Originally Posted by tsweers89
Thank you for your input. i looked at your aquariums and that is exactly what i am looking for. I want good lighting but not enough that i have to use co2 injection and what not. i want to stick with good lighting and fertilizing. Taht is my goal.
As for as fixtures and such go. what shoul i look for. i dont nee the best nor do i want to spend a fortune. but i do want nice lighting. What should i get?
This is easy, as you're on the same line as my tanks, fairly low-tech. First, the light.
Whatever you get, it will cost you for something that is good. Used fixtures can be found; tubes will have to be new--they significantly diminish in the intensity of the light over a few months, and most recommend replacement every 12 months. They will light for years, but the light is not intense enough to enable the plants to photosynthesize (grow).
I'm assuming this is a standard 4-foot 55g, so you have the option of two regular fluorescent tubes or one T5 HO tube. The T5 HO tubes put out more intense light, and two of them over a 55g wold be in my view too much. I had to replace two of my old fixtures in July, and I got a two-tube T5 and found it way too bright and that was over my 5-foot 115g (using two 48-inch tubes). I took it back and bought a standard two-tube fixture and it is fine as you saw in my photos. I've had tanks like these for more than 12 years.
The type of tube, whichever type of fixture you decide on, is very important. The sun at mid-day is approximately 6500K in colour temperature. The closest match is a full spectrum tube rated around 6500K; Hagen makes one called Life-Glo 2 (6700K) and Zoo Med make one called Ultra Sun (6500K). Both these are high in the blue and red colours, the ones plants need, but also green/yellow which balances the otherwise "purplish" appearance and makes the plant and fish colours appear natural. I have the Life-Glo 2 on all three of my aquaria as one tube, and the second tube is a very similar one with just a tad more blue. That is an advantage of two tubes, being able to mix types; but if you go with one tube, the Life-Glo 2 is in my view the best. It is also the most expensive; but over a tank of $100 worth of plants, saving $20 on inferior tubes doesn't make sense when the plants don't thrive.
Once you have the light and plants, liquid fertilizer will be necessary; tap water rarely contains all the macro- and micro-nutrients plants need, and waste from the fish will not provide enough either. A comprehensive fertilizer is best, one that provides all of the many nutrients and in the correct balance. I and others here recommend Seachem's Floruish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium. I use it twice a week; once may be enough, it depends upon your plants, light, and fish load. The trick is to find the balance between light and nutrients (which includes CO2, coming from the fish).