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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am totally new to all of this, and I want to try to increase my chances of hitting the sweetspot to not need extra CO2 and not just feed the algae.

It appears as though there is a great disparity between different brands of products. If my budget wasn't so "low-tech" it would be amazing to invest in a PAR meter.

My new tank came with a T8 24inch single 20w white-"reflector" Perfecto strip. Before finding this forum, I just went out and bought the best I could find locally: an Aqueon brand dual-lamp, 30inch long set with a very square mirror reflector and 2 included 18W(each) T5-sized bulbs.

My tank is probably going to be difficult to light properly. It is a 56Gallon tank that is 30inches wide, 18inches from front-to-back, and 24inches tall.

This is a picture of what I now have:
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/12554833/lights.jpg

I have absolutely no idea how bad (or good) these ballasts are, but it seems pretty obvious what these reflectors are like.

I am trying to wrap my brain around exactly what the micromols might be at the very bottom, middle, and top of my tank if I used exactly what I have now.

I'm guessing maybe it would yield low light at the very bottom and mid-to-high at the very top if I used all three bulbs? I have a big hunk of driftwood that I could use as an elevated planter to get the plants closer to the top, if I absolutely had to.

I don't want the plants to grow incredibly quickly. Low-tech and low-maintenance is quite preferable-- but my main concern is not creating the perfect recipe for algae.

My water will be maintained between 65° and 68° if that matters (regarding the algae issue).

Do I need both of the sets that I have now or does putting them both together do absolutely nothing toward getting more light into the recesses of the bottom of the tank?

If this setup is particularly bad, can these ballasts safely accomodate higher wattage bulbs? The T8 is rated 60 Hz (if that means anything) and I don't know about the dual T5.
 

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I'm anxious to hear what advice you get! I have the same tank. I posted a couple of days ago asking about staggering two 24" T-5's to span the 30 inches, and separating them by 6 inches to help light the full 18 inch depth, but I didn't get any replies :(.

I'm afraid you're going to get high light in part of the tank if you put that one T-5 fixture right on top of the tank. If you raise the fixture, that will help. It's such an awkward tank to light in terms of depth, length AND height.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That's exactly why I bought another light rig, but I did so before I read this forum.

I have two young kids to please with this and my son wants to put one of those background things behind the tank-- which prohibits me from putting a light at the back bottom and angling it upward.

I bought the tank because it fit nicely in a recessed nook away from sunlight, but it does strike me as very awkward to light.

Another problem I am having with this tank is the way they placed the support bar across the top. It doesn't leave room for my emperor filter on the back. It fits nicely on the side, but if I hang it on one 18inch side then I can't use the glass lid that came with the tank. I need a lid with the fish I'll have, so I am thinking about cutting some plexiglass to fit around my two filters, but I'm afraid it will sag in the middle and I don't want the lights to go tumbling into the tank. Maybe I'll come up with something ideal for the lid.

I fear my lights will provide way too much light at the top and no light to the bottom.

I haven't planted anything yet, tonight I'm rinsing my Flourite.
 

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LOL! I have one of those giant filters, too, new in the box. I was hoping to use it, but like you found out, it just doesn't fit.

Such a cool shape for a tank but with so many issues to work around!

I just finished building my stand for mine. So far, so good!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
cdwill, your reflectors ballasts are incredibly superior to mine right now, so my question is going to be apples to oranges-- but is each bulb of yours 24 watts?

NWA-- I didn't even think about 18 inch HOs. The higher wattage might help get the light to the bottom without cooking the tops.

junko, let me know how the canister filter works for you when you get everything setup. The kiddos want goldfish, so I am gonna need a super-good filter. I can't take the emperor filter back to the store, so I've even considered cutting the support strip off and reattaching it a few inches further down-- but I wouldn't want to do anything that would damage the structural integrity of the tank.

I do have room to raise the lights overhead where this tank is now.

Low-light is fine for the plants that I want to use, but I do want to make sure the bottom of the tank gets some light.

So, my dual-bulb 18W(each) T5 Aqueon combined with the t8 is overkill?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have a total of 36W on my t5 with both bulbs going. Adding my 20w t8 puts me to 56 watts, but you're running a higher density on far better balasts and far better reflectors than I have.

The chart says I am great with just the t5s alone, but the graph makes it look like nothing I have is sufficient to get light to the bottom.

Oh, and junko, I just figured out that the huge Emperor won't allow the 30inch t5s to fit, if I hang the giant on the 18inch end of the tank (the only place it will fit).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well, I cut the existing support bar and reattached another support a few inches down, so now 30 inch lights will fit across the top since my filters are all in the back.

I am a total Newbie who needs hardy plants, but I still would like to know if enough light is going to reach the bottom of the tank with my existing lists or if I need to buy something else.

Here is what I am considering planting based on availability, ranked in order of what I'd perfer to try first in each area (not that there is much difference with only 18 inches of depth...

Side to side tank width = 30 inches
Front to back tank depth = 18 inches
Top to bottom tank height = 24 inches

Right now I have 1 30inch long dual lamp T5 Aqueon light 18W+18W=36W (like the coralife ones). I also have 1 24 inch T8 20w, (but I don't know if both the T8 and the T5s would be necessary at the same time).

Do any of the following explode in growth under my conditions? Are any more particularly suited to my tank than others? Have I mis-classified any of the following for my tank climate (e.g. have I classified a backgrounder as a foreground, etc.)? Which ones in each category would you skip, and how many of each would you plant? Is there a particular "set" from each of the three areas that go together in terms of water hardness, ph requirements, and fert requirements? I am a total Newbie who needs hardy plants.

Foreground:
1. What can I use?
2. Dwarf Sag (Sagittaria Subulata) if I don't mind the foreground being picked at and looking ugly.
(I'd rather not use java moss if the goldfish will just eat it.)

Mid-Ground:

1. Coffee Anubias (Anubias Barteri Coffeefolia)
2. Red Crypt Beckettii (Cryptocoryne beckettii)
3. African Water Fern (Bolbitis heudelotii)
4. Phillipine Java Fern (Phillipine Microsorum Pteropus)
5. Vallisneria Asiatica Biwaensis (Corkscrew Val)

Background:

1. Red Rubin Sword (Echinodorus Rubin)
2. light green Water Wisteria (Hygrophila Diformis)
3. Rotala (Rotundifolia)
4. Anacharis (Egeria Densa)

These are some of my faves. Can you help me narrow what (and how many of each) will fit in my space constraints?

And to recap the other specifics about my particular setup:

total tank water volume = 56 gallons
Fish = 2 ryukin/fantail/veiltail-type goldfish
Substrate = 1.5 inches of Flourite + 1.5 inches of sand
Low tech, no CO2
2 HOB filters across the back (one does 200gph and the other does 400gph)
My water temp will be 66.5ºF
I need to test my water hardness soon

I've heard goldfish like ph at 7.5 or better, so I guess that's my target for plants as well.

What ferts will I need?

Another question... will my sand substrate just be diatom food?
 
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