I've ordered a timer to run the lights on my 30gallon tank but I'm not sure how many hours a day I should be running them. What is recommended for a lightly planted tank? Lights on for 10, or 12 hours? Also, should I buy a night/lunar light to run at night? If so, should that be run all night? Or should I have some 'total' darkness hours?
The light should run 10-12 hours. If you have plants, shoot for 12.
You don't have to buy lunar lights for your tank. I personally do not have any experience with those, so I can't help you there. Sorry.
I have no experience with lunar lights either, you don't NEED them. But it's up to you if you want them or not. If you got them I wouldn't run them all night... I know it probably doesn't make a difference but if I were your fish I would want some escape from the light and some time for rest.
Probably too late for this warning since you already purchased, but I'd advise going with a digital timer if your tank is in an area you spend a lot of time in (which is where most people put their tanks). I bought a Timex timer from Target with a spinning dial, and it is annoyingly noisy. One night of trying to read quietly in my living room and I realized I couldn't possibly use it except when I'm out of town.
Then I upgraded my tank lights, and with me turning the lights on before work at 7AM and off again at 8PM, algae growth was starting to become a problem. I just picked up a digital timer today from Home Depot, spent $8 on it, and it's silent! I'll be running it 11AM to 9PM to give my fish (and plants) a 10-hr daytime.
I have the coralife dual timer (not digital) and it silent. They make it in the single version too.
Lights - As far as time, it partly depends on the plants you have. You will probably have to play around with them. Leave them on too long, algae get to be a problem.
Lunar lights - you do not need them. I have them on my 210, but then again I went overboard with this tank. I like the way it makes the tank look at night. Not really bright, but almost as if the moon was out. Not really any function other than helping you see some nocturnal action.
I purchased the single version of the CoraLife timer. It comes in this Wednesday, so I hope it will be silent as well. Thanks for all the advice.
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