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Herky 07-04-2009 12:43 AM

Planning a 55 gal, with these options
So, I'm going to be getting a 55 gallon for my angelfish in a couple of months and I want to do a planted tank. I do not want to have to use CO2. I plan on using eco-complete as a substrate.

This is the lighting system I plan on buying:

Compact Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting: Dual Satellite Compact Fluorescent Fixtures

probably in the 48" model.

I have looked at two options for plant kits:

South Central American Plant Habitats Tetra Guppy Angel Hatchetfish Fish Habitats


Easy Life Aquarium Plant Habitats Angel Swordtail Guppy Tetra Molly Fish Habitats

which do you guys think would better suit my needs, what will work with this setup, pros, cons, etc?

Byron 07-04-2009 09:08 AM

First the light fixture: I think that is way too much light. Four 65w tubes is 260 watts of what they describe as high intensity light over a 55g. Without CO2 (and I agree it is not necessary nor advisable for what you're planning) this is asking for algae trouble, not to mention the brightness which I do not recommend for low light fish like SA characins and angels (and discus). These fish all come from dark waters thick and overhung with vegetation. Sixty watts (or more probably two 40w tubes in a 48" fixture) would be ample.

I don't know about night lighting. I've read about this on another forum, though never seen it, so I don't know if these special "night" lights would have a similar effect to normal lighting, but this is something you don't want. Plants and fish must have darkness at night; in their native waters deep in the rainforest they do not see moonlight along the banks which is where they rest at night. The plants and fish (like us actually) need a rest period in darkness. Some fish, especially catfish, are active at night and are programmed for this activity in darkness. I'v known aquarists who had outbreaks of ich and velvet solely from leaving the light on 24 hours; it stressed out the fish unbelievably--which should make sense. Peter Hiscock warns this will harm plants. The normal lights should be on a timer, and can be set for your viewing times, as long as the light is "natural", on and off as in nature for set periods. This LED "moonlight" may or may not have a similar negative effect, but as it is unnecessary why bother.

Second, the plant packages. As this is primarily for angelfish, the clue to a natural habitat (to make the angels feel "at home" and exhibit their best) is the fish's shape and colour pattern. They come from areas of thick vegetation or thick overhanging roots and branches vertical into the water, where they swim among them (the vertical stripes blend in, the flattened body allows them to maneuver around the stems and leaves) and use large-leaf plants like swords for egg laying. Echinodorus (swords) and Sagittaria are good plants in slightly acidic water preferred by angels and tankmates like characins and corys (Vallisneria if water is slightly alkaline as Vall does not do well in acidic water). The first package (South Central American...) fits the bill best. Aside from the Cabomba (a stem plant) the others will do well in your planned setup (lower light, no CO2) as they do for me. The Vallisneria is only a concern with the pH as noted above. The other package is fairly good in my view, although not the one I would choose solely because I prefer the plants in the first for a SA setup.

I certainly would not select the light fixture now that I've seen the plant packages; too much light by far. It would be blinding on the poor fish and the viewer. And you would only be able to have it on for a few hours or algae would be rampant. I've commented previously about the balance between light and nutrients (CO2 and macro- and micro-nutrients) that is necessary for healthy plants. There is no nutrient balance for this much light.

aunt kymmie 07-04-2009 09:19 AM

I keep a LED moonlight on my tank (a four foot long strip) but it is only on for two hours in the evening after the main lights shut off. It enables me to have a nice viewing of my nocturnal fish who come out as soon as the daylights go off. As Byron states fish need their dark time resting period, which is why I only have the moonlight on for two hours each evening.

As Byron states, that wattage will be way more than you need. I made the mistake of purchasing very similar lighting that gave off a total of 260 watts and I ended up with a serious algae problem. Rather than buying new lighting I'm only turning on "half" of each fixture.

Also, someone correct me if I'm wrong but the lighting you are looking at contains actinic lighting which is for S/W, not F/W.

Herky 07-04-2009 11:04 AM

Awesome thanks for the info. The light fixture seemed a little excessive but I wasn't sure. So going by wattage...would this be a more appropriate solution?

Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting: All-Glass Twin-Tube Black Strip Lights

Byron 07-04-2009 11:36 AM


Originally Posted by Herky (Post 211902)
Awesome thanks for the info. The light fixture seemed a little excessive but I wasn't sure. So going by wattage...would this be a more appropriate solution?

Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting: All-Glass Twin-Tube Black Strip Lights

This is fine, it is basically what I have on both my existing tanks. I would suggest that you might want to go with a T-5 fixture though, which is a compact fluorescent, using less power and being low wattage with intensity equal to more wattage/power. The unit linked takes regular fluorescent tubes that would be 40w each in a 48 inch, so perfect for your 55g. But if you can find a T-5 48-inch it will deliver the same intensity but with less wattage and use less power. They probably cost more (they do here) but you save in energy in the long term. Most (perhaps all) of the good fluorescent tubes now come in regular and T-5 styles, and I suspect that eventually we will only see the T-5.

As a matter of fact, I am off to my lfs in a few minutes to fnd just such a fixture. I am setting up my 115g over the next couple of weeks, and presently I've been using the fixture from it for my 70g because the original gave out (like me, well past its prime!). With the 115g running again, I'll need its fixture, so I'm getting a T-5 48-inch for the 70g. Might as well get the latest rather than an outdated model.

By the way Kym, good idea on the 2 hours of night light, that is quite natural (gradual darkening). I leave the room light on for an hour (in the winter) which keeps the fish calm when the tank lights go out (and come on in the am). The nocturnal bottom fish get very active the same way. I got a trio of spotted woodcats (Tatia perugiae) two weeks ago; beautiful small SA catfish, black and white spotted [look like the Zebra pleco but spots instead of bars], but strictly nocturnal. They spend the daylight in tunnels in the driftwood, and only come out when it is absolutely pitch black. I have to observe them with a flashlight hours after the tank lights are out.

Herky 07-04-2009 12:41 PM

Ok, so this is probably going to be the same issue...but what about this in either the 30 or 36 inch?

Compact Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting: Single Satellite Compact Fluorescent Fixtures

I want the moonlight leds for much the same reason as stated by night viewing 1 or 2 hours and then off. I tend to still want to watch my fish at night but I don't keep my lights on.

I guess I don't understand the difference between T-5 and compact fluorescent. You said the T-5 is a compact fluorescent but the two look totally different. The T-5's on Dr. Foster and Smith are way beyond what I want to pay. If it comes down to it the standard fluorescent kit will be fine. The moonlighting would essentially be a toy for I need what's best for the fish. Also I'm going to have a wood canopy on this tank, with the tank being 48" will a 48" bar fit for sure?

Sorry for all the questions, hope I'm not annoying you Byron, and thanks for all the help.

aunt kymmie 07-04-2009 02:50 PM

Herky, Byron never gets annoyed and I'm sure that as soon as he's back from the LFS (after he plays with his new lights :-)) he'll get back on with an answer.

It appears the fixture you're looking at only has one LED light in the center of the strip? If so, I'm not sure that's enough "moonlight" to get the desired effect. My LED strip has 24 little lights across the strip. It's 4 feet in length and if I remember correctly was only $60. I'll have to dig out my info if you're interested. I HAD to have this light if I ever wanted to watch my pictus cat & bristlenose. The pictus stays hidden in his cave ALL day long, the bristle stays tightly wedged into the driftwood. Once the moonlight comes on they are both out and about patrolling.

Byron 07-04-2009 04:16 PM

Thanks Kymmie.;-) By the way, I didn't buy anything today, just a browsing run to see what's out there and at what cost.

Herky, I tend to get compact and T-5 mixed up a bit. High Output would have been nearer the mark. T-5 tubes emit considerably stronger light. In fact, now that I've seen it "live" I'm concerned it may be too much for my setup. Mujst keep that balance or algae will invade.

The fixture you link mentions actinic bulbs--are we back to reef/marine stuff here? And at three times the light output of regular fluorescents, we're certainly back to mega-light. If Kymmie has something comparable and it works on her planted tank, I'd suggest following her advice.

If you're building a canopy hood, you will require ballast space and have to content with heat circulation. But the advantage is that you cold have smaller length tubes, say 3 or 4, rather than 1 or 2 larger. Just a thought.


fishkid 07-04-2009 06:30 PM

I prefer T5's. Even the normal output ones will give off a lot of light. WPG isn't really a good way to determine how much light your tank is actually receiving.

Herky 07-17-2009 11:07 AM

Ok, so actually the tank I am looking at getting is going to be a 60 gallon...would this be a sufficient solution?

Looking at the 48" model

Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting: Triple Tube Strip Lights

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