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Old 03-12-2011, 07:42 PM   #1
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Question how to add more light to my FW tank?

I have a standard 55gal tank that has been up and running for a while. It currently has mainly plastic plants and a few Anubias spp. that are doing okay.

It came as a kit (Aqueon) and although I've since added an AC filter & upgraded the heater, I haven't done anything to the canopy & lights. It's got the standard 48" black plastic canopy with 2 - 20" 15W fluorescent bulbs. So I've got 30W of light for 55gal, and I've been reading & observing that I need more W per gallon to successfully grow other plants.

I want to be able to swap out my plastic plants for live ones, and I would like to be able to grow plants other than Anubias. I've got the fish part down, and I know I sound like a dumb*** but I need some reliable info on lights.

I've seen the LED strips that might work if I removed the plastic flaps that lift up to feed the fish at the front. Is LED good for plants?

PS: I do have a water-loving cat, so while I don't need a lid that covers the whole tank, I do need at least a light that acts barrier to prevent cat from going swimming, as I caught her doing in my QT tank the other day.

Any suggestions or comments are welcome! Thanks!
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Old 03-12-2011, 08:02 PM   #2
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If you insist on having something covering the tank (and I completely understand why), glass tops are probably going to be your best bet. They are relatively cheap and wont block much, if any, light unless they get dirty. I'd look in to a T5HO setup. LED's are pretty new to the hobby right now, which makes them very expensive. BigJim just did a DIY LED fixture, if you're a good DIY'er. I have purchased my three T5HO fixtures from fishneedit.com. Cheap, reliable, and efficient.
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:38 PM   #3
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Bump.

I'm in the same boat as you... in fact, I have pretty much the same tank setup, (55g, 2-15W fluorescent bulbs, etc.). And, just like you, I'm wanting to switch over from artificial plants to low-light plants. I didn't want to use C02, so I'm trying to keep my lighting around 1wpg and having a difficult time deciding on which fixture to buy.

The fixtures that Mfd recommended are nice and inexpensive btw, and you should check them out, (they're a little too modern for my taste... no offense Mfd ). There are also a few other T5HO fixtures that I checked out, but they're just "ok". But then another member shared a little info on their LED fixture. It's a Marineland LED Double Bright Lighting System It's definitely a beautiful fixture and is fairly inexpensive!

I'm still waiting to get a response from the member that posted about the fixture and you can follow along here, if you would like. Likewise, I'll follow your thread and see if you get any advice about LED fixtures.

Edit: Oh and I have a cat too, but she knows better than to mess w/ my fish... that and she doesn't like water. lol
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:22 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McLumpy View Post
The fixtures that Mfd recommended are nice and inexpensive btw, and you should check them out, (they're a little too modern for my taste... no offense Mfd ). There are also a few other T5HO fixtures that I checked out, but they're just "ok". But then another member shared a little info on their LED fixture. It's a Marineland LED Double Bright Lighting System It's definitely a beautiful fixture and is fairly inexpensive!

)
Hmmm... thanks for the link. I do like the LEDs. Will have to do more research! And must find out how much it would be in Canada... often by the time the US stores add more shipping costs and then the duty, it can almost double the price!
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:28 AM   #5
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I have had problems with my cat and couldnt figure out what to do to stop him. now i have a little pressurized gun that shoots minny ping pong balls... he doesnt go up there anymore.
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:45 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by cinnamaldehyde View Post
Hmmm... thanks for the link. I do like the LEDs. Will have to do more research! And must find out how much it would be in Canada... often by the time the US stores add more shipping costs and then the duty, it can almost double the price!
Double? Ouch! Maybe you could check your LFS or do a search for a Canadian-based online pet supply store, (that is if any even exist)? They might carry the Marineland brand or you should be able to find something similar.

Edit: I forgot to add this. It's a really good read if you were planning to go the low-tech, no C02 route.

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I have had problems with my cat and couldnt figure out what to do to stop him. now i have a little pressurized gun that shoots minny ping pong balls... he doesnt go up there anymore.
"No kitty, that's my fish tank!"

You're evil btw. LOL
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Old 03-16-2011, 02:15 AM   #7
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"No kitty, that's my fish tank!"

You're evil btw. LOL
Heheheeeee...

I had to get the water spray bottle out today while setting up a 10gal. Turns out, she thought it was a 20" x 10" litterbox with nice new sand. Luckily, I managed to extract the cat before she actually used it.

Anyone want a 4 year old Bengal (Marbled)?

I'm surprised the spray bottle works. For a cat with that much affinity to water, somehow the spray deters her. This is a cat that gets IN the bathtub with me.

ANYHOW, back to fish!!! Thanks McLumpy for that link. Spent the evening doing lots of reading about lights!
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Old 03-16-2011, 03:20 AM   #8
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Heheheeeee...

I had to get the water spray bottle out today while setting up a 10gal. Turns out, she thought it was a 20" x 10" litterbox with nice new sand. Luckily, I managed to extract the cat before she actually used it.

Anyone want a 4 year old Bengal (Marbled)?

I'm surprised the spray bottle works. For a cat with that much affinity to water, somehow the spray deters her. This is a cat that gets IN the bathtub with me.

ANYHOW, back to fish!!! Thanks McLumpy for that link. Spent the evening doing lots of reading about lights!
HA! You're lucky she didn't use your tank for a toilet! I've heard of people setting up their tanks w/ sand substrate, leave for a few min's, only to return to, well you get the picture.

You're welcome about the link! It just so happens that I was reading that and cruising around on here at the same time. I'm getting good at multi-tasking. lol Oh and while you were reading about lights, I was searching for lights...

I found this 48" SolarMaxHO Double T5 w/ LED Light at a great price! It looks like a really nice fixture and it has the LED Moonlights. The only thing that I don't care for is the LED's are always on. Meh. Oh well, I could look beyond that if they make the tank look nice w/ the main lights off.

I'm seriously considering going with this fixture. It's a little bit more than the HE version, but I believe you can use HE bulbs in an HO fixture, (not the other way around). So, if the wattage is too high, the bulbs can be replaced w/ lower HE wattage bulbs. At least that's what I've read.

Just to clarify, you were wanting to go w/ a low-tech, (no C02), setup, right? I think I just assumed you were going that route by your original post.
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Old 03-16-2011, 06:21 AM   #9
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I have a Bengal as well does yours talk? Or make posessed sounds late at night?
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Old 03-16-2011, 09:04 AM   #10
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I'll chime in on LEDs. Commercially made LED fixtures are still pretty expensive, but if you're handy, you can build your own relatively cheaply. I built one for my 20H and it cost me maybe $20 over a two bulb 24" T5HO fixture, but it only uses 30W at full power. So far I've been able to keep high-light plants like rotala wallichii, glosso, and asian ambulia growing. I've had to start a fert regimen and I'm planning to add a pressurized CO2 system in the near future to battle algae and help with plant growth. There's a link in my signature to the build thread if you're interested.

If you're trying to stay low-tech without CO2, etc., you could build a fixture like mine with fewer less powerful LEDs. The Marineland Double Bright fixture for a 48" tank uses sixteen 1W LEDs and it should be enough to support a variety of plants. By comparison I used ten 3W LEDs over a 24" tank.
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