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FAQs on Lighting Planted Tanks

Related Articles: Lighting Freshwater Planted AquariumsLight Fixtures Spectral Quality of Various Fluorescent Lamps by Dana Riddle,

Related FAQs: Electricity and the Aquarium GardenLight Fixtures and Planted Aquariums

The old standards... Incandescent lamps... still worthwhile; though expensive to run.

Lighting dilemma, planted tank light holiday    8/10/12
Good evening all,
<Carrie>
I hope this email finds you well. Your site helped me a great deal when I was setting up a system that I inherited from a friend six months ago.
Thank you.
<Welcome!>
My question now is this: One of my two 55 watt compact fluorescent bulbs that are in a hood over my 72 gallon planted freshwater tank burnt out today. I don't have a replacement and I can't seem to find one on the web or in any lfs. I was actually thinking of replacing the lighting entirely, but my problem is that  I am going out of town for one week on Saturday.
<Shouldn't be a real problem>
I want to be able to take the time to make an informed lighting decision, but I am worried about leaving my tank for a week with only 55 watts of light.
<Again... no biggee>
In addition to the plants, I have Platies, zebra Danios, a Kuhli loach, a Pleco, and neon tetras
<No worries>
So, how risky is it to run on 1/2 light for a week?
<Is fine>
If I do it, should I leave the lights on for more hours in the day?
<I wouldn't>
Or should I just buy new lighting tomorrow and make the best decision I can?
<I'd hold off, don't be concerned>
Thanks as always for your help. You really are wonderful.
Carrie
<Cheers and bon voyage. Bob Fenner>

Planted tank lighting, algae issue    3/15/12
I have successfully maintained a 55 gallon planted tank for sometime and wanted to try my hand some at some of the red and purple stem plants. 
Understanding that many of these plants need more light I upgraded my lighting from four bulb 28 watt t5 fixture to a four bulb 54 watt t5 fixture.  I also added a pressurized co2 unit.  Well after a few days I had a hair algae outbreak.  The only change I had done was the upgraded lighting. I still did the same biweekly water changes and used liquid fertilizer twice a week and flourish excel everyday.  I had the lights on for 12 hours a day.  Could the increased light intensity be the cause of the outbreak
<Could be>
or should I shorten the lighting period?
<Worth trying. And do read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/algcontags.htm
and the linked files above>
  I have read some people have had success controlling algae with a break in the lighting period.   Perhaps five hours of lighting, an hour off then five more hours of light?
<Again... worth trying>
 Thank you for the great website and advice.
<Welcome, glad to share. Bob Fenner>

Re: Some advice for a total newbie... lighting...  reading      2/18/12
Will do. I will wait for a couple of weeks and see how the fish hold up  before considering adding another one. If all is well, I will probably  bother you again with more questions.
<Search first>

Currently they all look to be quite  a bit happier with the new setup. I have been feeding them every day, but  only sparingly when I do.
I have read the information in the two pages you linked and, in fact, have  read much of the same on various sites across the web. I do have one quick  question regarding lighting that I have been finding conflicting answers  to. My tank has a dual light sockets in the lid. On one side I have a  15-watt incandescent bulb that came with the lid and on the other I have a  10-watt fluorescent bulb that I took from my old lid. The combination  makes for an interesting, asymmetrical yellowish/whitish division of the  tank. Given that I have a couple of live plants, how long should I leave  the lights on each day? Will leaving them on too long harm the fish at all?
<... posted on WWM... please...>
Thank you for your time.
-J
<And yours. B>

The Right Setup? 10 gal. FW, plants/lgtg., Betta comp.   11/27/10
Hello,
Love the site! Very informative, and I was wondering if I could get your approval for my tank plan.
<Let's see!>
I have only got the tank, so before I go any further I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing.
The tank is 10 US gallons, (50x30x28cm) and after thinking about what species I could keep in such small quarters, I decided on the Betta Splendens. I also found out about Cherry Shrimp, (Neocaridina heteropoda), and after reading your site, I am quite confident that the Betta and Cherry Shrimp will coexist quite nicely.
<Yes they will>
Also, I was wondering if I could fit in a small school of South-East Asian barbs etc without overstocking?
<Mmm, not barbs... too nippy toward the Betta>
If not barbs, what other schooling species from S.E. Asia?
<Look to some of the small/er Rasbora species... similar in behavior to Barbs, but much easier going>
If I can't fit in any more fish, that's fine.
I wanted to create a small planted tank, but being 50cm long, I couldn't find any lights that would fit the tank. The LFS told me that my best bet would be to go buy a desk lamp for the tank, provided I was going to have low-light plants.
<Mmm, a "real" aquarium hood fitted with a fluorescent lamp or two would be better... discounts jumping, evaporation...>
This is the main question I wanted to ask you, Would a desk lamp with a 15watt globe be alright for me to have plants such as Java Fern, Crypts, and the floating Water Lettuce?
<Could be... but the fitted hood is superior>
Now moving on to my filtration. I was thinking about having a sponge filter and air pump as the only source of filtration. Would this be OK?
<Yes>
Would it provide enough circulation? If not, what would you recommend?
<Likely a small hang on the back filter... more useful... quieter, less obtrusive>
Lastly, but not the least important, would a 50watt heater be alright for my tank?
<Yes>
Thank you in advance, and I hope I am headed for the right direction with my tank. James.
<You are. Thank you for sharing and welcome to our wonderful hobby. Bob Fenner>
Re: The Right Setup? 10 gal. FW, Betta comp.   11/28/10

Thank you so much for your reply Mr. Fenner :)
Taking your advice on the Rasboras, would a small school of 6 Harlequin Rasboras (Trigonostigma heteromorpha) work well with the Betta and Cherry Shrimp? Or would a small school of 6 Dwarf Rasboras (Boraras Maculatus) work better? Thank you in advance again. James.
<Ahh, either one of these should do. Cheers, BobF>

Lighting 10 Gallon Fresh Water Planted Tank  10/2/10
Greetings once again!
<Hello,>
I am back with once again a boat load of questions!
<Joy.>
(bet you cant wait haha).
<Indeed.>
Instead of puffer fish questions I am asking about lighting for a ten gallon aquarium in hopes to make it a decently planted dwarf puffer tank!
<Java fern and Anubias on a pile of lava rocks works great. The rocks providing hiding places, and the plants aren't fussy about light, so you don't need very strong lighting.>
As of right now I have this odd kind of hood which has two sockets (one on each side) that can fit the standard size florescent bulb that you'd use say, for a lamp or so on (does not hold typical long florescent tubes).
<Here in England these small lights are called "compact fluorescent lamps".
They're basically a thin fluorescent tube bent into a U-shape. Can be alright for plants, but as ever, wattage makes a difference.>
As of right now I have only one Marine Land 5100K 'natural daylight florescent aquarium lamp' in that provides 10 watts (I will soon be purchasing another for the other side, the cost has held me off for a bit,
thus making it 20 watts and 10200K).
<These natural daylight lamps are good for colour, but they have low penetration of water because they're shifted towards the red end of the spectrum. So they're not ideal for aquarium usage.>
I am not a genius at intensity and color for what plants crave, but I have been told that leaning towards the red side of the spectrum helps!
<Yes and no. Plants actually absorb both red and blue light very well, but not green light, which is why plants appear green. In air red light is actually somewhat better than blue light, but in water the red light is
attenuated quickly, so blue light often works out more useful. Aquarists tend to use somewhat bluish lights because of this, around 6,500 K working well.>
So now I'm asking if having two of these lights in my hood would provide enough light for various species of plants to grow (not just java moss and java fern). If you could spare me some info as if this lighting would be adequate for the casual planted tank, and if not I would greatly appreciate your input as too how about going for a brighter setup (specific brand name hoods and lights etc). Lastly any nice plant you can name off the top of your head would be nice (by the way, there is no CO2 system)!
<Java fern and Anubias are definitely worth starting with. But I'd add floating Indian Fern, Cryptocoryne wendtii, Cryptocoryne beckettii, hybrid Aponogeton and perhaps Vallisneria spiralis to the list of adaptable plants that should work well with 1.5 to 2 watts per gallon.>
Thank you once again!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Lighting 20 Gallon Fresh Water Planted Tank  10/2/10

Well Neale, I am possible considering you being the God Father of fish keeping, as you seem to just brush off my questions so easily!
<Or at least fake it well.>
I just have to thank you for your very fast response, and great input!
<I have a frightful cold so not much else to do but play around on the Internet'¦>
I see that I will stay with your recommended low light plants for I'm pretty sure I was possessed by the sudden urge to have an aqua scaped wonder, like some of the ones you see online.
<Many, many books dedicated to the subject; you should own at least one. At the budget end of the market, I like "Mini Encyclopaedia of Aquarium Plants" by Peter Hiscock while "The 101 Best Aquarium Plants" by Mary Sweeney is an excellent if more expensive alternative. My point is that there are many ways to grow plants, and jumping from web site to web site will tend to give you information overload, and mixing and matching different techniques may not work. Getting a book, reading through at least one basic method, and then using that to start with is a good water to go.>
I'm sure that this is still possible through using these plants (as I'm determined to do so). Also, I completely blanked out when I was describing my bulb, because as soon as you said compact florescent, I gave myself a smack to the face (sometime simple knowledge escapes me when I need it haha)! So anyway getting back on track I also have that 20 gallon tall I was asking you about with all the puffer questions (by the way thank you for the insight on the red tailed puffers, as I'm pretty sure that is what will be living in there soon). Do you have any set recommendations on a brand name hood and lights that would provide oodles of watts (and good spectrum color), thus allowing me to get deeper into the more demanding of light gobbling plant species?
<They're all much of a muchness. Any given tube of the same wattage and colour temperature will work about as well as any other, even tubes not designed for plants or even aquaria. Lots of people grow plants using tubes bought from hardware stores.>
Right now I have the single florescent tube holding hood that came with the tank, and this I know is not enough (through experimentation with 2-3 plants).
<Indeed. You do need at least 1-1.5 watts/gallon for things like Anubias and Java fern, and at least 2 watts per gallon if you're going to be a bit more adventurous. Bear in mind those Amano tanks with plants growing like a rainforest demand very high wattages, typically 3, 4 or 5 watts/gallon, coupled with CO2 and at least some sort of mineral fertilisation. Cheers, Neale.>

uv lighting 9/3/10
Goot Marnin- Query/ do plant lights carry enough U. V. light spectrum for aqua plants and captive reptiles/amphibians?
<No. Note that not all reptiles need UV-B light, and I don't think any amphibians need it. Among reptiles, anything nocturnal will usually get by without UV-B light, though there's some evidence even nocturnal reptiles such as night geckos will bask occasionally, and that in the vivarium providing at least some UV-B can improve their health. With that said though, it's the day-active species that bask in the Sun that need UV-B -- i.e., tortoises, turtles, iguanas, anoles, monitors, boas, etc.>
I have called as many of the providers and manufacturers of grow light and plant lights that I could locate and receive the same answer from each.
<Indeed?>
"Well, it says right here.!" Hey, I can read the label and there is nothing written either way. They all are very nice folks to visit with, however they will not or can't give me a straight answer. .Reptile U.V.
bulbs in the local fish and reptile houses start around 60.00 dollars each, a wee bit pricey for a bulb that will run out of juice in a month or so.
<Should last 6-12 months depending on the brand.>
Plant bulbs run around five dollars each.
<Not here in England they don't.>
These bulbs also phase out after thirty or so days.
<Again, should last about 12 months.>
I realize we get what we pay for, however, I am rather frugal, (tight), and I am looking for that extra penny to put back for feed and such.
<Fool's economy. Lack of UV-B is one of the PRIME reasons reptiles get ill.>
Spending 60.00 versus 5.00 makes a big difference in the old pocket book.
On the other hand keeping my aqua beasties, aqua plants and reptiles happy is my main concern. Any help would be appreciated. Danke, Bob
<You really do need tubes designed for reptiles. What we call UV light is actually a range of wavelengths, and reptiles need a specific band of wavelengths, known as UV-B, as well as a certain intensity. Cigarette
lighters and furnaces both produce flames, but they're used for totally different things. Same here. You can get some excellent lights that combine heat with UV-B, and these are good value purchases.
Cheers, Neale.>  

Lighting, FW, plants, lamps   8/7/09
Hello Crew, Hope all is going well for you today. I have a lighting question, please. I have a 75 gallon FW tank 24" high by 48" long. I know the bulbs I use are overdue for replacement and I would like to get your
opinion. One of the bulbs I currently have is a Coralife color max freshwater bulb and the other is a 5000K full spectrum bulb (cri unknown).
Anyway, I have all fish with some java ferns in the tank. I would like to get your opinion as to whether or not it is OK to stay with the color max bulb, and if you have a specific recommendation for a full spectrum bulb.
Obviously I want enough light to reach the bottom of the tank and show off the fish, but not unnecessary brightness to promote extra algae. I don't know if 5000K is enough since I have read that it should be between 5500 and 6500. with a CRI of as close to 100 as possible. If you don't mind I would appreciate your opinion. Thank you,
James
<Hi James. The simple solution is this: if your Java fern is happy enough, then leave things be for now. You will have to replace the tube within 6-18 months depending on the brand, at which point, swap the tube for a plant-friendly one of your choice. I happen to like the Triton brand, but choose whatever you like. Your fish will show their best colours under dim light, and algae tends to be a problem in tanks with just Java ferns
because Java ferns grow so slowly. Consider adding some floating plants, such as Indian Fern and/or Amazon Frogbit. These adaptable plants provide shade, while also combating algae very effectively. Cheers, Neale.>

Lighting, FW, plants, lamps   8/7/09
So you agree that both a color enhancing bulb as well as a full spectrum bulb are a good combination?
<If you want. Some people have mixed Gro-Lux colour-enhancing tubes with full-spectrum tubes and had good results. If your plants didn't need especially strong lighting, then that mix would be fine. Java ferns don't really care, and floating plants are close enough to the top that Gro-Lux tubes actually work very well. On the other hand, strongly blue tubes (like Actinics) don't really do much for plant growth, and are best avoided. Look for "warm" rather than "cool" outputs.>
And which bulb do I look for to be plant friendly, the full spectrum?
<Full-spectrum is good, yes. But simply visit your retailer and see what they have. Incidentally, even generic tubes sold for domestic use can be fine, provided the colour temperature is about right, 6500 K being ideal.>
And is 5000K ok or should I reduce or add to that?
<Doesn't matter hugely, so by all means try it out, and see what happens.
"Warmer" colour temperatures (more red) tend to penetrate water less effectively, so the problem is they work less well in deep tanks. But the plants themselves can adapt quite well to a wide range of colour
temperatures, provided intensity -- at the depth they're growing at -- is acceptable.>
I wish I had know that about java fern and algae. I wouldn't have gotten it.
<Common mistake with both Java fern and Anubias, both of which are algae magnets. Hence, when I talk about dealing with algae, I consistently mention the need to use fast-growing plants. Indian fern, Hygrophila,
Vallisneria, etc. are all good.>
Thanks again, Neale.
James
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Lighting, FW  8/9/09
Neale, I am sorry to be so ignorant on this, so please bear with me. You mentioned in an earlier e-mail that fishes colors are shown off best with lower lighting.
<Fish with fixed reddish colours, like Goldfish, look "nicer" under pinkish lights, and most freshwater fish that can change their colours, have their best colouration under dim lighting. Fish will fade their colours in bright light so as not to attract predators.>
But here you mention 6500K. Isn't that considered bright and not low lighting?
<Colour temperature and brightness of the lighting are different things.
You can have bright lights at a low colour temperature, and dim lights at a high colour temperature. As an analogy, think of "volume" and "bass" on your music player. They both measure what you hear, but they each measure different aspects.>
I thought the Kelvin (K) determined the intensity of the light.
<No, colour temperature is a measurement of how the different wavelengths across the visible light spectrum are spread out. At a low temperature, most of light is emitted at the low wavelength end, towards the reds. At a high temperature, most of the light is at the high wavelengths, the blues.
You can have a pair of 50 W bulbs that produce the same amount of light (Lux, what your camera detects when automatically adjusting for exposure) and yet each have different colour temperatures.>
Also you mentioned to try to stay with warm outputs and later you said warm (more red) did not penetrate as much in deep tanks.
<Correct. Gro-Lux lights for example were specifically invented for growing plants in greenhouses. They have a low colour temperature, and to our eyes seem pinkish. This is great for plants, since photosynthesis is most sensitive to red light, and somewhat less sensitive to blue light. However, when a Gro-Lux light is used over an aquarium, plant growth is often disappointing because water attenuates red light more quickly than blue.
This is why underwater films of coral reefs always seem blue: because the red light has been cut out. Conversely, it's why deep water coral reef fish are often red: there's no red light in the deep water, so they appear black to other fish at that depth.>
Do you feel that a color enhancing bulb added with a full spectrum makes the fish look better or will using 2 full spectrum bulbs together provide the same effect?
<It is indeed very common for people to use a mix of tubes. Provided you're reasonably generous with the watts per gallon, then one "warm" tube and one "cool" tube (in terms of colour temperature) can look really nice. That said, I'd encourage you to stick with what are called "full spectrum" or "daylight" tubes simply because, even if not ideal, they seem to be very reliable, and "punch" the light down to the bottom of tanks better than the warmer, redder, low colour temperature tubes. So they're good value. Of course, if you have low-light submerged plants, then a mix of one warm and one cool tube isn't so bad, and floating plants aren't bothered by the lack of penetration by warm tubes because they're *above* the water, not below it. So they're good choices for tanks with one reddish tube and one bluish tube.>
and lastly, does the Indian fern break into small mush pieces once in the water or are they sturdy?
<It's sturdy.>
Sorry for so many questions. Thanks.
James
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: CRI, Photosynthesis 6/27/09
Thank you.
<You're welcome.>
My questions were mostly instigated by an article by Bob Fenner on the website. Is that article very old, and should I not concern myself too greatly with the CRI nowadays, except to get a natural looking light?
<Bob may know when that article was written, but since you make no mention of the article title, no cigar.
What are you trying to grow, plants? James (Salty Dog)>
Joey E

Re: CRI, Photosynthesis  6/28/09
<Bob,
I put the above query in your in box as the gent wanted to know if the mentioned article you wrote was dated.
James >
Yes yes, plants. The detailed and very useful article in question is called "Light and Lighting for the Planted Aquarium."
Thanks James.
<Yes... about twenty years olde. BobF, much older still, though the subject material/science in the piece are still valid, pertinent today>

Advice/Ideas for Low-light, 10 Gallon Tank 6/25/09
Hey guys and gals,
<Hello,>
I'm working on getting a 10 gallon planted tank planned out. It has the standard leader dimensions. Marineland 100 Power Filter, Red Sea Flora Base, All-Glass Deluxe Fluorescent Hood. There will be a low amount of light in terms of wattage, because I cannot afford a more high-tech set-up right now. Thus, I will use only one 15 watt bulb.
<This isn't much light: make your plant species choices very, very carefully or you'll be disappointed.>
I've been researching bulbs with optimal spectral characteristics that still maintain a suitable color temperature and CRI. That process has been frustrating, because good information is somewhat difficult to find. When it is found, it can be more difficult to synthesize/analyze it with other sources. However, I'm wondering about the Zoo Med Flora Sun Max Plant Growth bulbs. Are they a good option?
<At the wattage you're working at, and the very limited plant species that would be viable, either would be fine, as would any other plant-friendly strip light.>
Also, given the proposed set-up, can you guys recommend a good carpet plant that will readily spread across the substrate, filling all the empty spaces?
<None; all the "carpeting" species required bright light; as you'd expect, a plant stuck at the bottom of a pond or river wouldn't be growing somewhere shady because there'd be no light there at all!>
Some plants I'm interested in utilizing to create the entire set up are Hygrophila polysperma (Big-leaf or normal variety),
<Poor choice; needs lots of light otherwise becomes etiolated.>
Hygrophila corymbosa 'Siamensis' and 'Siamensis 53,'
<Not going to work; these need lots and lots of light, and get very tall anyway, so would look stupid in 10 gallons.>
verities of Cryptocoryne becketti and wendtii,
<Should grow fine; would stick them in pots, add fertiliser pellets as required.>
verities of Microsorum pteropus,
<Should do well; obviously doesn't care about the substrate since it grows attached to wood.>
Pogostemon helferi,
<Doubt this will grow.>
Riccia fluitans,
<Never had much luck with this under low lighting conditions; might work as a "floater" but probably won't attached to stuff.>
Hemianthus callitrichoides,
<Forget it.>
Monosolenium tenerum,
<Prefers good light; might grow under lower light levels, but forget about
the thick green mats you see in showpiece tanks - it'll probably get overgrown with Java moss or even algae first.>
and Taxiphyllum barbieri (Vesicularia).
<Should do fine, though I find it a very temperamental species that doesn't always work in situations where you think it should.>
Do these (or some of these) sound like good options for me?
<Not all of them, no.>
Will any of the last plants listed spread enough and stay low enough to form a thick carpet?
<No. You simply can't create "carpets" of green under low light conditions.>
Thanks for your guidance in advance. You folks are a big help.
With gratitude,
Joey E
<Under low light, Java fern, Java moss, and Anubias are the three most reliable choice. All of these are epiphytes, so they're attached to bogwood or rocks, and don't care about the substrate used. Crypts can work under low light conditions if Cheers, Neale.>  

FW Planted Tank. Lighting 4/11/2009
Hello,
<Hi Delina>
I would appreciate some advice regarding the adjustment of lighting for my planted tank. First, let me describe my setup:
20 gallons
heavily planted with a variety of plants
1 Betta, 2 guppies, 3 Danios, 6 Otos
1 Aqueon Power filter (that came with the tank) and one Aquaclear 50 filter
heater, temp at 78
CO2 is the Turbo CO2 Bio Power System
substrate is eco-complete, with Seachem Flourish tabs recently put in, although I'm not sure I need them.
<I use them from time to time, definitely not on a regular basis.>
I use a tap water filter that deionizes my water and then I add the pH adjuster drops and mineral/electrolyte drops
<Sounds good so far.>
This is the middle of April. I set up my tank in February. The tank is in the living room, in my NY apartment. The living room has two walls that are almost entirely glass from waist height to ceiling, along the
long north wall, and the short east wall. We are across from a park, so the apartment gets almost unobstructed light. (I'm sure you can now guess where this question is going).
<Heheheh... I think so..>
Until about the 21st of March, everything was going reasonably well. Then, the sun moved far enough
north that the tank began getting oblique rays of early morning sun. I knew that direct sun was not good unless I had a serious CO2 set up, which I do not. So, I put the shades down until about 10am, when the
direct sun left the apartment. However, I didn't realize that very bright, indirect sun could also be a problem-- so, algae.
<.. and lots of it I'm sure...>
In my attempts to control the algae, I did too many water changes (50% once a day) and changed my filter cartridges, and killed a lot of my good bacteria. I developed milky water, so I started added Cycle and
Stability and whatever else I could find that promised to add good bacteria back into my system. I also bought a product called Algae Magic, which seems to work well. At the moment, everything is back to
clear.
<Ok>
My phosphates are usually about .1 and the pH is around 7.4. It was 6.4 before I added the second filter, but the increased water agitation brought the ph up. I also have a drop-pH indicator and the color is green with a blue tint, ie. not quite enough co2, but okay.
<As a general rule, do not trust these. A simple test kit is much more accurate.>
I realize I could deal with the intense light we get by either 1) putting all the shades down, and living in a cave, or 2) buying a real c02 setup with a bottle and regulator, etc. but that seems excessive for my 20 gallon fish tank initially purchased because our kids like fish.
<I understand.>
Or-- perhaps I could work with the intensity of my lighting?
I currently have one 65 watt compact fluorescent bulb, 6700K sitting directly over my glass lid. I have read that it's the intensity of light that matters, more so than the duration,
<Both actually. Do read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/lightingags.htm >
so it won't help to simply have the light on from, say, 10-2 and use the natural, non- direct bright light from 2 onward. (even when there is no direct sun in the apartment, it reflects off the building across the street on
the north side).
<Actually, this may work just fine, natural lighting is used by many public aquariums as well.>
So, to what degree should I lessen my lighting, to keep my system in harmony and keep the algae from taking over? My plants are a mixture of fast-growing grasses, sword-type plants, and one bulb plant. They
are doing fine, and I'm sure would be fine with less light.
Or, is my only true solution(other than shades all day) to get a real co2 system?
<I agree that a full blown CO2 system is extreme overkill for a system of this size. Given the tank size, your fish, and the small CO2 system you do have, you should be more than adequate.
Given that you have ample indirect sunlight, I would modify your lighting to suit you. Plants do require x number of hours of light per day, but there is nothing wrong with using natural light when available, and then
using artificial light when it isn't available. "Dawn" as far as the plants and fish are concerned, can be whenever you want it to be. With my planted tank, my plants need 12 hours of lighting per day. Using a simple timer I set the lights to turn on at 11AM, and off at 11PM. So in your case, for example, if you are home during the evenings and not home during the day, turn the light on when the natural light starts to diminish. So "dawn" is at 2PM, the lights turn on when the natural light diminishes, and "sunset" is when you turn the lights off.>
thanks so much in advance,
<My Pleasure>
Delina
<Mike>

Good plants/lighting for 52 gallon basement tank..   2/25/09 I have a 52 gallon basement tank, 36, inches long,15 inches wide 20 inches deep. I plan on stocking with Rams and cardinal tetras. I plan on using RO water- PH of 6, and adding driftwood to the setup. I was wondering what types of plants like the water rams like, Also the substrate is Sand, river sand, I collected from a river by my house (to save $$) Any good choices? Some here, say Cryptocoryne and Limnobium as good for my tank Thanks. <Greetings. Mikrogeophagus ramirezi really doesn't care about plants, so I'd actually focus more on their other needs. Since they don't like bright light, and their colours look best in peat-stained water, your use of bogwood to create hiding places is good. Add to these some Java moss and you'll be doing even better. Add to the top floating plants, ideally Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum) and Indian fern (Ceratopteris) and you're well set. Otherwise, no really need for plants. This will simplify maintenance dramatically: the river sand can be a shallow bed, and the Rams will forage naturally in the sand. You can easily move bogwood and Java moss clumps about if required. The floating plants will create shade and also remove nitrate at a very fast rate, optimising water quality. Cheers, Neale.>

Too much light for "low maintenance" plants?   11/28/08 Sir or madam: After reading quite a bit on the W.W.M. site and others, I am just getting my feet (and plants) wet, with regard to growing aquatic plants, for the first time. Based upon what I've studied, I decided to try plants such as Java Fern, Anubias, and perhaps Bolbitis, by tying them to pieces of driftwood, and placing them in my 24" deep, community aquarium. I do NOT intend to use CO2 injection, but would be willing to use a product, such as Seachem Flourish, for example. Here is where I am puzzled. My light fixture has eight 54-watt T5 bulbs in it. Based upon what I've read, that is a pretty decent amount of light. But some writers seem to suggest that if I use THAT MUCH light, then my plants will REQUIRE CO2 injection, BECAUSE of the intensity of the light. If that is true, I would like to know about it. I have the option of only having half of my T5 bulbs turn on each day, which would be 54-watts x 4 = 216 watts, (instead of 432 watts). I will run my lights however you suggest, but please explain about this light intensity / CO2 relationship. I asked my husband, who also keeps several aquariums, and he is baffled by this, as well. Thank you for helping me. Debbi <Hello Debbi. The slow-growing, epiphytic plants you are choosing to use are very easy to maintain in some ways. They are completely indifferent to the type of substrate for example, because they extract nutrients from the water instead. They grow so slowly CO2 fertilisation doesn't tend to matter much. Finally, they don't need as much light as many other plants, particularly in the case of Anubias, a species well adapted to shady environments. Java fern will do just fine under bright light without CO2 fertilisation, but Anubias is a special case. It isn't the bright light as such that causes problems, but the excessive growth of algae. You have two options: you can reduce the amount of light, or you can put some floating plants (such as Indian fern) in between the lights and the Anubias. Both approaches work well. Since these plants never grow rapidly, the whole CO2 issue is largely academic because the available CO2 already in the water should be ample. Without knowing the size of the tank it's difficult to say whether you have too much light or not, but if you have around 1.5 to 2.5 watts per gallon, any algae problems should be minimal and manageable. Since T5 lights are slightly brighter than T8 lights, you may actually prefer to go a bit lower, say 1-2 watts per gallon. But in all honesty it's a case of trial and error: see what happens, and if the Anubias gets covered in algae, reduce the light intensity (but not the light duration) and/or add some floating plants. Cheers, Neale.>

Too much light for plants? Response to Neale 11/28/08 Hello again, Neale. Thank you for your help. I understand what you are saying. This is a 120 gallon tank. (I thought I was telling you enough, by saying that it is 24" deep.) I will adjust my light timers, so only half the lights are on at a time. That will make it 216 watts at one time. Should I still shoot for 12 hours of lights per day? Finally, my plants are new, so there is no algae on the Anubias yet, but the algae growth on the glass has been VERY aggressive, even though I keep my nitrates low, by faithful water changes. Thank you again. Debbi in Wisconsin. Or should I say, "Cheers!"? <Hi Debbi. It's quite normal to keep an aquarium illuminated for only 10 hours, so you can make a cutback right there. It's also entirely normal for a new aquarium to go through a diatom bloom. Diatoms are brownish-gold in colour and are usually on the glass but sometimes bloom in the water and make it cloudy. It's exactly the same problem as is seen in marine tanks, and usually goes away by itself. If you're really fussed, then get some Nerite snails to clean the glass. Nitrate and phosphate levels have little to zero influence on this diatom bloom. It's all down to time and waiting for the unstable conditions in the aquarium to settle. Anyway, slow-growing plants have zero impact on algae. Fast-growing plants very effectively suppress algae, but slow-growing plants do not. Again, a good reason to add some Indian ferns or something floating and fast-growing to the mix. Cheers, Neale.>

Suitable fish? Loach comp., planted sys. lgtg.   10/1/08
Hello Crew
<Sam>
Hope you are well. I'm writing to ask today if a Yoyo loach would be a suitable addition to my 40 gallon tank.
<"A", as in one? Loaches are social animals... really only happy in a grouping>
I have a bit of a snail problem and read the yoyo loach eat snails.
<Mmm, yes>
I also find them attractive. The tank is well planted with a couple of pieces of driftwood. The other inhabitants are:
12 neon tetras
2 male guppies
2 Endler's guppies
4 female guppies
6 baby guppies
3 albino Cory catfish
1 Bristlenose catfish
The filtration is internal and 1500L/hr. I've had it up and running about a month now but took the filter media out of my old tank into the new one to seed the bacteria. Also I was wondering if I have enough light for my plants? I have 90cm 30 watt light and a small one which I added from my old tank which is only 8 watt.
<Mmm, really, you need/want 2-3 or more times this amount of lighting>
My banana plant which I've had for months and has grown well has started to turn stringy and slimy and doesn't have many roots or leaves left.
<Likely the lighting...>
I have a purple waffle plant
<Mmm, not really an aquatic species...>
and its leaves seem to be falling off a lot, besides that it seems healthy and its roots are starting to bury into the substrate. All the other plants seem fine. Thank you.
<I'd look into more light... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/lightingags.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Never Mind! Purple "waffle"
Hi again!
I recently wrote this morning mentioning that I had a purple waffle that was loosing leaves and was wondering why. Well don't bother answering because I've done a little research, the LFS ripped me off! Its not a true aquatic plant and will rot underwater slowly! That really makes me mad. Just thought I'd let you know so I don't waste your time.
Thanks
<Well done! BobF>

Planted tank lighting question... 9/24/08
Hello crew!
First let me say THANK YOU for this "brain trust" you've created. It's a life saver! I'm learning so much! Yesterday, I read Dr. Fenner's
<Just "Bob" please. I have no doctorate>
article regarding lighting for planted tanks, and thought I understood. Today, however, while reading the Planted Tank FAQs I discovered I'm not so sure.
So here's my question. Should I care more about WPG or Lumens?
<The latter for sure. Watts per Gallon is only a very general "rule of thumb">
Allow me to elaborate. I thought I understood Dr. Fenner to say that 1 to 2 watts per gallon was roughly equal to 50 to 100 lumens.
<Yes... for many "types" of lighting technology this is so>
If I understand that correctly, then for an average 55g tank (depending on MANY things, but setting those aside for the moment) one would want 55 to 110 watts OR 2750 to 5500 lumens. This is an important point to me for this reason, if the flora in an aquarium want 110W, but the fauna prefers say 40W or less, than an ideal light would be a 40W with 2750+ lumens, right?
<Mmm, possibly>
Now, mind you, I am BRAND NEW to this hobby and am clueless about, well, basically everything.
So for all I know a 40W with 2750 lumens is just as visibly bright to the fauna in a tank as a 110W bulb. But I'm hoping that's not the case. Also, is there somewhere I can find a chart, or perhaps you could tell me, how many lumens or watts correspond to low, medium, and high light requirements?
<Ahh! I think I'm understanding the gist of your query here... and thankfully there is a "better" (or further) answer for you in the use of a practical light (lumen, or better "PAR" (a measure of useful photonic energy) meters... Do check on the Net, your LFSs, re whether they have a unit you may borrow perhaps... To test for the actual amount of light at depth in your setting...>
For instance, if my Limnobium spongia has medium-high light requirements, is there a minimum number of lumens or watts that corresponds with?
<There are... and I'm tempted to proffer "just" a simple number, or range here... but I myself would rather read a bit more re what is involved here... Have you been introduced to the Aquarium Gardener's site: the Krib (.com)?
I encourage you to peruse the excellent articles here:
http://www.thekrib.com/Lights/>
Thanks again for the site and the answers!
Laura
<I do hope we get an opportunity to chat further. Bob Fenner>

Re: Planted tank lighting question... 9/24/08
Thanks so much for the response. I will do as you suggest and check out the Krib. I, too, look forward to chatting further.
Laura
<Ahh! BobF>

Freshwater planted tank lighting and filtration   8/6/08 Hi there :) <Ave,> I recently set up a new freshwater tank which is 33"x18"(H)x15". I bought a complete set-up with the lighting and filter integrated into the hood intending to just have a community tank with a few plants. However, now I'd like to focus more on the plants and see how well they can do. The system I bought seems to be a little odd so I wanted your advice on what I need to change and what I can get away with leaving in place. I live in the Philippines and equipment is very difficult to find here - I'll most likely have to buy whatever I need next time I'm in the UK or USA and bring it back... <Plants are generally easier to keep with "non specialist" equipment than, say, corals. All they really care about is a decent substrate (aquatic/pond soil mixed with silica sand and topped with gravel will do) and 2-4 W per gallon lighting around the 5500-6500 K level.> Lighting - the tank has 3 15,000k tubes that came with the tank. No problem I thought, I'll just buy lower kelvin tubes and replace them, which I did (Arcadia Freshwater tubes, which I found by a miracle). Only to discover to my horror when I got the new tubes home that the light fittings are non-standard sizes! Instead of 2 30" tubes and a 24" tube which I thought the tank had, I now find it has a 2 x 29 1/2" tubes and 1 x 23 1/4"! Have you heard of this before? <Nope. Just goes to show... read the manual, check the specifications, and _then_ buy replacement fittings. In any case, hoods designed for marine aquaria may well be built for a selection of T5, T8 and Actinic tubes rather than the generic T8 tubes usually used on freshwater tanks.> It's a few years since I was in the hobby but after asking people here in the Philippines, no-one seems to have heard of new sizes. Very weird... So my choices seem to be either to stick with the 15,000k tubes or replace the entire fittings and tubes. What do you think? <To be honest, I'd stick with what you have, but use lots of floating plants to shade the aquatic plants (especially things like Cryptocoryne and Anubias that don't like strong, direct light). Floating plants will also help deal with algae until such time as the fast-growing rooted plats (Rotala, Hygrophila, Cabomba, Bacopa, etc.) get established. Once those plants are growing rapidly, they'll prevent algae from becoming a problem via allelopathy.> I've been getting good growth on Crypts, Amazon Swords and a few others but stem plants become very leggy quickly. <Invariably occurs where stem plants aren't getting enough light. They become etiolated -- i.e., very tall, so the leaves can get close to the light. In strong lighting this won't happen, especially if you prune these fast-growing plants rigourously. So review the strength of the lighting, bearing in mind these fast-growing stem species typically want 3 W or more per gallon.> Bacopa seems to only grow slightly but at least it's not losing leaves. How about algae? Do you think it will be encouraged by my tubes at the expense of the plants? <Algae will be a problem for the first few weeks while the plants acclimatise. Inevitably plants become "shocked" when planted in a new tank because their roots get damaged in transit and when you place them in the substrate. It also takes plants a while to adjust to different levels of lighting. Floating plants will help, even Duckweed! Once the plants are spreading (you'll see shoots and daughter plants) then the plants will largely control the algae for you.> There's a bit of brown algae kicking off in a few parts of the tank... <Diatoms are normal in new tanks, and usually go away eventually. Hair/brush algae (red algae) tends to sprout from the edges of leaves, especially plants like Cryptocoryne and Anubias that grow slowly and aren't adapted to direct light. Some fish and invertebrates will help; I'd recommend algae-eating shrimps (e.g., Cherry Shrimps) and Nerite snails. Florida Flagfish and Siamese Algae Eaters are also excellent for algae control.> Filter - the tank came with a wet-dry trickle filter. I understand that in planted tanks it's better to avoid much surface disturbance so I've modified the water level in the filter so that the spray bar now delivers the water directly under water, but the return to the tank is still via a jet which sucks in quite a bit of air. Do you think this is likely to be a problem? <Not really. CO2 makes good systems better; it isn't the deciding factor that makes a failing system fail.> If I add a CO2 system will it be a waste of money or is it still worth investing in? <By all means buy a CO2 system. Will do no harm. But will it turn around a tank where the plants are "leggy" or don't grow at all... no.> Many thanks in advance for all your help! Dylan <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Fish Compatibility, now plant sys.   8/5/08 Thank you for the help... <You're welcome.> I have gotten several mixed advice/comments about the amount of gravel in my tank, some say not more than 1/4 inch and you say more for the plants, so I'm going to add some sand in and make it about 3cm and see how the plants get by <Hmm... mixed advice from anyone who knows what they're talking about? Plants fall into three groups: floating plants, epiphytes, and rooted plants. Well, there's actually a fourth group ion the aquarium trade, plants that die under water. Widely sold to less experienced hobbyists, so do make sure can positively identify any plant you buy. The list of non-aquatics sold to inexperienced hobbyists is long and drives me absolutely bananas. Anyway, floating plants obviously don't care about the substrate. Epiphytes (Java fern, Java moss and Anubias for example) don't care either because you mustn't plant them (they'll rot) and have to be attached to bogwood or porous rocks (another common mistake here). Rooted plants should be able to dig into the substrate, and while you might get lucky, don't bank on it. They like a deep substrate because they need poorly-oxidised water to extract minerals. To cut a long story short, plants use minerals in their reduced state (mostly) and that means the minerals have to be in the relatively anoxic part of the substrate. Since oxygen easily diffuses a few cm into gravel (less into sand) the top 2-3 cm at least contains only oxidised mineral ions the plants can't use. Net result, the plants starve and you see the leaves turning yellow.> ...as for the lighting, I'll leave it on so they'll get the benefit of sunlight and the tank light and hopefully won't encourage more algae than my snails can take care of. <Do remember that LENGTH of light doesn't compensate for LOW light intensity. Plants MUST have precisely 10-12 hours lighting. Too little, and they won't grow; too much and you get algae and no benefits to the plant. A timer is recommended. Growing live plants is extremely challenging, and the number of aquarists who try and fail is huge. Likely the majority. Gets expensive (and tedious) very quickly if you don't get the lighting/substrate right FROM THE START. I am trying to save you time/money here, so please read around the topic in a good aquarium plant book! Thanks! Lyssa <Cheers, Neale.>

Planted Tank Question   12/17/06 Hi Crew,  I have been drifting in and out of the aquarium hobby for the last 30 years and drifted back in a couple of years ago when I purchased a used 150g tank.  At first, I over-wintered a couple of pond fish in the tank and wrote to the Crew a couple of times regarding filtration.  I finally gave the pond fish to a friend with an in-ground pond and decided to change my tank over  to freshwater tropical fish and plants. ( I wrote to the Crew again while I was researching plants and lighting).  I finally made the necessary decisions and, during the past 6 months, have gotten the tank together.  After researching lighting and plant options and looking at lots and lots of pictures of planted tanks, I decided to go the lower tech route of NO fluorescent lamps, so I have 300 watts with a combination of FloraSun, UltraSun, and Tri-chromatic lamps. <Should work>   The lighting period is 10 hours per day broken up by a 2 hour siesta, I read somewhere that a lighting break was helpful in decreasing algae. <Interesting> I've decorated the tank with a couple of large pieces of bogwood, a couple of large resin ornaments, and several smaller rocks and ceramic pieces (kind of a what you'd find off the end of the dock aquascaping theme).  For plants, I started with jungle Val, spiral Val, 3 small swords, various crypts, java moss and some java fern.  I just picked up some Anubias today.  The Val has taken off and I think I'd describe the tank as pretty heavily planted right now.       For filtration, I'm running an Emperor 400 with PhosPure pads <Mmm... do you have a phosphate issue? I would not use this or other chemical filtrants... for fear of lack of essential nutrients> and 2 HOT Magnums.  I was using an old Magnum 350 till it gave up the ghost, so I got out the HOT magnums that I used previously.  I use one just for bio-media and I use a micron filter in the other which I rinse and change out weekly. <Good routine>   Each filter is cleaned once a month.  (I pulled out the UGF after I gave away the pond fish and learned that UGFs had fallen out of favor in the hobby). <In many cases, places, yes> I have been doing a 30% water change weekly, a habit I got into with the pond fish, and vacuum through the gravel at the front of the tank, can't get to any more of it due to tank decor and plants.   <Good>      For fish, I have an adult red-tailed shark, 6 Otocinclus, 9 true SAEs, 7 gold barbs and 12 Kuhli loaches.  I went over my self-imposed limit of 30 fish when I found the 5 banded Kuhli loaches, they are my favorites.   <Heeee! Reads like a nice mix>      I'm pretty happy with how things are going in the tank right now.  We weathered an outbreak of green slimy algae that spread over the gravel, the plants must have reached the critical point in outcompeting the algae for nutrients, and I don't add any fertilizer.  I feed once a day, Hikari micropellets and a sinking wafer, and supplement once or twice a week with either frozen brine shrimp or blood worms.   I even have a quarantine tank for the first time. <Good>      Here are my questions;  there is a healthy stand of either hair or thread algae on one of the resin ornaments.  Can't scrape it off because the finish of the ornament scrapes off with it.  I usually end up just pulling out what I can by hand each time I change water.  As the SAEs mature, will they do a better job with that algae or do I need to reconcile myself to hand gardening? <Perhaps a bit of both... I would try not to be too anxious here>   Is the maintenance routine adequate?   <Yes> Should I add, or subtract, any other maintenance procedures? <Mmm, no...> And,  how long can a set-up like this continue, or will  it need to be torn down and re-established someday? <Good question... likely will want/need to break down... take all out... completely, wash the old substrate... place new "soil" under/twixt... perhaps add heating cables as some part of new/upgrade... in a "couple of years"... perhaps a year and a half (am possessed of strong intuition pet-fish wise)> Hoping, of course, that any outbreaks of disease or parasites are avoided.      <Oh yes>      Since I found Wet Web Media, I read the freshwater FAQs daily.  The articles are a wonderful resource and I thank you for being there for those of us who have questions.  Kerry <And thank you for sharing your experiences... Of great use, inspiration to others. Bob Fenner> Freshwater planted aquarium lighting  - 11/09/06 Hi Crew, <Chris> I am following some advice that I received from your website regarding lighting.  I've searched high and low for compact fluorescent 55 watt, dual  tube, full spectrum bulbs that are 6500K and have a CRI of 90 or  more.  No one has them and when I go into a lighting store they look at me  as though I am crazy.  I feel like I am going crazy though.  I Google  it and also get nothing.   Can you tell me where I can order them.   Thanks Sincerely, Chris <Mmm... specific ratings may not be available... look for lamps of at least 5,500 Kelvin, higher than a CRI of 90 or more in this length... call, write the etailers posted on WWM, the Net re. Bob Fenner>

FW Plants Doing Poorly  9/8/06 Hi. I'm rather confused regarding the CRI, wattage & colour temperature? What are the differences between these? <CRI stands for color rendering index. This means how the colors look compared to sunlight which would have a CRI of 100. Wattage is the power needed to run the bulb. Color Temp refers to the hue or color of a light source.> For keeping plants, which is the 1 that influences the plant growth? < Of the three probably color temp.> I know that in keeping plants, the wattage needed is about 2-3 watts per gallon & the colour temperature is around 5000K.But currently, I uses a bulb which has 20W and the colour temperature is 7000K & my plants still won't thrive. My tank is a 90cm by 45cm by 45cm.So could you please advice? < Lots of variables that are unknown. This is a quick general run down. Stem plants are fairly fast growers and need bright light and lots of nutrients. Without the nutrients the plants do poorly. Med light plants like swords and crypts don't grow as fast and don't need as many nutrients. Low light plants like Anubias and java fern don't even need a substrate and do just fine tied to a rock or piece of driftwood.-Chuck> Two questions: Planted tank lighting, filter choice   8/6/06 Good evening! <Yawnnnn! AM now> I loooove your site and have been on it for the last 3 hours reading and trying to learn. I have done searches within the FAQ's and forums. I have learned a lot, but unfortunately I am a person who has a very difficult time understanding information. <?> I have read and re-read many articles and forums. I also realize the two questions I have are ones that can take paragraphs to answer but hopefully I can cover enough in my question to need only minimal answers. I currently have a 3 month old 50 acrylic planted tank with 10 cardinal tetras, 4 Glowlight tetras, two Cory cats, 5 japonica shrimp, 3 Featherfin rainbows and two Oto cats. My plants are doing fine and are sprouting out new growth right and left - even little roots from the leaves. I have primarily Java ferns, Swords, Val.s and Sagittaria, but have two bunch plants: Hornwort and Fanwort. I have Eco Complete substrate mixed with gravel. I also have several pieces of driftwood which gives that water a pale amber colour. I do 10 - 20% water changes every other week. My water is good: 0 nitrite, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrate, ph 7.4. temp 76. I am using a small pump on the bottom of the tank to circulate water and have an Eheim 2215 as the main filter. There are still small particulates in the water. <Yes... will be so till the driftwood completely dissolves or is removed> I do not have a CO2 system in place. The lighting was heavily pushed/recommended to me by my LFS: one Coralife strip with 2 ESU Reptile Desert 7% UVB F18 T5 BP bulbs and a second light strip with 1@10000K, F20 T12 BP bulb. <Interesting. Should work> Here are my questions: Is my lighting sufficient for a planted tank? <Mmm... yes... though, could be improved> LFS trying to convince me to buy a VHO light strip with bulbs. I cannot quite remember, but there are four bulbs altogether (two pairs) and the bulbs seem to be attached to each other. Each pair of bulbs has a white bulb and a blue bulb. There are two little fans on the lighting strip. <Mmm... you don't need the "blue bulbs"...> I am adding another filter to work alongside the 2215: either an Eheim 2026 or 2028. Which would be better? <The larger...> I can't thank you enough for any help you can provide. Your site is fantastic and I really appreciate the fact that you guys maintain not only the site, but still have time to answer questions. Thank you in advance and I certainly understand if you receive too many questions to respond. Sincerely, Beverley <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/lightingags.htm and the linked files above. Perhaps writing down what you consider pertinent facts one by one... a technique I developed to help me concentrate/focus, and remember. Bob Fenner>

Lighting for a 125 gallon freshwater planted tank... Not ready   7/26/06    I am currently trying to replace the lighting for my 125 gallon freshwater/planted tank and have been having trouble knowing what is best to get.  The lighting I was considering was the Coralife Lunar Aqualight Deluxe Series-72" (4X96W) with 5- 3/4W Blue-Moon-Glow LED Lamps, <Mmm, you don't need these... more for looks here> but I am unsure if this will work with freshwater as it has 2 96w 10000k daylight bulbs and 2 True Actinic 03 Blue. <Nor this last. If you go with this fixture, I'd switch out the actinic for more "white" lamps> I am also not sure if the fish I have make a difference but I have 1 Australian blue lobster, 6 pearl/moonlight/gold Gouramis, 1 Silver Gar, <What species is this?> 1 Ornate Bichir, 1 common Pleco, 1 Ghost Black Knifefish, 1 Tinfoil Barb, <A social animal... should be kept in numbers...> 3 Bala Sharks, 1 Four line catfish and 1 Clown Loach. <Ditto>   My tank dimensions are 6'x24"x18 (wxhxd).  If those bulbs are not the best setup, what would be? <Posted... on WWM...> I have had trouble finding bulbs that are 72" long that are more suited for plants.  Are they available? <Yes... but takes a bit of looking. I'd call some of the larger etailers re> Thx for the reply in advance.                                                           Chad <Keep reading... the fishes you list are not compatible behaviorally, environmentally... the lighting not a good choice. Bob Fenner> Planted Eclipse Tank  5/31/06 Hello all, I have a freshwater planted tank question which I hope you can assist me with. My current tank is 29 gallon standard with an Eclipse 3 filtration. The current light output is approx. 34-36 WPG <Mmm, not Watts per Gallon... missing a decimal place?> which is less than I'd like to have. The current flora: Amazon sword & its planted baby plants, ruffled sword plant, a narrow leaf red Rubin sword, Bacopa monnieri, purple Cabomba, bronze wendtii, another young and unidentified crypt, Ludwigia repens, jungle Val, java moss on driftwood and lace java fern on driftwood. The current fauna: 6 blue emperor tetras, 4 harlequin Rasboras, 1 dwarf Gourami, 3 yo-yo loaches (who like to eat baby Amazon sword leaves and any water sprite I put in the tank) and about 10 ghost shrimp. <Sounds very nice> The tank is a month or so old, with most of the plants and fish moved from a 20 gallon. I have a Fluorite substrate and add Flourish, Trace, Iron & Excel. The water parameters are 0 ammonia & nitrites, 10-15 nitrates, pH of 8 (central Florida tap water), and a temp of 79-80. All the retrofits I've found for Eclipse systems seem to be geared towards saltwater tanks. If I wanted to upgrade lighting from 34-36 to 55-60 WPG, what do you recommend? <I would make/do this upgrade. The particulars of light quality, duration are posted on WWM> Getting rid of the hood is not an option, as it is new and waste not, want not. Since the tank is still relatively new and the lighting is relatively low, I'm also having problems with brown algae. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. <Mmm, I would not "fool" with the pH here... let it drift down, re-bolster with water changes. For lighting, please start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/lightingags.htm and the linked files above... Bob Fenner>

Planted Tank Lighting Question - 05/28/2006 Hi, I was wondering what sort of fluorescent lighting I should use for my tank if I want better plant growth. These are the specs: -32 gallons -no CO2 -currently planted only with Echinodorus sp. and unknown tall grass like thingies -2 20 watt (24 inch) fluorescent lighting fixtures (I cannot fit any more, and I realize this is almost certainly too weak for my system) -currently 2 18000 K lamps (Hagen aqua Glo and power Glo) -18" deep -water is 0 nitrites, 0 ammonia, nitrates <5 ppm, but that hardly seems relevant.  I could add CO2 injection, but I keep the tank at 80 degrees F and because it is such a small system I think it would cause oxygenation problems. <Not necessarily.  You might consider CO2, as that's going to become a limiting factor for you in the future, if it isn't already.  Don't walk into it blindly, though, as there are many aspects that affect plant growth, and too much of one thing (lighting, CO2, fertilization) without enough of both of the others will just result in algae problems.> I have heard plants like lamps in the 5500 - 6500 K range, but I have found many conflicting viewpoints. <There are as many opinions as there are people....  For your answer to this, I recommend you keep reading, as my opinion will differ from anyone else's, and I'd prefer you to develop your own.  Maybe start with this:   http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/Tech/ .> Please help me clarify this. I also plan to set up a planted 55 gallon soon, with around 4 48" lamps. Suggestions for lighting would be appreciated. <My personal preference is toward T-5 fluorescent lighting, though all will depend upon what you want to keep and how you want to keep it.> Thank you.  -Eddy <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Plant Lighting On A Budget  - 05/23/2006 Hey guys and gals, So another odd question:  Im trying to find a cheaper way to get some decent plant lighting into my 55 gallon for medium light plants.  Here is a bulb I found from Sylvania.  I was thinking of having 2 of these bulbs about 1.5 feet above the tank (one on each side of the 55 with the plastic brace being the cutoff point.  I realize that I can't exactly funnel all of the light into the tank and some will go wasted.  I was planning on not having a top for the tank and keeping angels in it.  Any ideas?  suggestions?    http://www.sylvania.com/ProductCatalogs/   Part: 14898   120 watt spot-Gro Abbrev. With Packaging Info. 120BRGRO 120V 6/CS 1/SKU   Average Rated Life (hr) 2000   Base Medium   Beam Type SP   Bulb BR40   Class C (gas)   Color Rendering Index (CRI) 100   Color Temperature/CCT (K) 2850   Diameter (in) 5   Diameter (mm) 127   Family Brand Name Spot-GRO   Filament CC-6   Lamp Finish Spotgro   Maximum Overall Length - MOL (in) 6 1/2   Maximum Overall Length - MOL (mm) 165.1   Nominal Voltage (V) 120.00   Nominal Wattage (W) 120.00 < The color temperature is too low. Plants prefer a color temp. of around 5500K. You can always try it and if it doesn't work, go buy a light fixture and put a couple of bulbs in the preferred color range.-Chuck>

Plants In A Deep Discus Tank   4/26/06 I bought a 47 G column tank.  What sort  of lighting will I need  to grow plants. I want plants there for the health of the tank, if they have to  be a low light variety due to the depth of the tank so be it. The tank is 31 inches tall,  20 inches wide, and 18 inches  deep.  I bought this particular tank with Discus in mind. Can you help me? Thank you very much. Karen < This tank is very deep and may be difficult to get light to penetrate all the way down to the gravel. At a minimum use two florescent tubes(6500K). Go with low light plants like java fern, Anubias, and Cryptocorynes. Stay away from additives such as black water extract that will darken the water and prevent light from reaching the plants. Low light plants are not very active but will help keep the take clean. Next would be to try compact florescent lights.-Chuck>

Re: Discus Planted Tank- Chuck! Using Metal Halide Lights In FW   4/26/06 I suppose a MH Pendant would be overkill?  It would work,  mechanically, because the tank is set up in my kitchen, and there happens to be  a big pot rack directly overhead where I could suspend the fixture.    Price isn't necessarily an object, since I still have blank checks.  :  ) Karen < With metal halide you would definitely have enough light. With this much light it becomes a more difficult tank to manage because of the potential to turn the tank very green with algae overnight. With intense lighting the plants are very active and will use up nutrients quickly. Fertilization will need to be balanced so to feed the plants and not the algae. I would recommend the book "Aquarium Plants" By Christel Kasselmann. Setting up you tank for live plants will be more involved than for the discus, but the combination of lush plants and beautiful discus is hard to beat.-Chuck> Lighting in multiple tanks.... FW vs. SW - 04/14/2006 I had a question concerning temporary lighting options for a small 29g Reef Tank.  I'll give you a run down of the situation.  My girlfriend wants to keep a planted discus tank (Which means that I'll be keeping a planted discus tank).  I know we needed to upgrade the lighting for the large amount of plants we are going to want. So anyways, I purchased a Power Compact set up, consisting of 4 x 65 watt bulbs. My thinking was, alternating the light fixture from the 55 gallon discus tank to my 29 gallon reef tank that I'm working on. <Using the same bulbs?  Not a good idea.  The bulbs used for planted tanks would cause unwanted algae blooms in your SW tank, and changing them out 2x daily would not be ideal.> Current occupants include a mandarin, sand sifting star, serpent star, 2 species of Zoanthus sp., Branching Frogspawn, Branching Hammer, Discosoma sp. (12 hours on one set up, 12 on the next) This is strictly temporary until I can purchase the appropriate lighting to accommodate a small variety of LPS and Mushrooms/Polyps.  (all will be added to a 55 gallon Reef set up with metal halides,  and converting the 29 into a quarantine tank)  So I guess my question would be, does 4 pc lights rated at 65 watts per equal 260 watts <Indeed it does> or would this still be considered only 65 watts of lighting with multiple bulbs? Thank you to everyone at wetwebmedia.com for all the help.  <Cheerio, Jodie>

27 gallon Hexagon tank, Lighting Retrofit  12/04/05 Hi again, after searching your web forums with no answers I decided to email you again. <Welcome stranger!> I have a 27 gallon Hexagon tank. I have talked with many different pet stores, getting different answers from each. I cannot grow plants in my tank. It has been established for about 8 months, I currently have platies. I have a 15 inch Aqua Glo bulb in it but I don't feel its getting enough light. <Likely> I have contacted the manufacturer and there isn't any other top for it. What can I do to promote plant growth in my deep tank? thanks <Look into "retrofit" kits available from online retailers, such as ahsupply.com and hellolights.com. Or, if you know what you're doing, purchase the "bits" yourself from a lighting outlet and build an additional fixture. Best regards, John> 

400 HPS Lighting for Freshwater System  12/1/05 Hi, great site. I can buy a 400w hps unit for really cheap and was thinking about using it to grow aquarium plants is this a good idea?? I was thinking along the lines of maybe two, 3fts tanks back-to-back with the light suspended from above, but I need more information before I set out. Any help would be great on bulb type, distance from the tank etc etc.  I'm new to the plant side of things in aquariums and have only used very low lighting before and with little luck. Thanks <You could give it a try... , you may find the bulb has an inappropriate spectral output (yellow or pinkish tint). If so, plants may like it, but likely so will algae, and it may have a poor aesthetic. I would give it a shot, and if it is too yellow, you could switch out the bulb for an HPS/metal halide "conversion bulb", compatible with an HPS ballast. The Iwasaki 6,500K is one such bulb. Ushio 10,000K is another. I would place the bulb at least 9" above the tanks so you don't heat up the glass where the tanks join too much. Do investigate CO2 injection - your plants will need it with this light. Best regards, John> 

Freshwater: Planted Tank Lighting - "I", Not "i" - 10/24/05 Hi, I have a 30 gallon hexagonal tank with about 10 platies.  <That's quite a bit. May have to thin them out as they grow.>  I would like to add live plants to the tank, But I am getting mixed answers about the lighting I need. From everything I have read I should have about 1 to 3 watts of light per gallon of water.  <Well the watts per gallon rule is rather obsolete, lighting should be based on the targeted photosynthetic livestock and the dimensions of the tank.>  But my setup is only a 15" bulb. Should I try to replace the light with an Aquaglo or similar or do I need to redo the lights to increase wattage??? <Depends on what you want to grow, for low level plants (like java fern) you may have enough already if you want more light loving varieties you may have to upgrade your lighting system or add another strip to go with your current one.> Thanks for your help <You are welcome, Adam J.>

Hagen lighting for 108 gallon 7/12/05 Hi I recently purchased a 108 gallon tank. I'm planning on community tank with lots of plants. I have TWO 72 inch fluorescent fixtures which take 2 bulbs each. I purchased 4- 36inch  power Glo for the lighting. I do not like the spectrum of these lights as the tank has a washed out appearance to me. <Me neither... and their energy output is not great for your plants either> I will have to go with Hagen lights and am wondering what combination to go with that will benefit my plants and also look pleasing to the eye? I was thinking flora Glo with sun Glo combo? <This will be better> Should I keep 2 of the power Glo and try sun Glo or flora with them? <Worth trying> Should I go with 4 flora Glo or 4 sun Glo by themselves? <I would try two of the Flora Glo with your existing lamps, if you don't like their appearance, function, try two of the Sun Glo lamps...> Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!! As I say getting rid of this washed out appearance with the power Glos is the main objective. Thank you for your time......................Craig <Do read (on WWM, elsewhere) re other lighting technology... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/lightingags.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/lgtfixtags.htm You would be better off saving up, mail-ordering power compacts. Bob Fenner>

Lighting for plants Hi I have a 29 gallon (30wide x 19 high) which has been set up for 7 years at least. My fish do great. Mostly tetras, a few Platies. glass cats, Pleco and catfish. Most have been in there for years. I use an Aquaclear 200 outside filter with extension intake down to 2" from the gravel and a air bubble strip about 5" long. I have  carbon & ammonia pouches and filter pad in the filter and change them each about every 6 weeks (one at a time) Now there is a single light Perfecto fluorescent strip and hood left on bout 10 hrs a day. I would like to have live plants and have had them for about 3-4 months but my swords are  starting to get a bit skeleton see- thru, although produce new leaves regularly. My moneywort are getting a bit spacey between leaves. I don't have a small fortune to spend on those fancy light systems but was wondering if a Perfecto double bright would work for me. <Would be much (about twice...) better> If so what tubes should I use. If this wont improve my plantings then what is the next step up?  Also do I really need to do the co2 thing or will the bottled aqua plant food do? <Please read here re lighting, CO2, growing plants: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/AquariumGardenSubWebIndex.html> <The fish should be fine re carbon dioxide provision... though it would be a good idea to turn off the air bubbler during the day... Please read WWM re. Bob Fenner> thanks Linda

Lighting Question on My Planted Tank I am looking for suggestions on tank plants. I have a 30H Freshwater tank. I have African Cichlids in it. The substrate is blue aquarium sand. I have the Current Satellite 24" 1X65 power compact fixture. The bulb is: "Satellite Singles come with SmartPaq Lamps (10,000K/460nm Actinics)." This thing is two strips one a 10k and an actinic. I chose the actinic because I wanted to bring out the colors in the fish. I am now looking for suggestions on plant life that will do well in the 10k/actinic environment. < Stay away from stem plants and try Cryptocoryne, Amazon swords, and different types of Val and sag too.> I also have a 150 that I am going to setup with 3 ft fixtures. I have the option of (1-96w 10K white/1-96w blue or 2-96watt 6500K whites only for planted tanks). I am wondering what combo I should do. I have a lot of blue fish and don't like the yellow effect in my tank. What do you suggest here?? < I would go with the 2-96 watt 6500K. The other set up will not provide enough of the right kind of light for your plants to survive or thrive. Here is a little tip I learned years ago. Go down to the LFS and check out the lighting on the saltwater fish. They usually pay more money for these fish and so give them the better lighting. These lights work great on African cichlid tanks.-Chuck> 

Freshwater Planted tank lighting Dear WWM crew, <Raja> Thank you for all you help so far with my reef tank. I'm in the process of starting a second tank -a fresh water planted tank with CO2 injection. I just acquired a "100 gallon" acrylic tank -60"X18"X20"... really more like 93 gallons. I'm planning 4" of fluorite, with 15" of water on top of it. Would 322 watts of PC lighting within 6" of the water surface be adequate? I'm planning to use 50% 6700K and 50% 10,000K lamps. Is that a sound strategy? All the reading I've done indicated that actinics aren't needed here... <You are well on your way here... good sized/shaped tank, carbon dioxide infusion, good substrate... and yes, adequate lighting for most all types of plants. Bob Fenner> 

What lights should I buy? Hi,  I've done a lot of reading on lighting over the past couple of weeks and am feeling more confused than ever. A guy in technical support at Dr. Foster and Smith sent me your website a couple of days ago.  Your site is great! Your really seem to know what you are talking about and I would really appreciate your advice. I bought a used aquarium several months ago that is 125 gallons.  It measures 72" by 18" and is 23" tall.  I bought a Rena xp3 filter.  The aquarium came with a Magnum 220 which I am using with the micron cartridge.  My substrate is half pea gravel and half Fluorite ( 4 bags ).  My well water has a PH of 7.8, KH is 5 and GH is 6.  Last week I added a huge piece of driftwood from www.aquariumdriftwood.com , and my PH has dropped to 7.4.  I'm hoping that it stays low as I would like to have angelfish and other non aggressive community fish in a nicely planted tank.  My ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels are all zero.  My water is crystal clear and the 40 or so fish that I have are doing well. A couple of months ago I bought a bunch of low and medium light plants.  The Java ferns,  moss and Anubias barteri look fine.  The other plants are alive, but just not green and healthy looking.  I'm assuming that my lighting is the problem.  The tank had been a salt water tank.  It has two 36" triple light units.  It currently has two Coralife 50/50 bulbs and four Aqua Ray Fresh and Salt Water bulbs.  The tank had been used for about 6 months when I bought it.  I know I need to change the bulbs and maybe add some additional lighting.  I just am so confused about what to do. The support tech recommended replacing my 6 current bulbs with Zoo Med Fluorescent bulbs which are all T-8s.  Sounds like I should do some combination of Tropic Sun (5500k full spectrum at $6.99 a bulb ) and Ultra Sun ( 6500K full spectrum, CRI of 98 at $13.29 ) or maybe Flora Sun ( don't know values, just says high intensity with peak emissions in the blue and red regions to maximize the photobiological processes in plants at $11.99 ).  After reading some of your articles, I now realize that I also have to be concerned with how the different types of lights make my fish and plants look visually. ( Now I'm even more confused! ) They also suggested buying the Coralife Aqualight  Compact Fluorescent Strip Lights.  The single strips with the legs attached would fit behind my present lights and I would still be able to open the aquarium.  I could buy two of the 36" singles at $99 each.  Each unit holds a 96 watt bulb.  While my present triple lighting system gives me 180 watts ( 1.44wpg ), with the new compact light units  I would be up to 2.9 wpg.  I figure I can spend about $250, so buying these compact lights, along with 6 new bulbs for my present system puts me right where I want to be.  This all sounded perfect until I started reading more. It's looking like at 2.9 wpg, I would need a CO2 system, and I don't think I want to go there.  So then I started thinking about getting a couple of the 24" compact strip lights.  Two of them would bring my wpg to 2.48.  Would I be okay without a CO2 system at that level? Would it be bad to have 8" without a light at each end and 8" between them?  Or would plants not grow under those spaces?  They do actually make a 30" system that holds the same bulb ( 65 watt ) as the 24" system.  That might spread the light a little more evenly.  However in the back of my mind I wonder if some day I might want to try the CO2 thing.  If I buy two of the 24" lights, then later on I would have the option to add a third and bring my wpg up to 3.0. Some of the on line stuff I have read says that the wpg rules don't apply to large tanks, and that with a tank my size, I would be fine with my present 1.44 wpg.  Other stuff says that with a deep tank, I need to go higher than normal.  Having read some of the articles on your site, I wonder if I can safely add these compact strip lights directly behind my current triple lights.  Will there be too much heat?  These single strips don't have fans. I'm at the point where I really need to make a decision and order something.  Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much Ann from Vermont < All of this depends on what you ultimately want to achieve. I would start out at the low tech end to start with and move up as money permitted. First of all I don't like pea gravel because I find it too coarse. It allows food and fish waste to get caught in the pores between the gravel away from the filters and the fish. I prefer a medium  grained sand that is well founded and non-angular so it doesn't compact. Ideally I like to use a substrate entirely of fluorite but I know it is expensive.  I use fluorite in 3 inch clay flower pots and then plant the flower pots. As far as plants go I like using Cryptocoryne and Amazon swords because they really don't need really bright light. Crinum bulbs are very easy to grow plants too and give you that grass look in the tank. These plants will do well with florescent bulbs in the 5500K range. Fish that are red or yellow will show very well too. If you  want stem plants or red water plants then you need to use CO2 to get them going. Red plants will turn green if they don't get enough light. Smaller foreground plants will probably need compact florescent lighting to reach the bottom of a deep tank. Check out the Aquatic Gardeners Association for lots of interesting articles on planted aquariums and aquascaping.-Chuck>          

Lighting for Planted Tank Hello again.  I'm kind of confused regarding lighting for a planted aquarium.  I have a 48" fluorescent bulb on my 6' long 130 gallon tank.  I would like to have about 2 watts/gallon of lighting, but my 48" bulb is only 40 watts, which means that I would need over six bulbs for an adequate amount of lighting.  Unfortunately, there's not even enough room on the top of my tank for these bulbs.  But, I found that my 30" bulb on my 55 gallon tank is 25 watts.  I also have a 20 gallon tank w/ two incandescent bulbs, which are both 25 watts as well.  So, technically, there's 50 watts going to my 20 gallon and only 25 watts in my 55 gallon, and yet the 55 gallon looks much brighter.  Basically, what I'm wondering is, instead of using seven 48" fluorescent bulbs for my 130 gallon to get a bit over 2 watts/gallon, can I use eleven 25 watt incandescent bulbs to get the same effect?  I can easily fit all of the incandescent along the back half of the top of my tank instead of using the fluorescents which won't even fit.  Also, if all of the Hagen 48" fluorescent lights are 40 watts, isn't there still a difference between an Aqua-Glo and a Power-Glo?  Couldn't you get away with using less bulbs of the bright Power-Glo than if you had the dim Aqua-Glo?  I'm just trying to find the best way to light up my 130 gallon and don't know where to start.  What's the best kind of Hagen bulbs to use (Aqua-Glo, Sun-Glo, Life-Glo, Flora-Glo, etc.) and how many bulbs do I need?  Thanks for all of your help again. P.S. I don't want to have to go w/ Metal Halides. < I will tell you the quick and easy way for a successful planted aquarium. First use Fluorite by Seachem as a substrate. Put the plants in pots with this medium or use it entirely as the gravel. Very expensive to do an entire 130 gallon tank so I would put it in small flower pots and plant the plants in this instead of plain gravel. Go with two 36 inch triple hoods by all glass. They have a reflective mirror linings inside the hood and are very efficient. By using one at each side of the tank (36+36=72inches=6 feet), instead of one 48 inch fixture, you will have no dark areas at the ends of the tank where the plants will not grow. Use florescent light bulbs with a color range between 5000K and 6000K. I use Zoomed Tropic Sun or Flora Sun bulbs. Use plants that require low to medium light. Stay away from stem plants and go with plants that generate stems from a specific nodule. I like Cryptocoryne and sword plants. For a grassy like plant take a look at the Crinum onion plant. Some plants like Java fern and Anubias are slow growing low light plants that are not planted in the gravel but rather they are tied to rocks and driftwood. If you really want get into high maintenance planted aquariums with CO2 injection then you will need to do some homework and spend some money.-Chuck> Dayton Gegolick Planted Tank Lighting I actually went and purchased another Fluval. I am going to put a Fluval and the two AquaClears on the Cichlid tank. Then a Fluval and an Emperor 400 on a 75g community planted tank. I am just in the process of setting up the cichlid tank this week so I will be e-mailing you about fish probably next week. I do have a question about lighting for the 75g. The guy at the LFS said that a 110W double compact fluorescent will be sufficient to grow plants. I am not looking to grow anything with extremely high light demands but will this be enough for a majority of low to medium light lovers ? >>>This should be fine for the less demanding plant species, according to some checking that I did. I'm not much of a planted tank guy. In fact, read this thread that I started on RDO regarding planted tank. http://reefs.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=55698 That's kind of a last frontier for me. :) I plan on setting one up soon. Jim<<<

Freshwater Planted Tank Good morning crew, Hope you had a restful evening. I have been keeping Fresh and Brackish tanks for the past 3 years or so with pretty good success (a lot of which I owe to you fine folks!) Am having an ongoing problem with my 55 GAL though.  I have been struggling with trying to get plants to grow.  Have tried everything from fertilizer tabs and liquid (the algae LOVED this stuff!) to "sort-of" upgrading my lights to 80 W N.O. fluorescent (DIY Hood), to CO2 injection, to pulling out all plants and potting them in soil/sand/gravel.  And still the plants I try will hang on for a few months then get brittle and eventually beard algae will set in and I will pull them out...Anyhow, you get the picture. I am thinking I still simply don't have enough light.  It is 55 GAL (48X13X20), Canister Filter (cleaned bi-weekly), Pea Gravel Bottom (vacuumed weekly with 20% water change), 80 W N.O. Fluorescent Vita-light (?).  Ammonia - 0, Nitrite- 0, Nitrate - ~10.  Inmates:  3 Clown Loaches (5"), 2 Black Kuhli Loaches (3"), 1 Black Ghost Knife (10"), 1 Fire Eel (6").  Yes, plan on moving Fire eel to a bigger tank within the next year or so.  Pretty sure I am underfeeding the tank.  Cut back from 2X a day to 1X a day, then cut that in half again to keep up with the algae.  (Fish are still sleek/full bodied and healthy though) Now, on to the question:  I am going to be buying equipment for a new 150 Gal Marine tank and ran across some Freshwater lighting that I might could "sneak" in the order and want your opinion on which you would suggest for keeping Swords, Red Rubin (Echinodorus rubin), and Ludwigia (Ludwigia repens). I am deciding between a Dual Power Compact hood with 130 W 6700K  or  a Dual VHO Fluorescent hood with 220 W 6500K. Any thoughts on this? Thank you for your time and patience.  I LOVE this site and spend hours on here a day.  (Drives the people at the LFS nuts when I go in there now...HAHAHA!)  So many Latin Names, so little time! Take care and have a good day/weekend. Tom < Either light system would work and give you plenty of light which may be the problem in your case. With the lights on the plants are working hard metabolizing the nutrients in the water. I think you are running out of nutrients in this system. Plants need three major nutrients that are listed on every fertilizer as such 10-10-10. This means that the fertilizer is 10 % Nitrogen, 10% phosphorus and 10% potassium. The nitrogen is usually no problem and comes from the fish. Usually the phosphorus is readily available in the sand and water. Some water systems are lacking potassium and can be replenished with an aquatic plant fertilizer. Try planting one plant in a pot with Fluorite and another in the sand and see what happens. The Fluorite by Seachem adds the needed iron and I think you will be more successful.-Chuck>

Light bulb search Good Afternoon,  I am in search of a replacement aquarium light bulb for my 30 gallon freshwater fish tank. I am having trouble locating a 30" fluorescent bulb. I've been to many pet stores, and they only carry 24" and 36." I have had this PENN-PLAX Aquari-Lux PL-25 aquarium light for at least five to six years and would love to find another one. I live in Orange, CA 92867 and need to know if you can locate a nearby supplier or retail store that may carry this, or any other brand of 30" aquarium light bulb.  <I would check with the various e-tailers listed in a recent issue of FAMA or the Links pages here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/links.htm asking what they have in the size mentioned. Bob Fenner> I appreciate any help or suggestions.  Thank you,  --- ERIC CLATTER BUCK

How low is low-light w/ plants? Hi guys, Just like to say thanks for the help in the past!! I'm trying to add some live plants to my 75 gallon South American cichlid tank. My biggest fish is a 6" gold Severum. I have already added one java fern which I anchored to some driftwood, and one Amazon sword (both added 3 days ago). I just have a few questions: - I only have a single 40W strip - that's just about .5W/gallon. Am I doomed? < Maybe. Florescent lights lose some intensity after a few months. I would recommend a new bulb  around 5500 degrees K. This will give you a chance to grow some plants.> I've read that Anubias, java fern/moss, Val.s and swords can handle low light, but am I pushing it? < No. It is true that some plants can get by on very low light, just don't expect them to be vigorous growers.> - I bought some liquid fertilizer, but have since read conflicting info on its use in low light set-ups. Should I continue to use it? It suggests a weekly dose. < No unless you want your main plant to be algae. You have a handful of slow growing plants. These fertilizers are for fully planted aquariums that are actively growing all the time.> - My sword plant is wilting a little. Is this because of my low light, or just part of acclimatizing? < Could be part of the acclimation. Sometimes plants shed their old leaves when they are stressed. Start looking for new shoots soon.> - If my tank CAN support plants, should they, like fish, be added gradually? I'd like to get an Anubias and a couple Vallisneria. < I would recommend that you put your rooted plants into pots filled with fluorite from SeaChem and then bury them in the sand or gravel. As your cichlids grow they will start to move some of the sand. The flowerpots will protect the plant's roots while containing the plant substrate. As the plants get bigger they could be transplanted into a bigger pot. Plant what you want now. Don't wait. I usually get new plants and just throw them in and let them float around for awhile. They are close to the light and then start to developed new roots. I then trim them and put them in pots.> Anyway, sorry to bother you with these basics, but I'm a total newbie to plants and find it hard to interpret all the info for beginners out there. I've been told that cichlids and plants don't mix, but mine are leaving the plants alone (could be a different story when my Severums are full grown). < In the wild your Severums never really encounter aquatic plants. The water contains no nutrients from them . When the Amazon floods then they are in and amongst the flooded forest and terrestrial trees for a few months. Make sure your fish are well fed or else your fish may be trying some of the "salad" you have been trying so hard to grow.-Chuck> Thanks in advance for your advice! Corey Cormier, Toronto, Canada.

Freshwater Plant Lighting HI, <Evenin' Lina.> I thought since you haven't answered to my first e-mail, I'll take advantage and ask you some more questions. <I had a feeling you wanted to ask more, so I was waiting to reply. Just kiddin', sorry if there was a delay.> I have bought a 4 feet fluorescent light fixture, that I want to put above my fish tank to grow plants. It holds 2 lights of 32 watts, so I will totally get 94 watts for 55 gal tank (together with the ones I had from the tank). I read, that I have to get a full spectrum light (does it have to be any specific type, I got a natural light). <Your other email mentioned aquarium and plant bulbs from Home Depot I think. They usually have another type of light that is better for plants, it will say "sunlight" of full spectrum, I think around 6500-7000k. I used two of these over my saltwater refugium with pretty good results. The full spectrum bulbs have the correct spectrum of light to grow your plants. Fish stores will have a better variety of bulbs, but they are a little more pricey.> I have African cichlids in my tank and it seemed that they looked kind of strange in this light (maybe light is too yellow, comparing to what I had before) or maybe it is too strong but the colors of the fish faded. I don't exactly like it, do I have any other solution for that? <Yes, the color spectrum of the bulb will definitely change the appearance of your tank, lower spectrum lights, around 6500k will look yellowish. A mix of different spectrums can make the tank more pleasing to the eye, I added an actinic bulb to my plant tank, looks real nice.> Besides I was wondering whether this kind of light is not too strong or harmful for my fish, will it give out a lot of heat, how many hours should I keep it on so I don't get algae growth? <Your fish will be just fine, if you have a planted tank I like around 10hrs of light per day, but this is dependent upon a lot of factors, especially plant type and nutrients.> Can 94 watts be considered as high light for 55 gal tank (I think it is maybe about 21" depth) Right now I have Cryptocoryne, Amazon sword, Anubias and some sort of purple plant, which ones are going to grow well in this kind of light? Thank you for your web site and I will wait for answer. <I would consider this lighting setup medium lighting, the crypts, swords, and the Anubias should do well, I am not sure about the purple plant. The watts per gallon rule is not always a good one, your lighting setup really should be based on the plants you want to grow. The spectrum of the light that you are providing is equally important, you could provide the perfect wattage of the wrong spectrum and your plants would not benefit in the slightest, they can't use it. You are also going to want to try to find a balance between lighting, nutrient (fertilizer), and temperature. The temp is pretty much fixed due to the fish you are keeping. If you have not had a plant tank before, you chose excellent plants, they are not as demanding as some of the plants out there. A lot of the high light plants also require (or really benefit from) high nutrient availability, Co2 injection, and all that jazz. You are on the right track, find some full spectrum bulbs, pick up a bottle of plant fertilizer (or root tabs), add another light to make the tank eye pleasing, and have fun. Heck, your fish may destroy your plants anyway. The links below are to some excellent plant tank web sites. Best Regards, Gage http://www.thekrib.com/  -  http://aquabotanic.com/  You did not mention what type of Africans you have, but how's this for a planted African tank?  http://malawicichlidhomepage.com/aquarium/malawi1.html  There are also specs about this persons tank at the bottom of the page.> Lina 

Somewhere Under the Rainbow (of light spectrum and Kelvin ratings) What's the thing to look for when it comes to lighting on an aquarium with plants in it to cover the spectrum of light they need? A local store told me to look at bulbs that go either 4800K, 5300K or 10000K. Now I study chemistry and I'd like to figure out what those numbers mean too, so I can figure out which would be the best spectrum for my aquarium. <These numbers, xxxxK, refer to the "Kelvin" rating of the bulbs.  There is a wonderful article on Kelvin rating and color spectrum here:  http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/Tech/light-spectrum.html - it is the second link, I believe.  Lots of good information there.> My variety of plants so far are some Anacharis, java fern and moss, banana plants, Wisteria and a couple of Swordplants. Any idea of what's the ideal bulb for this kinda setup? <Well, although what spectrum you're using is of importance, it is also important to know 'how much' of that light you're dumping onto your plants; some plants are too demanding to accept, say, only a single 40w normal output fluorescent bulb on a 55g tank, no matter the spectrum.  Other plants will suffer under too *much* lighting, as well.  It really helps to know what the needs of your plants are, and try to fulfill those needs.  In your case, all of your plants except the banana plants will tolerate low to moderate lighting of normal output fluorescents, though the swords would do better with more. The banana plants, though, require very, very intense lighting to thrive, and might not do well otherwise.  You might try to get around this by elevating them, getting them closer to the light source.  It might benefit you to get a good plant book with descriptions of different plant species' needs; one such book is "Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants" by Peter Hiscock (no joke, that's really his name).  This is a great, easy-to-understand book, and I do recommend it.  Happy planting!  -Sabrina>

- High Pressure Sodium Lighting for Planted Tanks - How well might a HPS lighting system work on a planted freshwater aquarium. <I think pretty well... perhaps better than might be useful.> It seems to me it would have a lot in common with a MH but with an even better spectrum for plants? <Both lamp types and their associate spectra will grow plant at a silly pace.>  It's a lot cheaper that's for sure.   I have never seen one lit up though, would the tank look bad? <Well, HPS lighting has a yellow/pink tint to it which may or may not please your eye.> Would the plants do bad? <I think they would do well, but you'd also have to take into account the increase in temperature from the lamps and also the growth of competitive nuisance algae that would respond to the increase in light.>  I would like to upgrade my power compacts on my plant tank to a source point light that will give me the ripple effect as well as penetrate the thick canopy of leaves.   MH is just to expensive for plants IMHO though... Is this a realistic option? <It's not unrealistic but I'm very surprised that MH lighting is more expensive - the ballasts, fixtures, bulbs all cost about the same - MH lighting for marine aquaria is artificially expensive in my opinion - the raw parts should not be that expensive.> Mark <Cheers, J -- >

Lighting a Plant Tank I'm about to set up a 40g acrylic tank as a planted aquarium.  I have successfully kept a 120g planted aquarium in the past.  My problem is that I can't decide on the lighting system .  Two of my favorite plants are the Glossostigma and the Anubias Nana.  I realize they have different lighting requirements, but would I be able to keep them both?   <Absolutely!> If so, which lighting should I go with, the compact fluorescent or HQI?   <In my opinion, as long as your tank isn't terribly tall (a standard 40g or breeder 40g is just fine), you should do quite well with compact fluorescents.  HQI metal halides would be overkill on a shallow tank; though the glosso would appreciate it, I don't think it's necessary. I'm in southern Louisiana and it gets pretty hot here, is the HQI going to put out too much heat?  Thanks for your help,  Jennifer <Metal halide lamps certainly do put out a lot of heat, so if you choose them, you'll definitely have to have a well ventilated canopy with fans installed.  As long as the temperature in your house is kept livable, the temp on your tank shouldn't go too high.  You can always put egg crate on the tank instead of a lid and aim a fan to blow at the surface of the water, which will help immeasurably in maintaining temperature.> Also, would the Anubias work with HQI if they were in a shaded area? <Absolutely.  As long as it's shaded, it should do beautifully.  -Sabrina>

Lighting a planted tank Dear Bob, <Ken> Thanks for your comments. I bought the VHO canopy today with the Ice Cap ballast- 192 watts. I decided to cancel the 65 gal tank with the 24" depth as I found an Oceanic tank that was 58 gal which had the same width and length as above but was only 21" high. <And even less water depth with the substrate> I also picked up an RO unit since my water here in NJ is pretty crummy. I have one more question for you if you don't mind. When using RO water for a plant/fish tank what is the correct way for adjusting the water? Do I use something like RO right or something? <We have what is affectionately called "liquid rock" here in San Diego, and use an R.O. device... which I add some regular tap to... along with minerals from feeding, some CO2 injection... this is fine IMO> What about for the Ph and KH/GH? I am assuming that RO is the way to go especially with the phosphates etc that are in my tap water. <There are some species of aquatic plants with narrower or high/low ranges per these criteria... but by and large the ones available do fine in near neutral pH, moderate hardness water... they can/do adapt. I like to store water if making large (more than ten percent) water changes... otherwise, just "dump in"... works just fine. Have you perused "the Krib"? Very worthwhile site for aquarium plant enthusiasts. Bob Fenner> I appreciate you comments. Thanks again. Regards, Ken

Plant tank lighting... Hey, your website has great information, I'm so happy I stumbled across it tonight!  My wife and I are planning on setting up a freshwater tank with live plants in the near future and could use a bit of advice. <Great, hope I can help> Here goes: The tank we're eyeing is a 40 gallon tall Sea Clear acrylic tank (30"wx24"hx12"d).  Because of space limitations (long story) we're relegated to using an Eclipse System 3 filter (compatible with the tank). <Could be worse, the eclipse systems are not all that bad> My LFS said that the lighting provided is inadequate for proper growth of the plants and suggested a retrofit kit. <You would be limited in your plant choices with only a couple of NO lamps> I'm assuming he was referring to the SmartLite retrofit kit which boots the wattage to 65 watts with 8800K ultra-daylight/ultra-actinic components. <Yep, it fits great but swap the Smart-lite out for a 6500k>  It seems like I'd need more wattage to get this up to even "moderate/medium" lighting standards. <That's right, this tank is pretty deep> Is that correct or will the actinic make up for the difference in intensity (or am I totally misunderstanding the whole concept -- be honest). <The actinic is more for color. Blue light penetrates much further than the other colors but plants are more interested in the other end of the spectrum, hence my 65k recommendation> Are we better off with a 30 gallon instead (same dimensions, except only 18" tall)? <I'd say so since the lighting options are really limited> As for adding fish, we're planning on some neon tetras, Cory cats and 2 discus. <Read up on discus, they require specialized water parameters> Also, what are your thoughts on CO2?  From what I've read here, it doesn't sound like a necessity.  My LFS made it sound like the holy grail, that all my work would be for nothing and my plants would die without their $600 self regulating system. <Haha, sounds a little biased. If your tank is packed with plants, you'll likely want a co2 setup. There are other ways to do it (involving yeast) that do not require expensive equipment.> Argh. Does my setup sound adequate? <Sounds good to me>  We're still in the shopping phase and are looking for some unbiased advice.  I really appreciate your advice. <Good luck with the tank! -Kevin> Thanks, in advance! Jeff

Full as opposed to Blue (spectrum lighting) in your article (light: quality, quantity & duration) you mentioned" Be all that as it may, I suggest one to two watts of full-spectrum fluorescents, roughly equivalent to 50 to 100 lumens per gallon for most systems (sight unseen)." is the same rule follow if I use 3 x 20 watts blue spectrum in my 50 gallon planted aquarium? since im focusing on growing my plants. thanks in advance and God Bless!!! <Mmm, no, the very general "rule of thumb" is for full-spectrum lamps, not just the shorter (blue) wavelengths. Bob Fenner>

Lighting Controllers Hello all, I have a live plant tank and am looking for a way to automatically turn on and off the lights. I have a Custom Sealife 4 bulb 96 watt retrofit kit. The thing sure is bright now I want to control it. I have tried using regular timers you get from the hardware store, but out of three I bought, 2 have stopped working all together. <Really, that is surprising.> I need something reliable. <Unfortunately, that is all I use. I will give you a few tips that I use. I always buy ones with three prong plugs and make sure they are UL listed. I have used the $7 cheap ones with the little red and green tabs and also the $25 digital programmable ones and have never had a problem.> Thank you for the help, Philip <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Lights for aquarium Hello, <Hi there> I would like to know if two 55w 6500k, and two 55w actinic light bulbs would be good or if it would be too much light for a 55 gallon freshwater tank? I would like to start growing plants in it, will the actinic lights help the plants grow at all or would it just be for looks?? Thank you for your help. <Mmm, two actinics is too much... for looks for me, and definitely for functions sake. You'd be better off with all lamps being full spectrum... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/lightingags.htm and out Planted Aquarium Subweb in general. Be chatting, Bob Fenner> Craig

Lighting and Low Light Aquarium Plants Hello, this is the first time I've ever sent e-mail like this. <Welcome> About three months ago I converted my 15 gallon fish-only tank with standard incandescent lighting to one including live plants. I say "converted", when in actuality, all I did was ask the store which plants had low light requirements, bought those, threw away my plastic plants, and took a wait and see attitude about all the expensive sounding stuff I've read so much about since I made the change. <An adventure> Just so you know, my tank has 6 full-sized white clouds, an adult pair of swords and three younger juveniles, and one small algae eater, along with an assortment of small snails. I realize this is probably too many fish...but what the heck, that's what I've got and I don't want to do away with any of them. <Okay> My reason for writing is my own retrospective unease about how smooth the change has been so far, in light of the reading I have done since then. All of the plants seem to be thriving, and the Java fern have propagated about 5 young plants which I recently separated and replanted.  <Nice> Everything I read seems to indicate that what is happening in my tank (ie success) is IMPOSSIBLE, and maybe even illegal (ie SPEND MONEY, DAMMIT). <Whoa!> Am I wrong to save my money and enjoy? Are there any other plants you could recommend that will enjoy the kind of situation I just described? <Many. Please read through the Plant Livestock sections on our site here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqGardHP.htm and the links where you take them> Thanks for your attention. Doug B <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Water clarity, lighting, UV questions (FW) Robert, I found your name off-line and I wanted to ask you a question in regards to my lighting in my aquarium. I have a 150 gallon tank (standard size) with an assortment of African Cichlids. I'm trying to get some more clarity in my water and I don't know what I should do?  <Mmm, a few approaches, likelihoods here...> I have two large filters running, so I know that that's not the problem.  <Might still be... do you measure parameters of water quality... like accumulation of nitrogenous compounds like nitrates? How about using chemical filtrants? Like periodic use of activated carbon in your filter flow path... this can really help water color, clarity and fish health wise... What about your maintenance procedures. Most African Cichlid systems do best with periodic substantial water changes, gravel vacuuming... What sorts of foods, feeding practices do you employ?...> I have one row of two lights that came with the tank, they aren't performing as well as I would like them to. My local fish supplier said that I should add a row of white lights and a row of blue lights (which would give me my 2:1 ratio of white to blue). <Hmm, "blue lights" like actinics? With Africans?> This would cost me around $250 with the housings if I went that route. Do you recommend any other alternatives? <I would look into either compact fluorescents here or VHO types... much more info. on our site (www.WetWebMedia.com) re these issues and the science behind them. Please read from here and beyond: http://wetwebmedia.com/lightfxtagb.htm Including the sections on Marine Lighting (same technology)> What are the advantages of having a U.V. stabilizer, and what size would be appropriate? <A UV sterilizer? Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marphysf.htm> Thank you for your time. Jon Lugenbill <Thank you for your involvement, sharing. Bob Fenner>

Thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I've been looking, internet surfing, searching and asking for information that I can understand on the workings of lighting for the aquarium. Yours is the first that really broke it down and presented it in a clear, usable reading. You're saving me a lot of money and have given me a functional understanding of the role that light plays in a planted aquarium. Thanks again. Ken Baldwin. <Ah! The pleasure. Please, spread the word as to the WetWebMedia sites availability, use. Bob Fenner>

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