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New Tank 20g Long Low-Tech Help!!!!!

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Just setup new 20 gallon long tank about a week or so ago. currently using DIY system of 3 x 6" work lamps running 13w 6500k bulbs. I have the lamps sitting directly on top of a custom cut piece or acrylic. Setup working for now but I am looking for new/cleaner looking setup. I have been researching and see most people on forums say that dual T5's would be too much light. I dose with Flourish/Flourish Excel/Equilibrium. I was thinking of buying a Aqueon hood and buying a Coralife Nutrigrow or Colormax T8 bulb. Any Advice would be good, Thanks!

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First off, nice setup!

Dual T-5's wouldn't be too much for a 20 long, I've put way more lighting on a 20 long years back when the T-5HO systems came out. It all depends on a balance of plants, ferts, lights and CO2. If you want to keep the tank low tech and out of the injected CO2 range, then yeah it would be a lot of light unless you dose copious amounts of Excel.

As for your current lighting I'm a fan. I use to use shop lights for a grow out tank and had great results. I even replaced the CFL's in them on the 15 gallon I was using for LED spot lights that did wonders. If you're just looking for a cleaner setup look into suspending the lights and opening up the lid. If you want more intense lights look into the LED spot lights. If you want a range of spectrums you'll either have to swap to a dual florescent bulb fixture or a LED fixture of your choice.
 

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Tank looks nice, great start. Watch out for the acrylic warping. Not all types do it but some acrylic can warp enough to dump your lights into the tank.

What is your budget?

You could simply build a surrounding box for the lights and suspend them inside that to simplify the look of the tank.

I wouldn't go with T5HO and a single T8 would be really low tech but would probably work. 2xT5NO might be okay. Coralife sells one for about $55.

LED are super sleek looking and look terrific with long low tanks like yours. My son just set up a 20L with a Finnex Stingray for ~$54. He has CO2 on the tank and I gave him lots of pennywort to shade the tank. Beamswork Razor at $39 was on the short list as well, it doesn't have as nice a color spectrum as the Stingray.
 

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I have 2 CFLs on my 10 gallon tank. I had to raise them about 22" above the substrate on this 12" tank. The plants do very well with them. If I had to do it again, I would go with a dimmable LED fixture for the height adjustability without physically moving the fixture.

Steven
 

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My 20 Long had a T8, 17 watt daylight/full spectrum fluorescent in an old standard hood- I was told because the height is only 10" to substrate, this was closer to med light level. I had low-light plants in there, no C02 and it did ok once I figured out the right EI dosing. You can see it here.
 

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I personally recommend the Finnex Stingray to anyone using Low Tech set ups. its low enough that you can control Algae but high enough that you can sometimes squeeze by with buying slightly more demanding plants. AND it looks nice ;)
 

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Three is likely a bit much. Most who use that set up go/w two but of the 10.5" diameter ones. You can make it look better and get adjustment out of it by putting bookshelf brackets on the wall behind the tank and use them to hang the dome from.
Spray painting the dome outside and bookshelf brackets are also an option.
Unless you put a dimmer in it the Planted+ is too high in PAR for that depth.
Since I have not used the Stingray I don't know on that one. Didn't use the Planted+ either but have read lots of algae stories about tanks/w it on the shorter tanks.
 

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I can't add to the lighting convo, but I do know that acrylic will warp/bow. The weight of the lights are okay right now, but once the heat from those lamps start heating up the acrylic , the weakened/softened will become more flexible/warped and might end up dropping into the tank then the lights might blow out and might electrocute the fish. Main cause would be the heat from the bulbs. I can't say for sure how gradual or sudden the acrylic would warp (it depends on acrylic thickness, weight if lamps sitting on it and the heat produced). I guess you could raise or prop the lights off the acrylic panel to allow some sort of ventilation for the heat.
 

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I can't add to the lighting convo, but I do know that acrylic will warp/bow. The weight of the lights are okay right now, but once the heat from those lamps start heating up the acrylic , the weakened/softened will become more flexible/warped and might end up dropping into the tank then the lights might blow out and might electrocute the fish. Main cause would be the heat from the bulbs. I can't say for sure how gradual or sudden the acrylic would warp (it depends on acrylic thickness, weight if lamps sitting on it and the heat produced). I guess you could raise or prop the lights off the acrylic panel to allow some sort of ventilation for the heat.
I believe it is moisture that is warping the acrylic, not heat. The acrylic absorbs water and expands. If only one side is wet, that side will expand. This happens with my tank. I turn the cover over when it warps and in a few days it will straighten out and warp the other way.

You don't see this warping in the tank itself because the structure of the tank is designed to prevent distortion.

My tank is a 30g SeaClear that is partially closed at the top. This part of the structure of the tank. By putting a partial top on it they can use thinner acrylic on the sides. The top provides structural strength.

The main openings on the top are meant to be covered by the lamp housing. On the bottom of this housing is a sheet of clear acrylic that keeps water away from the lamp. This piece can be removed by undoing two Nylon screws. I have it lying over the openings in the tank and a Finnex 24/7 sits right above it.

If I move the 24/7 back behind the acrylic cover it doesn't change how it warps.
 

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2 T5HOs would be too much w/o CO2

2 T8s could work

Ive had great success with CFLs in those dome reflectors. What you have now is going to be way too much though, esp directly underneath each fixture, less so in the spaces between.

Three 8 1/2" domes would give you a more even spread, but you'd still need to raise them up a few inches even with 13w bulbs...that is, if you want to stay in the low-medium light range, probably 6" at least. There are lots of ways to hang them.

Or you could just spring for a nice LED unit
 

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@Argus

Yeah I've heard some say moisture causes warping from the exposed side absorbing the water and causing uneven expansion, and some have said the same for heat from lighting, that it's caused by the acrylic being a poor heat conductor and so one side expands. I know it's fact that acrylic does absorb moisture, but is it enough to cause bowing? I know it's fact that heat can cause acrylic to warp, but are those temps reached by heat produced from the average lighting? Maybe it's a bit of both?
I've heard others reporting that sitting their lights directly on top of their acrylic tanks also caused their tank tops to warp, especially skinnier center braces and I have witnessed this myself. I believe it is heat related because the acrylic tops would never warp until lights (heat) were placed on directly on the top of the tank (previously hanging).

And I did buy a used acrylic tank before that had pretty bad bowing (if I remember correctly I believe the brace was bowed upward!?) of it's center brace (previous owner exclusively had T5 lights sitting directly on the tank), when I got it, I left it in the van for a couple weeks baking inside of the van in the summer heat and after that the bowed center brace was perfectly level again (wouldn't bend flat with pressure, just either flattened due to the heat or the heat evaporating all the moisture, I don't think the brace would of flattened by itself at room temp, but I could be wrong.)

I haven't played with acrylic much so I am not sure if tank with acrylic tops still bow without a light/heat on it (I'm pretty sure thin enough acrylic, especially bridging long gaps, can slowly warp just from it's own weight or it taking on the temp of the aquarium).
Maybe both are causes? I'm no authority on acrylic properties, so I don't know, I've just been speculating, but thanks for mentioning.
 

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I've worked with acrylic over the years. When it is drilled, sawn, heat shaped, or glued it can develop internal stresses. The way to anneal it is to bake it at about 180°F and cool it very slowly.

If you heat it to higher temps it will soften and can be bent or formed.

I've not seen acrylic sheet warp from heat unless it were hot enough that it sagged. I have a large light table under a photo copy stand. The table top is made of opal white plex. Photographic lights have not caused it to warp.

The lid on my tank warps up at each end, raising the ends off of the tank. I'll have to see if it does that without a light over it.
 

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I have a couple sheets of thin cheap acrylic from HD that fit very nicely on top of my tank. They overlap the openings by several inches all around and can warp enough to slide into the tank if I slide it over to get into the tank, it has happened.

It is definitely the water not the heat from the lamps as it happened when one was used to cover temporary tanks set up in shade with no light on it at all. I would never use ordinary acrylic that fit on the narrow plastic ledge on a regular glass tank to support lights.

Acrylic tanks are built from moisture resistant material, not ordinary acrylic. Cell cast I think?

Good to know that Finnex Stingray is a bit weak, I was thinking it was a bit strong and would much rather have less than more. It really looks terrific over a black framed 20 long.
 

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For a cleaner look for a low tech tank with low light plants T8 works.

I have a Zoo Med Ultra Super Daylight 6500K T8 over my 20g long tank. Have no problems with it. I just dose an all in 1 dry fert by select aquatics

I am struggling to get the right light to grow red plants in another tank by combining what I have, which is T5NOs and LED strips. Now I know it is cheaper in the long run to save for a good light strip. My favorite is the Current satellite plus pro. It is an LED light strip.
 

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