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zombiefish610 09-03-2009 03:29 PM

What should I go with? Lighting...
 
I have a 55 gallon tank with java moss, java fern, and crypts. I want to upgrade my lighting. I think I've narrowed it down between two options. Seems to be the best for my price range. Which setup do you guys think I should go for? Keep in mind better growth and upkeep cost. The first option is a All-Glass Triple tube strip light. Heres a link...Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting: Triple Tube Strip Lights and the second option is...AH Supply 2x55w Bright Light Kit. Heres the link...36 or 55 watt Bright Kits Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Byron 09-04-2009 11:54 AM

If you intend to stay with the plant species you've mentioned, you do not need all this light. All of these are relatively low light plants, and one watt per gallon of full spectrum light would be adequate. However, if you think you might want to expand your plant species in the future, plan ahead. On a 55g (I'm assuming it is 48 inches in length) two tubes [40 watts each] is sufficient for all but the most high-light plants such as some stem plants. With two tubes, rooted plants like swords, Aponegeton, Anubias, Vallisneria, Sagitarria... would be fine. I have this type of light over all three of my larger aquaria, two 40w tubes over each, and you can see the lant growth in the photos under my Aquarims.

Just make sure it is full specgtrum light, around 6500K. I have All Glass fixtures on my 70g and 90g and they are good quality; i took out the tubes they came with (garbage in my opinion, poor light and purplish) and used my own. I can recommend some tubes if you ask, and the ones I have are named in the tank data for my photos.

Byron.

oalston 09-05-2009 06:34 AM

I upgraded my lights from regular fluorescent tubes to T5 tubes and have found them to be excellent for growing plants such as blyxia japonica and tiger lotus. It really depends on what type of plants you want to keep and how deep your tank is.

zombiefish610 09-06-2009 12:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Byron (Post 238164)
If you intend to stay with the plant species you've mentioned, you do not need all this light. All of these are relatively low light plants, and one watt per gallon of full spectrum light would be adequate. However, if you think you might want to expand your plant species in the future, plan ahead. On a 55g (I'm assuming it is 48 inches in length) two tubes [40 watts each] is sufficient for all but the most high-light plants such as some stem plants. With two tubes, rooted plants like swords, Aponegeton, Anubias, Vallisneria, Sagitarria... would be fine. I have this type of light over all three of my larger aquaria, two 40w tubes over each, and you can see the lant growth in the photos under my Aquarims.

Just make sure it is full specgtrum light, around 6500K. I have All Glass fixtures on my 70g and 90g and they are good quality; i took out the tubes they came with (garbage in my opinion, poor light and purplish) and used my own. I can recommend some tubes if you ask, and the ones I have are named in the tank data for my photos.

Byron.

I wanted to upgrade because right now I have 2x 15 watt AGA T8 tubes, which is less than 1 watt per gallon. ( By the way, you're right they are purpleish. I do like the way my Bosemani's look under it though, really brings out the rainbow colors.) I'm not getting the growth I would like. I figured I would get it closer to 2 watts per gallon in case I wanted to get some different plants and give my current plants more growth. Is that bad to have that much light for the plants I have now? What kind of tubes would you recommend? Oh and my tank is a typical 55g. It is 48" long.

Byron 09-06-2009 12:43 PM

I agree, two 15w tubes (regular type) is not much, I wuld certianly upgrade. For a 48-inch 55g tank, I would suggest either a 48-inch single-tube T5 HO fixture or a double-tube 48-inch regular (T8 or T10) fixture. The latter would give a bit more light, although the T5 HO tubes are really quite intense; you can't let the wattage fool you, because they are made differently and push out a more intense (bright) light for less wattage. T5 HO tubes are 54 watts, and regular fluorescent tubes for 48-inch are 40 watts (Zoo Med's are 32 watts I think). But again, wattage is general and the type of tube (regular or T5 HO) is important along with the spectrum and kelvin rating. HO means High Output by the way. T5 tubes require their own fixture, they are not interchangeable with regular tubes, so which ever fixture you buy the tubes will have to be the ones that fit it.

My personal favourite in tubes is the Hagen/Nutrafin Life-Glo. It is full spectrum (close to mid-day sun) at 6700K and high in the blue, red and green which gives good plant light (they need blue and red) with a nice balance from the green to make the plants and fish look natural in colour. Life-Glo is available in regular and T5. Second to this is the Zoo Med series, Ultra Sun is much the same at 6700K. As far as I know, only available in regular. Less expensive that the Life-Glo. There is also the Lightning Rod series, I have one of these on my 115g, the Ultra Daylight 11,000K which is higher in blue (the light plants most require) but the second tube is a Life-Glo that balances it quite well. On my 70g and 90g the second tube (first is the LifeGlo on both) is a Phjillips Daylight Deluxe 6500K, also slightly more blue (cooler look) but again balanced by the Life-Glo. I have not seen either of these latter makes in T5, but they may be.

The nice thing about two tubes is that you can mix as I have to highten say the blue but still keep it in balance for a natural appearance. But having said that, the single T5 Life-Glo would be a good light for plants and colour. I use this on any of my smaller tanks that have only one tube.

The other thing is that whatever the type, tubes must be replaced every 12 months; while they still "light" the intensity is greatly reduced after just a few months, and by 12 months most experts agree they have too little intensity.

If you can find these at your lfs where you shop regularly, they will usually allow you to return them (fixture and tubes) if you try one and want to try the other. As long as you intend to buy one of them of course. I do this, as these things are expensive and I don't want to get stuck with something I don't like or that is not workable.

Byron.

zombiefish610 09-06-2009 01:22 PM

So is there a such thing as too much light for the plants I have?

Byron 09-06-2009 04:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by zombiefish610 (Post 239217)
So is there a such thing as too much light for the plants I have?

Yes, but not so much for the damage to the plants, but because too much light (more than the plants can use in growing) will cause algae to grab the nutrients and be troublesome. Light should always be controlled, on for the same length of time each day (a timer is best for this). The length depends upon the plants, your viewing schedule (you want to be home to see it). Usually a minimum of 8 hours a day, and up to a max of 12 hours. Plants can use the light only so long as the nutrients are available. When the nutrients are used up, the plants can't use the light, and vice versa.

WisFish 09-08-2009 11:24 AM

The triple-tube fixture is what I use. You can view my aquarium page for results. The manual for the triple-tube fixture states that it only supports 32 watt t-8 bulbs. The twin-tube fixture will accept 40 watt tubes, t-8 & t-10. So you’re really comparing 96 watts vs. 80 total watts. Not that much of a difference.

For years I used the 1 watt per gallon. But that really limited the plants I could grow. After much research I switched to the triple-tube fixture last year. I figured if it was too much light I could remove a bulb. If I went with the twin tube model and it wasn't enough light, there's not much I could do. It turned out that the triple-tube fixture was perfect. But I will say this. My tank used to be 100% crypts. Now they're just about all gone due to crypt melt. So this fixture may be too much for crypts.

Byron 09-08-2009 12:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WisFish (Post 240174)
The triple-tube fixture is what I use. You can view my aquarium page for results. The manual for the triple-tube fixture states that it only supports 32 watt t-8 bulbs. The twin-tube fixture will accept 40 watt tubes, t-8 & t-10. So you’re really comparing 96 watts vs. 80 total watts. Not that much of a difference.

For years I used the 1 watt per gallon. But that really limited the plants I could grow. After much research I switched to the triple-tube fixture last year. I figured if it was too much light I could remove a bulb. If I went with the twin tube model and it wasn't enough light, there's not much I could do. It turned out that the triple-tube fixture was perfect. But I will say this. My tank used to be 100% crypts. Now they're just about all gone due to crypt melt. So this fixture may be too much for crypts.

According to Karen Randall (she is very knowledgeable on plants and crypts is a speciality of hers) increasing the light causes the crypts to "melt" only because it is a change in conditions; the crypts will recover and be fine again. This can also occur when the tubes are changed as they should be every 12 months. As you may know, crypts do not respond well to any significant changes in water parameters or light. I have personally had all the crypts in a tank melt with a sudden temperature change (heater malfunctioned in this case), or in another tank when the water pH changed (due to a partial water change when I didn't realize the municipal water had overnight dropped from 6.8 to 6.0, no fish hurt but all the crypts were mush in two days; this happened also when the tap water pH went from 6.0 up to 7.0 some years before). But in all cases they came back; the roots don't die, so just leave them and new leaves should appear, sometimes within a couple of weeks, sometimes longer.

If the tubes are the wattages you mention, I agree there is little difference (except in cost perhaps). In my experience 1 watt per gallon (or slightly less as in my 115g which has 80 watts) is adequate in "low-tech" setups for all but the highest-light stem plants or high-light substrate plants like dwarf hairgrass. I have thriving pygmy chain swords across the substrate. Provided of course the light is full spectrum.

WisFish 09-08-2009 02:03 PM

The roots of the crypts melted as well. I could see the runners along the glass melt away. Origianlly I thought it could have been the ferts that were cauisng the melt down. But all the crypts in the "shade" survived. Over time, as I trim plants and the crypts become exposed, they are slowly melting away. Too bad. I really liked the dark grren and red contrasts.


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