Best Solution for lighting a small tank? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 11-12-2006, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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Best Solution for lighting a small tank?

I have had a non planted 20 gallon tank running for around a year now, but this morning I took everything out and put a thick layer of seachem flourite down. Problem is the tank never had a canopy so I was running it withought any light. I am wondering what is the best way to light my tank? I recently read on a thread here about 100w screw in compact flourecents, is this something to consider? I kind of think 100w would probably be a little too much for this set up and I wonder how evenly the light would be dispersed from a single bulb. Anyways I am just wondering what other people have done and I am interested in some more options. I don't want anything very expensive, I am thinking DIY.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 11-12-2006, 08:00 PM
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To start a planted tank, are you aiming for low light, moderate, or high light plants?

If it's a low light tank, you're going to need 1.5-1.8WPG, moderate is from 1.8WPG-~2.1WPG, and high light is higher than that.

The 100W CF bulbs are actually 23-25 watts. The 100W is an incandescent equivalent while the "WPG" (watts per gallon) measure is in fluorescent wattages.

If it's a low light to moderate light tank, I'd try to have at least 2, preferably 3 screw in bulbs over the tank, evenly spaced out. Dose with Excel and you should be set.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 02:58 AM Thread Starter
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Will the WPG rule of thumb really be all that accurate on a 20 gallon tank? How many watts would be sufficient to moderatly light a 20 gallon aquarium?

And just so were on the same page about the bulbs, your refering to the spiral shaped compact flourecent bulbs, correct?
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 11-13-2006, 05:55 PM
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There are high wattage spiral CF bulbs that will work, but they're not ideal. I'm currently using a 42 watt bulb (150 incandescent equivilent) with a clamp light, but I'm not happy with it. The bulbs are really long and the housing for the clamp light doesn't completely cover the bulb, so I'm losing quite a bit of light out of the side.

For example, here's a 60w CF bulb:
Halogen Bulbs, Hid Lights, Halogen Light Bulbs, Flourescent Lights, Flourescent Bulbs

Notice though that it's 9 1/2" long, so you'll want a housing that will cover that entire bulb.

As far as the wattages for CF bulbs, they'll typically say on the packaging something like 9w = 27w equivilent which means you're only getting 9 watts, but it's as bright as a 27w incandescent bulb.

And, no, the WPG rule doesn't apply to 20 gal tanks. You'll probably want at least 60w of light, IMO.
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