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Need Help With Lighting, Plant Selection, And More


Guest dsmgirl

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Guest dsmgirl

I just set up a 72gal bowfront. It's been running with fish for about a month now and I'd like to try some live plants. Here's where we're at so far:

Tank:

* 72gal bow front (48 x 18 x 22 -I think)

* Eheim 2128 filter

* 22.5*C, steady

* PH: 7.5 or so

* water may be hard

* ammonia, nitr*tes, etc all good

Fish:

* 1 fantail (4 inches long)

* 2 regular goldfish (3 inches long, each)

* 1 bristlenose pleco (3 inches long)

* #? White Clouds coming soon

Plants:

* I just bought a 10-inch Umbrella plant (Spathiphyllum wallisii) yesterday on impulse and buried the roots in my gravel.

My questions/concerns:

1. With such waste-producing fish I have to vacuum alot. How will this effect my plants?

** Should I plant them in pots so they can be moved without uprooting them?

** Should I vacuum around them? (Will they use the waste as food?)

2. The tank gets a tiny little bit of sunlight in one corner during the day and that's where I planted the Umbrella plant. I doubt the amount of natural light is sufficient and all I have for artificial light is the one 4-foot(?) fluorescent bulb that came with my aquarium hood. So, today I went to the store to see if they had a kind of bulb that'd be good for plants. There were 3 choices. I had no idea what the difference were between them, so I bought nothing... help?

3. I bought "Flourish Tabs" so the plants get some nutrients. They were the only fertilizer that the fish store sold. It contains only 2.2% Iron. I think I read Iron was important. If this isn't what I should use, please point me in the right direction.

4. I don't even have much of a green thumb on land, so I feel like I'm not even smart enough to ask the right questions. Any other advice including links for further reading on the subject would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

-Erica

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  • Regular Member

I have two flora-glo fluorescent lights (made by Hagen) that my plant seems to love! I've also heard that they are good for keeping black fish black...?

One thing you will want to think about is watts per gallon - plants need anywhere from 2-4 watts per gallon of water to thrive really well (depending on the light requirements of the plants you choose) and that can be difficult with only one bulb. My tank is 30 gallons and I have two 30 watt bulbs, so I should only think about low-moderate light-requiring plants.

Other than that, I don't know much of anything about plants... I have a bit of a black thumb when it comes to land plants, so I am pleasantly surprised that my amazon sword is not only alive but growing and developing new leaves... Good luck!

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Guest dsmgirl

Ok. So, it seems that most replacement light bulbs "for plants" are about 36W, which would be exactly a half a watt per gallon in my tank...

Is my only option to replace the light fixture if I want live plants? -I'm not sure I want to make that (at least) $100 investment in something I may fail at in the end due to my own brown thumb or my goldfish's appetite. :(

Any other options? Any low-light plants? ...I read in someone else's post that the Umbrella plant that I picked up isn't even an aquatic plant, so so far I'm 0 for 1.

-Erica

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Ya know, that's what I've heard about lighting (the 2-4 watt thing), but honestly, I had my plant under a 20 watt flora-glo and it was growing like crazy. Now I have a double strip lighting hood and 60 watts, but is it really necessary? I'm not sure. I think if you really want a heavily planted tank, then yes - but maybe not just for a couple. You should try to pick low light requiring plants though, just to be on the safe side. My amazon sword was doing very well in the low light and it seems to be very hardy (i.e. I haven't killed it yet! lol). They are also supposed to be somewhat "goldie safe" - in that they are not their favorite food. We shall see about that...

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Guest MidnightClyde

I've actually heard you can keep a few live plants with the standard 0.5-1 watt per gallon in some cases. I would guess it matters on the plant and how deep your tank is (As in, how far away your plants are from the light).

You may have to go with compact flourescents. I've considered it myself, but I'm too busy learning how to take care of the fish that I don't even have time to think about plants :D

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Guest dsmgirl

Are there CF that will fit in the sockets for regular flourescent bulbs?

I'd be willing to set up auxiliary lights on the side of the tank if that'd be helpful and cheaper than replacing the single-tube fixture for the top of my tank...

...I'm actually mad that I didn't think of this when I bought the tank 2 months ago! I would have gotten a double or triple then and not had to pay twice for the light fixture.

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Guest dsmgirl

I just did some Googling, and I see that a new light fixture that fits CF bulbs would be the same size as the one I have now, but would give me 110W, which for my 72gal is 1.5W per gallon. Perhaps the bit of sunlight that I get would make this workable? I like the fact that they use up less energy...

BTW, my tank is 22" deep.

Would the bulbs that come with the CF lighting fixture be good for plants, or are there special CF bulbs that I'd have to buy? (Info on bulbs: "Includes 9325?K bulb(s). 55 watt utilizes one bulb, 110 watt utilizes two 55 watt bulbs.")

The lighting fixture I'm looking at: http://www.bigalsonline.com/edealinv/servl...69&ctl_nbr=3684

or the same product, shorter link:

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod...3&N=2004+113345

Other bulb options:

* 21" Super Daylight 10,000?K 55W

* 21" Reef Lamp 55W

* 21" True Actinic 03 55W

* 21" Full Spectrum 8000?K 55W

What confuses me is the Kelvin rating -it seems that any bulb that says it's good for plants in the store is a higher K rating, which (I'd think) means the color would be funky. Daylight is about 5000K, so I'd think that a bulb rated around 5000K would be the most pleasing color of light. Am I wrong?

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I don't really know much about the Kelvin ratings and such, but I do know that compacts cannot fit in a regular fluorescent fixture. You'd have to get a new fixture. The ones you linked to look good - I highly recommend Big Al's!!

I think that side lamps would also be fine - it doesn't really matter where the light is coming from. With natural sunlight, you'll probably get lots of green algae - but it's good for your goldies and your cycle anyway. And it's pretty!

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Guest dsmgirl

I am definitely getting a lot of green algae. In fact, that's why I thought a plant might work. Seems I was wrong. I think I'll eventually get that CF lighting fixture (although there don't seem to be any CF bulbs made for it that say they are specifically for plants). -I'm a bit worried about that...

For the algae, I have plans to buy a rubbernose pleco as a friend for my bristlenose who doesn't seem to be able to keep up with it.

-Erica

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • Regular Member

I am researching better lighting for my planted tank also. I read that for freshwater tanks (be careful, there is a lot of info that is specifically for salt water tanks) you want lighting between 5500K-6700K (Kelvin) because it simulates natural sunlight the best. So the CF bulbs will not specifically say that they are good for plants but if you get enough watts and a good kelvin rating than you should (?) be good.

I am looking at these fixtures for my tank:

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/Prod...3&N=2004+113345

These get the most watts for the buck from what I have found.

Once again, this info is based on my research and not experience. I have a bit of a black thumb too. I tried to keep amazon swords and cryptocornes (sp?) in my tank with .75 Watts/gal. My crypts were fine but my swords eventually died. I want a lush planted tank so that means more light I guess!

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