This made algae EXPLODE, BBA is everywhere and GSA galore (though the GSA I don't mind, my otos love it). I just switched to four 13w bulbs, the tank looks the same from the outside, and after two days the algae is already dying down.


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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 02:31 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jedimasterben View Post
That means you have 52w of lighting, which is ~1wpg, not the 3.6wpg you said in this reply:

Two lights giving you 3.6wpg over a 55g tank would have to be 99w apiece.

Just trying to help you get things straight. It really looks good so far, and your lighting is similar to how mine on my main tank was, except I had four 26w CFls. This made algae EXPLODE, BBA is everywhere and GSA galore (though the GSA I don't mind, my otos love it). I just switched to four 13w bulbs, the tank looks the same from the outside, and after two days the algae is already dying down.
wouldn't that only give you 52w which is less than 1wpg? This cfl thing confuses me. on the packaging it says equivalent to such and such wattage. Do you go off that for figuring out lighting or off of the actual wattage? It seems to me that it would difficult to grow even low light plants with less than 1wpg in a 55g tank uless cfls are more effective then floresencents and HOt5.

Realistically, it doesn't matter as long as I have enought light on my tank. Yes or no? Add another 26w cfl or leave it at two?

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 02:33 PM Thread Starter
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i kept looking up and down this thread for my comment and then reilized you posted this on fishlore too haha
haha yeah I posted this exact post, word for word, on fishlore after posting it here and it will most likely go on my blog later today as well. I thought your avatar looked familiar lol

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 06:23 PM
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wouldn't that only give you 52w which is less than 1wpg? This cfl thing confuses me. on the packaging it says equivalent to such and such wattage. Do you go off that for figuring out lighting or off of the actual wattage? It seems to me that it would difficult to grow even low light plants with less than 1wpg in a 55g tank uless cfls are more effective then floresencents and HOt5.

Realistically, it doesn't matter as long as I have enought light on my tank. Yes or no? Add another 26w cfl or leave it at two?
You always go by the actual CFL's wattage, not the incandescent equivalent, so yes, you have a fuzz less than 1wpg.

If you're going for high-tech, you'll need much more. At least two more, depending on what kind of reflectors you will be using. Do you have a pic of those?

Like I said in a previous post, I had four 26w CFL bulbs on my 55, and unless I went with CO2 injection, there's absolutely no way I could keep algae away, specifically BBA, and with those four bulbs I was only at ~2wpg.

With CFLs, the light reaches pretty far down, which is no problem for our tanks that are 21" high, even the 13w have no problems penetrating all the way to the substrate.

I'd say have a total of four 26w bulbs since you're injecting CO2 and see where that gets you. You'll need a good fertilizer regime, too, at that amount of light and CO2. Also get a pic of your reflectors. Mine are simple 8.5" aluminum clip-on work lights, work perfect and are $8 apiece at Home Depot.


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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 06:41 PM
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The watt per gallon rule really only applies to t8's (those big old school tubes), which most people don't use anymore anyway. Technology has come so far now, it's easier to put too much light into a tank than too little.

With CFL's you can use the actual watts to figure out how much light you have, but they are a lot more efficient (more light output/less heat) so a watt of CFL has got a lot more light that a watt of T8. There are calculators and efficiency charts galore. I think I even stuck something into an excel sheet, when I was light shopping, if you're interested.

If it were me, I wouldn't be too quick to add more light. Especially during the growing pains period when you first add water.

Though now that I've gone back and read that you're dry starting you can suspend light thoughts until you put some water in there. A thousand suns and some plastic wrap are the main concerns.

If you're diy lighting have you looked at the stained glass single bulb lights at home improvement stores? I've always thought they would look really good above an aquarium.


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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-23-2011, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jedimasterben View Post
You always go by the actual CFL's wattage, not the incandescent equivalent, so yes, you have a fuzz less than 1wpg.

If you're going for high-tech, you'll need much more. At least two more, depending on what kind of reflectors you will be using. Do you have a pic of those?

Like I said in a previous post, I had four 26w CFL bulbs on my 55, and unless I went with CO2 injection, there's absolutely no way I could keep algae away, specifically BBA, and with those four bulbs I was only at ~2wpg.

With CFLs, the light reaches pretty far down, which is no problem for our tanks that are 21" high, even the 13w have no problems penetrating all the way to the substrate.

I'd say have a total of four 26w bulbs since you're injecting CO2 and see where that gets you. You'll need a good fertilizer regime, too, at that amount of light and CO2. Also get a pic of your reflectors. Mine are simple 8.5" aluminum clip-on work lights, work perfect and are $8 apiece at Home Depot.
Here's a pic of the reflector. Its a ZooMed 5.5" mini deep dome usually used for heat lamps on terrariums. Right now its sitting on top of the glass but once I make the suspension kit it will be 5" above the lid. I went with this fixture over a cheaper home depot one because it totally covers the CFL and wont bathe the whole room in light.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 07:16 PM Thread Starter
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I filled the tank with water today. The HC is already pearling nicely. The driftwood apparently dried out during the 6 week dry start and has started to float. Also one of the branches that I had attached to the main limb with reef epoxy broke loose and is circling the tank and the ludwigia keeps getting uprooted somehow. Besides that everything seems to be doing will and none of the HC floated away while adding water to the tank which was my biggest concern. Enjoy these fairly low quality picture, when the wife gets home with camera I'll post some better ones.
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Eheim Pimp #484
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Ludwigia glandulosa, Hemianthus callitrichoides, Hygrophila lacustris, Echinodorus tenellus, Echinodorus bleheri, aponogeton undulata

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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
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Good news: My tetras arrived today. 25 rummy-nose and 25 jumbo tank raised cardinals

Bad news: it's currently -4F so only 15 rummy-nose made it and only 20 cardinals and all the fish are super washed out. No color at all on the rummys and only a hint of blue and red on the cardinals

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