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SubscribeLighting Question
Posts: 50
Kudos: 54
Votes: 5
Registered: 16-Aug-2004
male usa
I have enjoyed reading a lot of posts here and had a question about my 29 gal. tank that I just planted. This is my first attempt at a planted tank so I will list what my set up is.

29 gal tank
Fluval 205 canister filter
4-5 inches of fine gravel
one large piece of drift wood
Nutrafin DIY co2 injector
Tronic 200 W heater (water is 78)

Two hood strip lights:

one has a 20w flora glo bulb T8 2800K 90 lux
one has a 20w life glo bulb T8 6700K 130 lux

I have planted 2 Amazon swords, 1 Brazilian sword, 2 Anubias (loosely tied to two separate small pieces of driftwood) and two Cryptocoryne Undulata.

Fish are 2 Blue Gourami, 2 Bala sharks, 6 neon tetras, 2 Bosmani rainbows and 1, 3 inch Gibecep (spp) pleco.

The tank is a well cycled tank, Nitrates are reading 15 ppm, PH is 7.6, GH 10 drops (180 ppm ish)

I sunk a Flourish tab under the gravel under the spot I planted each plant (was recommended by my local pet shop) and have been using a product called Aqueon plant food (not recomeneded from local pet shop, I picked it up at petsmart), (not sure if this is good stuff) I also read that the carbon in my filter will remove any iron in suppliments that I add, is that true?

So after all of that info, i'm confused about the best lighting for my tank. I read on another web site that the general watts per gal. rule was based on older T-12 bulbs, and that T-8s can be figured to be the 1.4 times there wattage per galon, and T-5s even more. Is that true? based on what I have read so far I would have about 1.37 watts per gallon, but if thats true it would bump me up to where I want to be. I had two of the flora glow bulbs in, but switched one out for the life glow bulb to bump up the K rating and lux. I want to eventually have the whole tank heavily planted, with some carpeting plants as well. I really want to get this right and appreciate any feedback from the community here. I will get rid of the two hood light and totally change the lighting if I have to. Thanks for your help and any advice.

Post InfoPosted 24-Feb-2010 22:22Profile Yahoo PM Edit Report 
Catfish/Oddball Fan
Posts: 9962
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Registered: 22-Feb-2001
male usa us-delaware
EditedEdited 25-Feb-2010 02:37
To be even more accurate, watts per gallon is not accurate. Hopefully FRANK drops by soon enough as he's pretty good at giving a good briefing on lighting. I'm not a big plant keeper, but your plants are all good beginner plants if I'm not mistaken.

However, your fish are not appropriate. Bala sharks and gibbiceps will grow to at least a foot, and the former are highly active. Neither of these fish, as adults, should be kept in tanks less than 100 gallons. Boesemani rainbows are also fairly active and large, and they are also schooling, appreciating larger groups; they are inappropriate for a 29 gallon in my opinion, though the Dwarf Neon Rainbow is a related fish that may be a good alternative as they are much smaller.

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian.
Post InfoPosted 25-Feb-2010 02:37Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
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Registered: 28-Dec-2002
male usa us-colorado
EditedEdited 25-Feb-2010 15:36
I assume with your reading, that you have also read
the sticky note at the top of this forum on Planted tanks
how do I start?.

Here is another site that may help you:

This link is probably the most comprehensive article
for aquarium lighting, with much of it on the saltwater
side of the fence but all excellent information:

First, I personally do not like any of the "glo" bulbs
as the light they give off is usually a pinkish
to purplish light rather than a white light.

The "watts per gallon" is a general "rule of thumb" that
allows everyone to easily figure out what they need for the
plants that they are keeping. One simply totals the wattages
of the bulbs over the tank, and divides that total by the
capacity of the tank. Two 40 watt bulbs over a 55 gallon
tank is 80 watts divided by 55 equals 1.45 watts per gallon.
That would be about 1.5 wpg and would be adequate for "low
light" plants such as Anubis and crypts.

The LUX is more a measurement that was first
used in photography. A photographer would pose a subject,
and then measure the intensity of the light striking the
subject with a meter. The idea was to place one of these
meters on the gravel of the tank with the water in it and
see what the intensity of the light was at the gravel's
surface (where the plants were). Light is scattered and
absorbed by the particles in suspension in the water and
by the depth of the water. Using the LUX method one knew
what the intensity was after the light passed through the
water column.

For the average plant keeper, the wpg is easy to understand
and use. For the advanced, they can use the LUX values.

Now with that said, you still have to look at the Kelvin
rating of the bulbs, and the CRI of the bulbs. For fresh
water planted tanks, you would want bulbs with a Kelvin
rating around 6700K and I would not go any higher than
10,000K and then only when the depth of the tank is two
feet or more. This will give you the best all round lighting
for your plants. As you go lower in K rating the light
will tint more toward the red end of the spectrum, and
as you go more toward the higher K ratings the light out
of the bulb will tend more toward the blue end of the
spectrum. When you start using the high K rated bulbs you
will find that "they" combine a 10,000K bulb with a 6700K
bulb to wash out the blue light the bulb gives off.

Light at the red end of the spectrum penetrates the water
only a few inches, while light at the blue end penetrates
the water many feet into the water. That is why with tanks
that are two feet or deeper, you would up the K rating of
your bulbs to get more light intensity (energy) down to the
gravel surface.

Among the many ways plants are categorized ( stem or floating)
for instance, they are also categorized by the general
amounts of light that they need to flourish.
Plants are either low light, medium light, or high light
demand. Low light requires about 1-1.5 wpg.
Medium light plants are around 2 wpg. and high demand plants
are 3+ wpg. Some use the 2-3 wpg as medium, and 4+ wpg as
high demand.

This site, using the "advanced" search allows you to
"filter" your choices by including the amount of light
required in your search:

Choose your plants by what you have in the hood of your
tank. If, for your tank, you have Low watts per gallon,
then stick with low light plants. If you want plants that
demand higher watts per gallon, then you have to change
your hood and the bulbs within it. You can do that by changing
the types of bulbs. That is where the Compact Fluorescent
Bulbs and the different "T" types of bulbs come into play.
The "T" rating is the diameter of the bulb.
They are measured in eighths, 1/8 of an inch.
So, a T-8 bulb is 8/8 of an inch or one inch in diameter.
Thus a T-5 is 5/8 of an inch in diameter. The smaller
diameter of the bulb, the more bulbs (with sockets) you can
cram into a given hood. Keep in mind that the extra bulbs
and the energy they use, and the heat that they give off
will also require a way to get rid of that heat - fans.

Decide how much money you can spend on your hobby and in
particular, your plants vs the fish, hardware, and plants,
and then choose your plants along with the lighting
necessary for them. If you can afford the more elaborate
hoods and lighting then get the higher light plants and the
more intense lighting the more elaborate hoods can provide.

Keep in mind, also, once you start into the high light
demand plants or go over the 3+ wpg rating, then you will
have to provide carbon for the plants to thrive. Think of
the light as the engine of growth, and carbon as it's fuel.
That carbon will need to be provided in one of two forms,
either in a liquid form, such as Flourish Excel. Or, as
a gas using CO2. The gaseous form is the easiest for
plants to use. I use bottled CO2 gas. I have a 5 pound
bottle, a two stage regulator, a bubble counter, and a pH
monitor. The bottle gives me 6 months of use on a charge,
at a little over 1 bubble per second, into a CO2 reactor.
I spend $11 to refill the bottle.

Hope this helps... Please keep asking questions.


-->>> The Confidence of Amateurs, is the Envy of Professionals <<<--
Post InfoPosted 25-Feb-2010 15:32Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Posts: 5108
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Registered: 28-Dec-2002
male usa us-colorado
EditedEdited 25-Feb-2010 16:16
As far as the carbon is concerned, most aquatic gardeners
do not run carbon in their tanks as it will adsorb many
of the components in the fertilizers that we use.

Carbon in that form is used now days, to remove tannins
from the water that new drift wood releases, coloring the
water from yellow to a brown tea like coloration. Some
dislike that, and remove it using carbon. Others use the
carbon to control the waste urea products from the fish.
That's only necessary to compensate for higher than normal
population densities. Others use it more out of habit. It
came with their filters, their parents always used it, so
they continue to use it. Really, it is not necessary, an
additional expense, and sponge material would give you
better biological filtration by substituting a piece of
sponge for that carbon.

Iron for the plants is easily obtained in two forms, either
liquid in the form of one of the liquid fertilizers that
companies such as Flourish, produce, or in the form of
a substrate such as SeaChem's Flourite products, Laterite,
or one of the "Plant friendly" substrates.
All "regular" aquarium gravel gives you is a medium for the
plants to grow roots into and anchor themselves. It is
primarily quartz based, and is inert.

By the way, the grain size for the gravel should be nothing
smaller than a #2 and usually we use aquarium gravel that
is a #2 or #3 sieve size (2 or 3 mm). Anything finer will
compact over time and squelch plant growth as well as
producing areas of anaerobic bacteria growth whose
byproduct is hydrogen sulfide that is toxic to both
plants and fish.


-->>> The Confidence of Amateurs, is the Envy of Professionals <<<--
Post InfoPosted 25-Feb-2010 16:11Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Posts: 50
Kudos: 54
Votes: 5
Registered: 16-Aug-2004
male usa
Thank you both very much for taking the time to reply and help me. This is my first attempt at a planted tank and sort of my test before I invest in a larger tank, expensive lighting, and a pressurized Co2 system. I dont mind paying for the right stuff, but I want to learn on a smaller scale before going all in. First I removed the carbon last night, and transfered the ballas to a social tank. I will remove the gibeceps pleco next week when I buy a bristle nose. I think I need to do a lot more reading on lighting options outside of traditional hood lighting that Im used to, but I know the light/plant mix needs to match. I will post a pic so you can see where I'm at. I would like to add a carpeting plant once I'm sure I wont kill the main plants in so far, but Im sure that will re-hash the whole lighting/mix of plants thing again. Any suggestions are welcome. I have read the sticky, but when you serf the web seeking knowledge it can get confusing >< I realy cant thank you enough for taking the time to give all of this helpful feedback. Thanks.

P.S. I have one plant I forgot to list Cryptocoryne Spiralis, it really cool ^^
Post InfoPosted 25-Feb-2010 23:38Profile Yahoo PM Edit Delete Report 
DeletedPosted 30-Sep-2010 05:23
This post has been deleted
Posts: 5108
Kudos: 5263
Votes: 1690
Registered: 28-Dec-2002
male usa us-colorado
EditedEdited 03-Oct-2010 06:14
As an update, there have been a couple of articles, one
on lighting in particular in the July 2010 Issue of
TFH, and another in the June issue of TFH. Also, there
is a DIY series that has been running in the TFH about
a man building an aquarium and detailing his steps from
selecting the tank and stand through the lighting of the
tank, and his reasoning for his choices. In that reasoning
he touches on some very good lighting techniques.


-->>> The Confidence of Amateurs, is the Envy of Professionals <<<--
Post InfoPosted 01-Oct-2010 14:10Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
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