Tall tanks and plants
First and foremost I apologize if this is already an existing thread but I couldn't find anything that had the answers to my questions.
So I set up my first fish tank, a 45 galon tall (strange I know), about 5 months ago and I have 25 fish - 10 rasboras, 10 cherry barbs, 2 serpae tetras, 2 neon dwarf guaramis, and a clown loach. I have been using fake plants since I set up my tank but I've recently become very interested in getting some live plants. My questions are is this possible with a tall tank? Do I need stronger lights so that they will be able to reach the roots of the plants? And will there be 24 inch bulbs powerful enough? Thank you!
Some people would use the 2wpg rule, but I believe you would need a little more light. Luckily, many plants can 'make do' with low light levels.
You don't mention how many tubes your hood can hold. Assuming 1, then a single 17W T8 would really be pushing it. 2-3 would be much better.
For tall tanks, an ideal plant would be vallisneria. It's rooted in the substrate, but can take the majority of it's nutrients from the water column, and will easily grow to the top of the tank.
Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.
Knowing the present fixture data would help. If it is a single-tube fluorescent with a 24-inch tube, and you want to stay with it (rather than another fixture), I would suggest a Life-Glo tube. These are made by Hagen/Nutrafin, and are expensive, but they have a coating inside half the tube that directs the light more intensely so they have higher light production than other tubes. There are two Life-Glo, the Life-Glo 2 is "ordinary" but the Life-Glo [with no number] is the special one. It is an excellent plant and aquarium tube. Tubes need replacing every 2-3 years.
There are a couple issues with your present fish I should mention. All loaches are social fish and must be kept in groups, 5-6 or more. They will be under stress otherwise. However, given the mature size of Clown Loach at 8-12 inches, this is not possible in anything under a 5-6 foot tank. The small tank (to them) is also a cause for stress, and stress cause innumerable health issues that would otherwise not occur. You can read more in our profile of this fish; click on the shaded name in posts, or use the second tab from the left in the blue bar at the top.
Serpae Tetra like all tetra are also shoaling fish tat need a group; in this particular species, it can be very aggressive when kept in less than 8. Again, more info is in the profile. And while this or that particular fish may "appear" fine, this can suddenly change. A recent study has proven that shoaling fish maintained in groups under 5 will most likely exhibit increased aggression over time due to the stress of their environment.
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