Need Help With Lighting a 55 Gallon
I'm looking for help with choosing a lighting system for a 55 gallon heavily planted tank which will have plants in the "medium" light requirement range. Rotala indica, Hygro corymbosa, many varities of Cryptocoryne. So far, I haven't made any progress finding a 48" strip that fits my needs. I WILL NOT be using injected CO2. Any help would be greatly appreciate!
I bought a 48" dual light fixture for mine. I forgot the name of it but I have two 48" lights that give it close to the 'medium" lighting. All my plants are doing good. I have an assortment of swords and valls in my mine also have some rotala indica in mine. They seem to do better the closer they get to the light. I have some floating as well as planted. I think the bulbs I have are GE daytime lights forgot the watts but the Kelvin is 6500 on them.
I have a 36" Aquasun T5HO over my 55 gallon. I intentionally purchased a light that was short because I wanted it to fit in the canopy I'll (eventually) build. I also wanted a light gradient that allowed medium and low-light plants. The light is mounted over 3/4 of the tank. Works well, but I only run one of the tubes at the time. Same experience with the Rotalia indica - grows great, but color is only red toward the top. I do supplement with Flourish Excel to increase the growth rate. My light rates out at "way too high" with both bulbs and right at "medium" with one, but I still have to limit my light to 7 hours/day to avoid algae when I don't dose with Excel.
If you find an inexpensive T5HO fixture that you like (the Aquasun $ was right for my budget), you can use fiberglass window screen to reduce the light to the level you want (each layer of screen between the light and the tank reduces light by about 40%. Make sure the fixture has the option to run only one bulb! The Aquasun runs cool and has two on/off switches. The downside of a single bulb is you can't balance the light well if you only have a plant bulb (bias to the red spectrum).
Welcome to the forum!
Assuming this is a standard 4-foot 55g tank, you have some options. A single T5 fixture, single T8 (ordinary) fixture, or dual T8. Obviously light intensity varies with each.
Years ago I had a single T8 (actually a T12 back then, even less light than the newer T8 tubes) over my 55g and I had no difficulty with swords and other moderate-light plants.
A dual T8 fixture and a T5 are both going to be more light intensity, which may mean reducing the light period to avoid algae. It all depends upon the balance.
I have a 70g and a 90g, both 4-feet and 18in width, difference being the 4-5 inch depth. Both have identical light, two T8 tubes 48in. I have considerably more algae issues in the 70g solely because there is more light. I have had to reduce the light period.
Power compacts and DIY CFLs are also an option.
T8's follow that rule IMO above 2wpg you may need CO2. With power compacts I use about the same rule, these run more intense then T8's. With T5's I would suggest staying under 1.5 wpg. CFL's can vary a bit and actually all these values also have some dependence on the fixture. They are all considering that you have individual reflectors, if you don't they you need more to make up for the loss of light.
I agree with Mikaila, and will just add a bit from my personal experience as I have tried T5 HO and T8.
I have two tubes over my larger tanks, a 4-foot 70g, 4-foot 90g and 5-foot 115g. All are T8. The 70g as mentioned earlier clearly has more light entering it. The 115g and 90g are fine, and have been running like this for 15 years.
A year ago one of my older T8 fixtures gave out (ballast), so I got a T5 HO to try. Too bright, so I put it over the 115g thinking that was a larger area. Two 48-inch tubes, T5 HO. Way too much light. I was nearly blinded, the poor fish must have been. After a week of trying to get used to this [and both tubes had to be on, couldn't remove one], back it went and I got another T8 fixture, with two 48-inch tubes. The photos of my aquariums show these.
The "rule" is only a guide that works with T8 over moderate-size tanks, as M said. The whole issue is balance. And my thinking is to start with as little light as necessary for the plants you want, then balance that with sufficient nutrients. Light should always be the limiting factor to plant growth, or algae will take advantage.
Each aquarium is different, another reason any "rules" are "maybe" at best. The biological balance in my tank is likely different from your tank; it is different between my 7 tanks. As I mentioned, what light works over some is too much over others. But out of difference for the fish, start with minimum lighting. Most fish are forest fish, and they occur in very dim waters. Bright light just as white substrates can severely stress fish, and that weakens their immune system.
Hope I've answered you, feel free to question if not.
So I'm looking for 2 to 2 1/2 watts per gallon.....How should I go about delivering this as far as type of bulb or fixture? What about LED's?????
I have less than 1w per gallon on all my tanks, using regular T8 tubes.
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