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Should lights only be on in daylight hours?

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Hi, all!

I've never had plants before, but I just started two nano tanks with a variety of plants, mostly low light plants. They are each about 2.5 gallons, with potted soil and sand. From what I understand I can have lights on from 6-8 hours. I have them on a timer for 6 hours, but should the lights only be on during the day, so that the plants get 12 hours of darkness? Or can I have them on from 6 pm to midnight? They are not in direct sunlight or anything, but they do get normal, ambient light during the day. Our indoor house lighting is always off during daylight hours. I just planted them all today and i have no fish in them yet, and I won't for a while, until they cycle.

Also, I have 9 watt LEDs, 6500k coming in the mail. There will be one bulb over each tank. They are traditional, round bulbs. I temporarily have regular old 60 watt bulbs on them. It is about 10 inches from the substrate to the light, on both tanks. Is that enough light? I want them to grow quickly.

One of the tanks is a mess right now, because I have too many plants. Next week I will be getting a 20 gallon to put some of the plants in. Also, in the pictures, one of the tanks looks particularly dim, but that's because the glass is thick and has a slight green tinge to it. It was originally for iced tea, I think, and has a brass or copper faucet in the bottom of it for serving.

I super glued the Anubius to some lava rocks I got from Home Depot. Also bought a bigger lava rock from Petco, but it didn't fit in the tank. That's ok. It will go in the 20 when I get it.

https://imgur.com/gallery/dUXYlrC

I appreciate any advice anyone cares to give!
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Having a lighting schedule as you described (on after sunset, off during the daytime), is completely fine. Just ensure that the aquarium doesn't get direct sunlight (which you already seem to have ensured), and it should be OK.

Regarding your current lighting, they sound like incandescent bulbs, which will not be sufficient for plants, in general. Hopefully, your LEDs come quickly. However, looking at your pictures, they might be compact fluorescent bulbs? The latter would actually be OK.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, they are CFLs. But yesterday the LEDs arrived, and everything seems to be going ok. I had some extra LEDs, so I put some of my excess plants in a pretty shallow, plastic tote box with fertilizer and sand, and they have 2 of the 9-watt LEDs on them now, also with a timer. I will be getting a 20 gallon in a few days, so I'm hoping to keep all these plants alive until I can get them in there. They seem to be doing well.

Thanks for the answer!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks!
 

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As long as the get at least a few hours of total darkness you should be fine. I run my lights 8 hrs (two of which are spent ramping up and back down) from 1030am to 630pm with another two hours of pretty dim twilight and then moonlights following a lunar schedule in brightness from 830 to 11:30pm... so even though the tank is lit to some degree for about 12 hours and gets some highly filtered ambient light in the morning for maybe 3-4 hours it’s still getting a solid 8 hours of pitch dark.

I’ve found that my plants do better with at least a few hours of total dark. I used to run the led moonlights that came with my t5 fixture all night but oddly enough I found some stem plants were leggier than they were before I got the fixture. I cut the moonlight down to a few hours and the plants went back to growing normally. It’s strange cus the moonlights were only like three 1 watt diodes total on a 90 gal tank but it was pure 460nm blue and I think it was enough to keep some part of the plants “awake” all night. I’ve read that blue light causing plants to stretch so I can only assume that was the cause.

Haha anyway 6-12 is fine, but if you find you need to lengthen the photo period, I would do it on the front end and go 5-12 or 4-12 rather than going later in to the night.
 
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