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Old 10-10-2007, 12:00 PM   #1
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Lighting decision

In my 55 gallon, I now have 2x65W daylight pc lights, 10 hours a day. The bulk of the plants in it are Hygrophila salicifolia, with a few smallish anubias and crypts. I guess I'm around the borderline for CO2, which I'm not going to do. I want to change this tank over to a lower-growth, lower maintenance planting. Basically I want to get rid of the stem plants as much as possible (to avoid trimming and replanting chores) and hopefully fertilize once a week. Here's what I'm thinking of having for plants:

Lots of Crypt balansae for the background
Lots of Anubias of various sizes, from dwarf nana to congensis
One or a few showy centerpiece plants, thinking of swords and/or Nymphaea zenkeri, maybe Aponogeton ulvaceus (sp?)

Here's the question finally: Should I switch to 50/50 bulbs? One bulb or both? I guess the Anubias and probably the crypts should be okay with the equivalent of 65W pc lighting. How would the centerpiece options do? I guess I could have one side of the tank low light with the 50/50 bulb and the other side have full daylight and put the centerpiece(s) there.

Oh, and I plan to have good nutrients in the substrate (maybe aquariumplants.com substrate with Flourish tabs?).

Thanks for your comments!
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Old 10-10-2007, 03:41 PM   #2
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Hey! You're doing almost exactly what I did in my 55! Check out my 55g thread in the Aquascaping forum.

I had 2x96 watts PC and switched both bulbs to 50:50s. I removed all the stem plants except for Rotala rotundifolia, one stem of Limnophila aromatica and Myriophyllum mattogrossense, and some broad leaf Hygrophila and Lobelia cardinalis (both slow growers). I have various Crypts, a dwarf sword, 2 types of lilies and Anubias frazeri in the tank. All of these plants have done well, except for the Limnophila and Myrio which look pitiful until they manage to get high enough in the tank to get decent light. I still have my DIY CO2 on the tank and I still find it necessary, but I am not so great at keeping a regular fert schedule so that could be part of the problem.

If you went to two 65w 50:50s you'd be at just over 1 wpg. I think the plants that you selected would be OK. You could always replace one of the 50:50s with a full bulb and bump your wpg up a little, or you could try leaving the lights on a little longer. But I think it will work fine and you'll be amazed at how much less trimming you have to do, although it takes longer for the tank to fill in and start looking good.
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Old 10-10-2007, 09:52 PM   #3
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I think you may be able to grow most of the centerpiece plants you mention at under ~1 wpg of lighting, but they will not look their best. A. ulvaceous shows pale, weakly-colored leaves at lower light levels and swords may put out stunted new growth. I think your best bet is to try the Nymphaea zenkeri. It has done well for me, even in shaded conditions and the red variant seems to have even redder leaves when they do not receive a lot of direct light. Go figure
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Old 10-11-2007, 02:26 PM   #4
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Thanks for the comments. I was coming to the same conclusion about the zenkeri -- searching around there seem to be a number of success stories with it in lowish light. And it should certainly give a nice contrast with Anubias and balansae.
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