This question has probably already been asked before, but I couldn't find any information amongst all the posts. I apologize for asking it again.
We recently put up a 55 gallon fresh water tank that I would like to set up with live plants. The tank came with two 22 inch hoods that take 1 18" T8 bulb each. The hoods are rated 120 VAC, 17W, 60H.
Should I buy a new hood for the tank (prefer not to spend more money) or are there some good 18" T8 bulbs that I can replace the original bulbs with?
Any advice is greatly appreciated....
Hello & Welcome!!!
I do not see a problem as far as the T8's themselves; But I'd see a problem if its not a full spectrum light @ around 6500 Kelvin...also with just having 2x18" bulbs I'd try see to get each of them being 30-40 watts each. You can find these pretty inexpensive at lowes, homedepot, walmart...But MAKE SURE its a full spectrum; 5-6500 kelvin (read the small print) and XYZ size you need there; Usually these are labeled Dylight or Ultimate daylight.
That then would work for most larger plants; If you want sensitive plants like dwarf baby tears or dwarf hairgrass, I'd test with 1 plant and see if its working; or just stick to larger plants like Crypts, Java Ferns, Swords etc etc etc.
Even with good tubes, this may be cutting it close. When I had my 55g I had one 48-inch 40w tube over it and it was fine but I would not want to go below that. If you use good tubes you might be OK, but they will only be 17w as this is standard for the length of tube.
Personally I would recommend a 48-inch tube (means a new light fixture) and a single T5 HO would be adequate or a double tube T8. This would mean replacing the hood with a glass cover (they make them to fit inside the frame of standard tanks like a 55g rectangular) and sitting the fixture across the frame. [This is what I have on my tanks, see the photos.] We can discuss thismore if you're interested; also have a look at the light section in Part 4 of the stickies "A Basic Guide..." at the head of this section.
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