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Old 09-25-2012, 04:11 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Crestview, FL
Posts: 76
Lighting Help for 55 gal planted

I made a previous post in another section but I should have posted here originally since I am in fact getting started on my first planted tank.

I am going to turn my new 55 gal into a planted tank. I want to have a large community tank with some tetras, cories, maybe a dwarf gournami or two and fish that go along with the previous listed. I plan on getting a canister filter and using Onyx Black Sand. Since this is my first planted tank I am going to use only starter plants...Java fern and moss, anubias, vals and sags. I am going to low tech but using Excel and vitamin supplements. I will decide after some success (hopefully) if I would like get a CO2 system. But for now I am just looking for an easy but heavily planted tank.

The tank has a wooden canopy but no plastic hood so I need to figure out a lighting system that is both cost efficient and functional. I do have a toddler that LOVES fish just like her mama and so I would prefer to have only 1-2 plug ins for day lighting and 1-2 for moon simulation (since she also loves plugs...kids....man they are little boogers sometimes) as well as something very very sturdy that I don't have to worry about getting potentially knocked into the water. I was think of mounting a strip for T5s under the canopy. I really want a system that will be beneficial to fish and plants alike but also make the tank beautiful to look at in the day but also put in a moonlight simulation for nature purposes and watching the nightlife. I plan to use two timers so day/night systems will be consistent and more nature soothing for the fish.

I am not super handy but know my way around tools. I was thinking using two 11x 24 plexi glass panels (leaving an inch in the back to allow for cords, tubes and dosing) with air holes drilled through as well as two handles.

****Day Time Light Setup****

So considering the fish, setup and easy plants what would be best as far as light bulb watts, K and strength?

Since there would be about another 3-4 inches between the lights and the substrate should I use HO light bulbs?

Can aquarium lights fit into regular hardware store strips?

Are strip lights better then using regular fluorescent bulbs or vice versa?

****Night Time Set Up****

If I only use one moonlight bulb what would be an efficient wattage and setup that would allow for maximum viewing but not interrupt the fish?

Would using a typical Walmart clip on desk lamp be sufficient to use for moonlight simulation or would a metal lamp be better?

****Lid of tank****
Is plexi glass a good material to use for the top?

Will lighting above the lid still be as effective to the tank?

I was thinking I may use two 10-12 inch strip lights with two T5 bulbs each for day. I have not even been to the hardware store to see if these measurements are possible but just trying to draft in my mind a newbies plan of attack on this project =). I was also thinking of using a reptile moon bulb either clipped onto the back of the tank or suspended above the middle of the tank via metal lamp. Any suggestion, advice and what not are entirely welcomed and I appreciate it so much. I have wanted a planted tank for years and now finally have a chance to make it happen. Thanks everyone and anticipating answers to these questions that are driving me batty. Jocelyn =)
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55 gallon, light, lighting, lighting help, plant, planted

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