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This is my first attempt at an aquarium, and planted no less. Right now I have a 5.5G AGA w/ their incandescent deluxe full hood. I lined the light strip with aluminum foil, and am using a 9W CF bulb. At first the lighting looked pretty good, but now I am starting to doubt that it will be enough. Any suggestions on the minimum wattage that I should be using?

They way that I see it, I have a few lighting options:

The first would be to get a bigger bulb and find some adhesive Mylar to line the interior of the strip. The only problem I see with a bigger bulb is that the light tends to project to the end opposite to where I have the plants, and reversing the strip doesn't seem to do much good. If I go this route, I guess I could always add an additional bulb to the opposite end of the strip.

The second option would be to find some sort of refit kit, ahsupply.com has a 13w that might work, but I'm waiting to hear back from them. Or I could try my hand at making something that would fit in to the existing strip.

The third option would be to return the full hood, get a glass top, and make my own enclosure. This would be the most fun, but it might also get too expensive, though I think I could do it for under $40.

I'm on a budget, meaning I would like to keep things as cheap as possible but while still getting the most bang for my buck as far as lighting goes. I would appreciate any advice from members who've had similar experiences trying to get a medium to high light tank on the cheap.
 

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You should be able to make a hood for under $20; I did for my 5.5g. I used acrylic (plexiglass) rather than glass for the cover, which was very cheap (I paid $1 for 3x what I needed).
 

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The first would be to get a bigger bulb and find some adhesive Mylar to line the interior of the strip.....................If I go this route, I guess I could always add an additional bulb to the opposite end of the strip.
I would do that, with 2 15 watt+bulbs it should be pretty high light.
 
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