Lighting for live plants in 55 gallon
Well, I finally made my decision and got the tall 55 gallon tank. 30 inches long, 24 inches tall (taller than the standard 50/55 gallon) and 18 inches deep. I thought I was going to go with live plants so I decided on a plant substrate for the botton layer - Flourite (attractive brown color with a little bit of black) and the top layer is a nice tan gravel. I prefer gravel to be slightly darker but there isn't any in the stores around here. Once the bottom layer gets mixed in over time, it should be a nice blend.
However, today when I was in the fish store and asked about the lighting she said I would have to most likely invest in another $200 in lighting. There is no way I want to spend that much right now after the cost of everything so far. Is there anyway I can go about this any cheaper and still have good enough lighting? Since it is a deep tank I guess I may need even stronger light than the standard height of a 50 gallon tank. ?? My flouresant bulb that came with the tank is 24" I believe.
I left there bummed. I think I may have gone with a sand that I could get at this place instead of gravel, if I knew I was not going to be able to do live plants right now. It is a gray sand with black sand mixed in a bit. I even bought 3 plants just to start out with at Petsmart before I went there and now I bought them for nothing. I may be able to use one of them in my daughter's tank right now but maybe not the others.
I have the tank all set up with some driftwood and a few rocks so far. I am going to cycle this tank fishless. The owner encouraged me to do it this way. I have never cycled a tank fishless before. Today is the first day for the starting of the cycling. She gave me some good bacteria to help get it started.
Anyway, if anyone has any advise on lighting that is not so outrageous, please let me know. Maybe it will be just as well not to do live plants (lots to learn and more time involved and worry), but I was getting motivated to try it.
Would I be able to use this? Twin-Tube Fluorescent Strip Lights - Lighting & Hoods - Fish - PetSmart
The fixture that my tank came with only holds one bulb. The one I posted holds two. Could I use the T-8 full spectrum bulbs and be good? I am reading a bit on here and I read where some of you use the T-8's on the standard 55 gallons.
I wonder how much the bulbs are. Maybe by the time I buy those it would still be well over $100.00.
So you do have a hood/ light fixture with the tank buts its single tube (just so I know I got it right lol)?
Then yea I'd get a strip that holds 2 bulbs side to side as well.
You can check here see what size you need what you find. https://www.petsolutions.com/Lighting+C33.aspx
For the bulbs: If you buy a new fixture just buy one that's hold standard florescent tubes and you'll be able to shop your home store for some Phillips, GE etc for a Daylight, Bright white lights (on the 55g mix I always try to get 1 ~6500K and 1~5000K and something that'll total you around ~1wpg)
And I'm sorry but I think 100-200 is just too much simply for lights IMO. Then I;d def rather put the elbow grease in and built me own again.
I agree build your own:-D.
I like your Avatar. Must be fun to ride a draft. Unfortunately its been a long time since I've been in the saddle:-(.
My lfs told me the same thing --for my TEN gallon!!! Can you believe that?
My only question (it's only a question, not an answer!) is if the depth of your tank has any bearing on the lighting you would need.
Don't feel bummed...that's how I felt last time i left the lfs and then I got on the forum and I got hope! Lighting can be as cheap or as elaborate as you want... either way you can have a healthy planted aquarium.
Oh, and a not about the bacteria...it needs ammonia to feed it so I'd add some fish flakes. Do you have another tank you can seed from?
for a 55gal get 80watts of t8 lighting with a double light fixture that spans the length of your tank. go to walmart get a fixture that is 48' long and pick up x2 cool blue t8 bulbs (the bulbs should be next to the fixture) all of this cost less than 30$ and will grow anything you put under it (for the most part) dont be folled by those crazy t5 fixtures or cfl or anything that is over 50$ for a fixture and more than 10$ a bulb. those applications are for c02 injection and saltwater and from what i read your not heading down that path right now. just my 6 cents
Def check Walmart...Since your home store already didn't have them (which I still find screwy), let's hope you can find them there!
Thanks for the recs on Kalvins. That really helps. Please let me know if you think I would need more Kalvins since it is deeper. The girl at the fish store did indicate depth as being an issue for more light but we did not get into the specifics since I thought I was not going to be able to afford it.
I feel much better now. :) If I decide that I can't deal with plants, I can always change them out. If I ever do decide against them, do you take them out slowly? I plan on mastering it though, but you never know....may be too much upkeep down the road for my time. I could always leave a few in there along with fake ones if it looks right.
Hi Mitch, Thanks so much for your helpful information. I feel much better now. I knew you guys would have some great advise. And, you are right, I am not going to to the C02 injection or saltwater route. Is it true that the lighting is much more important when C02 is injected? I have heard where people have killed a tank before with CO2 injections from something going wrong with the lighting...not turned on for whatever reason or long enough or whatever else.
Lighting is always important, no more so with CO2, just different. Light is the single most important aspect of a planted aquarium.
I made a couple comments on this in another of your threads (Holly) but will repeat to keep things in order. The K (kelvin) is an indication of the colour temperature of light; it has no direct bearing on the intensity (brightness). I say "direct" because it is fact that blue light penetrates water better than red or green. Kelvin is the guide to the colours making up the light, and this also determines what it will look like to us. The sun at mid-day is approx 5700K, so theoretically a fluorescent tube rated around 6000K is going to give the colours of the mid-day sun. A lower K number, say 4000K, indicates more red and less blue, so what we call "warm" light. A higher K number, say 11000K, indicates more blue and much less red, what we call "cool" white. However, the way the manufacturer puts this together also affects the colour rendition, and the spectrum graph is the indicator of where the highlights in colour are in that particular tube.
Briefly on the tubes for your new 55g, I agree with others that two tubes are needed, at the maximum length that will fit across the tank so the two tubes are side by side the full length of the tank (or close to this). With the correct tubes, this will work. And correct tubes means full spectrum or full spectrum and cool white mixed. And these you can buy at hardware stores made by Phillips, Sylvania, etc. for less than comparable tubes in a fish store. Check out the info on light in Part 4 of my article as a sticky at the head of this section.
To your question of CO2 and light. To grow, plants need light and nutrients--which include carbon, nitrogen and 15 minerals, and these have to balance. If the nutrients are lacking, more light won't do anything but promote algae. If the light is too little for the plants to photosynthesize, more nutrients won't help and algae will increase. There has to be a balance, and while at first this may seem complicated, the fact is, it is not at all complicated. The balance is very easy to work out.
Carbon usually comes from carbon dioxide, CO2. Fish produce CO2 through respiration, and it is also produced by all sorts of biological actions on-going in any aquarium, like bacteria breaking down detritus, etc. Tanks using CO2 diffusion are referred to as high tech; they provide additional CO2, and because plants can only use this (and other nutrients) if the light is balanced, more CO2 means more light is necessary. Therefore, high-tech tanks have greater light over them (at least double, sometimes three or even four times as much) to balance the additional CO2, plus daily fertilization of minerals is needed again to balance. Without all this, the plants will not benefit from just more CO2, but again algae will.
My approach has always been less rather than more. I explain this in the series of articles at the top of this section. This is not my invention, aquarists have been maintaining healthy and successful tanks with this method for decades. I like it because it is simple and uses nature more than using my intervention with paraphernalia, and the less we intervene in the aquarium the better.
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