Best lighting for plants

84Reasons

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Hi Guys,
first time poster here, new to aquascaping!

I've had my tank setup for a couple of months now, recently got a co2 system and bought some new plants.

I'm worried however, as I seem to have worked out the wattage per litre my lights are giving off, and now by aquarium garden's standards I don't have enough light for some of the plants in my tank! I have 2 x 24w T5 bulbs in a 125l.

I have an issue however, I initially thought, I'll just buy higher wattage T5 bulbs, however I've realised that maybe 1. my light unit can't handle this extra wattage, and 2. the wattage is directly related to the length of the bulb? so I couldn't get higher wattage ones anyway!

So onto my next issue, I thought I'd maybe have to look at buying an expensive overhanging LED unit, which would be better for the plants anyway, however the way my tank has been built, most of the units won't fit onto the rims of my tank! they are almost 2cm wide! (it has extra rims at the top over the glass), this isn't including the issue of having to either DIY a lid or find one that fits my tank, as I have frogs that will jump out, and the lighting unit and the lid work together.

Please could someone suggest something that could help. I have attached some photos of my tank, so maybe people can better understand my issue!

Cheers,

H.
 

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sparkyweasel

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How are your plants doing?
They won't have read anything about watts per litre, but they will tell you if they're not happy. You pics are of the tank and lights, but I can see some of the plants and they look healthy.
If they are actually showing signs of insufficient light, you could think about fitting reflectors to your existing tubes, or look at the LED lights that fit into T5 fixtures.
If you are having plant problems, post some more details and I'm sure you will get some good advice.
Welcome btw :)
 

Siege

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Agree with sparky.

Reflectors will be a good start and will stop you being blinded when you lift your lid up!

Better off to concentrate on getting your co2 correct that is more important than extra light. Extra light will only show up co2 and nutrient defiencies quicker.
 

84Reasons

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They look really good at the moment, however some are showing signs of going transparent!
Especially the red one in the middle. I've attached a picture!

Where could I go to get some reflectors? I can't find any LED lights that go into T5 fixtures, only fluval seem to do one and it looks as though its for marine tanks?

Cheers,

H.
 

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84Reasons

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I forgot to mention, I only added the plants (most of them) last thursday so they may still be acclimatising?
 

alto

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I have 2 x 24w T5 bulbs in a 125l.
What are your tank dimensions?

That should be loads better of light for most plants
But look at what sort of bulbs you’re running - T5 come in normal and high output (if you look at a lighting specialist page, they will offer a dozen T5 options for a given bulb length, generally higher output means higher cost as the light phosphors are different (& these are what deteriorate over time/use hence the recommendation to replace fluorescent tubes every X hours()
Reflector & shape/material can almost double the light which is directed down into the water column, so again a good way to optimize light IF needed (a highly efficient reflector can cost much more than the light tubes)
 

84Reasons

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What are your tank dimensions?

That should be loads better of light for most plants
But look at what sort of bulbs you’re running - T5 come in normal and high output (if you look at a lighting specialist page, they will offer a dozen T5 options for a given bulb length, generally higher output means higher cost as the light phosphors are different (& these are what deteriorate over time/use hence the recommendation to replace fluorescent tubes every X hours()
Reflector & shape/material can almost double the light which is directed down into the water column, so again a good way to optimize light IF needed (a highly efficient reflector can cost much more than the light tubes)
My dimensions are - L:80cm x W35cm x H53cm

It costing more than the lights isn't really an issue, probably still cheaper than an LED setup! and less hassle.
 

alto

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I forgot to mention, I only added the plants (most of them) last thursday so they may still be acclimatising?
Definitely

But you should see new submerse adapted growth - leaf shape and color may be quite different (most aquarium plants are grown under emerse conditions (this really is “best” - George Farmer has discussed this in some of his videos, I think there’s a Sunday Q&A video))

What sort of fertilizers?
Substrate?
 

sparkyweasel

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Arcadia make LED tubes for freshwater you'd have to check the length you need, local aquarium shop, or Amazon, probably about £50 each, but will cost a bit less to run than fluorescent, so it balances out. Reflectors you should be able to get from any aquarium shop, on-line or bricks-and-mortar. They don't have to be the exact size, they are easy to cut to fit. About £10 each.

But I would wait and see how they grow before changing anything.

A lot of plants will drop leaves as they acclimatise to new conditions, especially as they are often growth in air, so changing to submerged growth is quite a big change. When they grow new leaves you will see any signs of deficiency in light, ferts or CO2 in those.
 

alto

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Looking at your first lighting photo, you can see that the 2 ends of the tank will be poorly lit by the present light unit, so plant for shade plants at these ends, or a “beach” area in your aquascape

Balbi Vaquero did a lovely end sand area in her Interzoo 2018 tank (~5.5min)

Also look at the Twinstar scapes

If you do want to look at LED, Juwel and possibly Eheim offer kits that will slip into place
(you may also be able to just swap the T5’s for LED replacement “tubes” but these may be expensive, or quite low light output (re LED used, also design))
 

84Reasons

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Definitely

But you should see new submerse adapted growth - leaf shape and color may be quite different (most aquarium plants are grown under emerse conditions (this really is “best” - George Farmer has discussed this in some of his videos, I think there’s a Sunday Q&A video))

What sort of fertilizers?
Substrate?
Okay that's good news then. Here's the catch, when I built my tank I only looked into the fish side of things and didn't research the plant side of things, stupid I know, so I don't have any plant substrate at all, just sand... I kick myself all the time when looking things up realising I should have checked first! But since I couldn't exactly put substrate in once the tank was already up and running, I was hoping the fertilisers I add would be enough! I currently use this one - https://www.aquariumgardens.co.uk/the-aquascaper-complete-plant-food-500ml-2370-p.asp - adding the high dosage daily.

Arcadia make LED tubes for freshwater you'd have to check the length you need, local aquarium shop, or Amazon, probably about £50 each, but will cost a bit less to run than fluorescent, so it balances out. Reflectors you should be able to get from any aquarium shop, on-line or bricks-and-mortar. They don't have to be the exact size, they are easy to cut to fit. About £10 each.

But I would wait and see how they grow before changing anything.

A lot of plants will drop leaves as they acclimatise to new conditions, especially as they are often growth in air, so changing to submerged growth is quite a big change. When they grow new leaves you will see any signs of deficiency in light, ferts or CO2 in those.
Okay so I'll maybe look into the reflectors if I start to see issues after 2-3 weeks.
 

alto

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My dimensions are - L:80cm x W35cm x H53cm
.
Deeper water column is always a challenge (I have 2 same height tanks, as well as 1 that is only 36cm tall - the difference is quite astonishing), so definitely look at optimizing the lights you have

I did have a T5 luminaire on one of my 53cm tanks (now running a Kessil A160) - I used Giesemann HOT5s (replaced every 1-2 years, when I did the 2 year replacement, quite noticeable difference in light output so shortened the photoperiod while plants adapted to sudden, higher light conditions) and special reflectors (part of the luminaire design)

I still really like T5 for color rendition, but prefer the light/shadow effect of the Kessil - the tank looks much more 3 dimensional with this type of cluster matrix LED
 

alto

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That’s a great fertilizer - but CO2 is also very important for plant growth, especially during the transition stage when you don’t want any of the 3 Light/CO2/Nutrition to be limiting

I would also add some sort of Nutrition Capsules into the substrate - I like Tropica but Tim Harrison has used (cheaper) garden plant (I think) versions successfully

You just need to much more consistent and “right” when it’s mostly water column nutrition (I’m lazy and erratic :oops:), some plants will always prefer root feeding in addition to water column fertilizers (though loads of peoples will protest this statement :D but I’ve yet to see a sand based tank with the same growth rate and “thrive” of an Aquarium Soil substrate) but you should be able to sort out plant species that grow well for your particular aquarium environment

I have no qualms about catching out livestock and setting them up in a suitable bin while rescaping a tank ;)
 

alto

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Re Vidoe, take note of the amazing plant growth in those Juwel Lido tanks - I’d email Juwel and ask after lighting details, CO2 and fertilizers would also be interesting (suspect Tropica substrate)

I wish they’d update their YouTube Channel with their Interzoo tanks - definitely watch the Instructional Videos for their various aquarium lines

https://www.juwel-aquarium.de/en/Service/Set-up-examples/
 

84Reasons

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That’s a great fertilizer - but CO2 is also very important for plant growth, especially during the transition stage when you don’t want any of the 3 Light/CO2/Nutrition to be limiting

I would also add some sort of Nutrition Capsules into the substrate - I like Tropica but Tim Harrison has used (cheaper) garden plant (I think) versions successfully

You just need to much more consistent and “right” when it’s mostly water column nutrition (I’m lazy and erratic :oops:), some plants will always prefer root feeding in addition to water column fertilizers (though loads of peoples will protest this statement :D but I’ve yet to see a sand based tank with the same growth rate and “thrive” of an Aquarium Soil substrate) but you should be able to sort out plant species that grow well for your particular aquarium environment

I have no qualms about catching out livestock and setting them up in a suitable bin while rescaping a tank ;)
Hmm okay, what would you suggest then? Maybe try my luck with some tropica capsules?
or its worth trying to do a re-scape and get some plant substrate in there?

Or are both of those pointless without sorting out my lighting first?

I have co2 on at roughly 3 bubbles a second atm. I feed them the liquid fertiliser the same amount the same time each day!

ugh I dont know where to start! sometimes think I should just bin what I've got and start again haha
 

alto

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ugh I dont know where to start! sometimes think I should just bin what I've got and start again haha
Definitely not - you’re bought the plants, it’s worth trying to grow and learn in the process
It’s pretty easy to add substrate capsules
How old/ established is the sand substrate?

Post a plant list :)

And details on your T5 tubes

Also some photos showing aquarium scape (front and sides etc)
 

Tim Harrison

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They should be fine, just add reflectors and like @Siege says above concentrate on getting your CO2 dialed in properly and you can grow pretty much anything. Check out Setting up a “higher” tech planted tank.
However, if you really feel the need to go LED these should fit your existing T5 sockets and provide twice as much light Arcadia LED T5 Tubes. But I don't think you'll really need to.
 

84Reasons

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Definitely not - you’re bought the plants, it’s worth trying to grow and learn in the process
It’s pretty easy to add substrate capsules
How old/ established is the sand substrate?

Post a plant list :)

And details on your T5 tubes

Also some photos showing aquarium scape (front and sides etc)
Will have to get back to you on a plant list after work today however I can give you a couple of things now, I have attached some photos of my Scape, in regards to my lighting, I can't really give you anything more that they are 2 X 24w T5 tubes, and one has a purple tinge to it, there is no indication of what they are oo the unit and the manufacturer doesn't have any more details than that as well!

The substrate is the same age as the tank so I think I'd say around 2 months now?

I'll get back to you at the end of the day with a plant list!
 

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ian_m

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I would think with 2 x 24W T5 tubes, especially with reflectors you will have enough light to grow almost any plant. What is much much much more important is CO2 levels and distribution (and fertiliser). Many people add megawatts of light, fail to get CO2 levels and distribution correct and end up vaporising their plants. Fertiliser is easy, just EI dose, job done.

So get some reflectors and work with what you have got and get CO2 levels and distribution correct before you consider getting more powerful lights.

Suitable 24W reflectors here.
https://www.iquaticsonline.co.uk/2-x-24w-t5-aluminium-reflector.html
 

84Reasons

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I would think with 2 x 24W T5 tubes, especially with reflectors you will have enough light to grow almost any plant. What is much much much more important is CO2 levels and distribution (and fertiliser). Many people add megawatts of light, fail to get CO2 levels and distribution correct and end up vaporising their plants. Fertiliser is easy, just EI dose, job done.

So get some reflectors and work with what you have got and get CO2 levels and distribution correct before you consider getting more powerful lights.

Suitable 24W reflectors here.
https://www.iquaticsonline.co.uk/2-x-24w-t5-aluminium-reflector.html
Ok I'll have a look at buying these. Do you think I would still need some capsules for the substrate?

I think my co2 levels are fine, the drop checker is always showing green and it's distributed well, is there any other way to check?

Also, what do you mean by EI dose of fertiliser?
 
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