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mattmathis 12-12-2008 12:19 PM

Lighting Question - New Plant Tank
Hey all! I have been keeping fish for a pretty good while with mostly good luck.

I think now I"m ready to try a planted tank. So I'm gonna try and set one up for Christmas.

I have a 10 gallon tank, an aqua clear 30(150gph), 2 bags of Fluorite, a bag of sand, and the things to make the DIY CO2.

What I don't get is the lighting.

Right now I have a 20 in florescent 17 watt fixture. Will this be enough light? I was worried about the light intensity, 17 watts just doesn't sound that bright. even for a 10 gallon tank.

I found this one but 4 WPG seems really high to start out with.

Any suggestions for lighting in this situation would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in Advance!!!


kritas 12-12-2008 07:07 PM

No, that isn't too much light for a planted tank... What you want to be looking for is the Kelvin ratings on the bulb. It should be around 6700Kelvins, anything above 7500K and below 6000K will not give you optimum plant growth...
You might see abit of algal growth to begin with, what with having a powerful bulb and such, but i'm pretty sure it'll die down, after a while with frequent water changes...

FuzzAz 12-12-2008 08:20 PM

Some plants will do okay with your 20 watt light, but for many you will need at least 40. The WPG rule is really not evin in the same ballpark for small tanks like yours and mine, even 40 watts isnt alot. There are alot of different ways you could go for lighting, it just depends what you are going for. You could rig up somthing from home depot for under $40, or if you want a tidy looking setup buy one of those fixtures. Also somthing to consider is it seams like the 65 watt CF strips are always cheeper like this one that is on sale Compact Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting: Coralife Aqualight Single Compact Fluorescent Strip Lights for $57. it even comes with the correct bulb (6700k) and the other one you had listed does not, and thats a major plus sence bulbs are like $30. Now the 65 watt is too long for your 10 gallon but you could put the money you saved twards a 20 gallon and be better off in the long run, 65watts is good for a 20 gallon.

fish_4_all 12-13-2008 06:28 PM

This as accurate information as you will find for light levels for planted tanks. The link is specifically for a 10 gallon and the numbers work and work really well! I know the guys who developed this and they have years of experience with this.

First you need to decide what you want to grow. Take the light requirements for the neediest plant and go with that light level.

If you go very high light you will want your CO2 stable and steady and never let it run it out! If you do it will lead to massive amount of algae that will be very hard to get back under control.

If you go with a lower light level then you can get away with CO2 levels that fluctuate a little.

Also, for high or very high light you will need to dose just about everything as far as nutrients if you get needy plants. Potassium, magnesium and micros for any light levels. Nitrates, phosphates for high or very high light.

First thing you need to do is get an idea of the plants you want to have. List them here so we can help you get the best lighting for those plants. It will also help us to get you on track for future needs as far as CO2 and nutrients. - Plant Guide

Both sites will help you find plants you might want and tells what their needs are.

BTW, I have seen a 10 gallon done with 80 watts of Compact fluorescents and pressurized CO2 without a trace of algae. The guy who does it has to do a LOT to maintain it but the growth rates are the best I have ever seen.

mattmathis 12-14-2008 09:15 AM


I will be thinking about the plants, I know I want some Riccia fluitans, and some type of Red Ludwigia. Those look like good links and I'll take my time and look at them really well.

I'm not planning on putting any fish in this tank for a good while. So I figured I'd start out using excel and co2, and then cut back.

As for dosing, should i just start off with the whole flourish line of products? I really don't want to get into dosing dry ferts quite yet. I do want to... just not to start out. Or should I just start out with the reg flourish and see what I need after that?


fish_4_all 12-14-2008 12:31 PM

Well if you decide to heavy planted and high light then you will eventually need to dose everything. I wouldn't go with flourish though unless you have the money to buy the full line eventually.

Dry ferts are the way to go for price for sure. Lots of ferts for about $30 and will last a long time.

iamntbatman 12-18-2008 02:07 AM

Another option that seems a little crazy but works:

Get an incandescent hood like this one: Incandescent Aquarium Lighting: All-Glass Economy Full Hood

And just replace the incandescent bulbs with these:
Small Aquarium Lighting: Mini Compact Bulbs

I've got a 10g with this exact setup and stuff generally grows like crazy. I don't dose ferts or use CO2. Originally I had a lot of java fern on the bottom of the tank but also had a lot of floating hornwort. I removed TONS of hornwort from that tank every single week. After that, I had some water lettuce. I could scoop all of it out of the tank save about 1/10th the surface area, and the entire surface would be covered again in a week's time. I have some pygmy chain sword growing in there now, but have been battling algae recently. I'm sure I wouldn't have these problems if I was using CO2.

Though these bulbs only consume 10 watts of power, they're compact fluorescents so they put out more light than a regular fluorescent. Therefore, even though it's not a big wattage upgrade compared to the standard 10g strip light, it's a lot more light.

Of course, if you want to do a really serious planted tank, a more powerful compact fluorescent fixture is probably the way to go.

fish_4_all 12-18-2008 11:51 AM

The screw ins do work but there is a reaosn you can out a ton of light on a tnak with tyhem and not get algae. Restrike. The amount of light that you actually get out of the bulb that actually gets to the plants is greatly reduced from the form of the bulbs. About half of the output is actually useable light.

Don't get me wrong, I used the same bulbs but I used two 20 watt bulbs over a 10 gallon and still didn't have algae problems without CO2. I actually plan on using them over a larger tank in the future but will be using those domes to reflect light into the tank.

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