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Planted tank Newbie- Need Lighting HELP!

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Hello everyone,

I consider myself a newbie to aquarium plants (at least compared to all you gurus), and desperately need help determining what kind of lighting I need in my current setup. I'm attaching a pic of my tank- 46gal. bowfront. I believe it is right around 21" tall. Here's what I have in it (I'm not sure what details would be helpful to you so I'll throw everything I can think of at ya):

Fauna:
-1 baby EBJD
-3 adult petricolas
-3 Amano shrimp
-1 oto

Flora:
-2 bunches java ferns (established)
-6 crypts (established)
-1 ozelot sword (semi-established)
-1 aponogeton (new)
-1 cabomba (new)
-3 bunches micro swords (new)
- multiple stems ludwigia repens (semi-established)

My ph is 7.2-7.4, temp 78. Eco-complete substrate.

Ferts:
-flourish excel (daily)
-flourish regular (3x/week)
-flourish iron (daily- but it clouds my water, grrr.)
-flourish potassium (just purchased yesterday)
-root tabs under the ozelot, micro swords, ludwigia, and cabomba.

Lights:
-1 Marineland LED blue and white 36"
-1 Deep Blue Solarflare LED blue and white 24"

WHEW! Ok, so my question(s) is this: Am I correct in saying that this (despite my efforts) is considered a low-light tank? If so, which LED light on the market, for less than a zillion dollars, would allow me to meet the needs of medium-light plants? I really just want what I have in the tank to thrive- and to add some sort of foreground carpeting plant. I'm not interested in adding any finicky, demanding plants- like I said, I'm happy with what's in there, I just dont know if they will all survive under my current lighting conditions because most of the plants are so new.

I've been doing some research, and it's now my understanding that plants (besides maybe java ferns and crypts) cannot thrive under blue and white light alone- I need a light that includes red as well. I read some good things about the Current USA Satellite LED Plus, and the Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light. Can anyone offer their opinion on these lights? Or others that might be better? I would prefer an LED if possible.

I gotta tell you, this planted tank business is confusing the crap out of me lately- but I'm determined to learn :wink2:
I found out my LFS carries the Current USA Satellite Plus, but I was given conflicting info from two different employees- one said If I buy the light, I will see healthy plants with greatly increased growth and it would put me in the medium light range. Another employee told me that if I buy the light, I would most definitely need to also upgrade to a pressurized Co2 system (something I'm way too intimidated and busy to master the art of). Is this true?? I'm not sure what to think now. Plant experts, please help me!

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Personally I have never had a Jack Dempsy, but from what I hear, you are going to end up with a tank with only the Dempsy, and stones and sticks, when he grows up. But that aside. If you are going into moderate to high light, you are going to have to inject co2, they just go together. Monitor your Nitrate and whatever else you have test kits for, and keep your dosing under check. When you do water changes, put your water in a bucket the night before, and run a bubble or a power head in it overnight to lower the co2, thus preventing a co2 spike when you do water changes. Fluctuating co2 can cause ugly algaes. Looks like you have half low light plants and half higher light plants. They may all do ok, depending on how much par you actually have. I'd say give it some time, if any problems crop up address them as they come.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Personally I have never had a Jack Dempsy, but from what I hear, you are going to end up with a tank with only the Dempsy, and stones and sticks, when he grows up. But that aside. If you are going into moderate to high light, you are going to have to inject co2, they just go together. Monitor your Nitrate and whatever else you have test kits for, and keep your dosing under check. When you do water changes, put your water in a bucket the night before, and run a bubble or a power head in it overnight to lower the co2, thus preventing a co2 spike when you do water changes. Fluctuating co2 can cause ugly algaes. Looks like you have half low light plants and half higher light plants. They may all do ok, depending on how much par you actually have. I'd say give it some time, if any problems crop up address them as they come.
Thank you for the reply, I really appreciate all the help I can get. As far as injecting co2, which honestly I just cant afford to do at this time, can you explain the reason why co2 injection would be necessary if I bump the lighting up to at least medium? What would happen if I just stuck to liquid fertilizers? Thank you for your advice!
 

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IMO, from what I can gather, your lighting (blue and white) would give off a bluish tint. Is that right?

What you want is a mixture of red, green, blue, and white, whose color temperature is 6500 degrees Kelvin, that gives a good color rendition of the light

If you're going to replace the lights (if you need to), whatever you do get light fixtures with a dimmer switch on them, so you can change the light level.

I'm not very well versed in LED lighting - just what I've managed to pick up here. Hope things work out.
 

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I agree that leaving things as they are is a good option. See how the plants do with your current lighting. The only one in the list that I think may not do well is the Cabomba, but you may have enough light for it. If you find it doesn't do well, you could try Limnophila sessiliflora. It looks similar but doesn't need as much light.
I have grown Echinodorus Ozelot in a low tech tank under low light LED's and it grew steadily. Not as quickly as in a higher light, CO2 tank, but it looked nice.
I would wait a few weeks and see how things go and good luck!
 

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Good morning,

As others have mentioned, I am just starting to experiment with LEDs, but I have had some success with Beamswork fixtures. I don't know what depth they will continue to provide good light, but on my shallow tanks they do well. For me, the suggestion to wait and see how your plants respond to the current light is a good one. I haven't had luck with Cabomba, so no input there! LEDs are expensive, but like you mentioned, the Finnex Planted plus have really good reviews.
 

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OK, my "point" in the above is "IF" you want to upgrade your spectrum and "IF" you were considering the static planted plus at like say $121.37...26.7W
It would be silly to buy this as opposed to this at this price:
Ecoxotic E-Series Full Spectrum LED Light Fixture: LED Aquarium Lighting
$132.92..46W


That light is orders of magnitude overall better than the planted plus for the very simple fact that it can go from low tech to high tech and ANY intensity/color in between.


Can anyone offer their opinion on these lights?
I did now twice.. ;)

The strength of LEDs is efficiency, direction-alty and control..

That said your solar flare is 36W and your marineland is ????

BUT it adds up to no, you currently don't have low light..and really don't need anything "different'

But your lighting is high in blue and a shortage of red .. BUT that is mostly a personal choice..
Which Marineland???

as to depth penetration, it depends on power AND optics.. looks to be most of your lightin is 120 degrees..fine until over say 24" depth..but that can be compensated for by intensity..

BTW from your photo it appears that at least some of the LED are lensed.. Usually don't see those types of "cones" w/ 120 degree LEDS..
 

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OK, my "point" in the above is "IF" you want to upgrade your spectrum and "IF" you were considering the static planted plus at like say $121.37...26.7W
It would be silly to buy this as opposed to this at this price:
Ecoxotic E-Series Full Spectrum LED Light Fixture: LED Aquarium Lighting
$132.92..46W


That light is orders of magnitude overall better than the planted plus for the very simple fact that it can go from low tech to high tech and ANY intensity/color in between.



I did now twice.. ;)

The strength of LEDs is efficiency, direction-alty and control..

That said your solar flare is 36W and your marineland is ????

BUT it adds up to no, you currently don't have low light..and really don't need anything "different'

But your lighting is high in blue and a shortage of red .. BUT that is mostly a personal choice..
Which Marineland???

as to depth penetration, it depends on power AND optics.. looks to be most of your lightin is 120 degrees..fine until over say 24" depth..but that can be compensated for by intensity..

BTW from your photo it appears that at least some of the LED are lensed.. Usually don't see those types of "cones" w/ 120 degree LEDS..
^^^this^^^
With that light he recommends you can control your color and intensity. You can adjust it anywhere from low to probably medium light in that tank.
You would be MUCH happier with that fixture than any beams work, Finnex OR combination of the two!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hi again everyone, (jeffkrol I tried to reply to you yesterday but I'm new to this forum and probably did it wrong- thank you for the light recommendation, that is an excellent deal) I ultimately decided to go ahead with the light that jeff recommended- although I carefully read everyones advice, i feel like my tank is too dark for my taste- plus its like christmas whenever i get new fish tank related equipment, so I was too excited to wait. ;)

So, my next question is, now that I will be able to adjust my new light from low tech to high tech and anywhere in between,

-how high can I crank up the lighting before co2 injection is needed?
-why is co2 injection needed in higher light? what would happen if I didn't get a co2 system and just continued using liquid ferts and flourish excel?
(as i said earlier, co2 systems are very intimidating to me and i really would like to avoid it at all costs- every time i try to learn about them i get more intimidated and confused, plus theyre expensive)

Thank you all for your expertise!!
 

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I wouldn't be too intimidated with CO2. I was, too. Then I finally took the plunge and I am so glad that I did. I bought a system put together by someone at my local aquarium club, and they walked me through it. I am sure that you could get lots of help from people here on this forum.
 

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Going to use the good ole car analogy for why you need CO2 with higher light levels.

Think of the light as the gas pedal. The higher the light the more you are stepping on the gas.
The higher the light the faster the plants grow,,..BUTTTT you need to feed the beast!

With the car...if your carburetor(ya I know outdated) can not supply enough oxygen for combustion you can step on the gas all you want...and all you get is performance problems.

With plants, the faster you go(higher light) the more co2 you have to provide or you get a limiting factor, NOT ENOUGH co2 for photosynthesis.
BUT now that you are dumping all that extra fuel(light) into the tank and not enough co2 for "complete combustion" algae will quickly start using it.

That is a very simplified example, but you get the idea.
 

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Going to use the good ole car analogy for why you need CO2 with higher light levels.

Think of the light as the gas pedal. The higher the light the more you are stepping on the gas.
The higher the light the faster the plants grow,,..BUTTTT you need to feed the beast!

With the car...if your carburetor(ya I know outdated) can not supply enough oxygen for combustion you can step on the gas all you want...and all you get is performance problems.

With plants, the faster you go(higher light) the more co2 you have to provide or you get a limiting factor, NOT ENOUGH co2 for photosynthesis.
BUT now that you are dumping all that extra fuel(light) into the tank and not enough co2 for "complete combustion" algae will quickly start using it.

That is a very simplified example, but you get the idea.
This is pretty good. Read some of the stickys on the lighting forum, especially these:

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/10-lighting/184368-lighting-aquarium-par-instead-watts.html

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/10-lighting/160396-led-lighting-compendium.html

Like said above, there are basically 3 factors to grow aquarium plants. Lights, Nutrients, and co2. If one of the three has to be the limiting factor in the growth of the plants, then the lights need to be the limiting factor. The higher the lights, the more important, and, in the beginning at least ,difficult, the other 2 are to balance. Read the stickys, and research here and on The Barr Report Forums on lighting, fertilizer dosing, and co2.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks Guys. So, let me make sure I'm understanding this- and bear with me, I've just had a baby and I'm pretty sleep-deprived :wink2:
Too much light without co2 injection will equal nasty algae problems. Got it. What if I got more Amano shrimp and kept using Excel? Would that keep the algae at bay? Or, what about a canister filter with uv sterilization? Or would really nothing but co2 injection keep the algae in check?

Forgive me if I sound like a broken record, but I'm intimidated by the co2 thing. And I'm afraid to know just how costly it is. But most of all, I'm afraid of gassing my fish. I'm very attached to the petricolas as I've had them for many years, and of course the baby EBJD because he's adorable and I love his little personality. I've read some horror stories about people waking up to a tank full of dead fish with co2 systems. How does this even happen?
 

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Thanks Guys. So, let me make sure I'm understanding this- and bear with me, I've just had a baby and I'm pretty sleep-deprived :wink2:
Too much light without co2 injection will equal nasty algae problems. Got it. What if I got more Amano shrimp and kept using Excel? Would that keep the algae at bay? Or, what about a canister filter with uv sterilization? Or would really nothing but co2 injection keep the algae in check?

Forgive me if I sound like a broken record, but I'm intimidated by the co2 thing. And I'm afraid to know just how costly it is. But most of all, I'm afraid of gassing my fish. I'm very attached to the petricolas as I've had them for many years, and of course the baby EBJD because he's adorable and I love his little personality. I've read some horror stories about people waking up to a tank full of dead fish with co2 systems. How does this even happen?
congrats on the new born! Enjoy they grow up fast!!
The short answer is...none of the things you mention are a long term solution. I've never gotten any of them to work on the long haul. A balanced system is about the only long term solution.

CO2 is scary in the beginning. But if you don't get wrapped up in a DIY regulator build and buy a good off the shelf solution it is safe and very straight forward.

The other solution is go lower light and low tech.
You just have to make sure you match your plants to the lower light level.
With a new born, you may want to check out this style of tank.

AND to go full circle that light suggested early on would allow you do any setup you want from low tech to high tech.

After looking back at your tank, if it was me...I would get the Ecoxotic and put it over your current tank and set the intensity to the level that grows the plants you have. I think it looks nice and can always change later without having to buy another fixture.
Just my 2cents..
 
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