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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I've got a 5.5 gallon planted tank with a betta in it, but it's only filled to two inches before the rim. I suspect the water volume is somewhere between 4 and 4.5 gallons (I did some calculations with five gallons as the total water volume if I filled it all the way, I suppose I should do them again now that i've realized that my tank is 5.5 gallons, but).
The flora in the tank includes java fern, water sprite, anubias, a marimo moss ball, and a mystery plant that was thrown in free with my plant order (suspected to be a type of val, but I'm not certain, it might also be a sort of crypt?).
Currently, the tank is lighted with a desk lamp with a 13 watt daylight CFL, and the light is pointed at an angle so it lights the whole tank to some degree.
Picture (Yes, I know the water's cloudy- my tank juuust got done cycling and the water/filter is a little bit nasty with plant gunk (my mystery plant melted, and I didn't catch it at first) I plan on doing a PWC and squeezing out the filter (gently) tomorrow):



So, the issue is:
At first when I got my plants (~February 2), they all grew like crazy, even the moss ball got greener and bigger (I suspect because of the high ammonia/nitrite/nitrate levels during cycling). They all looked very green and healthy. In the past week or two, however, I noticed the very tips of my java fern and some of the leaves of my water sprite turning brown. Not covered in any sort of algae, just turning brown and dying.

And my question is:
Would it be okay to upgrade to a 26 watt CFL without making any other changes? Meaning, could I double my wattage without adding CO2? I do think my plants are suffering at least partially because of a lack of light (brown would be because of a lack of photosynthesis, right?). There might also be an issue with lack of fertilization, but I kind-of doubt it. My tap water has a lot of minerals in it, not just calcium, but random nutrients that plants like, along with 5 ppm nitrate that plants could (and do) consume.
Or, really, is there another way I should position my light so all the plants would get what they need? It would be nice to not have to buy another bulb.

Thanks!
-Cat
 

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I would have the light hanging vertically centered directly above the tank. This will provide more even light over the entire tank. If you have to have the fixture higher above the water surface in order to do this then I would upgrade to a higher wattage CFL, maybe a 15 watt.

I would be afraid that going to 26 watt would be too much light without also doing CO2 injection.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah, I'm not sure if I can make it any more centrally located, I wasn't originally intending to do a planted tank when I set it up, so there's not much room on the stand around it for a light, where I have it now is really the only place it fits. I'll see if I can't move the light over by way of the adjustable arm, and if I can't, I'll see about moving up a couple watts. What's the highest wattage you think I could do before needing CO2, if wherever I go for bulbs doesn't have 15 watts...?
 

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I have a 26 watt CFL right on top of my 2.5g betta tank, no algae so far, and no CO2 or ferts. It's only been setup a week though. There is a sticky here in the lighting forum that details the PAR for CFL's in varying wattages and in different positions (bulb vertical vs bulb horizontal)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I would have the light hanging vertically centered directly above the tank. This will provide more even light over the entire tank. If you have to have the fixture higher above the water surface in order to do this then I would upgrade to a higher wattage CFL, maybe a 15 watt.

I would be afraid that going to 26 watt would be too much light without also doing CO2 injection.
I managed to reposition my current light more vertically and centered, I'm not sure if it's enough but the tank is visibly more evenly lighted...
Also, I did some well-needed tank maintenance today (PWC, squeezing out of filter) and ended up pulling and replanting all my plants to better get at the gravel- my water sprite was so gross and brown (some of it seemed to have melted...?) and some of the stems just snapped on me because they were getting top-heavy, that I threw away all of it but one stem that looked really nice and now remains in the tank. I hope it does well with the light and grows some more really nice water sprite, it would suck to lose it all...
anyways, picture:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have a 26 watt CFL right on top of my 2.5g betta tank, no algae so far, and no CO2 or ferts. It's only been setup a week though. There is a sticky here in the lighting forum that details the PAR for CFL's in varying wattages and in different positions (bulb vertical vs bulb horizontal)
Thanks, I'll check it out... Unfortunately, there's nowhere to really hang a light over my tank (it's in my bedroom and I'd be darned if dad let me put a hook in the ceiling, but who knows...), a desk lamp is really all I can manage in the space I have.
 

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I suggest you do some fertilization and weekly water changes. If the plants were thriving before and suddenly stopped, that points to the plants having sucked up the available nutrients it needs. Get some nice comprehensive micros and macros and see if that helps you out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I suggest you do some fertilization and weekly water changes. If the plants were thriving before and suddenly stopped, that points to the plants having sucked up the available nutrients it needs. Get some nice comprehensive micros and macros and see if that helps you out.
Weekly water changes, now that the tank's cycled = for sure. I think my sponge filter needs it, anyways, to run well.
Ferts- Sure, once I have money. I'm as good as broke, I think I have one usable dollar to my name? I think I'm going to sell some random junk soon though, so maybe then. Thanks for the reply.
 

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I highly recommend dry ferts. I recently switched to them myself, and it's sooo much better than using leaf zone and flourish comprehensive, and way cheaper too. $20 plus shipping has given me what looks like at least a year's supply worth of fertilizer for two tanks.
 

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Yeah, I'm not sure if I can make it any more centrally located, I wasn't originally intending to do a planted tank when I set it up, so there's not much room on the stand around it for a light, where I have it now is really the only place it fits. I'll see if I can't move the light over by way of the adjustable arm, and if I can't, I'll see about moving up a couple watts. What's the highest wattage you think I could do before needing CO2, if wherever I go for bulbs doesn't have 15 watts...?
I have Walmart clamp desklamps over my 15. Just clamp to the edge of the tank. The ones I got are all black, have a flexible neck, and rubber feet on the clamp part. They were like 6-7 dollars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I have Walmart clamp desklamps over my 15. Just clamp to the edge of the tank. The ones I got are all black, have a flexible neck, and rubber feet on the clamp part. They were like 6-7 dollars.
Oh, I have a lamp. I was asking how many watts I could have before I went over the limit, lest whatever store I go to doesn't have fifteen watt bulbs.
But I think this repositioned thirteen watt is enough, the java fern seems to be losing the brown on the tips, so that's good.
 

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Oh, I have a lamp. I was asking how many watts I could have before I went over the limit, lest whatever store I go to doesn't have fifteen watt bulbs.
But I think this repositioned thirteen watt is enough, the java fern seems to be losing the brown on the tips, so that's good.
I know you have a lamp, but its not one you can clamp to the side of your tank and you aren't able to get the light centered over the top of the tank.

I'm suggesting you use a different type of lamp, one you can clamp on the tank to allow you to have it centered over the tank.
 
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