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PewPewPew 01-11-2012 02:06 AM

Help with flouescant hood/ light conversion
Hello all! I need help with trying to go from a kit-bought incandescent hood to a fluorescent one for my standard sized 5g glass tank.

I am having a lot of trouble finding not only a fluorescent strip light or hood but also a glass lid for the tank in order to put the light on it! My current incandescent lid has only one socket in it and it does not light the sides of the tank well. I use 1 CFL at 10w/6500K daylight for about 10hrs a day (on a timer).

The tank is this tank and its top is 16x8in, but with the lip maybe a quarter to half inch less.

Can someone please help me with the following?
  • Why do I need a glass lid for the tank if I get a fluorescent hood or strip light? Are there any cons to doing so? Any cons to not?
  • Can I get an acrylic lid for the tank? Will it warp or melt?
  • If I got a strip for a 2.5g tank, would that be problematic? Shouldnt the reflector distribute light enough to make up for the size difference?
  • Anyone know of a place that sells strips or hoods for a good price? I am looking in the no greater than $40 area. I know there are many out there for this price. Lower is better :)
  • Anyone know where I could get a glass or acrylic lid for the 5g?

I've looked at these, can anyone give me their input?

My tank is planted with:


some sort of ludwigia(?), creeping charlie, pennywort, moneywort, anacharis, wisteria,dwarf onion plants, water sprite

Root feeders:
Vals, narrow leaf chain sword, dwarf hairgrass, swords, dwarf sag


Anubias, java moss and fern, frogbit

77-80'F, soft water, eco-complete, Aqueon Plant food (micro and macro), root tabs from Bobstropicalplants, filtered, with MTS,no c02 for this* tank and currently at 10w @ 6500k for about 10hrs a day; but insufficient.

Thanks for looking and helping. Ive been waiting to have the funds to upgrade lids for a while now and would really like to! :) I appreciate the help and any feedback anyone can give me if they have any of the above.


Byron 01-11-2012 01:21 PM

My advice with small tanks like a 5g is to go with incandescent fixtures (screw-in) and use compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. This is ideal lighting for planted tanks up to 20 or 30g.

The All Glass incandescent full hood you linked will work superbly. I got one of these for my 10g. You can use two 10w GE Daylight CFL bulbs, they have a 6500K rating. You mention this type of bulb, it may be GE or Sylvania or Phillips, they are the same. Perfect plant light, and fish look nice too.

I won't comment on the other fixtures mentioned as I think the above is your best bet, and not more expensive to boot.

I will respond to your question about a cover. This is needed to keep water off the light; water being warm will condense on the cover glass--or the light tube/bulb if exposed--during the night, and then evaporate off as the light burns during the day. That in itself is not much of a danger, except it can weaken the tube/bulb as the water will leave behind minerals coating it. But a real danger is if a fish should jump against the tube/bulb when lit, or water splash on it, as this cold cause the hot tube/bulb to explode. And many fish will jump. Aside from the light issue, it is also best to keep the condensing water in the tank and not in the room, and a cover keeps dust and stuff out of the tank. Open top tanks have a purpose though, but I won't get into all that.

Two bulbs will provide adequate light for your plants. A couple of them are higher light, like the Wisteria, but even this should manage in what is a relatively shallow tank with good light over it.


PewPewPew 01-11-2012 04:36 PM

Thanks Byron.
Im concerned the incandescent hood only has one bulb for the 16inch, which is just the same as what I have now and will continue to give me very uneven light. My boyfriend's 10g has this hood from a kit and it has two bulbs, which gives wonderful light in his tank. Im hoping the 16'' is the same.

I use those bulbs you mentioned as well as Lights of America's 6500k 10w tubular bulb, since even the smaller of CFLs tend to either be too big and hit the reflector plate or the moisture guard. Very frustrating!

I'm going to try and get a hold of petsmart (who seems to be one of few carrying the 16" at a reasonable price) to ask how many bulbs the hood holds for the 16". My plants are all rather happy (sans the lower leaves of wisteria) but I know they could be happier with more light.

Fingers crossed the hood has two sockets!!

PewPewPew 01-11-2012 04:45 PM

Dang it.
I called and spoke to a really great rep. from petsmart. Sadly, the 16" is a single bulb and is more or less the exact same as my current hood! Dang it. Back to the drawing board on that one. :(

Byron 01-11-2012 05:08 PM


Originally Posted by myrr (Post 947536)
I called and spoke to a really great rep. from petsmart. Sadly, the 16" is a single bulb and is more or less the exact same as my current hood! Dang it. Back to the drawing board on that one. :(

Yes, I just saw that when |I enlarged the photo. Sorry I missed that, I agree with you, two bulbs would be better. That being the case, if it were me I would go with the fluorescent hood. Though first i might try a higher wattage CFL bulb. I understand your comment about the light dispersal, but one can work around that with nice effect.

PewPewPew 01-11-2012 05:28 PM

Would the +5w I can upgrade to make a difference? The hood limits the watts to 15w, and Im currently at 10.

This is the tank, and its easy to note how the sides (especially the left!) are very dark. Nothing is obstructing them and its like this when the tank is full. (Currently on vacation and my parents only allow my tanks to sit at half-full!) I had to thin out plants like mad for it, but they've found happy refuge in a tank with a lid like your own. Not the best photo but I cant seem to get one that shows the unevenness like it is in person..:-( (pointing to the bad side)

This is the hood. The socket thing is so bulbous that it hinders light from getting to that side. No matter what light I try to use to fix it, it either is too fat for the casing or will cause the left to be dark, or the right. The middle is typically fine.

It's a good looking hood, though- tbh I would say more attractive than a standard economy hood with a more attractive finish and general form. Shame :|

I'm considering ordering the fluorescent hoods when I get back to my dorm room. We'll see how things go. I'm hoping one of those 10-20% off your order things will happen soon, considering the expense with shipping. Right now the best deal I can find is $5 off $25, which is much less than what I normally do.

Thankfully, my marineland hex's hood does a fine job of dispersing light evenly. Good with the bad!

PewPewPew 01-11-2012 05:36 PM

Thanks for the help, Byron :)

Byron 01-11-2012 07:44 PM

That's not looking bad, in my view. I would just get a 13w CFL daylight 6500K bulb.

To expand a bit on the darker aquascaping idea. Work with what you have. If there is a darker area, then make it work for you. A chunk of wood or rock, with low light plants attached (Anubias, Java Fern, Java Moss) can be very effective there. The fish will appreciate the refuge, and be more inclined to move about the tank knowing they have a shady rest spot.:-) Especially good would be an interesting puiece of wood with some crevices to accent the shade. Very natural.

PewPewPew 01-11-2012 10:27 PM

That does sound nice! I've always wanted to scape with rock, though I dont know what to put in there. I dont want to change the pH, etc. Isnt it slate? Or limestone? that changes it? Not certain... I would love to just it in my 5g hex due to the height.

Normally, this tank is divided, so I've never been able to do any hardscapes in it because it was too small between the divider and glass. I have an attractive bit of wood left, so perhaps Ill use it.

Like everything with this blasted 5g, its hard even finding wood for it at a good price, lol!

This is the small one I have and recently got back from a 10g. Kind of looks like pride rock from the Lion King. :)

Byron 01-11-2012 10:44 PM

That's a good chunk of wood for this.:-D I would place it similar to how you're holding it in the second photo, but tip it more so it resembles an upright tree stump. To still allow for "space" beneath it, which many fish will love, use a small bit of rock under the right side to raise that side up. Just enough to create the impression of a stump. Then a small Anubias plant wedged into the top of that opening, it would look like it is sprouting from the top, very natural, as plants frequently attach themselves to tree stumps.

On the rock, any calcareous rock will add hardness and thus raise pH. Limestone, marble, coral and shells all do this. Slate is inert (no effect on water parameters) but I find flat bits of rock difficult to use in aquascapes. For what I'm suggesting above, a small piece of something like lace rock from a fish store wold work well. A small piece would not cost much.


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