Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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fabby10 12-19-2009 10:55 PM

Advice needed! Lightings for aquatic plant
Hi guys,

Would like to know if I am able to have aquatic plants in my tank without the CO2 system and soil.

Am planning to just have a few plants to make my tetras secure and currently using T5HO POWER GLO(Pinkish white) and ACTINIC GLO(BLUE) 24W.

Is the lighting sufficient? Just a few plants like cabomba etc.
Any recommendations are welcomed.

Thanks in advance

Mean Harri 12-20-2009 12:43 AM

You don't want the Actinic bulb for freshwater. That is a bulb for saltwater tanks. You want at least one 6700k bulb for the plants and perhaps a full spectrum bulb. Depending on the number of plants you choose to plant, you may go with 2 6700k bulbs.

I'm learning as well about live plants. If I'm wrong I'm sure someone with more knowledge will correct me. But I've been reading all evening on lighting and Actinic is def for saltwater.

fabby10 12-20-2009 08:14 AM

Yea, actinic is definately for saltwater. I have just converted my marine tank into a FW, so was thinking the lightings (if i dont have any plants at that time) would not be a big issue. Thank you for the information about the 6700K bulbs, will check it out. cheers

jmlampert23 12-20-2009 08:15 AM

actinic is ok for the time being but not idea. you want something like a life glow 2 or a coralife plant gro as your full spec for plant growth and i would suggest a ultra sun by zoo med or an ultra daylight by phillips

Angel079 12-20-2009 10:23 AM

Either use Life Glo (if you want to stay with Hagen brand bulbs) or get yourself a Daylight from your Home Supply store, cross check, but here they're always rated at 6500K which is perfect for planted tank.
That's what I use is "normal" daylight flourecent's; you're welcome to check out my tanks under my aquariums to the left and see the plants for yourself there.

MoneyMitch 12-20-2009 11:26 AM

actnic will work fine it is 100% blue in the terms of Wavelength, and seeing how plants only respond to red and blue this will work fine in combination with any other light i would suggest something that is high in the red region as far as wavelength chart goes.

It is a myth that you NEED those "flor glo or power glo" lights those are a waste of money and are nothing but hype. any light you find at walmart or homedepot will work fine 3000k is what most floro tubes are at walmart and are under 10$ for a 4 footer.

if i were you i would stick with the actnic and just buy one of those daylight bulbs at walmart or where ever.

Byron 12-20-2009 01:26 PM

Several previous responders have set you in the right direction on light. You want full spectrum balanced lighting, this can be achieved a number of ways. The sun at mid-day has a colour temperature of approximately 5500K and as plants have obviously evolved to grow under this light it makes sense to replicate it for success. Blue and red colour is used by aquatic plants, green is reflected but having green in the mix provides for a balanced colour that allows the fish and plant colours to appear natural. A full spectrum rated around 6500K does this. If you have two tubes over the tank, a good combination is one full spectrum and one cool blue.

I don't know what sort of hardware stores you have in Malaysia, but you can usually find good tubes made by Sylvannia or Phillips that will work fine. Get the full spectrum daylight and the daylight deluxe or ultra daylight; this combination I used for 10 years. I now have the Hagen Life-Glo and Zoo Med series tubes, they are considerably more expensive than the Phillips or Sylvannia, but I have not noticed any particular difference in plant growth under any of these, provided of course the correct spectrum and colour temp requirements are met.

Absolutely get rid of the Actinic tube. I have never tried one of these so I do not know precisely why they are not usable, but every authority on planted aquaria I have read in 15 years has recommended against them, so presumably they are not much good. They are designed for marine tanks with live corals as you obviously know, so while they are blue, perhaps they are too intense for freshwater plants.

With respect to CO2, that can be dismissed easily with a simple "not necessary." Check the photos of my aquariums to see what is possible in low-tech or natural systems; no CO2, moderate [some would say low] light (less than one watt per gallon of full spectrum/cool white mentioned above), and a balanced complete liquid fertilizer is all that is needed. I have regular small-grain gravel in all my tanks, and have had this for 20 years. I do have root fertilizer sticks next to the larger swords that are heavy feeders, but for years I had these plants without so that is not even necessary.

You mentioned tetras, forest fish which occur in dimly-lit water, so another reason to go with the less lighting; I would not subject tetras to high light such as you now have. Tetras will display their true colouration when provided with a dark substrate, background and minimal lighting. My 115g and 90g aquaria are full of various characins and some catfish.


Mean Harri 12-20-2009 07:26 PM

After looking at your tanks Byron I think I'll rethink all this lighting stuff. Very nice btw

MoneyMitch 12-20-2009 10:52 PM


Originally Posted by Byron (Post 292305)

Absolutely get rid of the Actinic tube. I have never tried one of these so I do not know precisely why they are not usable, but every authority on planted aquaria I have read in 15 years has recommended against them, so presumably they are not much good. They are designed for marine tanks with live corals as you obviously know, so while they are blue, perhaps they are too intense for freshwater plants.


how would a light be too intense for a live plant? was curious to when this info was dated, and would also like to ask why get rid of it when it would combo so well with a tube high in the reds. you say its meant for saltwater and reefers which are pretty much the same as live plants. Ive added a new fixture and have 1 actnic over my tank a while back and havent seen anything but positive from my ferns and amazons, i will admit it is in combo with a daylight from walmart but i have 80 watts over the tank. why should he get rid of it and waste cash when its not necessary?

fabby10 12-21-2009 08:26 AM

First of all, thank you very much for all the inputs and i have read everyone of them with great interest.

As my light fixture is of 2 T5HO tubes, is it possible for me to use normal fluorescent lamp on it? We do have Philips over here in Malaysia, but i think that they did not specify the K ratings of it.

Yes, I still feel actinics are mainly for marine, don't get me wrong but i like the blue color of it. Having said that, if it is better to change it, then i will. Currently, in terms of specialized aquarium tubes, there aren't much choice in Malaysia, some notable brands would be Gieseman, GLO, ATI, Nirox and some other China brands.

As for the GLO tubes, they have 3 tubes to choose from which is Life, Power and Actinic (i think). I have checked and Life has a K rating of 6700K, which is the nearest to that of suggested by most of you all. I am worried if i were to replace my actinic, the tank would be very brightly lit. I would prefer a dimmer lighting but also capable of having plants in it.

Just a suggestion, what if I replace the actinic with LIFE GLO? Thus giving me a combination of LIFE and POWER GLO?

I am not planning to go all out planted tank, just a few plants will do to make the tank more lively and loving. Am currently using black substrate with a black background. As i want to show off the color of the tetras.

Sorry for the long reply, as I am still new with plants as well as the lighting.

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