Plant Lighting - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 7 Old 02-10-2010, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
Plant Lighting

I read over multiple sources that 2 watts per gallon is considered a minimum for planted aquariums.

Is this for fluorescent bulbs or incandescent?

Is this with or without a reflector?

Do some fluorescent bulbs function better than others?


My tank has 2 Amazon swords, a Red Ludwigia, a java fern, a red Australian frill, and some mondo grass.

The Mondo grass has been in the tank the longest, and exactly one half is a triumphant green, and the other is turning milky white. I probably will attempt replanting the white turning mondo grass.

The amazon swords have been in for 11 days, and after pruning the initial dead leaves, they are very very slowly wilting away (small brown spots on the leaves, the leaves ruffling in on themselves, but staying green).

The frill, ludwigia, and fern are all new to the tank as of yesterday. I introduced a DIY CO2 diffuser, with hopes they might begin to flourish, but I am very concerned it may be light.

If I need more lighting, what would be a good amount to get in my 10 gallon aquarium?
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post #2 of 7 Old 02-10-2010, 09:01 PM
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I'm sure many will chime in, but I had a similar question regarding my 29g tank that only has about 1.2 wpg if you follow that rule. The link to my post is

After 3 weeks now all of my plants, including some new ones, are happy and starting to grow quite quickly.
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post #3 of 7 Old 02-10-2010, 09:25 PM
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That's BS sorry to be that honest!
I have many tanks and had many more tanks over the yrs that were set up with fluorescent that equaled less then 0.5wpg.
What is THE most important for plants is the spectrum; something that by Kelvin & Lumens rating will minic the daylight outdoors they'd naturally have. That said these bulbs can be found by Phillips, GE etc at any home store; mostly labeled as Daylight or Ultimate daylight rated between 5-6500 Kelvin and 28-2900 lumens.
You can take my word on this or leave it; but feel free to check out my aquarium log here to the left under my name with my tanks listed and I'd wanna say these planted tank pictures speak for themselves.

Your Swords sound like they suffer from deficiency. Do you have a air stone in that tank (if yes take it out)? Do you use root sticks for the Swords (if no then buy some from Nutrafin or API).

Dep on the existing CO2 content in your water (which can be determined via your pH & KH readings) you may do more harm then good with that CO2 there.

To sum it up: You do not need more lights as for wattage; but you need the proper spectrum lights to have thriving plants and the proper nutrition (all 17 of them) for each type plant there

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post #4 of 7 Old 02-10-2010, 11:30 PM Thread Starter
Thanks for the advise. My light is a T8, 15 watt Vita-Light.

I purchased it 15 or more years ago when I needed full-spectrum lighting for a plant-based science fair project. IIRC, The project was for over 40 plants with just the one light.

I didn't think that water could make such a difference, so I was very concerned. I have read very good reviews about the vita-light products, so this is very reassuring to hear.

Thank you so much.

I put some Aqueon Plant food also into the mix, but perhaps I'll inject it with a syringe next time, directly into the substrate.

What do you all feel about natural clay kitty liter as a substrate for plants?

i'm considering doing this inexepensive method, as I've heard great things about it.

My PH alkalinity levels etc are all strange. The 5 in 1 kit I purchased from wal-mart was brand new (I know, I know, better to shell out the extra 20 and buy a real kit), so I figured it would be reliable.

The levels it has seem so far off base by how good my fish are acting with eachother.

alkalinity (kh) is supposedly 300ppm or more, and ph supposedly 8.4
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post #5 of 7 Old 02-11-2010, 09:13 AM
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The Aqueon Plant food is liquid plant food; I can't quite follow how you mixed that into your gravel...?

The kitty litter as well as organic topsoil CAN work BUT spc with the kitty litter you have got to look at your source water and how far that will change your water chemistry; assuming you have more then just plants in your tank
Any root fertilization will only then have a positive impact if you're dealing with root feeding plants; if you have mainly stem plants in your tank a comprehensive liquid fert is better to be used (like Flourish).

Ditch these test strips; they're as inaccurate as me looking at your water & guessing your pH. Invest into a liquid test kit such as from API one time and that will serve you well for a long long long time for your tank and plants!!!

~ Life Is Too Short, Break The Rules, Forgive Quickly, Kiss Slowly, Love Truly, Laugh Uncontrollably And Never Regret Anything that Made You Smile.
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post #6 of 7 Old 02-11-2010, 10:27 AM
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I bought those same strips, and thought the same thing.

They're less than 2 weeks old, and telling me my PH is under 5.6.

If you want to trust it, then your water is WAY too hard. (unless you have cichlids, in which case I doubt you'd have plants.)

Also, maybe the swords were grown emersed or need more time to settle into your tank? If your PH or other parameter is drastically different from what they were in, many plants take a long time to adjust. (My java fern took two months before it stopped dying and grew at all.

If your aquarium is stocked properly, the one thing I've learned here is there's no need for CO2.
You have to learn about the "holy trinity" of plants, and get the lighting, ferts, and CO2 in perfect harmony.

BTW, the wpg rule was accurate when there was only one kind of flourescent tube.
(no CFL's). Since then, it has gone out the window. I think thats why now people with .3 WPG etc, have flourishing plants-
their .3 watts puts out as many lumens as an antique bulb puts out per-watt.

Good luck with your plants...
Also, whats your nitrite and nitrate according to those strips? (nitrate and ammonia are ferts for plants. If nitrite is over zero, then you have some ammonia derivitive in the tank (really a bad thing for fish, but good for plants.)

Also for root ferts they were reccomending fert sticks in the substrate. Liquid ferts, even injected into the substrate, will just diffuse into the tank.
(If your use something like flourite in the substrate, you won't need root sticks I believe.)

Last edited by redchigh; 02-11-2010 at 10:29 AM.
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post #7 of 7 Old 02-11-2010, 12:33 PM
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To sum up what's been suggested, and since you are after a low-tech approach, have at look at the four-part series of stickies at the head of this section, "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium." Any questions from that can be addressed.

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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