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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
20 Gallon Tank
24" x 17" x 12"

Maybe about 2" of substrate, so there is about 14" of space between the bottom and the light.

Plants Include:
Windelov
Java Fern
Java Moss
Flame Moss
Red/Green Crypts
Hornwort

Also a piece or two of anubias and some anacharis that might not make it. Anacharis just doesn't like the tank, the anubias pulled from a different tank where it was failing to survive, but wouldn't die, either.


Current lighting is....
Westinghouse 3651500, 18 Inch 15 Watt T8, 700 Lumens 6500K Fluorescent Tube LIght Bulb

I don't know what the PAR rating is, but I'm going to assume that it's not very high.... here's the Spec Sheet





I'm considering getting something like the Hagen Glo T5 24" A3910 fixture or maybe a Zoo Med AquaSun T5-HO 24" Double Light fixture.



I don't know what the PAR of the bulbs will be, only that if I do upgrade, I'll be going from a single T8 to one or two T5HO lights. I am dosing with Flourish Comp for the plants, but not doing CO2 right now. I do plan/hope to dose with liquid CO2 (Excel), just need to get more of it, and want to get a drip system set up, too, for slower dosing.


My concern is that there may be too much light and I could end up with algae. The tank is sparsely/moderately planted at the moment, but I would like to be able to grow HC at some point in time. The current T8 is set on a timer, and I just recently switched from 6 hours to 7 hours of light. I have occasionally turned the light on for longer periods of time for observation, too.


Tank has been set up for a month now (started cycling filter 2 months ago), and I haven't seen any algae of any type on any of the plants, decor (couple rocks, driftwood...) or hardware.


Oh, and I should mention that the water is "tea colored". (re: alder cones)


Inhabitants includes shrimp & "pests".





I've been learning a lot about the hobby since getting into it, but one thing I'm having a little bit of a difficult time on is lighting! Would one or two T5HO bulbs be enough light or too much? (completely disregarding PAR here, since I'm not sure which bulbs would be going into the fixture)



Or any recommendations between the LED lights of USA Satelite, Marineland, Nicrew, Mingdak, Aqueon and Aquatic Life brands? I'm seeing mostly single strip LED's or double strip LED's in the sizes I would need.
 

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I'd say start with one T5HO. I'd also say stay away from LED's unless you like spending money yearly on new lights, because they have a failure rate unlike other lights. Dimmers on those LED units are detrimental to the longevity, from what I've read, not to mention circuit boards and moisture never works out for the long run. I would only buy Kessil. The one time expenditure of 250 dollars, vs the yearly expenditure of 150 dollars is smarter. I am very seriously considering a kessil. Since your aquarium is small, a single kessil would be perfect. On my 55, I'm looking at at least two, 250 dollar kessil units. But I may just sell my soul to the devil, and buy them. I feel better knowing the level of quality will pay for itself over a couple of years.

Sorry for the rant...so in conclusion, try just one T5 or Kessil. I think that should be enough for the type of plants and size tank you have. You can always add another light if needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That's what my line of thinking was. Figured that 2 T5HO's would probably be plenty, if not 1 by itself.



The new hype seems to be about LED's, but they're less interchangeable than bulbs are, unless you use a dimmer. I've been reading about some of the issues with the lower end LED's, too. Some say to go straight for LED's, since they're cheaper in the long run (less energy used, no need to change bulbs) and consistent lighting. The most expensive part of a bulb setup is the fixture itself, and those can be found relatively cheap, depending on the type of setup you care to use. (i.e. shop lights vs aquarium lights)



Kessil's are nice, but more than what I'm willing to spend right now! LOL



I think I'll go ahead with a 2 unit T5 fixture and start with 1 T5. Thanks for the reply!
 

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Regarding watts: It is not true that you save on wattage with LED's that are powered up to the level necessary for aquarium plants. In fact, my CFL's use a few watts less than the LED counterpart. I'm not sure why the argument continues to state LED's save on power over all other types of lighting. Maybe for house lights, but not for plant lights. T5HO's are at about the same wattage as the equivalent LED setup. LED's are cooler, however, but again, not by much compared to other types of Fluorescents.
 

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I can say this. I have a single 18" 15 watt t8 6500 on my 10g and it does ok and I have 0 issues with algae. I am moving that tank to the same style 20 you have which is a 20h. I am building my own hood for it and I am going to try 2 18" 15 watt t8 tubes. If that doesnt work like I want I am going to go the t5ho route like you are. I would prefer myself to use 2 23 watt 6500k cfl but they dont do well without a reflector and I dont want a hood taller than my tank lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
AWolf - good info!


thedood - that's what I started with. A 10 gallon (that I commandeered - free but I purchased a hood and heater for it) with an 18" 15w T8. I started cycling the tank and a month later, $1 per gallon sale at Petco, I upgraded to the 20H. I had a 6500k 94 CRI bulb on the way (didn't want to use the bulb that came with the hood), but the hood for the 10g would not fit the 20h, so had to purchase a new hood and heater, too. The bulb was the same size for the 10 as it was for the 20, so no problem upgrading it! LOL



Although I have the bulbs to do two (or even three) T8's, I don't have the fixture for it, and if I'm going to get a new fixture, figured I'd probably be better off going the T5 route.
 

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@Zoidburg I will be posting some pics of my diy hood and lighting (from the two t8 I mentioned) I am using on mine. Basically I am disassembling the fixtures and mounting the guts in the hood I am making but I love diy and the money I save allows me to buy other aquarium things. What I am doing is similar to this video but I am using the reflector that came with the fixture but I am linng the inside of the plastic reflector with foil tape: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wcCdAahOwQ
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I considered something like that, and put the 10 hood over the 20H with the 20 hood, too. There was more light, but I wasn't exactly satisfied with the results.


Would like to see your final hood, though! Maybe before and after pics with the light? :D
 
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