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Quick question!

2350 Views 21 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  BearMitten
Hey everyone, hope all is well : )
I have this 20 gallon that is in desperate need of a rescape amongst a lot of other things....I don't want to tear it down cause its the one tank I have that's matured and its parameters are just beautiful at the moment...but I digress. Currently its got a 15" T8 18w zoo med ultra sun sitting on the rim. The tank is 24"L 17"H 12"W. I'm planning to dirt this tank within the next week or so and I'm just wondering if this light will be sufficient for the lowlight plants?
I have bacopa, java fern, Anubis (something), golden creeping jenny, pogostemus erectus, hydrocoytle, staurogyne repens...I think...goodness, well I hope that helps a little describe the setup. Appreciate the help!

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That is definitely low light, very low light actually. Some of those plants you listed might struggle.
Just the answer I wanted to hear, well not so much but now I have an answer Haha. I have a 18w aqueon floramax t8 if I hook that up with a fixture and run both the lights would that suffice?

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That will still be pretty low lighting, if you are going to go through the trouble of rescaping I would suggest upgrading the light as well. If you are trying to get in the medium light range a cheap way to do it would be to use some CFL light bulbs in a cheap fixture from the hardware store, just be mindful that this does not get wet.

Another option would be to get a 2-4 bulb T5HO with separate on off switches, some come like this you just have to make sure. These are also great fixtures to get used, I see them on my local craigslist all the time for next to nothing.

Another option that will save you money in the long run would be to get an LED light, that will save you on electricity and also the cost of replacement bulbs. If you want to go LED, the most affordable option, beyond DIY, are getting the LED spotlights from eBay, they range from $15-$50 depending on how many watts you want.
As aquarist said, this is by far your cheapest option

That's my 20H with two clamp on aluminum reflectors (lowes @ $9 ea) and 23W CFLs (5000K). That's providing fairly high light. You could run 13 watt bulbs and be in the lowish/med light range.
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I have two aqueon floramax on a 10 gallon which I consider low light, the difference between our tanks is the distant to the substrate. The water column on my tank is about 8.5 inches. I think the problem you might run into is the lack of light at the bottom of the tank. You should try both of your t8's and see how it goes, then upgrade if your not getting the growth you want. I wouldn't run out and buy some new lights because some dude's on the internet said too. :biggrin:
I have that exact same sized tank and am running the stock florescent light that came with the setup. While I plan to replace the bulb yearly, I don't plan on changing the type. I was not expecting the success I have had but I think you will be surprised with your results as is. I cannot speak for every plant you listed but mine are growing nicely. I dose 1 or 2 times a week and use Flourish, Flourish Excel, and Leaf Zone.
Here is a picture from a few weeks ago


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For low light that should be fine as long as it is the bulb is the right spectrum. Your growth will be very slow though, yet that is better than going higher light and battling algae. I'd run with it for a while and see how it goes.
Alright, thanks for all the advice and insight!!!!
Here is the route I went...

I broke it all down. Rinsed the substrate out. Dirted the bottom with MGOPM. And used the old substrate (eco-complete, I believe) as a cap. A trip to the Home Depot provided me with two 8.5" clip on reflector lamps and looking back at the pictures I definitely like Lowes version of the light but its okay. They are running 19w CFL (5000k).

Planted and rescape. I'm happy with the look is extremely cloudy, I am unsure if this is what you call an algae bloom? Or just new tank scape cloudiness. MTS are the only inhabitants at the moment.
Thanks for the help.

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Nice. The cloudiness is more than likely just from being new set up, probably clear up in a day or two.

I do think it'd look better with a different background. The blue looks unnatural, and now with better lighting just makes it clash even more. You might want to try black or some other dark earth tone. I actually just have a 35 cent piece of black poster board taped on that 20 up there, so it doesnt have to be anything fancy. :)
Sadly, someone got to this tank before I did. Their first order of business....was to spray paint the back....would a razor scratch it up a whole lot?

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A razor should work fine to remove the paint, just take your time and it shouldn't scratch the glass. I use a razor to clean the inside glass of my aquariums sometimes.
Yeah Ive used a razor blades to remove painted on backgrounds before. One in a paint scraper is easier than just a blade by itself because you have a handle, but Ive also just used utility knife blades by themselves. Like aquarist said, take your time and keep a fresh blade. Depending on how thick the coat is you may only need one to do the job.
The next time you change bulbs look for the 5500K bulbs which are much better for plants. With two @ 19W it should cause a little of GSA...just how much.
Two 14W regular 18" T8 bulbs in my 10g T8 tank(I designate them like that as I have one/w T5 bulbs) causes GSA that needs to be scraped off the glass about every three weeks or two weeks if you want perfect. It makes the rocks get the GSA but so far the wood does not have hardly any. But I took a couple of years to find bulbs that worked like that...all the rest made me clean the glass much more often.
IMO that is a dangerous set up. Using bookshelf brackets on the wall, take off the clamp and tie the cord to the bookshelf bracket
will keep it from falling into the tank. You can spray paint the outside of the shades if you like.
Do you have any pictures of this setup Raymond? Also, will painting the outside of the reflectors mess with heat or something?

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Water is clearer but very brown. The DW has white stuff on it....I'm not planning on putting fish in this tank for at least a month...should I be doing anything specific? Will water become clear eventually? How often should I be doing water changes?
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The white stuff is a common fungus (or mold?) that is normal for new driftwood. It should run it's course and go away on it's own. Brown water is from tannins leaching out of the driftwood. It will eventually clear up. How long just depends on the wood, probably at least a week or two, if not several weeks. It doesnt hurt anything, not even fish. In fact I believe most species actually like it, though Im not sure the specific reason why. So it's just a matter of whether you can tolerate the look of things in the meantime.
I did a dirted tank once. its pretty normal for the wood to get white fuzz. That should go away after a few weeks. I had platies that actually ate it. As for the brown water, its most likely from the dirt. My dirted tank's water was ALWAYS brown. Only thing that helped temporarily was water changes and carbon. But it would always come back. I think its just a fact of life for dirted tanks.
May 26, 2014:
Checked my parameters and they are as follows
pH: 7.4
Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 5ppm

I'm not sure what my stock will be in this tank. I keep looking at everyone else's 20 gallon tanks and kind of going from there. I'm assuming my nitrates are low because I don't really have a lot of bio-load going on with the exception of the snails in here. Any suggestions in stock are much appreciated : )

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