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Old 03-09-2008, 03:55 AM   #1
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Help me choose!

Hi again everyone!

So I'm browsing Dr. Foster and Smith's site for a lighting fixture and a new filter!

The purpose is to do away with my Eclipse system for a new one that will support plant life. To my dismay every attempt to establish plantlife in my tank has failed--Well, except for the anubias which is down to one baby leaf that never grows now.

I have a 30 gallon high aquarium and am looking for lighting that does NOT require CO2 (I don't have the funds for a pressurized system nor the patience for a DIY). I've read that 2.5 WPG is the cuttoff for no CO2--which is fine. I have a big bottle of Flourish Excel I will be using, though.

I'm looking at 65W CP fixtures atm which come in below that point. Problem is I like this Current fixture but it looks like it comes with an actinic bulb:

Compact Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting: Single Satellite Compact Fluorescent Fixtures

From what I hear actinic is not good with Freshwater? It comes with a Lunar light which I find rather cool, and it's black, which I like.

In any case, there is a Coral Life fixture for the same price that comes with both Marine and Freshwater kits (you can choose)--but I don't really like the color and it doesn't come with a lunar light:

Compact Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting: Coralife Aqualight Single Compact Fluorescent Strip Lights

Is Coral Life a better brand than Current? Why the price/feature desparity? Reccomendations for fixtures? Maybe I can nag F&S to give me a freshwater bulb with the Current fixture?

The frontside of my tank measures 24" so my noobie logic says get the 24" one. Right?

Thanks for your help in advance.

PS I would ask about canister filters but from what I understand there is a holy war of sorts being fought on that at the moment!
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Old 03-09-2008, 01:18 PM   #2
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I have not had a 30 gallon high but I have had Coralife and Current lighting so I can give my opinion on those two brands.

Between 2 and 2.5 watts is considered the "gray area" for not needing CO2. All tanks are different, and some may require CO2 closer to the 2.5 value, and some may not. With 65 watts over 30 gallons, the WPG comes out to 2.16 so you should be fine with no CO2. The Flourish Excel will be a good choice to add some organic carbon to the tank.

(I set up my CO2 canister yesterday! It was fun!)

I have the Coralife 20-inch, 28-watt fixture (not available at DrFS but it's like the ones you linked). It is a metal casing and it gets hot. My unit did not have a fan (since it was rather small), or any vent holes that I could see. Bigger fixtures usually have fans but from the description, it doesn't appear that they do. I used the mounting legs and they are a pain to put on. My fixture is 20 inches long, the same length as a 10 gallon tank, but the reflector didn't span the length of the tank, so the extreme left side of the tank was a bit dimmer. I have read of people getting the 24-inch fixture for a 10 gallon - it will hang over the tank a bit but the bulbs/reflectors would be 20 inches.

I have the Current 12-inch, 18-watt fixture. I got it at DrFS and it came with an actinic bulb. I didn't use it. I clicked on "view compatible bulbs for these fixtures" (by the green chart) and ordered the Dual Daylight bulb for freshwater. The Current description says it has an aluminum housing too but it feels and looks different from the Coralife. It doesn't get as hot, and it has vent holes, but no fan. The legs are much easier to attach. The description says the legs are sold separately, but I did get the legs in my light package. The lunar light is on a separate plug than the daylights. It isn't very bright but it is neat! I don't use it very much.

Freshwater plants get no benefit from actinic lights, but they can make the fish look nice. You can use them over a FW tank, but don't count their wattage in your watts per gallon estimations. Only count the watts coming from the daylight bulbs - the 6700K or 10000K bulbs.

If your tank is 24 inches across the front, then the 24-inch fixture is what you should get. The Coralife's light output (at least my 20-inch one) didn't quite span 20 inches, but the Current fixture I have lit the width of the tank a little better.

I have to say that the Current is my favorite light. There is nothing wrong with the Coralife, and if I ever needed a new fixture for a new tank I would still consider a Coralife. With the tanks and the setups I have now, I like the Current.

What are your questions about canister filters? I am not aware of any specific fuss about them othen than some brands being a bit expensive. Certain people love certain brands but the principles of the canister mechanism are generally the same.
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Old 03-09-2008, 01:58 PM   #3
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Thanks for your input, great info!

Regarding the canister filter I hear there is much division between the Filstar and Eheim camps. In any case I think I've decided on the 2213 (for $$$ reasons). I was a bit concerned about the flowrate on it as I've read figures ranging from 2x-5x for turnover being the optimal.

I hear they (canisters) are much better and easier (though im not sure how) to maintain, so I'm willing to spend the extra money over a HOB filter (which would fit my wallet quite a bit more nicely!).
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Old 03-09-2008, 03:12 PM   #4
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There probably always will be division among the Filstar or Eheim faithful! From what I read they are both good brands. The Eheims always have been a bit pricy compared to other brands. I have never had one so I can't decide if it's worth the money in the long run.

About 5x flowrate is optimal for planted tanks. The figures that manufacturers list for flow rate are usually measured without media in the canister. Once you've added all your sponges, ceramic noodles, etc, your rate may be a bit slower than listed.

I liked the idea of a canister so much that I put one on my 10 gallon tank, rather than an HOB. It was rated for a 20-40 gallon tank with a flow rate of 80 gph, so I figured that would work well in a 10 gallon and it did. In fact, it was a bit on the too-slow side when media was added. Canisters are great for all types of filtration: biological, mechanical, and chemical. Planted tanks usually don't use chemical media (I'm thinking carbon) but it's good to know that you can put a bag of carbon in the filter if it's ever necessary and then remove it when it's served its purpose. Ceramic noodles and rings provide a lot of surface area and excellent water flow through them, giving biological bacteria the environment they need. Fine pads and floss polish the water to a nice crystal-clear state. Another plus is that they are (at least mine was) totally silent. I had to touch it sometimes to see if it was still running.

You only need to maintain them once a month to six weeks (open, rinse noodles, change floss)i. Some of the canisters are not that easy to open but I could manage to to open mine and I consider myself a weakling! The different manufacturers have different ways to prime them. Most maintenance and media are generally the same among the brands but some aspects of set-up and priming will be specific to the brand.
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