55 gallon tank lighting - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 14 Old 10-27-2011, 10:13 AM Thread Starter
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55 gallon tank lighting

I have had the 55 gallon kit from Aqueon for a little bit now but I am ready to start growing more live plants. It came with two 18 inch full spectrum 15 W fluorescent bulbs, I understand that this is not enough light to grow much of anything. The light enclosures say they can hold up to 19 W(again not enough). I am looking to get about 110 watts in the tank, however I don't know the cheapest way to go about this. I know I can't put two 55 watt bulbs in my current hoods, however I am willing to do some modification if I can keep the price as low as possible. What is the cheapest way I can go about upgrading my lighting, even if it takes some work?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 14 Old 10-27-2011, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by MckinneyFish View Post
I have had the 55 gallon kit from Aqueon for a little bit now but I am ready to start growing more live plants. It came with two 18 inch full spectrum 15 W fluorescent bulbs, I understand that this is not enough light to grow much of anything. The light enclosures say they can hold up to 19 W(again not enough). I am looking to get about 110 watts in the tank, however I don't know the cheapest way to go about this. I know I can't put two 55 watt bulbs in my current hoods, however I am willing to do some modification if I can keep the price as low as possible. What is the cheapest way I can go about upgrading my lighting, even if it takes some work?

Thanks!
What types of plants are you wanting to grow?
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post #3 of 14 Old 10-27-2011, 11:16 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply, I am looking to put a variety of low to medium level light plants in the tank, nothing crazy. I don't want to get involved with CO2 or anything like that. I just know that I need more light than I currently have to grow just about anything. I haven't researched any specific names, but just basic plants that require decent lighting.
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post #4 of 14 Old 10-27-2011, 12:58 PM
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First thing, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. Nice to have you with us.

On the light. I will assume this is a T8 fixture, meaning that it takes the standard fluorescent tubes. "T" refers to the diameter in 8ths of an inch, so a T8 is 8/8 or 1 inch diameter. The older tubes that are being phased out were T12 so wider diameter. T8's are made in wattages specific to the tube length; some manufacturers make more energy-efficient tubes that have a slightly lower wattage with the same intensity, but otherwise all 18-inch tubes will be the standard wattage [not sure what it is, doesn't matter].

The T5 tubes that are becoming more common now require different fixtures; they will not fit the T8 fixtures, and vice versa. T5 are even more energy-efficient, and produce considerable light intensity. Anyway, these will require a new fixture [more in a moment on this].

Watts is somewhat meaningless as a guide to suitable lighting due to the vary different intensity from different tubes. Watts is only the measure of the amount of energy [= electricity] needed to light the tube. The phosphors and way the tube is made determine the spectrum and intensity, and both these aspects are critical when it comes to plants. I had a 55g with a single 40w 48-inch T12 tube years ago, back when these "Grolux" tubes were the thing for planted tanks. That was not intense light, but I did manage. Today with the newer T8 tubes a single 48-inch is suitable, or a single T5, but either means a new fixture.

Keeping the fixture you have, you would be best with the Hagen Life-Glo tubes; this is ideal light for planted tanks, high in the red and blue but with green to balance for a true rendition of fish and plant colours. The tubes that came with the hood are probably next to useless; my Aqueon hood was. I won't go into all that, but the Life-Glo would be better if you stay with the fixture. Low light and most moderate light plants should manage.

A better choice if you can would be a new fixture. As this won't fit the hood, presuming it is made for the tank, it would mean discarding the hood and getting a glass cover and a light fixture. The glass cover sits down on the lip around the frame, and the light fixture sits on the frame lengthwise. Before i go into the options for this, I'll wait for your response as I don't want to blab on without purpose.

Byron.

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]
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post #5 of 14 Old 10-27-2011, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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Byron -

Thank you for the information, it is greatly appreciated! The life-glo tubes seem more into my range than getting something new, especially since I am not keeping any terribly difficult plants. I am willing to get a new fixture and glass cover, however I don't currently have hundreds to spend on something like that. Are there decent priced options available? Where would I go to see about getting a glass cover and a new fixture, and what would I be looking for? Again, thank you :)
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post #6 of 14 Old 10-27-2011, 04:12 PM
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Byron -

Thank you for the information, it is greatly appreciated! The life-glo tubes seem more into my range than getting something new, especially since I am not keeping any terribly difficult plants. I am willing to get a new fixture and glass cover, however I don't currently have hundreds to spend on something like that. Are there decent priced options available? Where would I go to see about getting a glass cover and a new fixture, and what would I be looking for? Again, thank you :)
The glass covers you should be able to get them at your local pet store if not then online. This is only needed if you replace the light fixture. I have a 48" dual T8 fixture from allglass (I think). I got it from Foster&Smiths.com for around $120 or so best I can remember. Another opinion would be find a single fixture that's 48" should be a little cheaper. Either one would be ideal. You can sometimes find a 48" fixture at local pet stores also. Just a thought.
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post #7 of 14 Old 10-27-2011, 06:02 PM
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I concur. And I happen to have two All Glass dual-tube T8 fixtures, bought 2 years ago to replace two old ones that gave out after many years, and I like them. The tubes that came with them went straight to recycling, and I use my own full spectrum/daylight tubes. But the fixtures themselves seem well made.

Another brand is Perfecto; I have one of these on a smaller tank and it seems OK to me.

Glass covers are fairly inexpensive. I have this arrangement on my three larger (4 and 5-foot) tanks.

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]
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post #8 of 14 Old 10-27-2011, 07:27 PM
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what i did was went to walmart and bought a shop lamp, its just a T8 8inch 2 tube fixture for 10 bucks. works great with a canopy, 64 watts tubes were 10 bucks as well for 2. each at 6500k. alot cheaper than buying a hood specially made for a fish tank.
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post #9 of 14 Old 10-27-2011, 07:41 PM
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what i did was went to walmart and bought a shop lamp, its just a T8 8inch 2 tube fixture for 10 bucks. works great with a canopy, 64 watts tubes were 10 bucks as well for 2. each at 6500k. alot cheaper than buying a hood specially made for a fish tank.

Well that should work also sorry didnt think about that. There are lots of people who have similar setups.
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post #10 of 14 Old 10-27-2011, 07:45 PM
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Provided one has the carpentry skills to build a canopy for it...which I do not.

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]
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