Lighting for low-light plants???
Hey I have a 29 Gallon (30in.L x 12.5.W x 18.75H) with a single T8 17W (unknown K rating) and I want to grow some low light plants like Java Fern, types of Anubias, Crypts, Hygrophila Corymbosa, Anacharis, Bacopa Carolina, and Red Tiger Lotus. I will have Miracle Gro Organic Choice capped with some black gravel. Is it possible to buy a Hagen Life Glo or Zoomed bulb rated for 6500-6800K and grow these plants without any dying? I understand it takes a while for them to acclimate and die off a while but will they be able to grow back and survive under these conditions? A DIY CO2 can be made if necessarily but would rather not have one. An entire new T5 fixture is not possbile right now but if anyone has any info. on making a double T8 fixture for cheap would be nice. Well anyways, does anyone have any experience with using a single T8 17-20W bulb rated at 6500-6800K work with these plants? THANKS!:-)
The stem plants will have the hardest time under low light. They could be hit or miss, but don't expect fast growth. That single bulb though can work. I used a 15W 18" tube on a 20 gallon tall and it worked, which is 2 inches shorter than a 29 gallon.
A common 'problem' with stem plants is unless they are under high light (and even then it's tricky) the bottom of the stems will go bare and it will only keep leaves on the upper portion. So plan your aquascape to have something infront of the stem plants to hide that. Either another smaller plant, or a decoration like driftwood.
You do not need CO2, that is only for high light tanks.
For upgrades you could use a T5 NO (note, the NO for normal output, not HO for high output) but those are getting really rare and hard to find ... plus expensive. A single tube T5HO can work, not sure if you could find out though as that's also rare (T5HO is more for marine tanks). If you have a glass top, you could just get a second 30" fixture (with a 24" tube in it like you have now).
The last option is to go to a home improvement store and buy a 24" shop light that has two T8 tubes. I managed to find one out Lowe's but it is not ideal, and only works with glass tops. It came with a plastic refractor cover that I just removed since I don't need the light to disperse over a whole room. That makes the front and back open (you can see the bulbs) while the left and right are metal. It is also designed to be hard wired into a house, so I had to convert a 6 foot extension cord into a power cord for it (cut off the female end and wire it up to the fixture, using a cable clamp thing like you'd use on an electrical panel cutout so the cord doesn't rub the sharp metal). I can take a picture if you want.
Unfortunatly Home Depot/Lowe's does not sell 24" Daylight T8 bulbs, they only sell T12. So I went onto Ebay and bought a pair for less than a single bulb would have cost me at the petstore (Search for F17T8 Daylight). The ones you mentioned though from Zoomed/Coralife will work.
I have a 29g tank with a single T8 24-inch tube over it. Photo below shows what is possible with this setup. I use the 6700K Life-Glo tube presently, but there are others including those you and Geo mentioned.
As Geo said, you have named plants with varying light requirements. Low light plants like Anubias, Java Fern, Java Moss will certainly be fine in this setup. As the photo shows, I also have crypts and pygmy chain sword. The latter is managing. But I also have floating plants, which I view as essential with forest fish, and this tank houses some of my rarer forest fish.
Red Tiger Lotus might be fine, it will have floating leaves only--lower leaves will not occur with such low light; I have two of these in my 90g and previously had them in the 33g with a single tube much the same as the 29g. The stem plants are iffy. No species of Hygrophila would likely manage.
I concur with Geo, forget the CO2. First, it would be of no benefit without higher light (light and nutrients must be balanced to benefit plants); and second, it is not necessary.
Wow thanks for all the info. guys, really helpful:-D I was planning on getting a dual T5HO that came with both bulbs for only $39.99USD. but my father thinks that since our town home is really old that the outlets cant handle it. Tried to reason with him, but I guess its not happening:-( Here is the link if interested: Odyssea T5 Aquarium Lighting
@Byron: thanks for info. on each of the plants, seems I might have to change what plants I will be getting. And that is a very nice setup for a low light tank, LOVE IT:-) What do you mean by forest fish? And sorry I forgot to ask if it is possible to grow Amazon Sword with this setup?
Forest fish are fish that occur in forest habitats. Almost all the fish we maintain in an aquarium are forest fish. Most of them rarely see direct sunlight. They live in small streams that are overshadowed by the forest canopy; during the rainy season (half the year) the rivers flood the surrounding forest and the fish move into those even darker waters to spawn. The point behind this is light: these fish do not appreciate bright light overhead, because nature did not intend it. This is why I always use floating plants. Fish will feel more secure, and show their brightest colouration.
Both the overhead light and the colour/shade of the substrate are important to fish.
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