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FAQs on Freshwater Lighting

Related Articles: Freshwater Lighting, Freshwater Substrates, Setting up a Freshwater Aquarium, Tips for Beginners

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Planted tank glass cover; poss. blocking light       7/21/14
Hi,
I have a 58 gallon oceanic planted tank. I need a replacement glass cover which is unavailable as the company is out of business.
<Mmm, you can buy the glass and cut it yourself, or have a glass business do this for you. They can also show you how to Silicone some hinges in place and handles to lift the front>
I have a 36" aqua light with 2 96watt compact fluorescent bulbs that sits directly on top of the aquarium edge.
I am considering replacing the glass top with 1/8" pyroceram glass which resists heat. I think it would be safer. Pyroceram glass also blocks UV light. Will this be a problem for a planted tank?
<Could well be... I would use cheap float glass myself... or you can opt to leave the area where the light fixture straddles the top with this glass area open>
Ty
Kim
<Wc, Bob Fenner>

Follow Up to: RE: Planted tank lighting question... 10/31/08
Hello,
<Hi,>
Since posting the attached question, I've set up a 55g tank with Limnobium spongia.
<A useful and easy to maintain floating plant.>
I've got some aquatic frogs and snails in the tank but this question is centered on the flora in my tank. I've got the tank set up and cycled and everything seems to be going pretty well except for two problems. The leaves on the Sponiga are having all sorts of problems. Yellowing beginning at the edges, soft dark spots that eventually become holes, and I would say the growth is slow at best.
<With floating plants, the most common problems are these: Firstly, burning by the lamps. This commonly manifests itself as slow browning and decay. The second problem is rotting. In the wild moisture on the leaves evaporates away, but in the aquarium drops of water can collect on the top of the leaves, causing the rot. In other words, there are two things you need to ensure in a tank with floating plants are [a] that the lights aren't too close to the leaves; and [b] that there is ventilation under the hood sufficient to prevent the leaves staying wet.>
In addition to this I seem to have something of an algae problem.  Truthfully, I don't know if it's red algae or diatoms. It's dark red to black and show up in spots on the glass, and on the ornaments.
<Likely red algae, but honestly doesn't matter either way. Diatoms typically feel greasy to the touch, because of their silica-based cell walls, by the way.>
It rubs off very easily, and the snails seem to like it. So I did research on what's causing the algae problem, and the answer seems to be poor water quality or too much light and/or nutrients.
<Diatoms are very common in tanks during the cycling phase. For whatever reason, they seem to do well despite the water quality and water chemistry fluctuating, and this happens oddly enough in both freshwater and marine aquaria. Diatoms also tolerate low light levels, seemingly better than any other group. If diatoms are the issue, and you've got enough light for your plants to be growing, then I'd expect the diatom problem to settle down with time. However, in this instance my assumption is you have red algae. Red algae often forms small black spots on solid objects (despite the name, red algae aren't necessarily red, and the name comes from the colour the cells change to when treated with alcohol). Red algae rarely causes major problems. Once the plants are settled in you tend to get an allelopathic effect that suppresses growth of most algae types, and things like Nerite snails and certain fish (such as Siamese Algae Eaters) will keep nascent growths of red algae in check.>
Here are the water quality numbers: NH3/4 = 0, NO2 = 0, NO3 < 20, pH = 7.2, KH = 120, GH = 150 And if I've done my math right then CO2 should be around 12.
<All sounds fine.>
From what I've read this should be great for everything living in the tank.  So then it's got to be too much light or nutrients. As for the nutrients, I'm not really sure how to determine this, but it says everywhere that the way to combat this is fast growing plants, like what I have in the tank already. As far as light goes, I'm using a VitaLite Plus T10, 40W, 48" bulb. It's got Lumens = 2750, CRI = 91, and Color Temp of 5500K.
<I'm not familiar with this brand of light, so hesitate to comment. But broadly speaking you need upwards of 2 watts per gallon with standard fluorescent tubes. Since these are somewhat different, you'll need to research any modification to this watts-per-gallon estimate. If required, add another tube.>
And this is where it gets tricky for me. It would seem that the 40W is not bright enough for the Spongia, since I can't think of any other reason for it not to be thriving. But if I get a higher watt bulb won't the algae just LOVE that?
<Oddly enough, no, it doesn't work that way. The faster plants grow, the slower algae grow.>
And frankly the frogs and snails aren't really into VERY bright light.
<Once the floating plants do their thing, the livestock will be fine.>
So that was a long way to the following questions. Do I have enough light for the Spongia? (I really like it) If not, how do I get more light and still provide a healthy environment for the frogs and snails AND an UNhealthy environment for the algae?
Thanks, for everything.
Laura
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

75 gallon freshwater, cover mostly   4/19/08 I was recently given a 75 gallon aquarium. I have been reading up on freshwater set-ups and have to date not started my tank. I did purchase 2 - 40 gallon Whisper filters that hang on the back of the tank but no gravel/sand/rocks. I am not planning on using real plants. The tank is 48 by 12 by 18 and has a center divider at the top with approximately 5 inch Plexiglas extensions attached to it. I have been researching covers and lighting and am at a loss as to which would be best. Should I cover the entire top with a Plexiglas cover or try to find a hood light to fit? Suggestions as to how I should proceed will be greatly appreciated! - Leigh <If you aren't growing plants, then use whatever lights you want. Or none. Most of the fish we keep are adapted to murky conditions and actually prefer low light conditions. One of the best ways to light tanks without plants is to place a spotlight at least 30 cm above the water (partly so water doesn't spray on the bulb) and use that to create a patch of light in the tank. The movement of water along the surface makes ripples, and this dapples the light around the aquarium, creating an amazing under-the-sea kind of look. Things like Giant Danios look amazing as they dart in and out of the bright patch, and their colours shimmer in way you simply don't see when the tank is uniformly illuminated. Now, this brings us to the question of covering the tank. Covering the tank plays two roles: stops fish jumping out, and reduces evaporation. Not all fish are "jumpers" and non-jumping species like Corydoras, plecs and most deep-bodied cichlids can be kept in uncovered tanks without issue. But "jumpers" such as Danios, Spiny eels and Hatchetfish are a liability in uncovered tanks. A plain sheet of acrylic, cut to size, will do the job of covering the tank while letting the light get in just fine. You can use glass as well, but acrylic is lighter and less likely to break, making it an altogether nicer material to use. Make sure that the cover doesn't completely seal the tank; you want small gaps at each end of the tank so air can move in and out freely. Cheers, Neale.>

Infrared lighting 03/26/2008 Hello Neale, sorry to bother you and I know you hear that often, but I have a question. Can fishes see infrared lights? <Infrared (i.e., heat) is dispersed very quickly underwater, so would have little value as a sensory system. Some lab evidence suggests at least some fish (e.g., tilapia) can detect the near-IR range, but they'll be getting that from warm objects like the aquarium heater anyway so your IR lamp is not really an issue. Many fish can see UV though.> This is because I have 2 leopard gecko tank with infrared lights turned on at night, and I didn't want to disturb my fishes. Do you think this would be a problem? <Wouldn't worry about it.> Second, can algae grow from infrared light because I have been getting very green water and I don't know what to do. <No, plants/algae don't use IR light. They mostly use red and blue light (hence mostly green light bounces off them).> Would attaching a wallpaper onto my tank help decrease the lighting? <Redundant.> Thanks for ally our help. <Cheers, Neale.>

Night time fishes, lighting, eating, beh.    1/29/08 hi bob and friends I just set up a 20 gallon tank now cycled for 3 months. I just added in some nocturnal fishes and I was wondering, do I have to cover the tank up with a blanket or something to make the tank completely dark. <Blankets are a bit extreme, but obviously if the tank gets bright sunlight, the nocturnal fish will stay hidden. If the tank is in a dark corner things might be different.> I wanted to know because I don't want my other fishes taking all the food and leaving none for my nocturnal fishes. <They won't. Daytime fish won't feed at night, so food put in at night will only be taken by nocturnal fishes.> Also can daytime fishes smell the food and eat it? <Not really, no. Some fish such as Corydoras feed both day and night, but things like tetras and cichlids are daytime fish and hunt by sight. In the dark, they sleep.> Or is it okay to leave some light in it to create a moonlight effect for the fishes. <There are indeed moonlight tubes available for just this effect, though low wattage red tubes work just as well.> Last, how will I know when my fishes are sleeping? <Sleeping fish look dozy. Some retreat to favoured burrows or nest, while midwater fish often drift about among the plants. Several fishes change their colours at night when they are sleeping, most famously the Pencilfishes.> Thanks for your help. Thank you. <Cheers, Neale.>

Bob I have a lighting question... reading, FW   12/18/07 I am looking to buy a new lighting system as mine as recently died. I have a 29 gallon tall tank, with 5 Gourami, 1 gold fish, <Not a good idea to mix with tropicals... see WWM re> 1 Pleco, 2 giant Danios, 2 angel fish, and 2 little Pleco stingrays I just got, and a few tiger fish. All fish are small except the Pleco with is about 5 inches and 2 of the Gouramis are like 2-3.5 inches. the rest around 1 inch or under. I also have 2 live plants that are Anacharis (Brazilian water weed). my old lighting system wasn't the best a simple 1 light (AquaGlo 20 w, 24")that's all it says on tube. I am looking at one here...http://www.amazon.com/Aqualight-Colormax-6700k-Fluorescent-Lamps/dp/B0009YHU2I/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1197901618&sr=1-4 Fixture has a one year warranty against defects materials and workmanship. Fixture is 30" l x 3" w x 1" high. Other features include: on off switch and built-in ballast; adjustable tank mounts; comes with one 18 watt Colormax lamp and one 18 watt 6700k lamp; ideal for freshwater and planted aquariums. The 18 watt Colormax T-5 fluorescent lamp has color-enhancing phosphors that provide full-spectrum light from 350 to 750 nanometers. It offers high-intensity output that enhances the natural beauty of freshwater fish and plants. The 6700k Plant Lamp T-5 fluorescent lamp provides aquatic plants with... The other is http://www.petsolutions.com/Double-Bulb-All-Glass-Striplights+I15926424+C33.aspx Double Bulb All Glass Striplights Double bulb striplights double the amount of light entering your aquarium to enhance the beauty of your fish, invertebrates and plants. Internal ballast carries a five year manufacturer's warranty. "Instant On" feature alolows lights to be used with a timer for hands free automated control. Cool white fluorescent bulbs included. Choice of oak or black finish. What is the difference in watts, ****k (what does it mean and is higher or lower better), and what are nanometers..Please help, and let me know what to buy... Thank You, Jay <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/lgtfixtags.htm and the linked files above. RMF>

Lighting and pump selection questions 12/1/07 Hey guys, you are great. Really appreciate the website and the time you take. <Hello Paul, thank you.> I've got a few questions in different areas that I couldn't find final answers to on WWM. I am setting up 120g (4x2x2) glass freshwater rainbow/Pleco tank. It will have some plants, but pretty easy stuff to deal with -- anacharis, java moss, java fern, hornwort. I've been able grow these in other tanks without typical plant substrate (attaching to lace rock and Mopani), so expecting to be able to do the same with this tank, assuming I can get enough light down to them. It will have a black back. Substrate will be med brown. Lace rock and Mopani will be used liberally. <OK> First question is lighting. From what I can gather, watts from florescent strips (T12) to T5/T8/HO/VHO to power compact to metal halide are not created equal. I.e., you can't just compare wattage output. Some create more heat; some penetrate into water better; some are more efficient, etc. <Correct.> I've got 3 48" dual lamp T12 florescent housings with electronic ballasts from a garage tear down that are fairly new. I could easily put these inside a DIY canopy for a 240 watt set up. I've been experimenting with 'daylight' bulbs from local Home Depot that are rated at 6500K color temperature and have been pleasantly surprised. These bulbs for 40w T12 run about $5 each. <This could work assuming the bulbs have an adequate CRI and you take steps to waterproof the fixtures.> I can get a 4x65w (I think that is the wattage) power compact fixture locally for $150 or so. The price of power compact bulbs seems to be the most expensive per watt, though. <They can get pricey to replace bulbs.> Another option is to pick up a T5 or T8 set up. I've found one I like locally that is 4x54w T5 for about $180, bulbs included. The output is 216w or so, but the reflectors are much better than the T12 strips I have, so I would suspect the T5's are getting as much light to the tank, if not more (am I wrong on this?). I can also pick up a similar T8 set up for about the same money. <The T5's will have superior reflectors. These would be my choice, perhaps with one additional bulb. With these lights it is easy enough to add additional bulbs on individual reflectors should you want or need more light later. > Another option is to pick up two MH's. I can pick up some decent one's locally for about $140/each. <I wouldn't in this situation.> I've also thought about putting a bunch of sockets with some compact fluorescents with 'daylight' bulbs. Would these be any good? <Possible, I would stick with the T5.> So what would you go with if this was your tank? I am concerned about power usage, replacement bulb cost, bulb life, ability to 'penetrate' to lower depths, heat from bulbs and ballasts, etc. Last, what is a pulse start ballast/bulb with metal halides? Does it matter what you get? <Probe start bulbs have an igniter to light the lamp built into the bulb, not the ballast. The pulse starts have just the opposite built in. The bulbs should be used with their respective ballasts.> Now onto pumps. I am running a sump. I am looking at pumps. I have two 2" drains in overflow boxes and a 1" return. The LFS I like best in town, who has never led me astray and has been 'right' about everything so far, carries Iwaki, CoralLife (or is it CoralSea?) Gen-X and a few others. They readily admit they make more money on the Iwaki and CoralLife, but say they like the Gen-X very, very much, and a number of the employees say they have them at home and stand by them 100%. Anyone know anything about these pumps? If price wasn't an option, if you were looking for 1000-1200 gph at 4.5' head, what pump would you buy? Why? If you needed to save a little cash (say, under $200), what pump would you buy? Why? <Sump style filtration is not optimal for planted tanks due to the outgassing of CO2, but they can work. Consider lowering your flow through the sump to a few tank turnovers an hour to help this. I would personally stick with an Iwaki here just for the reliability of the pumps. They just run a long time with little or no maintenance. If you choose to go with a lower flow rate, consider a quality submersible such as an Eheim.> Last, for drilling sump, should I drill hole on side wall as low as I can safely? Should I drill in bottom (I can elevate sump slightly and plumb from bottom, but these seems potentially a PITA that isn't worth it). Should I just plumb bulkhead to input to pump, or should I put some plumbing inside sump (like 90d elbow down off bulkhead to reach down into the sump further)? <The latter option will work fine.> Thanks for all the help. Paul <Welcome, good luck, Scott V.>

Flashing lights... hlth.  11/28/07 Hello Bob, <Paula> I just read a post from 8/28/06 under FAQ Anabantoids/Gouramis, on the WWW site that you had some input in. It concerned bright light and a Gourami flashing and swimming around the tank like crazy. Post was titled " Gourami Help". My late father, who was an Electrical Engineer used to like to tell us "interesting" new developments in his field. One night at supper, he told us about a study that was done, I believe in Boston, that cited that recent increases in petit mal seizures in school children could be directly linked to the spectrum of the particular Fluorescent lights being used throughout the school system. Evidently, the price was right and lots of the same flour. tubes were bought for use throughout the school system. When the particular lighting was replaced the incidents of petit mal seizures dropped! It was the color range of the spectrum rather than the brightness that caused the rise in seizures, or so the theory went. This made sense as some seizures are related to, I believe, to red lights. Now, this was back in the mid 60's and I never forgot it as later I had a cat with seizures and the quickest way to end an episode for him was to place something like a towel over his head, block all light and he would respond immediately. We never did figure out what the trigger was as to light with him though. Could it be possible that this is what's at work with some fish too, given the range of types of fluorescent lights out there, for plants, daylight full spectrum, etc. ? Would be interesting to find out if fish that exhibit this behavior reside in incandescent or fluorescent lit tanks. <Possibly> I hope you aren't laughing right now, but I thought it might be worth a shot to write to you about it. Stranger things have happened, right? <Don't think this is strange at all... In fact, was watching TV last night (out in HI, bushed, couldn't make headway on the too-dang-hard crossword puzzles), and there is/was a serial on... "House"? About a doctor... and they were going to use flashing lights to induce a seizure(!) in a patient with adult onset measles...> I find the site invaluable and have no idea what fish keeping idiots, like myself, would do without it. Keep up the good work and many thanks for the site. Regards, P Libby <Thank you for sharing. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

FW t5 lighting 10/16/07 Hello crew, I'm starting a freshwater planted system for the first time in many years. I have a 38 gallon tank (36x12x20 high). I purchased a Nova Extreme 2x39 watt light and I need to know if this will be considered low, medium, or high lighting. All the searching I have done talks about Normal Output fluorescent and compact fluorescent lights but not much about t5 lights. I don't know the name of the plants that I want right now but I do know that most of what I have been looking at require moderate to high lighting. So how will my lights fare? Thanks Mark <Hello Mark. The advantage of T5 tubes is more energy efficiency and smaller size than light intensity. Yes, T5 tubes do turn more power into light than T8 tubes, but not dramatically so. Realistically, you can assume that T5 tubes are a "notch" higher than T8 tubes in terms of what plants they'll support at any given watts-per-gallon (WPG) rating. You're at slightly over 2 WPG; with T8 tubes, that'd be in the 'medium' bracket, so for T5 tubes, you could probably expect plants with up to 'medium high' light demands to do well. You also need to factor in other issues with the fast-growing, light-hungry plants, such as the quality of the substrate and the use of CO2 fertilisation. So without being too evasive, to a degree you'll have to experiment. Try some medium-high brightness plants (like Vallisneria or Hygrophila) and see how they do. If they thrive, then you can then try the more demanding species like Rotala or Samolus or whatever. Cheers, Neale>

Lighting... lamp repl. gen.   7/13/07 Hey Crew, How often should I renew the light tubes under my aquarium cover ? I hear once per year, once every six months - couldn't find an answer on forums. Many thanks. Steve. <Hello Steve. It depends on the situation. In a fish-only freshwater or marine system, you change the lights when they burn out. Fish couldn't care less. But if you have a system with photosynthetic organisms -- plants, corals, anemones, etc. -- then you need to replace the lights before the output drops below some critical value. Plants, being more advanced photosynthesisers than the algae in corals, are generally better able at adapting to the "wrong" amount/wavelength of light, though even in a planted freshwater tank it is usually obvious that plant growth has slowed down. Even so, whether you're keeping plants or corals you will need to change the tubes periodically. Again, this depends. Some tubes work well for about 1 year (e.g. Triton fluorescent) others for longer, up to 2 years (e.g., Vita-Lite fluorescent). Metal-halides need to be replaced after about a year. Changing tubes every 6 months sounds a bit extreme to me, though I'm sure it wouldn't do any harm even if it is a waste of money. If in doubt, consult the manufacturer of the lighting system you're using. Cheers, Neale.>

Lighting for Freshwater Tank   5/12/07 Hi, I promise I have searched the FAQs before sending email!! <Great!> I have just converted my old marine tank (60x20x24) back to freshwater.  I want to achieve one of those a bright white, crystal-clear freshwater tanks with only a few tetras etc.  I have a single bulb--metal halide--what is the best "K" bulb for freshwater tanks and should I use it solely or drag out some fluors?? <I'd forget the metal halide bulbs for freshwater.  save yourself from expensive bulbs, electricity & the heat it puts out.  Stick with plain old fluorescent.  The color is up to you.  I prefer something slightly bluish.  ~Jeni/Pufferpunk>    Thanks very much, Lauchlan Newcastle NSW Australia

A <not so> new option for incandescent hoods!   1/15/07 Greetings, Crew! I hope all is well on your end. <Ah, yes. Thank you> I just found something interesting at Wal-Mart I thought I would share: screw-in compact fluorescent bulbs that fit an incandescent tank. <Oh... yes> I know much of your readership is comprised of beginner hobbyists, who may have purchased a 10 gallon starter kit with an incandescent hood, unaware that for just a few bucks more a much more efficient lighting option was available to them, the fluorescent hood. Now, there is a solution!  Miniature compact fluorescents, that screw-in just like a light bulb, with no awkward pins - ahem, Eclipse, cough cough. These compact fluorescent bulbs are 10 watts. They lit up my little incandescent hood very satisfactorily - no more yellow cast, they have a crisp white hue. Even though compact fluorescent bulbs still burn out at the highest rate of any fluorescent, as I understand it? <Yes... some even "higher"... longer, higher CRI than "cool whites"> I am pretty sure they will last longer than any incandescent bulb out there. <Agreed> I would still advise not to use an airstone or other aeration device with these bulbs, as the splashing does get past the too-short protective strips of plastic under each bulb. Other than that, these bulbs make an incandescent hood almost as good as a fluorescent hood! Best to you all, Nicole <Thank you for this input. I would like to add that folks should do a bit of reading if they intend to keep photosynthetic life (e.g. plants) under such illumination... Such is posted on WWM... in the Planted Tanks et al. subwebs. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater Lighting, More Blue 11/22/06 Hi <Hello, grammar school! *grin*>   I used to have a five gallon Mini saltwater tank. I converted it into a freshwater Betta tank. I kept the Coralife bulb I had in it. Then I bought a 29 gallon tank. It came with a regular white light. I always get compliments on the crap 5 gallon tank, and yet I put so much hard work into the 29 gallon. I know it's so much better. I believe it's the light that gets me the compliments. So what would you recommend for my 29 gallon? I would like it to look nice and blue? Also it's freshwater and it only has one slot.   Thanks Anthony <Hey Anthony, JustinN with you tonight. I went ahead and corrected your poorly structured letter for you, removing run-on sentences, fixing misspellings, and correcting the grammar. As far as your lighting question is concerned, my recommendation would be to try a new bulb, either in the 10000k spectrum, or a 50/50 bulb which contains actinic phosphor. Hope this helps! -Justin>

Can you use a blue actinic lighting in a freshwater setup?   10/8/06 To Whom It May Concern: <<Top of the morning, Daniel. Tom here.>> My apologies if this question has already been answered on the website - I searched but couldn't find anything. My question is: I have a 75 litre (20 gallon) tank which has recently been converted from a marine setup to tropical freshwater. In the marine, it had two 18 watt lighting tubes (1x white and 1x actinic blue). Do I need to change the actinic blue to a white also for tropical freshwater or can I keep it as is? <<My advice would be to keep it and see how it looks to you before spending the money on a new fluorescent tube. As you already are aware, marine fish keepers use the blue actinics for corals. Fish, as it turns out, couldn't seem to care less about the spectrum of light they're kept in. I would offer that FW folks tend to prefer broad-spectrum lighting that simulates true daylight conditions but, again, this doesn't matter to fish one way or the other. If you intend to keep plants in your new setup, this changes the picture. In this case, you will want to replace the blue actinic with a tube that offers full-spectrum light that plants require to grow properly.>> My kind regards and thanks, Daniel. <<Happy to assist, Daniel, and good luck with your new system.>> Dear Tom, <<Hi, Daniel.>> Thank you VERY much :) I REALLY appreciate it! Daniel. <<Any time, Daniel. Tom>>

Lighting Options For A FW Bowfront Aquarium, ScottF's go   6/19/06 Hi, Bob (if you're the one who answers.) <Actually, Scott F. today!> I'm going to be setting up a new system soon.  I have a lot of experience with keeping freshwater community tanks healthy and happy, in the 55gallon size.  With regard to lighting, I have had the best luck using "full-spectrum" fluorescent bulbs, but intend to get into a more exotic genre this time:  I want to raise Discus and their native plants in a 90gallon Oceanic bow front tank/cabinet/cap, so I have a few questions:   1.Are bow front tanks incompatible with the lighting that would be needed by discus and their native plants? <Sure, lots of retrofit systems, pendants, and other components are available for these popular tanks.> 2.Do MH and PC systems generate a lot of heat?-If so, how can I limit or evacuate the heat? I've heard of using fans, but this means evaporation, surely. Are there ballasts I can choose that are on the cooler side? <The bulbs do generate a lot of heat. Fans are the most efficient means of evacuating heat from the tank, IMO. Electronic ballasts, such as Ice Cap, do tend to run a bit cooler, in my experience. I would recommend locating the ballasts remotely (i.e.; out of the stand) to keep their heat from getting into your system as much as possible. Even though the electronic ballasts burn cooler than many standard ballasts, they can still get pretty hot!> I'm guessing (only) that a couple bulbs with color temps of 6500K-8000K would be good for the discus and plants, but what wattage rating should I look for? <I'd consider 2 or 3 150 watt double ended (HQI) pendants, such as the Sunlight Supply "Reef Optix III" units, coupled with Ice Cap electronic ballasts. I'd recommend running 10,000k Aqualine bulbs. As an alternative, do consider some of the new T5 fluorescent fixtures/retrofits on the market now, which  generally use less electricity than halides, and are highly efficient.> Please consider, when answering these questions, that I could see myself going saltwater some day, and would want to consider not having to scrap my lighting from the discus tank to totally start over for a saltwater configuration.   <Good thought. Either of the aforementioned lighting products should serve well for both fresh or saltwater systems.> Probably been asked before, but I've read quite a lot, and did not see these Qs. <It's a topic that is pretty common, but the nuances and options are changing soo often now! Useful for everyone, really.> Maybe you could reply to my email? I'm relatively inexperienced with the Internet.  {If not, that's cool, I'll be back and maybe see it on FAQs??} Thanks, hope you had a good weekend. <You, too!> Sincerely, George <It's on the way, George! Best of luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Question about the best lighting... BobF's go   6/19/06 Hi, Bob (if you're the one who answers.) <Hello George> I'm going to be setting up a new system soon.  I have a lot of experience with keeping freshwater community tanks healthy and happy, in the 55gallon size.  With regard to lighting, I have had the best luck using "full-spectrum" fluorescent bulbs, <I as well> but intend to get into a more exotic genre this time:  I want to raise Discus and their native plants in a 90 gallon Oceanic bow front tank/cabinet/cap, so I have a few questions:  1. Are bow front tanks incompatible with the lighting that would be needed by discus and their native plants? <Mmm, no... not incompatible, just a bit more difficult to arrange the lamps to "fit"> 2.  Do MH and PC systems generate a lot of heat?- <Oh yes... much more> If so, how can I limit or evacuate the heat? I've heard of using fans, but this means evaporation, surely. <There are a few ways to lessen the generation, release the waste heat... but there will be more evaporation in all cases...> Are there ballasts I can choose that are on the cooler side? <Ah yes... electronic marvels... Much re these lighting issues can be found on WWM under "Marine" lighting... > I'm guessing (only) that a couple bulbs with color temps of 6500K-8000K would be good for the discus and plants, but what wattage rating should I look for? <Mmm... likely 3-5 total "watts per gallon" in this size, shaped setting... though this sort of W per gal. measure can be fallacious> Please consider, when answering these questions, that I could see myself going saltwater some day, and would want to consider not having to scrap my lighting from the discus tank to totally start over for a saltwater configuration.   <Good point... well-taken... and as you can assume, something I/we do consider "playing this chess game" of aiding others> Probably been asked before, but I've read quite a lot, and did not see these Qs. Maybe you could reply to my email? I'm relatively inexperienced with the Internet. <Becoming more so all the times...> {If not, that's cool, I'll be back and maybe see it on FAQs??} <We respond directly to all, and place most all> Thanks, hope you had a good weekend. Sincerely, George <And a good life time to/for you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Neon Tetras & Guppies and light periodicity   5/26/06 Hi <Ashleigh> I have recently bought 7 neon tetras and 5 guppies. They are my first fish and fish tank... How long should I leave the light on for? <Mmm, eight to twelve hours per day...> Can I leave it on overnight and turn it off during the day? <Yes... A good idea though to have some degree of consistency here. Best to use a timer to aid you in turning the light on/off on a regular basis. Bob Fenner> Thanks.

Recommendations on lighting for F/W tank?   3/15/06 Hi Mr. Fenner - <Stuart> Before asking away, I just want to compliment you on your site. It has been _the_ source of useful (and lifesaving) information in my ventures into the world of reefkeeping. <Ah, our intent> I'm going to be updating a small freshwater aquarium that's in my office... Right now it's a 12 gallon Eclipse w/ 13 watts of lighting and the small built-in filter. It currently houses a pearl Gourami, a small swordtail, and 3 neon tetras along with a couple of aquatic plants (namely Anubias, as the lighting is poor for anything else). PH is at 6.5, Ammonia/Nitrites ~0, Nitrates < ~5 (undetectable w/ the test kits I have). <Sounds good> The Gourami has been doing well for a good 2 and 1/2 or 3 years along with his companions, but I'd like to provide them with a better home (a 20, maybe 25 gallon or so) and a more prolific aquatic garden along with a good canister filter (probably a Fluval 304) now that my tax refund is eminent. <Heeee! "Our lives are measured out in coffee spoons"... and the feeble doings and non-doings of civil servants> I use T-5 HO lighting on my marine tank and have been very pleased. I have the option of using a 2' T-5 HO fixture (4x tubes, 96 watts) over the 20 gallon FW and putting in 6700k tubes, or going with a PC fixture of about the same wattage but at a slightly lower cost. Of the PC fixtures, the Coralife's are readily available locally and are a little less expensive than the Current USA Satellites... I've owned, operated and liked the Current USA's and never had a problem. My question is how do the Coralife fixtures hold up as far as quality goes from what you've seen/experienced, and whether you would go with PC or T-5 HO on an FW tank? <Mmm... both will work... The Coralife product (the lighting) has an okay reputation (they don't make it)... But I would go with what you're more familiar with here> Thank you very, very much for your time and this fantastic resource! Very truly yours, Stuart <Thank you for contributing to it. Bob Fenner>

Mini bow light   1/17/06 Hi, I had a question regarding the mini bow lighting system.  The light on my mini bow 5 stopped working after about a month of use. I called all-glass aquariums and I was issued a replacement hood. Unfortunately, after a short while I had the same problem again. <Interesting.> The bulb was not dead, but my hood light would not turn on.  Talking with a friend of mine I found that he also had the same problem with his mini bow 2.5. <I do hope you both notified the manufacturer re> Both of us are keeping freshwater tanks. Have you heard of others with this problem, and do you have any suggestions?   <To have All-Glass remedy> It almost seems to me like water is able to get into the area on the hood where the bulb is housed because there is only a thin piece of metal covering part (not all) of the bulb. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! <Mmm, there are some steps one might take... coating the contacts, metal with silicone lubricant is the easiest, most likely to offer some effect. Bob Fenner>

Question about Planted Aquarium Cover 2 8/1/05 Yeah, I know that no cover at all would be best, but I need one to keep my fish from escaping and also to slow down the rate of water evaporation. So which material would you recommend for a cover? Thanks for your time. Thomas <Please read... here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/plttksstds.htm and the linked files above... use the indices on WWM... Bob Fenner>

FW lighting 7/4/05 Hi Crew.  I just have a simple question about fresh water lighting.  I've had a salt water tank for over six months know and it's functioning beautifully. I also have another empty tank, about 35 gallons and plan to make it a fresh water system.  The tank has a simple canopy that holds one 20 watt max fluorescent bulb.  Is this enough lighting for fresh water? I plan to stock it with small fun fish like neon tetras and  black skirt tetras. Thanks < With dark gravel it may not seem like enough. With lighter colored gravel it should be fine for fish. You probably won't have enough light for live plants.-Chuck>

Re: Night lighting question Sorry, one last thing about that I forgot to ask in the last e-mail. I know I could observe the fishes and draw some conclusions, but still... So I want to put red led lights of the exact same type in my 85 gallons FW discus tank (with a bunch of cardinals and a pair of rams). Red LEDs looks even brighter than blue. I read on the WWM that "most" fishes don't notice red light. Can I leave those red LEDs on in my Amazon biotope just like the blue LEDs in the reef tank? Thanks! Dominique <Should be fine. Bob Fenner>

Light at Night? Hi there Friends Of The Fish,  <Do we have a secret handshake?> <<Yes, we do.  If you've forgotten it, you'll have to meet us in Fallon, Nevada for briefing..>> I was given a supersized wine glass by a mate of mine the other week, which holds about 2.5L (which I think is about a gallon). Anyways I got my first fish yesterday (a Betta) to keep me company while working. I know a bigger tank will be better and that will come. I have placed my desk lamp (25w) next to the bowl which seems to be keeping the temp between 77-78F. My question is after reading through your site and others, it is suggested, if I am using a light to heat the bowl, it is probably best to use it at night, to compensate in the drop in temp. Though that would mean that the fish is pretty much getting light 24/7 and will get insomnia. For the time being I am wrapping the bowl in a scarf at night to keep in the heat, though I have no way of knowing what temperature is dropping to. Apart from that he seems to be quite happy, eating, swimming and doing what fish do. Maybe I'm being too concerned too early. But I don't want my new friend to be getting to cold at night. Thanks in advance, Andrew (a new Friend Of The Fish) <You really want to start looking at that new tank soon. There are many fun things you can do with an oversized wine glass, but keeping a Betta in it isn't one of them. You really need a 2.5 to 5 gallon tank with a small heater and filter. A sponge filter is fine for a single Betta. But any new system will require a month or more before becoming fish safe. Until then you should plan on changing 50% of his water 2 or 3 times a week. Always match temp and dechlorinate. You are correct that heating is the biggest problem keeping a Betta in any bowl. For long term health they must be kept at a steady temp in the high 70s to 82. Not possible with your current set up. He does need a dark period, so don't leave the light on. What you are doing now is about the best that can be done until you get him a proper home. Don>

How to get 2 wpg in my ten gallon tank? I have looked in several local fish stores for an aquarium light strip that holds two fluorescent bulbs for my ten gallon aquarium.  I cannot seem to  find one and I was wondering if you hand a suggestion on a good way to  get two or more watts per gallon in my aquarium?  Right now I  only have a standard 15 watt bulb and there doesn't seem to be very much grow  even with the low light plants like the Java Moss.   <Mmm, depending on the make/model of your tank, the easiest way to add light intensity is to add another hood along with what you have... If the hood that is there covers the whole top, and has no room to add another fixture, you may need to switch this top off entirely. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Spectrum Selection - 04/27/05 Hey, I'm about to buy bulbs for two separate set ups and I was had a few questions about which spectrum bulbs I should choose. The first is a saltwater tank that has a harlequin tusk as my center piece. I have live rock but no other inverts. My current pc bulbs are 10k and actinic but I have the ability to add a 6700k bulb along with the 10k and actinic when I replace them all. I was wondering would this accentuate the orange of my harlequin because it is stronger in that part of the spectrum? My main concern is the aesthetics of my fish in other words.  <The spectrum you mention will highlight the fish's color more dramatically.> My other question is about a freshwater tank I have set up for an adult largemouth bass. It's a 220g with four 36w standard florescent bulbs. I do a lot of fisheries work and understand that adult bass prefer deeper waters (10-20ft) away from higher intensity sunlight. so I was thinking that a higher Kelvin bulb would more closely resemble its natural habitat. Do you think that 18000-20000K bulbs would be more natural or better simulate the spectrum that these fish prefer?  <It's hard to say. On the reefs the water is much clearer than in a lake so the lighting in 15 feet of reef water is going to be brighter than in 15 feet of lake water. I'd probably keep what you have. James (Salty Dog)>

Halides for freshwater Hi Recently I purchased a second-hand tank that was set up as a reef tank. I'm planning on using it for freshwater and not sure what to do about the lights that came with the system. Those are very nice Hamilton technology lights with two 175W Metal Halides and two VHO 40W super actinic bulbs everything in a nice oak enclosure, very nice. At first I got excited the lights are beautiful but later started to think that this is too much light for me. So my question is should I keep it or should I replace it. I really like the Orbit light with four 65W bulbs I like it for it looks and the fact that I do not need to have a canopy but it is a saltwater light equipped with one 6500K one 10000K and two actinic bulbs. Should I use it as is or should I replace one of those actinic bulbs with a 6700K bulb? Thank you.   <I would very likely use this lighting fixture... especially if you decide to have some, a bunch of live plants... perhaps a bit more algae growth (due to intensity) and electrical expense (you can put these on a timer and just have on when you're about if not growing live plants), and switch out the actinics if you find you don't like the "blue" effect... but they should be fine if your system is large enough to absorb their waste heat. Bob Fenner>

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