The Planted Tank Forum banner

Help with lighting a 55gal on a budget

745 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  JairunCaloth
Hey guys, I've been lurking around here for a little bit now while waiting on my tank to show up. I've never done a planted tank and this is only my second tank. I'm still in the planning stages for the most part but I'm hoping to start cycling the tank tomorrow. The tank is 48(L)x12.75(W)x20.5(H) and 55 Gal.

I'm not going to be able to stock the tank very quickly so I'll be buying plants and fish slowly as I can afford to. I'm using the black substrate. I haven't decided on CO2, but I'm considering DIY or rigging up some of my paintball stuff.

I haven't fully figured out what kind of plants I want to keep. I really like the look some of the carpeting type plants give, something that resembles grass I think. I also like some of the swords I've seen. There are several other plants I've seen that I have liked, but I have trouble remembering the names of them. I'm not overly concerned with rapid growth, but I do want my plants to be healthy. As for fish, this will be a tropical community tank. Looking at dwarf gouramis, corydoras, rams and angels. Overall I get the idea that I need to be around a medium light level, or around 50 PAR.

I've considered DIY LED lighting, but on a tank this size it appears I would be spending at least $70 on LEDs alone (why the hell are high powered white LEDs so expensive?) and that would probably leave me with spotty coverage at best. The commercial LED products are insanely priced and the T8 and T5 strips I see at the local pet shops seem pretty high to me as well.

That leaves me looking for decent, but affordable lighting. If I end up having to spend more then $100 I'll probably just bite the bullet and DIY up some LEDs. On e-bay I found some cheap, no name lights and I'm curious what you guys think. Would this work, or would I be playing with fire going with something as unknown as this? I'm also open to suggestions if you all know of some reasonably priced good lighting.
See less See more
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
While I think DIY LEd would be a great project, and I use twenty four 3 watt emitters on my 75g tank, if you want cheap, either a T5HO strip light and decent reflector from a hydroponics shop, or a "Diamond Plate 2-Light Chrome Ceiling Fluorescent Shop Light Fixture" for $35 would be your fastest options.

I don't like the really cheap T5HO fixtures as the wiring is minimum gauge for task, the ballast is cheap and lightly protected, the sockets are usually brittle, and the reflector is a waste of what ever it's made of. Oh, and the lamps they usually ship with are normally crappy.
A shop light is probably not going to work for me. I need something that can sit on top of or attach to the tank. I live in an apartment and hanging a shop light isn't something I can really do.
I ran across this thread on this forum not long ago and am kinda keeping it in mind for one of my tanks
Now that's a pretty cool idea. I like the look of the zoo med lamps. I think i could rig up a stand to keep the lights from sitting on the glass tops. I'm not sure how many I need. Just by guessing, I would say 4 should cover the entire tank fairly well.
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.