Trying to find affordable lighting for a 20x10, heavily planted 10g tank - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 7 Old 04-25-2010, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
Trying to find affordable lighting for a 20x10, heavily planted 10g tank

I have cleaned my tank out and ready to move towards set up. However I have found lighting for it to be not only expensive but awkward. Lighting a heavily planted tank is real important, but I'd like to try and save some money if possible. It is awkward finding a 20 inch fixture with adequate output.

i have found foster & smith aquatics who have a T5 - SLR 18" that uses two bulbs for $51.99 With an actinic bulb...
T5-SLR 18"

I have also found a 20" two bulb CFL for $94.99. But not only is this kind of expensive and it's MEGA watts more than I need (total of 80 watts over 10 gallons). And actinic bulbs...
20" CFL

Is there an affordable place online that carries fluorescent lighting for a 20" X 10", 10 gallon tank? Or am I on the wrong track?
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post #2 of 7 Old 04-25-2010, 06:19 PM
redchigh's Avatar
If you're planning a "low tech" tank like many of us are, then you probably don't need to buy anything near that expensive.

What kind of fixture do you have right now?
If you have an incandescent hood that came with the tank, you can just get some 10W CFLs to put in it. They're what I use, they work well.

If you have a flouro hood, then you're lucky. You can just go to lowes/walmart/etc and buy a regular "daylight" or "cool white". Different brands call it different things, but you're looking for one with a spectrum of close to 6600k. Typically, I think the cheapest one that you can buy for your fixture would be plenty- a 10G setup (without CO2) can easily get by with between 10-20watts, and 20 is actually a little high...

one more thing- do not buy actinic- plants don't even use that spectrum.
It's mostly for corals... freshwater it will guarantee uncontrollable algae problems, and waste electricity.

Originally Posted by Christople View Post
^^ genius

Soil Substrates Guide:
Part 1
--------- Part 2


Last edited by redchigh; 04-25-2010 at 06:22 PM.
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post #3 of 7 Old 04-25-2010, 06:30 PM Thread Starter
I do not yet have a fixture, but will be buying fluorescent. How will plants like Rotala Magenta, Alternathea Reinicki, and Hemianthus callitrichoides do under 10-20 watts?
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post #4 of 7 Old 04-25-2010, 06:38 PM
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On a 10g your cheapest option is incadescent with CF bulbs as redchigh indicated. Alternatively, a single flourescent tube will work; I've done this with no problems.

If the "appearance" of the aquarium is not critical, I would recommend a glass cover and a fixture (either incadescent or flourescent) that extends the length of the tank. This is what I use on my 70g, 90g and 115g aquaria. This way you can get a fixture that is full length and thus take a longer tube than a custom 10g tank "hood" with a light which may look "nicer" (depending upon your viewpoint) but provide for a shorter (and therefore less intense light) tube.

With fluorescent, there are the Life-Glo tubes by Hagen/Nutrafin. These have a special coating on one half of the inside that directs light out the other half with more intensity that regular tubes. They cost more obviously. The "ordinary" tubes are Life-Glo 2, and these special ones are Life-Glo. They are T8 so that is again more light intensity (than T12) and they last 3 years. These are full spectrum, 6700K, excellent single-tube lights. There are the less expensive ones by Phillips, Sylvania, GE available at hardware stores, which would obviously be normal output but in T8 these are still good light.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]

Last edited by Byron; 04-25-2010 at 06:42 PM.
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post #5 of 7 Old 04-25-2010, 06:39 PM
redchigh's Avatar
To be honest, they may turn green, although growth will be steady.

This is a great time to decide whether you want high tech or low tech.
High tech would be, 3-4 watts per gallon... a CO2 tank with a regulator... and daily dosing of fertilisers.
With that type of setup, if you get everything balanced, growth will be explosive, but if the little CO2 regulator fails suddenly (as they do.) you could lose your fish.

Low tech would be 1-2 wpg, and perhaps less in a larger tank. You might fertilise once a week if you want to.
You also don't supply fish CO2, although you do turn down the tank aeration so the fish will provide the CO2.

I have red rotalla and red ludwigea in my tanks, the ludwigea leaves turned greenish but kept a bronze color to the underside of the leaves. My rotalla is green.
They'd probably go back to red if I used some ferts with iron.. but I don't fertilise at all. ever.

Originally Posted by Christople View Post
^^ genius

Soil Substrates Guide:
Part 1
--------- Part 2

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post #6 of 7 Old 04-26-2010, 12:30 AM Thread Starter
Thanks guys. I see where I was going now. I got all excited and almost emptied my pockets ignorantly without fully understanding why or how it interrelates between aquarium life. Oi. I found the Life-Glo II and am going to go with a single tube setup. This will also save me the trouble of a high tech system. I think it best for me to slow down. This is my first heavily planted tank. Only after some decent hands on experience will I up the ante.

:) You guys rock. It wont be too long before pictures of the tanks construction begin :) Owe ya one!
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post #7 of 7 Old 04-26-2010, 05:32 AM
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One bulb does works well in a 10 gallon tank. Good luck
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