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Old 09-25-2007, 01:12 AM   #1
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My aquarium's history and a question about lighting

Before I ask my question I'd like to talk about my aquarium for a little while.

I've had this 10 gallon aquarium for about 3 years. I got it when I was a freshman in college. I couldn't have any larger than a 10 gallon aquarium in the dorms, and that's what I got. I'm now in an apartment and I just decided to hang on to this 10 gallon aquarium because it will be easy to move when I leave here in about a year.

It has evolved greatly and I have slowly learned what works, what doesn't, what I like a what I don't like. It started out as a goldfish tank with a couple of goldfish. I didn't know much about filtering, changing the water, or proper feeding, and as a result they died in a few months. Not to be discouraged, I bought a heater and a much better filter and bought some tropical fish. These were much easier to take care of (or maybe my equipment was better) and I've had a tropical FW tank for about 2.5 years. I've only gone through a few fish, most living about a year or so. One fish that had lasted for about 2 years died during a move (into the apartment) by jumping out of the tupperware container I was moving him in and died. It was tragic.

My tank has gone through several different species of plants. Many slowly die over a period of months. I feel that this is mainly due to my poor lighting. I got my tank and hood at Wal-Mart, so while the tank has stood up very well over the years, the light has always been rather dim, and much more so lately now that I have finally found a plant that seems to thrive in my aquarium.

About 5 months ago I bought 2 sword plants. One of them has since grown to be HUGE, taking up nearly 2/3 of the tank when viewed from the front, while the other has always been rather sickly and has grown only a little bit.

I also bought a driftwood log that seems to add to the decor nicely. As a side effect (that I kind of like) the water has turned a slight brownish color.

The combination of the log casting all kinds of shadows, the sword plant taking up 2/3 of the tank and the water not as clear as it used to be, I have been feeling that my lighting solution is downright inadequate. I have a fluorescent 15W GE "plants & aquarium" bulb.

My main question I guess is this. While I have looked around this forum somewhat thoroughly and searched google quite a bit for some kind of FAQ or method of lighting a smaller tank like this, I haven't really found anything that satisfies me. I would like a lighting solution that fits on the hood I already have. Is there some kind of fitting standard that I'm not aware of for hood/lighting fixtures? Can I just buy a higher wattage bulb that will fit in the place of my current bulb? If this isn't possible I would like to know what kind of new hood/lighting fixture I should get to have about 40W or so. From what I have read and gathered on this website 40W should be a good number. I don't want one of those that sits sort of above the hood on legs where you can see the light reflecting off the top of the hood. I would like it all closed in at the top so the only light that is visible is coming out of the aquarium itself.

the dimensions of my aquarium are 20" x 10" x 12".
I don't have anything like CO2 or fertilizer for the plants, FYI.

I've included pictures of my aquarium and the hood so you can see what I'm talking about, though they may not be necessary. The only thing I've done to the hood since I bought it was cover the inside of it with tin foil. That seemed to help slightly.

Also, if anyone has any comments, criticisms or advice about my aquarium please give them, I'm always wanting to learn!






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Old 09-25-2007, 11:50 AM   #2
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Unfortunately there's really only two options if you want to keep your current hood.
1. Keep the existing light and stick to low light plants (Anubias, Java Ferns, Java Moss, Crypts)
2. Swap out the light strip for an incadescent light strip. While incadescent light is very poor for planted aquariums as is produces way more heat than light, you can swap out the bulbs for screw in compact fluorescents. Because they are self balasted and higher restrike they aren't quite as efficient as standard compact fluorescents. However you could get at least 2 x 20watts and possibly 2 x 25watts over the aquarium this way. You just need to make sure that the bulbs you select are narrow enough for the fixture.

If you're willing to ditch your current hood you'll have a lot more options. There's nothing that say you HAVE to use those legs with higher powered fixtures. The main reason that most of us use them is to cut down on heat issues and/or we like the look. Another option would be to build a wooden canopy which would prevent the light from escaping out above the aquarium.
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Old 09-25-2007, 04:09 PM   #3
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Well that's ok then, I don't have to keep my current hood, I just thought it would be cheaper that way. What do other people do for lighting? What if I just got a whole new hood and light? What would my options be?
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Old 09-25-2007, 06:52 PM   #4
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I built a DIY hood for my 10G.... basically a plywood box with a acrylic bottom... pretty simple, and cheap since I had to buy was the acrylic.

For the fixtures I purchesed the 2x13W bright kit from AHsupply.com It has served me well; but I wish I got the deluxe kit with effecient reflectors, and/or a high wattage kit in the first place.

THeir 36W kit will fit over a 10g
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