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Old 05-17-2006, 02:57 PM   #1
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how low is low?

I have been looking at low-light plants on various sites but have not been able to determine what the amount of light required for low light plants actually is.

I will eventually replace my light so that it is as high as I can go before adding CO2, but in the meantime I am wondering if there is anything that I can have with my very low light (15w)? I do have two java ferns that have been hanging on for the last few weeks as I cycle... but now one has one leaf rotting away and brown spots on the others.

My pH has been very low (6)- perhaps this explains this?

Thanks
(my tank is 20 G)
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Old 05-17-2006, 03:16 PM   #2
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You don't really 'need' CO2 until 2-2.5wpg, however even at 1wpg, a little CO2 or Flourish Excel will be beneficial for the plants, they just aren't critical.

If it were 15w of PC lighting, you could do low light plants nicely, but a 15w NO tube just doesnt have the same intensity. If you get a glass Versa-top for the tank and then a double NO fixture (relatively cheap) you'd have 1.5wpg of NO lighting, and should be able to keep very healthy crypts, java fern, anubias, and probably anacharis and hornwort. Even some medium light plants might grow slowly in there, with a little CO2 to help them out.

a pH of 6.0 is very low, and could indeed cause problems. what is your Gh and Kh at? is this a fishless cycle? ammonia levels? nitrite? nitrate?
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Old 05-18-2006, 10:31 AM   #3
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This is very helpful- so I can use either PC or NO in my light as low as its the correct wattage? If I can avoid buying a new light for a while and just change the bulb instead that would be great.

Its a fishless cycle and my Ammonia is finally at zero but my nitrite is still at 5 (I have about 5 nitrate and hoping it increases very soon). I'm not really sure what is going on with my water... we have VERY soft water where I live. I don't have a kh and Gh test but I looked the data up on the city website and they were pretty low. What is strange is that when I did my first pH test about 4 days after setting up it was at 7 and I didn't bother testing it again for a while so I don't know when it dropped. But I have been able to get it back up to 7 in the past 2 days by adding baking soda.
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Old 05-18-2006, 10:47 AM   #4
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PC and NO are 2 different bulbs. You will have to get a new fixture. What malkore was saying is you can buy a NO fixture with 2 bulbs in it for pretty cheap, and it should do fine. You may also need to get glass tops for that fixture if it doesn't fit in the hood. It will be wider.
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Old 05-18-2006, 10:57 AM   #5
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Oh ok. In that case I will buy a light with a slightly higher wattage. I was told that with 20G I can go as high as 40 W without having to add CO2?
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Old 05-18-2006, 11:17 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elle2
I was told that with 20G I can go as high as 40 W without having to add CO2?
Well, that is technically correct. Those lights would give you 2 WPG. 2 to 2.5 watts is the "gray area." If you are not getting algae at this light level then you don't "need" CO2 but it could still be beneficial.

There has been a lot of discussion about the levels of light given off with NO vs. PC fluorescent lights. PC bulbs give off more lumens than NO bulbs. A calculation of 2 WPG NO light may not require CO2. 2 WPG PC light is putting off more lumens. You may need to go with CO2 with these bulbs. Everyone's light setup and tank setup, plants, etc. is different. You'll have to observe plant growth vs. algae in your tank to determine if you need CO2.
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Old 05-18-2006, 11:24 AM   #7
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So would going with 20-30 W avoid this potential problem? I'd like to avoid having to add CO2.
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Old 05-18-2006, 11:32 AM   #8
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If NO, you would probably want anything under 40W, but 20W is only 1w/g, and may or may not be too good.
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Old 05-18-2006, 01:04 PM   #9
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Here is a pic of my 29g fw planted:


It has two light strips...(you can only see one).One right behind the other.
I bought the versa top all glass top to accommodate the extra strip.

Each houses one 18w NO bulb.So I'm at 1.24 wpg.
All the plants are real and need clipping from time to time,except for the red lugwiga in the front corners which is growing,but very slowly....over all doing quite well.
No C02 added either,just fertilizer tablets.

I believe this set up is similar (if not exactly) to what malkore has suggested as an option..just offering proof it can work really well.

Hope that helps.
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Old 05-18-2006, 02:16 PM   #10
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That's excellent! When I was young (way way way back when...) my aquarium had live plants and looked quite a bit like this but I am now finding that it was quite accidental because I didn't fertilize or add CO2, and other than remembering that I had two smallish bulbs that screwed into either side of the fixture, I have no idea what kind of lighting I had. I am trying to replicate this. Do you have a rough idea how much $$ I am looking at to replace mine for something like yours?
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