I'm new of course its a lighting question...
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I'm new of course its a lighting question...

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I'm new of course its a lighting question...
Old 12-06-2010, 10:24 PM   #1
 
I'm new of course its a lighting question...

Ya, my first tank forum. I've been spying almost every tank forum out there for about two years. I've only had tanks for about that long and we, my wife and I, have come along way. I did a 20 gal planted tank with 8 cherry barbs in it about a year ago. Within 6 months algae had taken over but we now had 30 cherry barbs. I was out of the country for this time and it's a long story but I decided to take a 55 gal I had laying around and give a live planted tank another shot and make it my cherry barb tank.

I have roughly 20 cherry barbs, 2 lamp eyed tetras, a guarmi, and a blind albino fish (pacu we think another long story). Anyway I was looking at doing a heavily planted tank and be able to have a wide variety of plant options. I was going to go with the 3wpg CO2 injection method until I saw some of the tanks in this forum. So my problem right now is I'm in search of lights for my 55 gal tank. Right now I have 2x15W T8 67,000k lights on top and a 20W CFL daylight around 5000k'ish bulb in a fixture next to the tank. The CFL is a blind hope to keep the plants alive until I get my lights in order.

My first question is how dire is this situation? I've only had the plants a week and they are still growing however I'm not sure if thats just from being healthy before and their running on their reserves.

Second question is what would be better if I don't go the CO2 injection route, 2xT8 32W or 2xT12 40W fixtures? I've seen in multiple places that T8s put out more light per watt but how do these setups compare in light output in terms of human brightness, and plant (photosynthesis) us fullness? Obviously I would be using 6700K or ware about bulbs in ether setup so please assume same bulb type manufacture just T8(new kind) vs T12. I ask because T8's will become more and more common but I'm not sure if they have the options available T12 do as far as color temp brightness ect. I am also open to other options but please explain why you suggest what you suggest if possible.

I would like to do a pressurized co2 system with AHsupply lights although something came up suddenly and I may not be able to afford that many lights or even maintain such an unstable system.

More of me rambling and not necessary for the question but I'm going to ramble anyway(fare warning ;) )

rant

I was AMAZED to see some of the beautifully planted tanks done with less than 1 WPG I have seen on this site, ya yours Byron. Not that I put a whole lot into that anyway and quite frankly it's driving me nuts. Wattage is the amount the light uses to operate. Plants use what the light puts out so really thats what the rule of thumb is? Not to be rude but to someone as simple minded as I am it seams like you should be going by the output. I mean their are plenty of cars that suck in 2 liters of 92 octane fuel into the engine. Some can rocket a car down the strip at 100+ MPH and others can barley get the car to 90MPH at all. I realize everything else being equal color/spectrum/relative intensity that a higher wattage bulb will put out more light but honestly the more I learn about lights the less I feel I know.

/rant

Ok as for the specifics of aquarium, also take not while I'd like to keep these plants alive their not necessarily the only ones I'll have I just got these by chance.

55gal standard size I think been established for about 3 months in addition to 30 days cycling and a week of the canary fish.. ie the ugly fish that wont die.. gotta love the little pink fella.
48"x12"x21"
Fish: 20 cherry barbs, 2 lamp eyed tetras, a guarmi, and a blind albino fish(Pacu?) we just call it ugly fish that never dies
Plants: money wart, water sprite, anachiris i think, and horn wart. The floating money wart is to get them to root seems to be working.

current lighting: sad but true 2x15W T8's full spectrum, and not sure if this counts but 20W CFL full spectrum in a lamp stand beside it. See photo.

Any help would be greatly appreciated so I can act soon and not have a bunch of decaying plants in my new'ish tank. And can anyone identify the no eyed fish? He is the big pink one in the foreground right of center, we got him free with a free 30 gal tank. Ugly but been with us since fish tank day 1 ;)...
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Old 12-07-2010, 07:23 AM   #2
 
hello and welcome,

the ugly fish that won't die looks like some sort of blind cave fish - maybe the blind cave tetra? not an albino but a fish that evolved to live in completely dark underground caves and therefore has no pigmentation (colour) and no eyes

If your plants are growing now i'm sure your current lighting is adequate. Personally i'd go for the lower lighting opton - 2 x 32w if you're not injecting c02. An excess of light is more likely to lead to an imbalance in your system and algae problems somewhere down the line. In a planted tank there must be balance between the amount of light, c02 and nutrients (i'd read byron's planted tank stickies if you haven't already)
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Old 12-07-2010, 10:50 AM   #3
 
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Looking at your plants, I think the 2x 15W might do.

Many of us here prefer the low-light route. It's cheaper, and requires a lot less maintenance. Shame you already set it up, or I'd preach soil substrates. :P

With what you have now, you could probably get rid of the CFL, and dose a good liquid fertiliser once a week.

At most, the 2 32W. I think it might be too much light.
(The T8's produce more light per watt than T12s, but a 32W T8 and 40W T12 don't have a huge difference if you ignore your electrical bill. Lumens are similiar.)

The big fish might actually be an albino blind pacu. (Blind cave tetras are smaller I believe- around 2-3 inches.)

To fill in some of the gaps, a couple swordplants would work nicely.
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Old 12-07-2010, 03:14 PM   #4
 
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I'll just expand on a couple points already mentioned. You seem to have quite a decent grasp of lighting, so I can jump straight into the issues.

I would use T8 over T12; the latter are being phased out by manufacturers because they use more energy as redchigh mentioned. The same tube in T12 or T8 will have basically the same light intensity (brightness). T5 is another story along the same road (less energy, more light) but I am not a fan of T5 because with NO (normal output) the availability of tubes is limited, and with HO (high output) the light intensity can easily be way over the need depending upon the setup. I have tried these myself, so this is personal experience. I bought new fixtures last year to replace worn-out ones from 15 years ago, and after trying several for a week I bought the regular (for T8 tubes).

You can forget watts in T8 as a 48-inch tube (for example) is 40w standard; some manufacturers make them in 32w and they have the same light output. More energy savings. Some manufacturers make tubes with more output, Life-Glo is one of these; it has a coating on half the inside of the tube that focuses light better, so there is slightly more intensity from this tube as opposed to their regular Life-Glo 2 of the same length (and wattage).

The watts per gallon is still frequently bandied about by even reputable planted tank authors, and for regular T8 lighting over tanks from 50 to 150 gallons it can be a basic guide. But what some of these people seem to forget is that aquatic plants do not require bright light. Most of them occur in shady conditions in nature, and many of them are marsh or bog plants. Those who maintain that you cannot grow plants with less than 2-3 watts per gallon are wrong. My 115g tank with two 40w T8 (up until last year, T12) tubes has been maintaining good plant growth for 15 years. The Echinodorus cordifolius at the left side is more than 12 years old and still producing daughter plants periodically. And I have plain aquarium gravel substrate, and only use liquid fertilizer.

To your present situation: I assume you mean 6700K, not 67,000K tubes. This will work fine, though it may (and I use the word "may") limit you if you should want to have certain plants like substrate grasses that generally speaking do require more light. I've never tried these since I don't really like them anyway, and I have more ground cover than I want with my pygmy chain swords in the 90g and 115g and the crypts in the 33g and 70g. But the vast range of aquarium plants is available. You will need fertilization; it is unlikely everything needed will be present from water, fish food, organics. Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium is the only preparation known to me with all essential nutrients in balance.

If you've read the series "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" stickied at the top of this section you will know why I much prefer natural. Your comment on stability is exactly the issue; the simpler the balance, the more stable with less intervention.

Hope this helps or has answered some of your issues.

Byron.
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Old 12-07-2010, 05:37 PM   #5
 
Sorry should have mentioned that yes, I have read all 4 parts of the guide by Byron. It was a big part in why I singed up for this forum instead of another ware I knew I would get the 1.5-2WGP if not doing CO2. The guide makes a lot of sense and although some possibly many out there would disagree with you on some points like lighting, one cannot argue with 15+ years of such high quality tanks.

My only issue with the guide was nothing was quantitative, although I understand why because one thing changes everything and those issues seam best left to a case by case basis.

Ok so from what I'm getting is my current lighting will keep my plants alive? And I just say one of those 18" T8 15W bulbs is 8000k not 6700k the other is 6700k. I also have a 24" 20W strip I could use if what I have wont be sufficient. However If what I have will work, at least for awhile, that would free up some funds to put lights on my 125 gal tank.

Right now its pritty baren, just has a Jack dempsy a 2-3" guarmi (who is mean and is why he is with the jack) and about half a dozen or so bambo plants. Since I had those plants in my 55 droped on me I had to steal some and it only has the one 24" 20W over it. This tank is a long story but when I left for Iraq I had a 20 gal a 30 gal and the 55 wasn't set up. When I came home I found a 125 gal tank next to a brand new kitchen table...... I'm trying to get everything in working order and looking good again.

sorry.... i digress

So my specific questions are:

1. Is my 55 gal lighting sufficiant?

2. For with a simular goal for the 125, heavily planted with some floating plants, what lighting should I do?
a. I was thinking maybe 4x tubes over each quarter of the tank. 32W 40W?
my reasoning is because of coverage and with so few/no plants in it now I can only turn 2 on. I was thinking of building a fixture for this setup.
b. or would two strip lights work better?

Again Only if the 55 will continue to grow I need to figure that one out first but I would love to get the 125 up as well.


Me rambling about my tank
Thank you guys so much for the replies. I feel much better about my plants surviving right now.. although I need to gut the canister of the carbon and I hope the flow rate isn't too high. (Fluval 405) 340 GPH The venturi type nosel on it isn't helping any so i pointed it to one side. So one side has a bit of a current the other doesn't. My plan is to hook up a long tub with holes around it to cut down on the current. My wife got the 125 tank for $400 with stand and as we found out later rummaging threw the bottom 2x canister filters. Apparently they upgraded from the Fluval 405.

Is it bad that I can't stay on topic in my own thread? Anyway all inputs welcome but I'm mostly worried about lighting for now ... You guys are GREAT. And yes I do the Wall O Text often... :meh:


edit: almost forgot the ferts. I did a dose of NUTRAFIN Plant Gro... not sure war it came from... wife? I plan on moving to the Flourish Comprehensive however can/should I use all the Nutrafin first? It has micro-nutrients and I know a few of you preach against this.

Nutrafin Plant Gro:

Total N 0.15%
Boron 0.0005%
copper 0.0005%
Iron 0.26%
Maganese 0.05%
Molybdenum 0.0007%
Zink 0.003%

250ml bottle

directions : 5ml per 38 L weekly.

Last edited by dhysk; 12-07-2010 at 05:44 PM.. Reason: ferts::
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Old 12-07-2010, 06:00 PM   #6
 
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I have been planning to update my articles but haven't had the time to do it, but another contract project is coming to an end so hopefully more time will be available for this and work on some of our fish and plant profiles that have revisions pending. If you could explain the "Quantitative" a bit so I know specifically, I might be able to do something there.

To the lights, my preference is for cross-tank light strips; a 4-foot tube over the 55g rather than two smaller tubes end to end. The latter will work, but in this case I would want the same tube type in both; the combo you have is fine, in terms of spectrum (6500K full spectrum and 8000K "cool white" sort of) but as I can now see in the photo there is a noticeable difference in hue under them; the left of the tank is daylight, the right is cooler. This would bother me aesthetically, but more importantly the plants under the 8000K will have more of a struggle because the red light which is essential is missing. Once you plant more, this becomes far more significant that it may be with only a few stem plants. You can buy 6500K daylight tubes made by GE, Phillips, Sylvania at hardware stores for a couple dollars. They also need replacing regularly, most suggest 2-3 years for T8 tubes, so if that time is nearing, consider identical daylight around 6500-6700K.

Over a 125g, this partly depends upon the length. Some 125g tanks are 5 feet, some 6 feet. If 5 feet, it is basically the same as my 115g, and two 48-inch tubes suffice. On a 6-footer, probably a dual row of 30 or 36 inch tubes, depending upon the fixture, so 4 tubes in all. With dual tubes full length, you could have the 6500K at the front and the cool white at the rear.

Byron.
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Old 12-07-2010, 06:58 PM   #7
 
Excellent Byron. As long as lighting is adequate thats fine form me... for now. And since this setup should work and I can do the 125 gal lights It wont be much to grab 2x new bulbs for the 55 setup while I'm at the hardware store. Its a 6 footer I apologize for leaving that important peace of info out.

Quantitative... It may be very difficult to do but think in terms of say a fert dosing bottle. You apply the ratio to you're setup and viola... or err. adjust as needed ;)..

If WPG is a decent gauge, though I think it is counter intuitive, something like lumens may be better. Although this to can be misleading because lumens has to do with brightness to humans urg.

A fictitious example. All lighting should be 6,500k to 6,700k in temperature (you cover this) and be evenly distributed over the tank.

Intensity should be approximatively 2,000 lumen (average for 2x 40 watt t8's? A guess really) per xxcubic in of water with 50 % foliage coverage (you're pics would be closer to 70%-80%? say). Increase intensity by 5% if using a lot of floating plants.

Or by looking at you're setups it seems more like its a range.. Use 1,000 lu for tanks 45 - 70 gal 2,000 for tanks from 85 - 110 or so forth. It may help to think of how you choose you're lighting. It's hard to go to the hardware store and buy lights when you get there you start going... how much, what kind, what color, wattage, size type.....

Those numbers are completely random but maybe this helps?

Also for filtration maybe some examples of flow rates in each size tank. Does it vary with size how much flow rate do I need for a high current low current?

I know many of you guys are with tanks as my grandma is in the kitchen. A little more of this a pinch less of that and a lot of love than BOOM, after much patience, beautiful tank. The guide is VERY useful but I'm an engineering type. What is a little more, little less is that 1 gal or 5 gal? Is that one more 40w bulb or 3,000 lumen?

Again I don't think you could formalizes it to that degree but from you're article I know what to do just not how much.. Get us close so we can go on a spending spree and than adjust as time goes on without having to eventually find out we have ALL the wrong stuff ..

And please this is only a suggestion because you asked me to elaborate. Don't feel it's you're sole responsibility to compile and deliver all this info. Maybe you're article shouldn't be rewrite but supplemented with the how much for those of us that are clueless.

Again thank you guys very much. I feel much more at ease with my setup helping me enjoy it more, and giving me confidence that you're advise will get me to ware I'm going. What an amazing resource, hopefully I'll be able to contribute some how when I learn more.
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Old 12-07-2010, 07:32 PM   #8
 
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I can answer some of this immediately...

Quote:
Quantitative... It may be very difficult to do but think in terms of say a fert dosing bottle. You apply the ratio to you're setup and viola... or err. adjust as needed ;)..
This depends solely on the fertilizer being used. A good comprehensive like Flourish is dosed at the same but does depend upon light and plants and fish and tap water. I can't remember what I wrote about this, but perhaps this could be explained, although more explaining means longer articles and no one will read them.

Quote:
If WPG is a decent gauge, though I think it is counter intuitive, something like lumens may be better. Although this to can be misleading because lumens has to do with brightness to humans urg.

A fictitious example. All lighting should be 6,500k to 6,700k in temperature (you cover this) and be evenly distributed over the tank.

Intensity should be approximatively 2,000 lumen (average for 2x 40 watt t8's? A guess really) per xxcubic in of water with 50 % foliage coverage (you're pics would be closer to 70%-80%? say). Increase intensity by 5% if using a lot of floating plants.

Or by looking at you're setups it seems more like its a range.. Use 1,000 lu for tanks 45 - 70 gal 2,000 for tanks from 85 - 110 or so forth. It may help to think of how you choose you're lighting. It's hard to go to the hardware store and buy lights when you get there you start going... how much, what kind, what color, wattage, size type.....

Those numbers are completely random but maybe this helps?
Lighting is a bit tricky. I've never worried about lumens because I know the tubes I buy will work from experience. And the aim, at least my aim, is always to have the least amount of light needed for the plants, and this is for the good of the fish.

Quote:
Also for filtration maybe some examples of flow rates in each size tank. Does it vary with size how much flow rate do I need for a high current low current?
Filtration depends--or should depend--solely on the fish in the tank. This has several components. Obviously the number of fish to water volume ration. But even more important and usually overlooked are the species. In a community aquarium the fish should be compatible--that means they share identical or near-identical requirements in water parameters, flow, plants, wood, rock, light--everything. This compatibility avoids stress, so essential to fish health. In larger tanks it is possible to have more latitude as you can accomodate--to a limited extent--different needs. In my 115g I have a Rena XP3 with the outflow about a foot from the end (left) wall, directed toward the wall (I use the spigot, not the spray bar in this tank). This creates a bit of a flow down the wall and into the tank for a foot or so but not beyond. The fish in the tank have taken up permanent residence according to their needs. The cardinals and rummynose remain in the right half, farthest from the flow; they prefer still waters. The spotted woodcats which need some current have colonized tunnels in the standing wood at the far left, closest to the filter flow at its strongest. The group of Corydoras duplicareus also remain at this end of the tank--they occur in a stream with a moderate flow. The C. gossei remain in the right. The Pristella stay close to the left end, they like some water flow. And so forth.

Quote:
I know many of you guys are with tanks as my grandma is in the kitchen. A little more of this a pinch less of that and a lot of love than BOOM, after much patience, beautiful tank. The guide is VERY useful but I'm an engineering type. What is a little more, little less is that 1 gal or 5 gal? Is that one more 40w bulb or 3,000 lumen?

Again I don't think you could formalizes it to that degree but from you're article I know what to do just not how much.. Get us close so we can go on a spending spree and than adjust as time goes on without having to eventually find out we have ALL the wrong stuff ..
So as the above should indicate, much of this depends upon what fish you intend to have in the aquarium. And that of course is completely up to the individual aquarist.
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