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Old 12-15-2003, 10:02 AM   #1
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Setting up 20g tank-what bulb?

I just bought a used 20g tank that has a canopy with a single bulb, I was told from a salesperson that I would need a top with 2 bulbs to have plants. Is this true? And if not what bulb should I use? This is my first tank that I am setting up. I was considering going without plants, are they that benificial to my tank? Any advice appreciated.
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Old 12-15-2003, 10:45 AM   #2
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Live plants are not necessary to a healthy fish tank. That being said, they are lovely to look at, and are beneficial as they reduce nitrogenous waste levels (ammonia/nitrite/nitrates). They also add oxygen to the water column during the day.

Having live plants depends on a number of factors.

What type of fish are you considering? Some fish are not compatible with plants, either because of water parameters needed (rare) or because the fish will uproot and eat the plants (more common).

How much light will the tank have? A 20g tank should have a minimum of 40 watts (2 watts per gallon). I'm guessing your single bulb is a standard flourescent with 15 watts. That won't be enough for even low light plants IMHO.

Most folks use bulbs with a temp range of 6500K to 10,000K, and have between 1 and 4 watts of light per gallon. High levels of light for plants also require the addition of CO2 (the carbon is a necessary nutrient for the plants; higher lighting, faster growing plants, more nutrients needed). Fertilizers will also be a big plus.
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Old 12-16-2003, 12:08 AM   #3
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If this is your first tank, (welcome to AA!) then I would recommend keeping it simple for now. Go ahead and get the standard bulb, and get some crypts, java fern and/or moss, and maybe some aponogeton bulbs. I grew all of these very successfully in a 55-gal with the standard hood, containing two 15W bulbs (barely enough light to even view the fish!). You will probably not have trouble with algae, and it won't be tricky to maintain, since you will be learning all about the tricks maintaining the fish!

As you get more "into" it, as of course you will , you can work on updating your lighting and getting more plants. This is basically the way I did it, and it allowed me to have a pretty tank without having to spend a lot of money, and it was forgiving of my learning curve!
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