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I have a 50g long?(48" long, same as 55 only a bit shorter in height) and I'm planning to dirt it and heavily plant it. I want to do a diy cfl hood but I'm unsure how many 23w bulbs to use. If I should go with 4 or 5? 92watts vs 115 watts. Or I could go five and sub in 1 13w bulb to make it 105w. This fixture would cost me a lot less than a decent t5ho and would give me pretty good growth I'd imagine. I plan to be medium tech with ferts/ diy co2 if needed(depending how the dirting goes). My biggest concern is how much heat they may produce(I live in canada so temps aren't too high here)
The bulbs will be placed vertically
 

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As I got into planted, I had much the same question. I did not want to invest in a commercial light until found I really wanted to keep plants. With that in mind, I built a really crude CFL lighting system for under my canopy out of sight. I found 4 13W Cfl twisty bulbs did all I wanted. It was also very easy to change or add if I had found the need to adjust. I got this on a standard 55 gallon and it was enough to drive me further into the insanity of it all!


Please note that I did not try to grow a carpet and had mostly sword, red tiger lotus and what I would call easier, tough plants. Combining cichlids and plants, I at first felt there might be trouble, so I stuck to the tougher leaf items until I learned a bit more. Notice the Ludweigi did not do well for me. No CO2 on this tank.
The lighting however was good enough to stay until I recently shut that tank down.
 

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I would say start with four 13w spiral CFLs, one for each foot of tank length, then move onto possibly upgrading the bulbs. I found a 27w bulb sold in hydroponic stores that does great for ~ med lighting in a 12x12 inch sq space. I also bought a hangling fixture from ikea for like $14 and it makes for a really nice pendant light. Just based on my personal experience.
 
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