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Old 04-04-2011, 10:44 PM   #1
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New tank questions

I'm in the process of setting up my first tank with live plants and have a couple questions that searching the forum did not resolve.

I am using a canister filter with an in-line heater in a 55 gallon tank - trying to keep as much hardware out of the tank as possible. Are there any advantages to using a spray bar as opposed to a single return outlet?

My lighting is a Coralife with four 65 watt compact flourescent bulbs at 6500K each. I know that's too much. Will removing two bulbs get me in the right range?

I'm planning on using Eco Complete as a substrate with a little black sand over it for some sparkle. Decorations will be basically stones and a little driftwood. Just enough too highlight the plants and fish. This will be a community tank, probably all Amazonian.

I would entertain any suggestions as to what plants to use. I've been keeping fish for years, but never attempted a planted tank before. Any guidance would be appreciated.
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Old 04-04-2011, 11:00 PM   #2
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You need more kelvins. The plants will not grow with only 6500 in a 55 gallon
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Old 04-05-2011, 01:18 AM   #3
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I only have a lightly planted tank, so I can't say I'm an expert here...

However, it's not just the wattage that makes a different, but also the color temperature. Fishman touched on this. A color temperature of 6500K isn't awful, really, and will provide light to your plants sure, but not necessarily the right kind of light. You may wish to invest in a couple 65W bulbs that are around 10,000K, if possible. Plants seem to do better in the cooler temperature range of light.

To my understanding, it's not the number of bulbs that get the temperature range. If you have four 6500K bulbs, you just have a lot of 6500K light. Removing two bulbs may or may not be a good idea for your 55 gallon tank. It all depends on the raw light output (lumens). A lot of people will try to tell you you need a certain number of Watts/Gallon, which is a farce. Higher Wattage seems to indicate a brighter bulb, but that's just not the case as Wattage is only a measure of energy drawn. If you google luminous efficacy you will find information regarding what bulbs yield how many lumens per watt.

If your bulbs are relatively low on the lumens scale, you may want to run all four anyway. Just get some bulbs with a color temp of around 10,000K.
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Old 04-05-2011, 01:21 AM   #4
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Exactly
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Old 04-05-2011, 02:00 AM   #5
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Your 6500K is just fine IME. 5000K to 6700K is the optimal spectrum range for plants and the debate here at AA is that if 5000K is good enough, 10,000K is better. Not so IMO/E.

This link explains it very well (click "Lighting" link to save scrolling), along with a lot more on planted aquariums: http://www.freshwateraquariumplants....t_care.html#pf

As for wattage, you have to decide what level you want your tank to be at, low, med, or high. If you want a basic system, not use ferts or co2 then lower wattage is better. If you want a high/hard growth system, all the bells and whistles (and $$) system then more wattage is needed.

Plantgeek.net is a great place to check out plants and their needs, it'll also tell you which plants don't belong in aquariums (non-aquatics).

Good luck, have fun and pics please!
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Old 04-05-2011, 11:27 AM   #6
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My comments below in blue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by texyank View Post
I'm in the process of setting up my first tank with live plants and have a couple questions that searching the forum did not resolve. - Good job using the search function.

I am using a canister filter with an in-line heater in a 55 gallon tank - trying to keep as much hardware out of the tank as possible. Are there any advantages to using a spray bar as opposed to a single return outlet? - A spray bar will create less current in the tank.

My lighting is a Coralife with four 65 watt compact flourescent bulbs at 6500K each. I know that's too much. Will removing two bulbs get me in the right range? - If you're not going to run CO2, then yes, I would remove two of the bulbs. You can always put them back later if you want to add CO2 injection. The 6500K color temperature is fine.

I'm planning on using Eco Complete as a substrate with a little black sand over it for some sparkle. Decorations will be basically stones and a little driftwood. Just enough too highlight the plants and fish. This will be a community tank, probably all Amazonian. - Sounds good to me.

I would entertain any suggestions as to what plants to use. I've been keeping fish for years, but never attempted a planted tank before. Any guidance would be appreciated. - Depending on your reflectors, you should be in about the medium light range. You've got a lot of options here. Java ferns and anubias look great when attached to driftwood. I'm also partial to a nice forest of stem plants.
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