What lighting do I need?
I'm lost... I have a 20 gallon high. The hood fits one 18" bulb, which is 15 watts. The hood has a glass top, the lid you can lift, and the light part. I have some plants, but want to add more and have them grow better. I'm willing to buy a new hood, new fixture, new bulb...whatever I need. I just can't find what I need as I don't know anything about lighting.
Also- the type of plants I have/want to add are amazon sword, java fern, water sprite. I just have regular gravel. And is Seachem Flourish helpful?
I wouldn't get a hood. Just a glass cover. Maybe a prop-up system for lights, with 6700k-8000k bulbs. Check out:
Something along those lines. Those don't have to be the lights, just a good example and fixture.
Wow! I'm going to have to save up for that one. It looks nice though.
Is wattage the most important with bulbs? I can't imagine 15 watts is enough...What is the best when it comes to full spectrum, 50/50, etc?
10000k bulbs are a little HOT. Look for something in the 6700k-8200k range for planted tanks.
Here is an example that you won't have to trade your fish in for. Link: http://www.petsolutions.com/Aqualigh...C40001713.aspx
if you are more of a DIY person like me you could build a light fixture and use a retrofit kit. look around on this site http://www.ahsupply.com/diy.htm mayby it would save you some $
Wattage is not the most important thing- sort of. The problem with watts is that is doesn't accurately measure the *power* of the light. It measures the power of the bulb, not how efficiently that energy is used. For instance, a compact florescent will produce far more light than a T-5 florescent, even if they are both the same wattage. The outdated "watts per gallon" standard is based on T-5 lighting, so you can't use it to accurately determine the lighting of your tank.
That being said, I highly recommend using compact florescent, it is very power efficient and the bulbs need to be replaced much less often than tube florescent (which needs to be replaced every 6 months). What you want is a light with 6,700-10,000k light spectrum, preferably a mix of both, as 10,000k is a bit powerful, but also very valuable for plant growth. What you DON'T want is anything 50/50 or actinic. These will not be very helpful at all for growing freshwater plants, they are designed for coral growth.
Flourish is definitely a good liquid fertilizer, I use it myself. However, you need to understand what fertilizer is for. A liquid fertilizer is for a plant that absorbs it's nutrients primarily from the water (not the gravel). Water sprite and java fern both do this, as do other floating and stem plants.
The Amazon Sword is a rooted plant, it demands a LOT of nutrients from the substrate. For that you can get root tabs, which you replace every 6 months or so. It's basically a little vitamin pill you stick under your plant's roots. Flourish makes plant tabs, I think they run about $8 for 10, which will last you a while if you only have a couple plants. There are also some cheaper generic alternatives you can order online. I use aquariumplants.com own fertilizer. It cost me somewhere between $10-15 (I can't remember) for 75, which will last me a loooong time.
I know you've gotten a lot of suggestions for lights, but here's mine. I personally have three 24" ones and I absolutely love them. It will provide more than enough light for the plants you mentioned, and leave room to add some trickier ones if you decide to later: http://www.marineandreef.com/Freshwa...p/res53014.htm
Thank you so much for all the info and opinions! I think I have a better undertanding of lighting now.
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