01-06-2010, 02:47 PM
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Change the gravel fist, absolutely. No point in planting plants and then changing the substrate, plus it will be a mess (depending how you do it) and planting after everything settles is preferable. Increase the lighting before or when the plants go in. They will have a better initial start with good lighting.
Wisfish already gave good suggestions on the lighting. I would also go with T8, either two 48-inch tubes or four 24-inch tubes. Either will work. The only catch is whether the less expensive full spectrum tubes come in the smaller length; I don't know, I believe in our Home Depot I have only seen 48-inch. Before spending money on fixtures it would be good to sort this out.
We've exchanged PM's and I didn't get to the type of tube, so will comment here. The best plant growth in tests occurred under a combination of full spectrum and cool blue light. Sylvannia and Phillips both make these, the full spectrum is called daylight or something like that, and the cool white is daylight deluxe, ultra daylight, or similar. The slight increase in blue of the cool white seems to stimulate the plants more. Plain cool white was the second best light in the test, so this is good plant light, but the red in the full spectrum apparently provided something more to balance.