Single T8 Bulb enough?
I want to change my 26g-Bowfront over to a planted aquarium. Will the stock fixture with a single T8 bulb be enough with a 20" deep tank?? If it is, am I better off having the light by itself with no hood/cover and the glass for it to show through??
by hood cover... do you mean the transparent partition that separates the light and the water?
Yes, didn't know if the glass that is built into the hood would block any of the good light from the bulb.
It's question of how many watts. 1 watt/gallon is kinda a borderline. 2Watts/gallon good. And from what I hear 3 watts/gallon requires co2 addition (but I wouldn't know).
generally a single 1-8 tube the entire width of the tank is right at the 1watt /gallon. So I use 2 tubes as kinda a minimum. besides on 4' tanks 2 tube utility lights are only $10 or so.
On tanks less than 4' I once cut down a 4' tube and that worked nicely but that was not for a bow front. I also have used spiral twist tubes in round clip on type reflectors which would work nicely if they would fit in your hood. You can just position 3 or so until the light is distributed.
And I do like 6500K tubes
just my .02
The watts per gallon rule is not an appropriate way to plan your lighting. Par, depth of tank, and color temperature are the biggest factors. There is a pretty detailed write up along with graphs I read a while back. I'll see if I can find it for you.
Sorry, I found the article though it is in another community forum. It wouldn't be proper etiquette to link from here.
As far as the stock light goes, if it has a reflector and you upgrade the bulb to one in the right color temperature/spectrum, then it should be sufficient for low light plants. Regarding the cover, as long as it is clean and clear it should be fine as well.
The next step up would be a single-tube T5 fixture using a HO tube. Beyond that, a dual tube T8 fixture. I wouldn't go higher, or you will have too much light and a tank of algae.
The tubes in any of these must be adequate spectrum, and here the "daylight" with around 6500K work best. The Life-Glo is 6700K.
You must have a piece of glass (or similar clear product) between the water and the light fixture. Otherwise, the condensation will rust/corrode the fixture, and water splashed on the tube might crack it. Fish do jump, and splash. The glass should be cleaned every week during the water change. Continual condensation (during night) and drying (during light) will stain the glass. Cleaning it weekly will prevent this for the most part.
Thanks for the info Byron. The tube in the fixture is only an 18" long one on my tank. Looking at your picture I should get a full length one. I haven't been able to find a dual tube fixture locally yet, but I have a few more places to check. So I would assume a dual tube T5 fixture will be a bit overkill then I take it?
T5 HO is more intense than the NO or T8. One T5 HO is roughly equal to one and a half T8 or T5 NO tubes, i.e., about 1.5 times more light per tube. So two T5 HO gets you up to 3+ T8 tubes, and this is too much light by comparison. If the light intensity is beyond what balances the nutrients, plants can't use the light and algae will proliferate. Light should always be the "limiting factor" to plant growth; this way we can control things.
There is another option, that I have not tried, and that is LED. Not all LED will be sufficient for plants. And it is more expensive. I've no direct experience with LED so can't advise. I use T8 on my tanks.
I would agree that the 18-inch single T8 over your tank is not going to be sufficient. If you can find a single tube T5, I would go with that, using a HO tube with a kelvin around 6500K.
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