Lighting/CO2 for a 56 gallon planted tank - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 8 Old 04-21-2013, 09:13 AM Thread Starter
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Lighting/CO2 for a 56 gallon planted tank

Hi, I am just cycling a planted 56 gallon tank. Want to grow medium to low light plants (wisteria, dwarf hairgrass, saggitaria, anubias,aponogetons). I have a dual T5 NO fixture with a 6700K daylight bulb and one Colormax bulb, both of which are 18 watt. I also have added one regular 40 watt fluorescent bulb. Is it going to be enough/too much light for the plants mentioned? The store clerk actually thought only the T5 fixture will be enough. I don't want to inject the CO2 if possible, but only use liquid carbon daily (5.6 ml).
The tank measurements are 30'' long, 22'' high and 18'' deep, a little on a square size. The fish planned are a school of neon tetra, betta and a few silver hatchets, several ghost shrimp and maybe one cory. The filter is Fluval overhead with adjustable flow rate. It's currently sitting on minimum and doesn't disturb the water very much.
Thank you!

Last edited by ukrworld; 04-21-2013 at 09:26 AM.
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post #2 of 8 Old 04-21-2013, 12:09 PM
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the mentioned plants are pretty easy to keep. the added flouro light would be enough on its own without the t5 lights. the dual t5s are = to t8s since they are NO. so in theory you have three t8 lights over the tank? imo that is a bit much and you might see some algae. I would ditch the extra t8 you have and just stick with the dual t5 NO.

so you are cycleing the tank but have nothing in there nbow right? no fish or plants?
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post #3 of 8 Old 04-21-2013, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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The plants are already in the tank. Also forgot to mention one Amazon Sword. So you think dual T5 with no CO2 will be enough? The tank is cycling with some seeded media and ammonia drops.
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post #4 of 8 Old 04-21-2013, 12:48 PM
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if you have enough plants you wont even see a cycle as the plants will use the ammonia before the bb even get a chance to use it. the dual t5 NO wont require any co2 addition and excel is maybe 4-5x faster growth rate then natural co2 while injection is 10-15x. if your wanting to do Co2 and get maximum growth upgrade the lighting to HO and get a pressurized system - DIY and excel aren't enough.
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post #5 of 8 Old 04-21-2013, 01:09 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, thanks, I'll be watching the nitrites then.
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post #6 of 8 Old 04-21-2013, 01:20 PM
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Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.

Your mentioned plant selection includes some higher-light plants (Wisteria, dwarf hairgrass possibly) and low light plants (Anubias) with others being moderate light. You can try these together, but expect some issues. It is not easy to accommodate this range in light requirements.

What exactly is the 40w fluorescent tube? This high a wattage in T8 would mean a 48-inch tube, so I'm a bit confused. I would myself not want this over the tank, but stay with the two T5 NO tubes.

As for carbon, I wold not use the liquid supplements. They are toxic to fish, bacteria and plants if overdosed, and even as the recommended dose some plants usually melt. Vallisneria is especially prone to this, and while you don't mention Vall you do mention Sagittaria which is in the same family.

If carbon is needed, CO2 diffusion is the best way. However, this sets up a very different balance level, which you light will not match. I suggest giving the tank a try with no added CO2 for a few months. The dwarf hairgrass is the only mentioned plant that might not manage without CO2.

Planting a tank requires some experimenting to see what will work and what won't; we can't expect all plants to manage together and thrive, just as all fish can't.

And that brings me to the fish. If the Betta is a male, I would not include it in with the others. Neons will likely be eaten [mine were] as they are too colourful for a Betta. Plus the neons have a tendency to nip Betta fins. Hatchetfish and Betta is also not a good match, for the sake of the hatchets. And corys are shoaling fish than must be in a group, no less than five, but more is always better; they can be the same species, of mixed; but it is best to have at least 3 per species if you go with more than one species.

You can check out these fish in our profiles, second heading from the left in the blue bar across the top.

And last, with live plants, you do not need to "cycle." I would not add any artificial ammonia. Do some good water changes to get rid of this, then add the first few fish if the plants are settled.


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 #7 of 8 Old 04-21-2013, 02:11 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the information. I have saggitaria in other tank with liquid carbon, and it does very well. The betta used to live in a tank with tetras (now rcs tank) and ignored them, so I thought he would do okay with them in a bigger tank. I do have a back up small tank for betta in case he turns on the other fish. Will research on corys.
The plants in this range were recommended by LFS, but there were some doubts about the hairgrass. I will try your suggestions and see how they will grow under the T5 NO light. Oh, and the other tube is 30" with fluorescent light bulb of 40 wt that originally came with the tank hood.
Thanks again for great replies.
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post #8 of 8 Old 04-21-2013, 02:22 PM
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For the hairgrass, I recommend to separate the nodes out and plant. they seem to do better that way. From personal experience they do no need CO2. However, under lower light situations, they send vertical runners or simply stop growing :)

EDIT: I just want to add that I've seen some beautifully lush low light CO2 tanks ^_^

Last edited by ao; 04-21-2013 at 02:27 PM.
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