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Old 09-06-2010, 03:10 PM   #1
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Replacing fluorescent tube help!

I recently purchased a 30" deluxe full hood from the aqueon brand from here:
Aqueon Deluxe Full Fluorescent Black Aquarium Hoods at PETCO
for my 20 gallon tank. It fits snugly but I want to replace the tube it comes with because I want to grow plants.
The tube it comes with is a rapid start 17W 8000k 24" tube.
On the label it says All-Glass Aquarium Inc 30" Fluorescent Aquarium Reflector
120V 20 watt 60Hz
9N23
E163201

What tube should I get to be able to grow some java ferns and anubias and swords?
I have no knowledge in the lighting department, so I dont know what ballasts are or where they go.
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Old 09-06-2010, 03:30 PM   #2
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For plants you would want a bulb in the 5500k to 6500k range. You then would have enough light for your plants, although I don't know if a total of 20w would be enough total wattage. The freshies will tell you more about that.
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Old 09-06-2010, 04:47 PM   #3
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I'm not sure why you feel the need to replace the tube. 8000k is perfectly fine for growing plants, and you are not going to be able to find anything with a higher wattage for that sized hood. Standard fluorescent tubes come in one wattage per length; given the size of your hood, the wattage of the tube you have in there now is as high a wattage as you can get.

If you wanted significantly more light, you would probably have to invest in a versa-top and then buy a light of your choice for on top of it.
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Old 09-06-2010, 04:56 PM   #4
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Alright, its just my java ferns in my 10 gallon tank with a 8000k 14w tube never really grew
I was wondering if it was the light but it could be something else i guess?
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Old 09-06-2010, 05:40 PM   #5
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Java fern is a really slow growing plant. If the set up is new they will also take some time to adjust. A third problem could be a lack of iron but that's very unlikely in a lowlight set up. 8K is fine for plants. In fact 9325K bulbs are starting to gain in popularity due to their being able to grow plants well and bring out colors for photography.
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Old 09-06-2010, 05:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkxrose View Post
Alright, its just my java ferns in my 10 gallon tank with a 8000k 14w tube never really grew
I was wondering if it was the light but it could be something else i guess?
Java ferns, in general, grow very slowly. Java ferns at under 1 wpg are going to grow even slower.

I know you said you just bought your current lid/hood, but if you wanted to have a "planted tank," I am afraid that you only have some very limited options with that newer hood you got.

Is your tank a 20H (20 high)? If so, then you could expand your plant options and get significantly better growth by buying a properly-sized versa-top (24" long top for a 20H tank)--should cost under $20, and then for on top of it you would probably want to run TWO fluorescent strip lights. If each one is giving you 17W, that would be 34W over 20 gallons, or around 1.5 WPG. You still won't be winning any awards for "lushest plant growth of the year," but you would certainly be able to grow a wide variety of low-light plants quite well, including java ferns, anubias, various crypts, some swords, java moss or most other aquatic mosses, low-light stem plants like anacharis, all sorts of floating plants (duckweed, frogbit, etc.)...quite a list.

So now the question is, on your old hood (the one you were replacing), and your new hood (the one you just bought), is the part of the hood that contains the light fixture itself a separate piece? If so, that would be the best-case scenario. Then you could just take those two strip lights, plop them down on your versa-top, and you are done. (BTW yes I know it is a bit of a pain opening the tank when you have 2 strip lights on it, you usually have to remove the frontmost one to get the top opened, but for a low $ solution this is the best there is.) If your current hoods are all one piece and you can't remove the lighting fixture, then you would have to buy yourself two new fluorescent strips, something like this or this.

Another option would be to get an "incandescent hood" (like this) for your tank (or, alternatively and even better, a versa-top plus an incandescent strip light), only instead of using incandescent light bulbs in it (which have ZERO benefit for growing live plants), use a pair of 15W screw-in spiral compact fluorescent bulbs (spiral CF)--the kind you can buy at Home Depot, Walmart, your local hardware store, anywhere. Again, the only key is to be sure you buy ones that output light at the proper Kelvin temperature. 5500-10,000K is the range considered acceptable for aquarium plants; ideally you probably want to shoot for around 6500K or so. You can order two of them from this site for under $8.00 plus whatever shipping is; or like I said almost any of the big stores sell them. They key is scouring the packaging to make sure of the "K" value...some brands don't actually put it on the packaging anywhere and you have to try to look at the base of the bulbs themselves to see if it is printed on the bulbs. This option, too, would give you around 1.5 WPG and since those spiral CF bulbs come in all sorts of different wattages, you could go less or more light depending upon your desires. (The only thing would be to read the back panel of the hood, which will tell you the maximum wattage that it is able to handle. Obviously for safety reasons, you don't want to exceed that! But I have incandenscent strip lights over two of my 10g tanks and those can handle up to 50W, so I am sure one for a 20H would be able to handle more than that. So you could theoretically get yourself probably up into the 2-3 WPG range if you wanted. That opens up the number of plants you can grow by a ton but once you start getting into those light ranges you are going to have to think about dosing fertilizers, CO2 or liquid carbon like Flourish Excel, etc.

So in summary of my LONG post, I would suggest one of:

  • Buy versa-top, then use 2 fluorscent strip lights over it
  • Buy versa-top, then use 1 incandescent strip light (with 2 spiral CF bulbs) over it
  • Buy a one-piece incandescent hood, use 2 spiral CF bulbs in it
I personally think the best option would be middle one on that list; versa-tops seal much better than plastic aquarium hoods, and the incandescent strip light gives you a LOT of flexibility to control how much or how little light you want--unlike the fluorescent tubes which are fixed-wattage and can't be varied.

Sorry this was so long-winded but I hope it was helpful. Good luck!
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Old 09-06-2010, 06:30 PM   #7
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Aw.. I will have to invest in a versa top soon then.
Is it not possible to put a higher watt bulb?
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Old 09-06-2010, 06:31 PM   #8
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No, a florescent ballast can only hold the rated bulb type unless you're over driving a bulb...which you are doing the reverse of.

overdriving involves basically wiring a ballast to give more output to an under rated bulb...it runs a big fire risk.
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Old 09-06-2010, 06:38 PM   #9
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I dont really understand what ballasts are but you are saying I cant purchase and install a tube that has higher wattage?
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Old 09-06-2010, 06:40 PM   #10
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A ballast is a part of a fluorescent or other vapor lamp that regulates the amount of current being supplied to a bulb to keep it from exploding. A ballast can only support its rated wattage.

So no, you can't pop in a higher watt bulb.

edit: ballasts are also in other fixtures like leds...
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Old 09-06-2010, 06:48 PM   #11
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Alright, as my last resistance against buying a versa top, is a double tube strip light the same size as a single tube? Perhaps I can invest in one of those instead since I dont like the look of the versa top.
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Old 09-06-2010, 08:44 PM   #12
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Look into a kit like we use on a marine tank.
T5 Aquarium Lighting - T5 Light Fixtures, T5 bulbs, T5 Retro kits at AquaCave.com
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Old 09-06-2010, 09:12 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkxrose View Post
Is it not possible to put a higher watt bulb?
No, with fluorescent tubes, the wattage is determined solely by the length of the tube. All 12" tubes are one wattage, all 14" tubes another, all 16" tubes another, etc. So the only way to get a higher wattage with a fluorescent tube is to...get a longer tube. Of course, given that your aquarium is only so long, obviously this means that once you have a light fixture (hood) that is the full width of your aquarium (which you already have), then you are as "maxed out" as you can be with a single fluorescent tube.

Quote:
Originally Posted by darkxrose View Post
Alright, as my last resistance against buying a versa top, is a double tube strip light the same size as a single tube? Perhaps I can invest in one of those instead since I dont like the look of the versa top.
Yes, that would be a possibility...the only issue is, from some preliminary searching I did on a few sites, the smallest double-tube strip that I was able to find was 30" long. I used to have a double-tube strip on my 29g tank and it worked pretty well. It just appears (unless you have more luck finding one than I did) that they don't manufacture double-tube strip lights for tanks smaller than 30" long. If you can find one, great! Basically the first suggestion I made in my previous thread was essentially creating a "fake" double-tube strip scenario by using two single-tubes at once.

And of course, even if you could find a double-tube strip light, that's not enough...you STILL need a versa-top to put the strip light over! You are never going to find a double-tube built-in hood combo, at least I've never heard of such a thing existing.

BTW, what do you find so ugly about the versa-top? Attached are two pictures of one of my 10g tanks with a versa-top and an incandescent strip light with spiral CF bulbs. Do you not like how you can see through the top down to the contents in the tank? Not being critical, just honestly curious about what exactly aspect of the versa-top you find ugly, that's all.

P.S. -- Ignore the floating piece of wood in the tank here. It is a new piece of manzanita and I am currently floating it, waiting for it to waterlog and sink so I can aquascape with it properly.
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Old 09-06-2010, 09:23 PM   #14
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Er my tank is 30" long (20 gallon long)
but the tube in my lighting fixture is only 24" long
-edit-
The hood and light reflector arent really attached to each other. You just plop the strip light ontop of the see through section of the hood. Is the double strip light the same size as a single tube strip light? (30" long)





that tank is beautiful by the way
I want a black sandy gravel but I can never find it!
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Old 09-06-2010, 09:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkxrose View Post
Er my tank is 30" long (20 gallon long)
but the tube in my lighting fixture is only 24" long
Okay well that changes everything, you definitely can buy double-tube fluorescent strip lights for a 30" tank. (The tubes are always shorter than the strip itself, that is normal...when you buy the strip, you buy it by the total length of your tank. If/when you need to buy the fluorescent tubes themselves, you by it by actual length of tube.)

If you can find a 30" hood with a double-fluorescent tube built in, go for it! Otherwise, you are "stuck" with a versa-top and something like this.

EDIT

The double-tube will be a little bit wider. Whether that would make it "too wide" to fit over the clear part in your current hood is not clear to me. If you have a really good LFS that might have a double-tube strip in stock, you could always go and measure its width and compare it to the size of the window in the top of your hood.

And thanks for the compliment on the tank...it is a work in progress (midway through a new aquascaping) and currently houses about a dozen Yellow Shrimp, one Crystal Red Shrimp (the lone survivor of a shipment gone bad...long story), and some blue ramshorn snails.

EDIT #2


A T5 system like thincat suggested is also a possibility, and a great one, if you can afford to spend the money on it. Though honestly, with a double fluorescent strip running you probably $55-60, then spending $99 on a simple T5 isn't really all that much more. And it would give you way more light; even a simple double-bulb T5 is going to be 48W of light. Worth considering if you can afford it!

EDIT #3

Wow, I just saw this fixture for a mere $49.95. Now the actinic bulb won't do anything for your plants, but if you could pull that bulb out and replace it with a second 10,000K standard T5 bulb, that would give you 36W. Nice amount of light for the money spent. This one for $99.95 gives you 48W designed for freshwater plant growth. Good stuff!
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Old 09-06-2010, 09:38 PM   #16
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Double Bulb Aqueon Striplights | PetSolutions
would this fit? It is by the same brand. I hope the width is the same!

Thanks by the way you guys are really helpful

edit:
I might reconsider now and get that 50 dollar one now
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Old 09-06-2010, 09:55 PM   #17
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Yes that seems to be the right size. Again, the width will be the question...but the length will be correct.

EDIT

And if you want black gravel/sand that is also great for plants, you should try to get:

Seachem Flourite Black (gravel sized)
Seachem Flourite Black Sand (sand sized, or close...kind of a large-grained sand size)

More expensive than inert sands, but nutrient-loaded and your plants will love you forever if you use it... You can check out Seachem's website for a description of what makes this stuff so special. All 3 of my planted tanks currently have the Flourite Black Sand as the substrate and I really like it. It's a pain for the first few days you put it in (generates a lot of cloudiness due to the fine clay particles) but it is a great substrate overall. Love it.
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Old 09-06-2010, 10:12 PM   #18
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I'm going to return the hood I guess, completely changed my mind .
I'll get the 30" aqualight t-5 double strip and a versa top instead because of the width issue. I'd only spend 20 bucks more.

I didn't want the versa top before because it would irritate me to see 2 strip lights on it, but it's only 1 strip light now with the double tube so its fine
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Old 09-06-2010, 10:56 PM   #19
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Great! Please let us know how it turns out once you get it.
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Old 09-14-2010, 06:09 PM   #20
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Alright, I got my lighting fixture
But now I need to find another bulb to replace the acetic one right?
On the label it says f18 t5 bp and is 30" long (actually 28.1") so should I just search for this product found here:
Oceanic Systems | Products | 6,700K T5 Fluorescent Lamps
All 30" (not HO) t5s are 18 watts right?
*edit* found the light
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