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Hi all ,my name is Michael .I'm all new to the planted aquarium seen .I have keep reef aquariums for the last 10 years and the more light the better,but that does not seem to be the case with a planted tank .I have a 55g and as I am looking on-line at plants most say I need moderate lighting and I just do not know what moderate is for a planted tank .Know I have a 250w metal halide fixture 2ft above the tank and I feel like I'm blasting the plants away .I have a few plants in there and they are showing growth ,but I still feel its to much .Do I need T12 or T5ho .I just do not know .I was looking at Hoppy's charts and best I can tell a 2 bulb T5ho fixture or 4 T12 bulbs will work .I just don't want to see a plant later on that I like and want and can't have it because I do not have enough light to make it grow .Thanks for any help .
 

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Welcome, Michael!

Yep, high light for planted tanks is a fraction of what's required for reefs.

T12 is bulky and inefficient. If you pack the top of the tank with T12's, you might make it to medium light, but it's not a good way to go.

As per Hoppy's excellent chart, 2x T5HO on top of the tank will put you in the lower high light region. You will be able to grow anything with that. Of course, you'll also need mandatory CO2 (preferably pressurized for that size tank), and complete and heavy fertilization, to make sure the plants are never lacking for any nutrient that they require for the rapid growth high light stimulates. Otherwise, you'll have both plant health issues due to deficiencies, and algae problems.

However, if you can suspend the fixture so that you can place it any distance from the tank, you can achieve anywhere from low light to high light with the same fixture.

Medium light is less demanding. You can use Excel as a good enough carbon source to keep plants healthy, although they won't grow as fast as with CO2. Fertilization is also less demanding, and the tank as a whole is less tricky. You'll still have plenty of plant options to choose from.

And if you want to switch to high light w/ CO2 later, just lower the fixture.

It's ultimately up to you which tank style and lighting level appeals most.
 
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