Time for an update! I finished the last post mentioning I'd switched to the Marineland reef LED light and I'll continue there. LED lighting really appeals to me for its efficiency and simplicity so I'd decided to stick to LED lights when I went to replace this kit's stock lighting. Marineland's site recommends the reef LED light for planted tanks (this was before they announced their upcoming plant LED light), and I found a great deal on the light on Craigslist so I grabbed it.
The results weren't very good. Plants were hanging on, but started wilting over time. The light is in the wrong spectrum for plants and the blue lights encouraged algae growth. A week into using this light I had my first signs of green spot algae in the tank. I learned that high light and low nutrients can cause algae so I picked up Brightwell Florin Multi
at my LFS and started dosing it twice a week, in addition to inserting Flourish tabs into the substrate (I really wish I could start this tank over with dirt substrate). So far this hasn't made a noticeable difference.
I researched yet another LED light replacement for this reef LED and didn't find a light that would be long enough to be the sole light source for this tank. I read A LOT about DIY LED lights and decided that I didn't want to sink the time and effort into it right now, and I may change tanks in the future so tailoring a DIY setup to this tank didn't appeal to me. While reading lighting threads I stumbled across CFL lighting and decided to give it a shot. I started with 2x13W 6500K bulbs in 8.5" shop lights sitting directly on the glass above the tank. After a week the plants started to slowly perk up and I decided to try 2x26W bulbs to see the difference. I'm not dosing C02 and know that this is high light for this tank, but I couldn't resist trying it out.
It didn't go well
. The staghorn started to melt under the high light and I got an algal bloom in the water. I switched back to the 2x13W lights and added carbon to the filter as well as an anacharis plant to clear up the water. I also planted a barclaya (lower-left corner) to add some red color to the tank, but so far it is only green... For some more color I added four red cherry shrimp. They've unfortunately died off one by one over the past two weeks
. I wonder if the Amano shrimp harassed them to death. Here's what the tank looks like now (with paper taped up as a quick background):