Originally Posted by Cache86
thanks for the insight! I have definitely decided to just go with the pool sand. so I am gathering that i need 2 bulbs for my tank and i do want to go with fluorescents but i do not know what fixture to get. Every 2 bulbed i see is pretty expensive. Am i just not looking correctly?
Jeff has now entered the thread with advice on the LED issue. Thanks, Jeff.
To your question here about fluorescent tube...I see you are in the USA, so check out online places for some the lower prices. Don't worry as much about the tubes themselves, because most of the fixtures will come with tubes that frankly are not worth having. I have always purchased my tubes separately. The fixture will last years, so the investment is solid. Tubes have to be regularly replaced regardless, every 12-18 months for T8, probably 18-24 for T5.
If you can find a single-tube T5 fixture, that is probably your best option. Second to this I would rate a dual-tube T8 fixture.
Comment on sand, with pool sand you have to be careful not to get white. Some places have black pool sand. I am not exactly fond of that either; I had black in one tank and got rid of it after 2 years for other reasons, but one disadvantage was that every bit of stuff stood out. I never have this with my mixed-colour substrates like the natural gravels and sands. I now use play sand, the Quikrete brand available from Home Depot, Lowe's, etc. One bag (25kg/55 lb) will do you for your 38g, and this is only a couple dollars.