Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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IceBerg 03-22-2010 06:53 PM

How Many Watts Will I Need?
So I took the advice of Angel079 and ordered my plants from Sweet Aquatics. The selection was overwhelming for this beginner so I ordered the 55gal plant package. Currently I have two standard issue 15w florescent aquarium bulbs. I was wondering how many watts will I need to light my aquarium? Sweet Aquatics recommends 2-3 watts per gallon. Where do I find 2 bulbs that put out between 110w to 165w? Also how do I vacuum my gravel once the plants are in place? Any and all advice is welcome to this beginner. :-D

PLANT PACKAGE#2 includes the following:

2 Potted Sword
3 Potted Foreground (can be substituted for microsword portions)
1 Bare Root Anubias
4 Bunch Plants
10 Vallisneria
2 Aponogeton Bulb with sprouts
4 Bare Root Cryptocorynes
2 Potted Cryptocoryne
1 Spatterdock
1 Java Fern
1 Hygrophila Kompakt Pot
5 Dwarf Onion Plants

JohnnyD44 03-22-2010 07:06 PM

hello and welcome!!

You'll hear many different pieces of advice regarding wattage for tanks. I know some sites recommend 1.5-4 watts per gallon. I think the later of that spectrum is just too much and is too much lighting. A lot of plant keepers on here recommend a simple, low light, no CO2 tank. If this is a standard 55G tank, you're going to want atleast a unit which holds atleast two 48" bulbs.

I currently run two 48" bulbs. They are both t-8 bulbs. I use one "cool blue" and I was one "daylight". This combination has worked well for me. My plants are flourishing and they lights are both made by Sylvania. The daylight bulb produces right around the same light you'll find at peak sunlight. Each of these bulbs are 32W for a total of 64W on my 55G tank. You could also go up to three bulbs for 96W

If you prefer to use two bulbs I ordered this:

If you prefer to go with three bulbs, you could order this:

Others will be along, hope some of this helps!!

You'll also wanna pick a bottle of Flourish Excel Comprehensive and some root tabs if you're ordering any swords

Angel079 03-22-2010 07:17 PM

What size tubes do you have the wpg rule really only applied back in the day with t5 not these days with all other bulbs available. For example my 55g picture here has ONE GE 'Daylight' (from Lowes) t8 4ft long full spectrum and either 27 or 2800 lumens...and well the picture say's it all.

So wattage wise I'd not say your 2x15w is wrong - But we gotta dig up the info somehow what kelvin rating and lumens you have there. Plus that plant selection there is on the lower end of light needs as well.

IceBerg 03-22-2010 08:04 PM


Originally Posted by Angel079 (Post 349041)
What size tubes do you have the wpg rule really only applied back in the day with t5 not these days with all other bulbs available. For example my 55g picture here has ONE GE 'Daylight' (from Lowes) t8 4ft long full spectrum and either 27 or 2800 lumens...and well the picture say's it all.

So wattage wise I'd not say your 2x15w is wrong - But we gotta dig up the info somehow what kelvin rating and lumens you have there. Plus that plant selection there is on the lower end of light needs as well.

Wow, Angel to the rescue. I was about to give up when I saw the prices of those lighting systems. The bulb it's self is a little over17in and says 15W aquarium lamp but the hood says 24" inch Florescent Aquarium Reflector 120 volt, 19 watt, 60hz. Of course there are two 24" inch hoods side by side.

WisFish 03-22-2010 09:07 PM

Obviously you can try to grow plants with what you have, but I'm going to guess that those fixtures will be on the dim side. I say that from experience. My 55 came with the same fixture you have. I could only grow crypts for years. Then I stepped up to the 48" 3 bulbs fixture. Right now I only use two bulbs in it. Angel has had good results with a single 4' bulb which amazes me. But I really think you'll be upgrading the fixture within two months.

Mikaila31 03-22-2010 09:07 PM

That is a standard 55gal hood. It holds 2 T8 bulbs that are 18 inches long and 15 watts each. That was what my 55gal came with. IMO even with good bulbs this is still inadequate for plants. You at .5 wpg at best and if you have the plastic hoods w/ the little window in them these block a lot of light. It was a long time ago, but I tried java moss on drift wood about 10" below the light. It was running a decent bulb and I had no luck keeping the moss alive.

IMO you need to upgrade. Glass tops and there are lot of aquarium fixtures for your tank and lots of cheaper home store fixtures that you can use too.

I would not go over 2.5 WPG of T8's or 2wpg of power compacts or T5's whatever you chose. Any higher and you are going to have nutrient issues.

Mean Harri 03-22-2010 10:06 PM

I'll tell you what I have over my 55g. I have a 2 bulb 48" fixture. One bulb is a Life Glo2 T10 and the other is a an Aqua Glo T 8. My plants are growing like mad. I'll provide a link to what the two bulbs look like together over an aquarium. Both bulbs are 40 watts. 80 total watts.

Angel079 03-23-2010 08:17 AM

A few things coming to mind apart from what I already said:

If you go to Lowes, Homedepot, Walmart whatever you have close by look for the bulbs your size by GE, Bright Effects, Phillips; Look for the one's labeled "Daylight or Ultimate Daylight" these are in the 6700 Kelvin range you'll need for plants and then just pick the size you need.

Personally I have both set ups the 4ft light across (55g) and the 2x24" (45g) side by side either cause I have no issues with the plants but what I personally do not fancy too much is the "dim spot" you get in the center of the tank when you have the 2 lights side by side and therefore pref the 4ft shoplight I re-appropriated from Hubbys garage over the 55g much better.

Higher lights will work to an extent of cause; but you got to remember if you eg. have 32w over the 55g like me its too simple to balance that with nutrition (in my case tap water only now). Now when you start having 2-3-4 4ft'er bulbs over it > The more light the more nutrition you'll need to balance that just right, when its not balanced 'just right' that's when you'll see a lot posts "I have algae growing". So whatever your light decision in the end is just also keep that in mind that you have got to balance all factors !

Byron 03-23-2010 11:31 AM

Now that you're really confused... Different ideas from different aquarists each with good personal experiences.

First to toss out the myth, Sweet Aquatics has beautiful plants and offers good service, according to many here (I've never used them, being in Canada is troublesome for mail order plants as they won't ship here, plus I am lucky to have good fish stores around me); but their advice on needing 2-3 watts per gallon is completely inaccurate and misleading. There are enough of us on here with thriving planted tanks--take at look at my "Aquariums" photos, or Angel079's, or WisFish's, Johnny's, etc--to prove otherwise. I have less than 1 watt of full spectrum T8 light over my tanks, and it is more than enough--for what I grow.

What it comes down to first, is what you want in your planted tank. I've had a look at your plant list, some nice plants. With only one or two possible exceptions, all those plants will do fine under one watt per gallon of good light. I do agree that replacing your existing hood would be a good idea. I would get either a one or two full-length tube fixture. Angel079 now has one, and look at her plants growing. When I had a 55g, I had one 40w T12 tube and it was adequate for swords, vallisneria, crypts, aponogeton, Java Fern, Java Moss, Anubias.

Tom Barr has written that the first issue is to have minimal light. The more light, the more nutrients (CO2, nitrogen, macro- and micro-nutrients) will be needed. I have written the same many times here, and in the 4-part series of stickies at the head of this section, Part 4 deals with lighting. You can achieve a better biological balance naturally with minimal lighting. There is also the fish to consider; most fish in planted aquaria are forest fish like tetras, rasbora, angels, gourami, dwarf cichlids, discus, catfish--these come generally from low-light streams under the forest canopy and the fish do show better colouration and behaviours and health with subdued lighting and dark substrates.

I recommend either a one or two 48-inch T8 tube fixture, or one T5 fixture; T5 comes in NO (normal output) and HO (high output), the NO is very comparable to T8 (regular) and I believe uses slightly less energy so that is beneficial these days. The NO tube choice is somewhat limited though, so you may have to go with more expensive specialize tubes, whereas T8 can be found for few dollars at hardware stores as Angel079 has mentioned. I chose T8 over T5 last year when replacing two of my old fixtures for this reason. The nice benefit of two tubes of T8 is mixing spectrum (one full spectrum, one cool white) for maximum plant response and a nice true colour rendition of fish and plants. And floating plants can always be added (many of the fish do better with floating plants for several reasons anyway) to diffuse the light a bit.

IceBerg 03-25-2010 06:48 AM

I just overhauled my tank and switch over to a peaceful community. My LFS made it a breeze and let me trade in my other fish that werenít working out as planned. Unfortunately I donít have the money to upgrade my lighting system at the moment. I'm even more confused now that I received this email from Sweet Aquatics. Are there low light plants that could work for me if I just upgrade my bulbs?

No special lighting will be needed. You can start with some easy low light
plants. If you like keeping plants and want to venture into harder plants
you can buy a better light down the road. The only thing I suggest is to
check the light bulbs. Daylight bulbs are best for plants. They give off a
bright white light, you can usually buy them at any hardware store. The
price depends on the length of the bulb. They are cheaper than the bulbs you
get at the pet store.
Would you like us to choose the plants for you? I will probalby ship on
Sweet Aquatics

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