Enough lighting for plants, low enough for Tetras
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Enough lighting for plants, low enough for Tetras

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Enough lighting for plants, low enough for Tetras
Old 02-08-2012, 04:27 PM   #1
 
Enough lighting for plants, low enough for Tetras

I'm not new to aquatics, but I am new to Tetras in a planted aquarium. I've been wrestling with how to get enough lighting for my 46 gal bowfront. What to buy, and from where. In the meantime I've acquired 8 Diamond Tetras, which I understand appreciate low lighting. Any suggestions? The tank is heavily planted, and I also have a Big Spot, Blue Hemiancistrus, Clown, Orange seam, and a 2" pleco whose name I've forgotten. On Drs, Foster &Smith they have a 6000K, 600 lumens, light in leds that also has the lunar lights for viewing the plecos. Is this enough for plant growing? Will the Diamonds not adjust ?
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Old 02-08-2012, 04:30 PM   #2
 
A lot of LEDs marked towards plants are actually pretty poor unless you get the more expensive units. Also on a deep tank I would not recommend LEDs.
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Old 02-08-2012, 04:33 PM   #3
 
What do you recommend for lighting? And I've been thinking about adding Congos to this aquarium. What do you think?
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Old 02-09-2012, 12:52 PM   #4
 
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What are the tank dimensions (I'm not familiar with the 46g bowfront)? Some of us could probably suggest sufficient lighting from this.

Shading the light for the fish is relatively simple, with floating plants. All forest fish basically look brighter under less light, and floating plants is not only an ideal way to achieve this, but is also very natural as most of the forest habitats provide a "roof" over the fish by floating aquatic plants, overhanging marginal vegetation, or forest canopy.

I've had and spawned Diamond Tetra, and I currently have Congo Tetra (and they are spawning regularly). Both species will absolutely shimmer and sparkle under floating plant cover. Diamonds are fine in your setup (size-wise) but I would have a 4-foot tank minimum for Congo Tetra. Here's a photo of the Congo in their present 90g tank; you will see the surface is thick with plants. I only had a group of five CT when this was taken, I now have ten and the five males are just over 3 inches, and what a sight they are. They hold races down the tank, 2 at a time, sometimes a third gets in the race.

Byron.
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Old 02-09-2012, 03:56 PM   #5
 
Hi Byron! My 46 gal bowfront is 20 in deep, 37 in length, and 20 in width at widest part ( center). I've had a 75 gallon for five years but never tried plants. I set up the bowfront a month ago, planted it heavily, and just got 8 Diamonds. They are absolutely gorgeous! They play constantly. Love them! Lighting- am I to understand that the lights that come with a setup (50 watts in this case ) are generally replaced if you want to grow plants? I understand the 2 to 5 watts, times gallons ratio. Do you add more lighting, or just buy a replacement fixture? I'd really like something that incorporates the Lunar lighting for my plecos ( my real passion). And I'd like to put another size fish in with the Diamonds. If Congos are too big, can you suggest a smaller fish? They would have to be pretty spectacular to even try to take some attention away from the Diamonds!!!
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Old 02-09-2012, 04:30 PM   #6
 
BTW,Byron, your tank is beautiful. What do you think about Rams with the Diamonds? Will they be too nippy? And how many? My first concern is the Diamonds.
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Old 02-09-2012, 05:24 PM   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terrycherry View Post
Hi Byron! My 46 gal bowfront is 20 in deep, 37 in length, and 20 in width at widest part ( center). I've had a 75 gallon for five years but never tried plants. I set up the bowfront a month ago, planted it heavily, and just got 8 Diamonds. They are absolutely gorgeous! They play constantly. Love them! Lighting- am I to understand that the lights that come with a setup (50 watts in this case ) are generally replaced if you want to grow plants? I understand the 2 to 5 watts, times gallons ratio. Do you add more lighting, or just buy a replacement fixture? I'd really like something that incorporates the Lunar lighting for my plecos ( my real passion). And I'd like to put another size fish in with the Diamonds. If Congos are too big, can you suggest a smaller fish? They would have to be pretty spectacular to even try to take some attention away from the Diamonds!!!
Watts per gallon is no longer an accurate guide to lighting for planted tanks. With the many new types of lighting that are more energy efficient--meaning they use much less energy (watts is the measure of energy used) to produce more light--it is impossible to compare tubes or bulbs by watts, unless one is talking the same manufacturer, same type (spectrum, T8, tube, etc).

But before I spend time on suitable fixtures...what do you now have that is 50 watts?

Quote:
What do you think about Rams with the Diamonds? Will they be too nippy? And how many? My first concern is the Diamonds.
There are two rams, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi (the Blue) and M. altispinosus (Bolivian Ram). The first is likely what you meant, and the issue there would be temperature. M. ramirezi needs warmth, around 82F. While the Diamond Tetra might manage, this is at the top of its temp range, and I personally do not like maintaining fish at the high end of their range because this means the fish is constantly working harder just to "live." Most fish do best in the lower to mid-range. The Bolivian would be fine; but here you have a problem determining sex, in young fish such as one normally sees in stores it is next to impossible. Plus, they do best in a pair if they have selected each other and bonded. I speak from experience with this. A single male does well, I have one in my 115g; nice fish.

Another of the dwarf cichlids would work, one of the Apistogramma species, or Dicrossus or Crenicara. Some of these are in our profiles with photos. Or another group of a characin; several tetra species, thinking one of the colourful for a contrast, like Hyphessobrycon bentosi or H. rosaceus [both in profiles], the spotted headstander, hatchetfish for the surface. Catfish for the substrate, like corys, Whiptail Catfish. If you have very soft water (Diamonds need soft water and on the acidic side or they will not do well) Farlowella vitatta.
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Old 02-10-2012, 06:44 PM   #8
 
The florescent I have is 40 W, not 50 as I had said. My lfs has a light fixture that is a combined T5 10,000K Daylight lamp, T5 Actinic -03 lamp. and lunar LEDS for night. Would that be enough daylight for plants? And since the daylight is on one switch and the Actinic on another they must be used differently, but I don't know how. And I'd like to say that I have been researching the whole lighting thing for about a week or so, but there are so many kinds of lighting, different ways to combine, its more than a little confusing. Also having no background in things electric, I really lean more towards a unit I can just buy that I don't have to retrofit. I'm not looking for the best lighting on earth, just something the plants and fish will be happy with.
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Old 02-10-2012, 07:50 PM   #9
 
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Originally Posted by terrycherry View Post
The florescent I have is 40 W, not 50 as I had said. My lfs has a light fixture that is a combined T5 10,000K Daylight lamp, T5 Actinic -03 lamp. and lunar LEDS for night. Would that be enough daylight for plants? And since the daylight is on one switch and the Actinic on another they must be used differently, but I don't know how. And I'd like to say that I have been researching the whole lighting thing for about a week or so, but there are so many kinds of lighting, different ways to combine, its more than a little confusing. Also having no background in things electric, I really lean more towards a unit I can just buy that I don't have to retrofit. I'm not looking for the best lighting on earth, just something the plants and fish will be happy with.
You said it exactly--so many kinds, different ways, more than confusing. I'll offer what I know, which is certainly not anywhere near all of what there is.

First, T5 usually means HO (high output), which is more intensity than NO (normal output) which itself (NO) is close to comparable T8 (the "standard" fluorescent). So while for example two T8 tubes over a given tank might be sufficient, with T5 HO you are increasing by half again using the same size and type (here meaning spectrum) of tube.

T5 lighting was developed primarily for marine reef systems, to provide more intense light without so many tubes. Necessary over coral reef tanks, but not so good over freshwater planted. This is a lot of light. And, the system you have mentioned is clearly marine, as it is mainly blue light. The 10,000K daylight is very cool [I happen to like this, some may not, though I prefer it mixed with a warmer tube for a better balance that approaches mid-day sun]. The actinic even moreso and this tube is definitely for marine tanks; plants will manage under this light, but not as well according to those who have tried it. The lunar night lights are not going to help plants, so this is purely aesthetic; my only comment on this is that you must have total darkness for a decent stretch, both for fish and plants, so these lunar things cannot or should not be on for the entire "night."

Do you have this fixture now? If yes, and the tubes can be changed for those better suited, fine. If you don't have it, and fearing the tube change may not be possible, I would not recommend it.

My suggestions at this stage would be either a dual T8 fixture or a single-tube T5 with a HO tube. In either case, a full spectrum or daylight type of tube, with a kelvin between 5000 and 7000K (most suggest around 6500K as good). The dual T8 fixture allows a combo which means one 6500K and one cooler white like the 10000K tube; this is a good combo, I had it over two of mine for over a year and really liked it. I don't now have it only because the tubes came to the end and needed replacing (12-18 months for a tube is it) and the stores that carried the cool white tubes closed, so no one locally has them.

Hope this is of some help.

Byron.
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Old 02-11-2012, 01:26 PM   #10
 
Yes, I jumped ahead and bought the fixture. Its a T5 He. LFS told me that the TE is not as strong, bright. So I should replace the Actinic since its for Marine, with the full spectrum T5 6500? They had replacement bulbs. The blue LEDS go off with my timer for overnite. And yes, you have been a tremendous help!
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