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I currently have a 48 X 18 X 30 tank and I working on turning it into a planted tank. I already have a CO2 system and have MTS for the substrate. So the question is what kinda light do I need and at what Wattage?
 

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2 150w Metal halides, or one larger lamp raised a bit higher to cover the entire tank. I am a believer that MH is the way to go for any plant, be it aquatic or indoor hydroponics. I use a single 175w in my 24" tank and it is amazing.
 

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my tank is 6 ft x 2 ft wide by 30" tall and I use a 4x54W ATI powermodule with CO2. My tank is not heavily planted due to what I'm trying to accomplish, but it is working and I may need to cut back the light period.
 

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Water doesn't absorb any significant percentage of light at 30 inches depth. It is just the distance from the light that results in the lower intensity, and a 30 inch high tank puts the lights about 30 inches from the substrate. But a single T5HO bulb will give low light intensity at 30 inches, two will give medium intensity, and 4 will give high intensity.
 

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The watts per gallon "rule" doesn't apply to any light. It is just a coincidence that T12 bulbs used on the standard tanks that were available 20 years ago would give enough light to grow some plants when you had 2 watts per gallon. Light intensity varies with the distance from the bulb, not with the quantity of water in the tank.
 

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The real trick is even lighting. You have a large tank, so you need more than one fixture or you'll have one bright spot with large dim areas of the tank. Instead of 4x54W T5HO, go with two 2x54W T5HO fixtures.
 

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The real trick is even lighting. You have a large tank, so you need more than one fixture or you'll have one bright spot with large dim areas of the tank. Instead of 4x54W T5HO, go with two 2x54W T5HO fixtures.
Wouldn't you want more bulbs so that you could spread them out and stagger them for a larger coverage area?

I have a tank of nearly the exact same dimensions, I am planning on 4 X 48" 54W bulbs. I also plan to stagger them and evenly spread them out.
 
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