Newbie lighting advice

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by misscaretaker, 23 Aug 2008.

  1. misscaretaker

    misscaretaker Member

    Messages:
    204
    Location:
    Basingstoke
    Hi, sorry the title is a bit vague, but so is my knowledge of lighting! Basically, I have been given (well, for a donation of £5!) a 60x30x30cm Rena tank with the standard hood and light that comes with it. I have been lurking here for a week or so, trying to soak up as much info as possible, but I'm still unsure about the lighting! My OH says "don't bother, stick with what you've got" but that is 1 x 15W Sylvania tube. I am only planning on a low light, low tech tank as it's my first try, but from what I've read here this won't do! I'd quite like an open top set-up, but don't know what to get, wattage wise. If I just stuck with the hood what wattage would I need and how would I adapt the existing hood to accomodate the lights? I read somewhere that for a tank under 20g, the light should be 2 - 3 wpg as opposed to the 1wpg for low light plants. However, if there were floating plants, wouldn't they shade out the immersed plants, therefore needing more lighting?
    Please help me, I'm utterly confused!! :oops:
     
  2. misscaretaker

    misscaretaker Member

    Messages:
    204
    Location:
    Basingstoke
    I think this was meant to be in the Hardware section, sorry :oops:
     
  3. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

    Messages:
    3,262
    Location:
    Nottingham
    I think it's fine in this section as it's definitely a lighting question. :D

    If you're going for really low tech (i.e. very low light plants like Java fern, Anubias and mosses) then I'd be tempted to stick with what you've got, but tanks like this have always been tricky to keep algae free for me and many other. Honestly it seems to be much easier to get the results most people are after with a higher tech tank.

    On a 2ft tank which holds about 12 gallons you would ideally want about 24W of T5 lighting or maybe a bit more T8 lighting (T8 are the standard diamter tubes, T5s are narrower tubes that produce a slightly higher intensity). So adding another 15W light like you have could be sufficient.

    Really though I'd want to sort out good CO2 supply first and sort out your fertilising and tank up-keep. Then once this is sorted with low light plants I'd then look at adding more light. Think of light as an accelerator pedal; slam on it hard without enough of everything else your plants need and you will crash (well your tank will ;) ). But if you don't push the pedal enough then you'll never get anywhere. In a low tech tank it's this balance that's the tricky bit IMHO.

    Hope that makes sense.
     
  4. misscaretaker

    misscaretaker Member

    Messages:
    204
    Location:
    Basingstoke
    It does make sense, thanks. I'll stick with what I have lighting wise! With a hood, is it possible to have floating plants or would they be too close to the light source without really dropping the water level? I'm sticking to low tech at the moment as I want to get the hang of it first, before I start introducing CO2 etc, I don't want to run before I can walk!
     
  5. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

    Messages:
    3,262
    Location:
    Nottingham
    The problem that you'll have without CO2 and fertilising is that you will almost inevitably get algae problems. BBA is prevalent in my tanks where I don't have CO2, among others. Whatever light level you choose I would get some CO2 in there, even if it's just a DIY set up (or even better two which you re-charge at different times) which you can make for next to nothing - just an empty pop bottle, then water, sugar, yeast and baking soda. All you'll need to buy are diffusers of some sort and some CO2-proof hosing.

    Please bear in mind with that low lighting your plant choices are going to be pretty restricted too, especially if you have floating plants blocking out even more light.

    I have floating plants in tanks with hoods and they are fine. Just make sure there's some air circulation above the water line and that condensation doesn't drip onto their leaves as that will cause some to rot and die off.
     
  6. misscaretaker

    misscaretaker Member

    Messages:
    204
    Location:
    Basingstoke
    Thanks, I think I will look into the DIY CO2. Ihad a chat with a guy at Maidenhead Aquatics and he said it was dead easy too, so I'll see how that pans out. I'm sure I saw a tutorial on simple CO2 set ups on here so I'll have a look at that.
     
  7. misscaretaker

    misscaretaker Member

    Messages:
    204
    Location:
    Basingstoke
    I've been doing a bit of thinking (exhausting work :lol: ) and have decided to do a DIY CO2 set up and up the lighting a bit. I was looking at the T5 tubes at Lamp Specs and am confusing myself with the lengths. My tank is 60cm long and the 24w T5s are 55cm long (don't know whether this is including the pins or not :? ). If I bought an Arcadia twin controller, would it all fit in the hood of my tank? If not, would I have to go with the T8s as they do shorter tubes? Have I got these lengths and their implications right? This is soooo confusing :? !!
     
  8. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,953
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Jo,
    If I were you I would stick to T8 lighting for the moment. You could simply add a second 15 watt bulb and ballast similar to the one you have at the moment assuming it can be mounted. You should first try and understand CO2 because increasing your lighting without a firm knowledge of CO2 courts disaster. You can always add more light, but more light requires more CO2. The two are inextricably linked.

    Cheers,
     
  9. misscaretaker

    misscaretaker Member

    Messages:
    204
    Location:
    Basingstoke
    I have a background in commercial horticulture which is helping somewhat with my understanding of the CO2 and lighting, it's the practicalities I'm struggling with a little! I am unable at present to go the whole hog with the CO2 due to financial restrictions (same old story!) and I know there are stability issues with the DIY CO2, but it's all I can do for the time being.
     
  10. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,953
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Hi,
    Yes it's understandable. What I am trying to say is that you should limit the amount of light you add if you are unable to go whole hog. A twin controller providing 48 watts of T5 on a 12 gallon tank is a gargantuan level of light energy and will result in total algae meltdown unless there is an equally gargantuan supply of stable CO2 being injected.

    A standard 18 inch 15W T8 tube with reflectors + DIY CO2 will enable you to easily grow many popular plants while limiting your exposure to CO2 related algae. When you have the means to invest in a pressurized system you can then increase the lighting load to higher energy T5.

    Cheers,
     
  11. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

    Messages:
    3,262
    Location:
    Nottingham
    If you're restricted to DIY CO2 for the time being you can limit any problems by using two bottles, preferably each feeding their own diffuser if you have the space, and split the amount of yeast between the two. You'd then change the bottles at the half way point of the other. E.G. if one mix lasts a week then change one mixture midweek and the other at the weekend. This will help spread out the uneven-ness as each mixture tails off.

    Get the CO2 level right before you gun it on the lights!
     
  12. misscaretaker

    misscaretaker Member

    Messages:
    204
    Location:
    Basingstoke
    Thanks again. I'm blonde so things take a while to sink in :lol: I've read so much stuff recently, I think my head's gonna explode! Thanks for the advice on stabilising the CO2, I've read a lot about the CO2, but to quote Homer Simpson "Every time I learn something new it pushes old stuff out of my head!"
     

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