Originally Posted by zombiefish610
So I have a 55 gal that i bought as a complete kit. It came with 2x 24" Flourescent light fixtures. Each fixture has 1x 15 watt bulb. The problem is that I want to grow real plants and this lighting is not sufficent. I guess the general rule for the plants I want to grow is 1-2 watts per gallon. I was thinking about getting 2x Zoo Med Flora Sun T8 bulbs rated at 5000k. These bulbs are only 15 watts as well. My question is will this be sufficent?
If not does anyone have any suggestions on what I should get. I don't have much money to work with, so some exspensive setup is out the question. Please help! Thanks.
Yes, lighting can be costly, but you may be OK now or perhaps with new tubes alone.
If the tubes that fit your fixture are 24 inches, they should be 20 watts, not 15w. Note, I'm talking tube length, not tank/hood length, and referring to standard fluorescent fixtures/tubes. If this being a newer unit has the compact or new type tubes, they could well be less wattage but equal (or greater) light, same as the household compact bulbs one can now buy that are for example 15w but equivalent to a 60w regular bulb. You should check this out to be sure before investing in new lighting which is very expensive and probably not necessary.
Once you sort out the type, make sure you have full spectrum tubes. This type of light is strong in the blue and red (which plants require most) but balances with the green/yellow that the plants can't use but it makes the colours of plants and fish look natural. Full spectrum is equivalent to the sun at mid-day. The Flora Sun may be similar, but I would check and compare the spectrum charts before purchasing them. Most of the tubes come in a package that has a spectrum chart on it so you can see the light strengths, or you can go online and view them for most companies. As I mentioned, you want light that is strongest (or at least high) in the blue, then red, and last some green/yellow to balance. With just the blue and red, the purplish cast is rather ghostly and the plant and fish colours are not natural. The K (Kelvin) rating is the intensity of the tube, and most agree it should be above 6500K. Some tubes emit 11,000K or higher. And remember that all these tubes should be replaced every 12 months as the light intensity decreases fairly rapidly as they burn.
I have one Tropic Sun 5500K Daylight tube over my 90g, along with a 11,000K Lightning Rod T6 Ultra Daylight tube which is a bit higher in the important blue range; the Tropic Sun is warmer (more red and green) and balances the other for a more natural colour. You can see the result in my Aquarium photos. On my 70g I have a Life-Glo 6700K and a Daylight Deluxe for a similar type of light. The photos I have posted look a bit greener than in reality due to my cheap camera, but it will give you an idea of the effect.