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Old 11-26-2009, 02:34 AM   #1
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Advice on lighting improvement and plant advice

Recently got back in the hobby after being out of it for about 25 years.I have a 6gal. Marineland that has been running for about 2 months that houses 1 betta ,3 Amazon swords,and 2 Java ferns.Everybody is doing good,fish is happy,the swords have lost a few leaves but have been sprouting new ones and the ferns have alot of babies forming on the tips of the leaves.Also there is a big hunk of driftwood which has a name that sounded somewhat exotic(but I forget the exact name-it didn't require any ballast to weigh it down and still milks off enough to turn the water the color of ice tea every week despite weekly pwc's.)But the questions I have are these-The design of the Marineland hood tends to put all of the light output towards the front of the tank leaving the back fairly dark.Also the hood and housing at the top of the tank are all black plastic so I'm thinking of painting the underside white to help bounce the light around.In addition does anyone have a suggestion for a replacement bulb that would fit that would improve light strength or a reccomendation for a good plant that would thrive in the dim light of the back of the tank that grows tall enough (9-12") to hide filter tubes,heaters,etc.Thanks!
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Old 11-27-2009, 11:17 AM   #2
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First, Welcome to AA!

What light do you have on it right now?

I have a Haugen copy of the Eclipse, and with the filter at the back it can get dark under that. The trick is to have a bright enough light. Water acts as a lens & will tend to spread light throughout the tank. My tank has a 12W PC & that is pretty bright over the entire tank. I would guess that is around low/medium level. You will prob need a 35W PC to go high tech/CO2.

For low light, Java ferns is prob your best bet, but it is not going to be tall enough to hide stuff at the back. You might try some Vals, or perhaps hornwort. <Although a floating plant, if you weight down one end of the hornwort, you can get it to look planted.> These do better in medium light, but may work in lower light setting even though they will grow slower. They are cheap & easy to grow so worth a try.

As to the driftwood, have you try boiling it? That speeds up the leeching of the tannins so you don't get the tea color as much. But tannins are harmless & it will eventually go away (but may take years ....)
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Old 11-27-2009, 11:19 AM   #3
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You could try Crpypt Lutea. I have some under a 20 watt (5000K) natural sunlight bulb I got from home depot, and it still manages to grow like a weed. No fertilizers or CO2 needed in my case. It was small when I first got it, but after a couple of weeks now reaches the the top of my aquarium and is starting to grow out of the water. IMHO, it's a good minimalmaintenance, low light plant.
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Old 11-27-2009, 02:55 PM   #4
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your amazon swords will get way too big for a 6 gallon tank.

driftwood, mopani? i would recommend the boiling trick. it helps. or you can just keep doing your water changes. its your call. i personally boiled and soaked some repeatedly for a long time and it still leached out tannins. its been in my tank for about 2 months now and its still leaching out a bit.

if your light screws in. you can replace it with a regular compact flourensent bulb. find one that is in the range of 6500k to 10000k.

plants that should be fine in your tank could be anacharis, hornwort, anubias, crypts. you can check out this site for some plants PlantGeek.net - Plant Guide. i wouldnt try anything over medium light plants (after you upgrade your lights). medium light plants will grow but won't really flourish and take off, they will just not grow very much.
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Old 12-01-2009, 03:18 AM   #5
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Advice on lighting and plants

First want thank everybody for the replies,and hope you can help with some more questions.Back when I was in the hobby many years ago all my tanks had incandescent lighting so flourescent terminology is a little baffling(please bear with the old guy).What are the "T" ratings ?,I have found bulbs that are all 12" but that have specs of T-5,T-8,and T-12.Is this a ballast spec. or light intensity,or ? All that I have found are rated at 8 watts.From spooking around online I think I have an understanding of what the "K" ratings represent and should be looking for something in the 5,000 to 7,000 range.Not sure what "K" rating the stock Marineland bulb has,anyone?Also after the last PWC the driftwood milking seems to be slowing down-didn't mind the discoloration just wanted to know it was just tannins and not something that could be affecting things.(Use to add peat to the filters in the tetra tanks to get the same effect).Any advice on getting those Java babies started?As far as the Amazons if they do get too big I guess I'll just have start a another larger tank(HEH,HEH!)Thanks for any help you folks can provide.
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Old 12-01-2009, 04:00 AM   #6
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t rating is the a measurement. t12 is 1.5 inch diameter t8 1 inch i forgot what t5 is off hand. the smaller the diameter of the bulb the more light it puts out with less power used. K rating is the color of the bulb. most plant people use 6500k-10,000k under 6500k tends to be more yellow 10,000 is white. you prob wont be able to really do much with lighting for that tank. if what you have is working keep with it. nothing wrong with a low light tank.

as for the amazons they can out grow a 75 gallon really should be in a 29 gallon or bigger. swords are a great plant but tend to get on the large size. also moste of them are grown out of water so when you put them under water there is a transition period.

java fern will grow and over time release the baby java ferns on their own just keep waiting.
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Old 12-01-2009, 06:35 PM   #7
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T is the diameter of the bulb in 1/8", so T5 is 5/8", T10 is 1 1/4", & so on. For a given length, each size bulb has a different Wattage rating.

Eg, a standard T12 48" tube is 40W, a T8 is 32W. So the bulb will be marked something like: 48" T8 32W.

This is for the linear bulbs. Power compacts (PC) are T5 bulbs bend in half, so all 4 pins are on one side. <This allows you to put a larger W (longer) bulb in a smaller space.> The newest is the CFL (compact fluorescent). This is a T5 bulb bent into a spiral or some other shape, with a built in ballast that fits a standard medium base incandescent fixture. <Are you confused yet?>

Each of the bulb size use a different bulb holder (endcaps) so they are not interchangeable. <With the exception of T8, T10 & T12, which use the same ends.> In addition, the W rating that you can use depends on the ballast. Older ballasts can only fire up one specified W bulbs. Newer electronic ballasts can use any W bulbs up to max rating.

So, to find out what bulb you can use, you need to know your current endcap size, length of the tube & ballast W ratings. Then, you need to find a tube with an appropriate K rating (color of the light) for a planted tank.
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