Help finding a light fixture
I want to turn my 37-gallon tank into a planted aquarium. I've been told that I would need at least 2 watts per gallon for what I have in mind (so about 75 watts total). I would like to get one 24" 75W Aquasun VHO bulb. The light fixture I have will only support 20W though. I'm having trouble finding a fixture that will fit my tank and meet my needs. Can you help me find one or offer alternative solutions?
The fixture is 28" long, 4.5" wide, and 2.5" tall. It fits into a plastic hood above a piece of glass. It's also underneath a wooden canopy that is about 5" tall. I purchased the aquarium with the light fixture, stand, and canopy together a few years ago. This assembly was made by Marineland.
By the way, the dimensions of my tank are 30" L x 12.5" W x 22.5" H
The old wives tale about 2 watts per gallon being essential is just that, stuff and nonsense.
Now that that is out of the way...the choice of plant species you want may have a bearing on whether the light will suffice or not; in my 20+ years experience, I have never had more than one tube over a tank 55g and under and never had a problem growing plants. But then there are some plants I can't grow, not many, but a few, so I don;t try. It's like gardening, stick with what works, don't try to change nature.
You do need the correct type of tube though, a full spectrum with a kelvin around 6700K. Your tank is 30 inches; what is the length of tube that fits your fixture? There are some choices within tubes once I know the length. Secondly, do you have any particular plants in mind?
My fixture will support one 24" 24W bulb.
Some plants that I particularly like are: Dark Red Jungle Vallisneria and/or Jungle Vallisneria, Java Fern, Brazilian Pennywort, Amazon Frogbit, Bronze Wendtii, and Anubias barteri v. 'Nana.'
I would like something growing on my piece of driftwood and other decor. I would also like some sort of grass mat or lawn in the foreground.
Here are some aquariums that appeal to me. Hopefully you can get a feel for what I would like.
The other plants should be OK, perhaps the Vallisneria is getting close to needing more, especially in a deeper tank, and especially the Red form, but I would expect it to possibly adapt better than the grass plants.
Another idea for bottom plants is pygmy chain sword if you want light green, or crypts if dark green/brown/reddish.
Plants growing on wood: the Anubias attaches to wood or rock, not in the substrate; Java Fern the same. Another is moss, the common Java Moss does very well whatever the light.
I know this is asking a lot, but assuming I got one Life-Glo tube and a CO2 pump (if you think it would help), what and how would you stock the tank to closely achieve the look I'm going for? I don't care if the bottom isn't grassy I just want it to look green really.
Also, if it will make a big difference I could probably get a hood with two 24" 24W bulbs and get two Life-Glo. It looks like the only the Life-Glo 2 is available in 20W.
Thanks for all of the advice!
You're not going to want any CO2.
CO2 is for high-light high-fertilisation tanks.
The fish will produce plenty of carbon dioxide.
If you want a foreground plant, you could try dwarf sag, it has a tendancy to get a bit tall but it does well in moderately low light. (Plus I got mine for about $0.80 a plant so it's not a huge risk)
The echinodorus species will also do well in low light, as Byron said.Crypt Wendtii bronze might not do too well, but get a wendtii green to act as a backup plan. They do well in low light.
As far as how to stock it...
(some of these weren't mentioned but do well with low light)
I'd go with 3-4 bunches of Hygrophila Difformis, 2-3 Echinodorus (for the background) 2-3 bunches of Pennywort, 5-6 Vallisneria, Some larger pieces of driftwood, with java moss on them, and Anubias and Java Fern to taste (on the driftwood) The crypts would work well in the midground.
You could also try Dwarf Hairgrass if you want to go with a fine substrate. (I believe angel has med-low light and her hairgrass does well)
Also, one last thing. I read that you can use the metallic duct tape on the bulb to direct the light downward. Whether that's much better than a reflector, I dunno.
On the watts, please don't fuss over watts. All fluorescent tubes come in standard wattage, e.g., a 48-inch tube is 40 watts. Now, there are exceptions, as some manufacturers are now making tubes that use less energy so they have lower wattage (watts is just the measurement of how much energy a tube or bulb or appliance needs to work, nothing more) but produce comparable intensity. So getting the tube that fits your fixture is all you need to worry about. However, as mentioned previously, some tubes are specially made to increase light, like the Life Glo if you can find it.
Forget the CO2, redchigh has explained that; adding CO2 will not help the plants if the light is inadequate, as there has to be a balance between light and all 17 nutrients. You can read about this in my series called "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" at the head of this section. There are 4 interconnected parts.
I have dwarf Sagittaria and pygmy chain sword in my 90g, and the Sag is 3-4 times the height of the sword, so the sword is probably better for a low plant.
Two tubes might be worth considering. As you have one fixture, try it first with a good tube. You may like the result. Plants really do not need as much light as some would have you believe, as I mention in that article. My advice is to start with what you have, and observe the plant growth (swords, Anubias, java fern, java moss are all fine with less light). No point spending money unnecessarily, when you could buy more plants and fish.:-)
I like both or your choices of plants so I'll try those. I'll read your "Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" and try and find a Life-Glo. What website do you recommend ordering plants from?
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