I want to upgrade from low light

kidster9700

Member
Okay, I have a low light planted tank, but the lighting stinks. It's not bright enough for my tank both visually and for some of the plants I want to add. It's a 38 gal (36"long) but the hood only has a 24" fluorescent bulb holder.
I think I should first replace just the light section of the hood with something that will stretch the whole length of the tank, or AT LEAST 30". So my first question is, does that sound right/like a good plan?
Second, I want to get a higher wattage bulb/light. Right now it's like an Aqueon 24" full spectrum daylight and I was about to upgrade to their plant-specific one except the wattage is only 25watts and I grabbed a 36" bulb before I realized my tank only holds a 24" bulb. So if I upgrade my light hood so that it can hold a 30" or 36" bulb, does the brand matter? Like if the hood I get is still Aqueon can I get like a tetra light or whatever?
I'm also open to getting LED, but I'm unsure about being able to spend that much money.
My last thought is that if I do need to completely replace my hood (not just the section that hold the light) does anyone know of a good 38 gal hood with two filter cutouts? Because I want to add a second HOB filter to this tank but I will have to cut the plastic myself. That's not really a big deal, but if I have to replace the whole thing anyways then why not save myself some time.
Any help with any of my questions/thoughts would be appreciated! Thank you!
(The specific plants I want to add are ludwigia since I can get some nice red variations but they are easily dying with my current tank lighting)



 

Jswin

Member
Well you'll need at least medium lighting for ludwigia. I have the finnex planted plus LED and it gets nice reds out of my ludwigia


 
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kidster9700

Member
Jswin said:
Well you'll need at least medium lighting for ludwigia. I have the finnex planted plus LED and it gets nice reds out of my ludwigia
That's why I want to upgrade. That, and my tank is visually too dark.


 

TexasDomer

Member
I really like the glass versa tops. You have to cut sections out for your filters, but it's super easy. They're easy to clean, and there's nothing bulky on the top like you get with hoods. You're much more free with lighting then, and you can put a strip light on top of the glass. I have this light for my 55 gal:
 
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kidster9700

Member
That's a really nice light! And here's my current hood without the light fixture on it.
ImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1438111217.217574.jpg

And one of the hood with the light fixture
ImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1438111238.374345.jpg

And here you can see that the fixture is lame.
ImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1438111273.475357.jpg

ImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1438111292.316453.jpg

ImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1438111331.986493.jpg


I almost forgot, do you think I could just replace my fixture with that light you posted a link to? And set it over the glass section?

Edit: also, pardon my tank, its quite messy right now. It got super messed up from me trying to catch the glolights. I'm actually about to get a lot lot lot more plants in a week or so since petco is having a 30% off sale on plants and fish livestock.



TexasDomer said:
I really like the glass versa tops. You have to cut sections out for your filters, but it's super easy. They're easy to clean, and there's nothing bulky on the top like you get with hoods. You're much more free with lighting then, and you can put a strip light on top of the glass. I have this light for my 55 gal:
would you say the 30" is best for my tank? I would love to get a 36" light on there but seeing as that's the complete length of the tank I doubt that's possible.
 

TexasDomer

Member
I think that would be fine. I got the 48" for my 55 gal, and it goes all the way across. You rest each end on the edges of the tank, with the glass versa top underneath. I'm not sure how if it would work on your hood, unless there's a glass portion that goes all the way across? It might work then.
 
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kidster9700

Member
TexasDomer said:
I think that would be fine. I got the 48" for my 55 gal, and it goes all the way across. You rest each end on the edges of the tank, with the glass versa top underneath.
well it says the total length of the 36" is 40.9" :/
and you think it will be okay on top of my current hood? I'll have to double check the width.
are the bulbs it comes with good for medium-high light? i'm new to actually paying attention to lighting haha.
 

TexasDomer

Member
I'd go the size down then.

I don't know if it would work with your hood. Hard to tell from pics.

It's good for low lighting, though you could replace the color max bulb with another plant bulb and that should make it medium lighting (though don't quote me on that - I'm still new to the plant world!). You could always get a versa top and put both the new light and the old light on it. That would be lots of light.
 
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kidster9700

Member
the new light being that plant one I bought for a 36" fixture? or the old one that is terrible and for a 24"? hahaha.
I just can't seem to find high enough wattage for my tank, I don't want it to be low light anymore. but I also don't want to spend over $100 on new lighting.
 

TexasDomer

Member
If it were me, I'd return the 36" bulb and get one for the 24" fixture. Then also get a versa top and the 30" dual bulb T5 fixture with lights. If that's still not enough light, you can replace the color max bulb in the 30" with a plant-specific one. Then you'll have 3 6500 K bulbs (1 24", 2 30") on your 38 gal, and I would think that would definitely qualify as medium (if not medium-high) light. My solution isn't very concise, so maybe someone else can offer a better suggestion!

You could also get a Finnex planted+. More expensive now, but cheaper in the short run.

Also, wattage/gallon is an outdated method. PAR calculations are the new gold standard.
 
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kidster9700

Member
TexasDomer said:
If it were me, I'd return the 36" bulb and get one for the 24" fixture. Then also get a versa top and the 30" dual bulb T5 fixture with lights. If that's still not enough light, you can replace the color max bulb in the 30" with a plant-specific one. Then you'll have 3 6500 K bulbs (1 24", 2 30") on your 38 gal, and I would think that would definitely qualify as medium (if not medium-high) light. My solution isn't very concise, so maybe someone else can offer a better suggestion!

You could also get a Finnex planted+. More expensive now, but cheaper in the short run.

Also, wattage/gallon is an outdated method. PAR calculations are the new gold standard.
Okay, I'm all for getting the dual light fixture posted earlier, but I don't think I can still keep the current hood fixture with the 24".
It would be really helpful if someone could post links to what all these things are. I'm starting to get mixed up.




after reading it again, I think I would rather not get the versa top, I have one for my 10gal and its great for that tank because I'll have shrimp in there, but I really like how clean the black hood looks. ideally I want to get the dual bulb T5 and have one daylight and one plant specific light in there and use that instead of my current fixture that only supports a 24". I think I will go for the 30" though, as you suggested.

EDIT: I checked the width and my current fixture is 4.25 inches. I would like something that's a little more snug... like around 4"
 

TexasDomer

Member
Hopefully it fits with your hood.
 
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kidster9700

Member
see my post edit
 

TexasDomer

Member
Sorry, no idea then. You can search around for light fixtures for sale.
 
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kidster9700

Member
okay,, if I upgraded to the dual light and had the daylight and plant bulbs in there, is that still "lowlight"? because on amazon's listing its supposedly only 2" deep which would mean I could totally get another light in there later on when I have more money.
 

TexasDomer

Member
I believe that would be considered low light still.
 
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kidster9700

Member
that's a bummer. I wish I could get like, a triple light hood. is that something that exists?
 

junebug

Member
The 36" version of this would be great for you, I think. I have one of these in my 20 gallon ansorgiI tank and the plants are doing awesome, including some of the more sensitive bulbs and rhizome plants I have in there. It's a true full spectrum, it's not that expensive, and the adjustable arm length makes things simple.
 
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kidster9700

Member
junebug said:
The 36" version of this would be great for you, I think. I have one of these in my 20 gallon ansorgiI tank and the plants are doing awesome, including some of the more sensitive bulbs and rhizome plants I have in there. It's a true full spectrum, it's not that expensive, and the adjustable arm length makes things simple.
oh wow! that's really nice. what level of lighting is it though? will it be bright enough to reach the bottom of my tank?
 

junebug

Member
Yeah it should. It's an off brand, so they don't have PAR charts on it, but the smallest one is almost too bright in my blackwater tank, so the mid-sized one should do fine for you.

I'll get a photo of the tank for ya, keep in mind though it's a blackwater tank full of peat and oak leaves.

Edit: Actually, here's one better for you. A video!
 
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kidster9700

Member
whats a blackwater tank? i've never heard of it. and I just want to make sure its enough to be considered medium light since I want to keep ludwigia...
 

junebug

Member
A blackwater tank is a tank where the water is purposely darkened by tannins, stained brown. These tanks have low pH, very low conductivity, and usually a low water flow, as the fish that live in those environments in the wild are from stiller waters.

Since I changed to this light in this tank (that video is right after I switched out the lights) the broken crinums on the left side have almost completely regrown, and the crinums on the right size have grown even larger.

I guess the key point is that darker water means less light reaching the substrate, and you can see in the video and from the plant rehab taking place, that plenty of light is reaching the substrate in my 20g.
 
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kidster9700

Member
holy cow that tank is beautiful.... I love it! looks like the bottom of a lake haha. although the water really doesn't look like its any darker than mine... of course, my water is literally yellow when taken out of the tank. so many tannins.
 

junebug

Member
Yeah, I need to add some more leaves and peat to it. It actually is pretty dark though, the tank is near a window so there's extra light from that brightening things up (which the feature fish, Microctenopoma ansorgii, really really strongly dislike lol poor guys). Plus I have all of those purposely shaded spots as hides for them. They're a leaffish-like climbing perch, so dark, large-leaved hides are a must.

Anyway, that's what the light looks like in practice, in a blackwater tank. I think you'll have plenty of light to grow your stem plants, and see everybody You could also very easily place the light over the gap in your hood if you don't want to replace it with a glass lid, or if you can't replace it yet.
 
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kidster9700

Member
junebug said:
Yeah, I need to add some more leaves and peat to it. It actually is pretty dark though, the tank is near a window so there's extra light from that brightening things up (which the feature fish, Microctenopoma ansorgii, really really strongly dislike lol poor guys). Plus I have all of those purposely shaded spots as hides for them. They're a leaffish-like climbing perch, so dark, large-leaved hides are a must.

Anyway, that's what the light looks like in practice, in a blackwater tank. I think you'll have plenty of light to grow your stem plants, and see everybody You could also very easily place the light over the gap in your hood if you don't want to replace it with a glass lid, or if you can't replace it yet.
yeah, that's what i'm planning to do (place it over the gap). I just have to wait for it to be august so I can transfer my money lol. then I'll buy that led light off eBay. thanks sooooo much. I really think this is going to take my tank to the next level. (along with my new fluval filter of course)
 

junebug

Member
No worries I'm actually planning to buy this light in various sizes for most of my tanks, particularly the ones with terrible fluorescent lighting at present. I like it best out of all the lights I have (including my fluval lights, my finnex planted+ clip, and my other off-brand LEDs).

It's also going to be lighting my next major build, my 40breeder native tank. That's actually going to be a rather lengthy project, as I'll be using a higher-tech setup than my current Walstad tanks.
 
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kidster9700

Member
so what exactly makes a tank qualify as "high-tech" vs low tech?
 

junebug

Member
Not like it's a specific term. High tech generally refers to tanks that require a lot of maintenance. Pressurized cO2, high lighting, more plants than fit comfortably in the tank, tons of ferts, (lol) and bazillions of water changes.

Low tech just means low maintenance. Low-mid light plants, no cO2 unless it's liquid substitutes, low or no ferts, regular water changes.
 
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kidster9700

Member
junebug said:
Not like it's a specific term. High tech generally refers to tanks that require a lot of maintenance. Pressurized cO2, high lighting, more plants than fit comfortably in the tank, tons of ferts, (lol) and bazillions of water changes.

Low tech just means low maintenance. Low-mid light plants, no cO2 unless it's liquid substitutes, low or no ferts, regular water changes.
okay, so if I started doing regular water changes (which I have now discovered can be quite easy) mine would probably classify as somewhere in between. I always wondered if high tech was just the "next level" of fish keeping or what. now it just sounds like a different type of fish keeping. its sort of where i'm headed, too.
 

junebug

Member
I define a high tech tank as a high light tank with the addition of ferts and pressurized cO2. <-- this is what makes the frequent water changes necessary. I'm talking 2-3 times a week, depending on the bioload.

Doing a regular water change schedule is not what makes a tank qualify as "high tech".
 
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kidster9700

Member
junebug said:
I define a high tech tank as a high light tank with the addition of ferts and pressurized cO2. <-- this is what makes the frequent water changes necessary. I'm talking 2-3 times a week, depending on the bioload.

Doing a regular water change schedule is not what makes a tank qualify as "high tech".
Yes, but I'm using fertilizers, upgrading my lighting, and using liquid co2. That's why I mean somewhere in the middle.


 

Dolfan

Member
As mentioned above, high tech refers to the method of caring for plants. Meaning the addition of a high PAR value light system, CO2 gas injection, and strict fertilizer regime. It has nothing to do with amount of water changes.

Now often many people who run high tech tanks, use the Estimative Index fertilizer method, or EI for short. The basic premise is to flood the water with more nutrients then the plants could use. This way there is never a nutrient deficiency. With that, you can use light and CO2 as the controlling methods to run the tank, adjusting them to find the right balance, as balance is the most important thing with planted tanks. Normally when using EI the idea is to do 1 large water change a week, that way the nutrients never build up too much. Here is a link that explains EI pretty well...



Many people have adapted a custom EI method for their own purposes. It's hard with planted tanks to find a cookie cutter approach that works the same for everyone. You have to adjust and find what works for you.

For most people I highly recommend sticking to low tech tanks. They are much easier to care for, have more wiggle room, cheaper/less equipment, etc. You can have a wide variety of plants with a lot of plant mass in your tank, all while still running a low tech tank. Once you have mastered the low tech tank, found your balance, gotten a grasp on the easier to deal with plants, then you may want to consider taking the next step and adding more light and CO2 injection. Even then, I still think it's easier to go without all that hassle.

Here is a link to my article that explains the basics of getting started with a low light / low tech tank, the photo at the top is my 40 breeder all grown with low tech....

https://www.fishlore.com/aquariumfishforum/resources/how-to-set-up-a-low-light-low-tech-planted-tank.24/

kidster9700 - there are some links in that article to some pages and info from Sudeep Mandal with good info on the difference between low tech with no CO2 and low tech using liquid CO2 substitute. But it's still a low tech tank. Liquid CO2 like Excel is not the same as CO2 gas injection.
 
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kidster9700

Member
I'll get there eventually. But for now, I'm just going to continue with the liquid co2 and liquid ferts. Higher lighting will help me with the plants I want to add. But it sounds like I wouldn't really be able to keep filter feeding shrimp if I was having to do large water changes to keep algae growth down. And I really like bamboo shrimp. Anyways, I think I'm definitely getting that led light from eBay in a few days or so.

I forgot if I got confirmation on this, but do you guys think that with that new light i'm buying, along with liquid ferts, I will be able to grow ludwigia? definitely one of my favorite plants but I have not had much success with it.
there's the link again. I would be getting the 129 leds.
 

Dolfan

Member
If you add more light, you have to add more nutrients and more CO2 to keep the balance. Otherwise you will have problems like algae. Doing lots of water changes has nothing to do with algae growth.

With that said, your new light will probably put you in the low to medium light range, so shouldn't be an issue with daily use of Excel. Ludwigia repens grows well in tanks with that amount of light. Grows great for me with Finnex Planted Plus which is in the low to medium range. While that light you linked may be a bit cheaper, I would highly recommend going with the Finnex. They are designed for plants. The light you linked is designed more for the human eye and to make the tank and fish look good.
 
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kidster9700

Member
Do you have a link to the finnex planted plus? If you really think I'll have better luck with it, then that might be what I go with.
Right now I use flourish and API liquid CO2. I'm doing what the bottle dose says for each. If I upgrade my lighting, would I dose more or more often? I do use carbon filter cartidges in my Aqueon filter, but I'm only using sponges in the fluval as suggested to me by my coworker. I'll probably up to weekly 30% changes unless that really does nothing. (And that would be with a 60% every month)

edit: is that it? oh dear lord over $100...

 

junebug

Member
Stop using carbon in planted tanks... that completely defeats the purpose of doing ferts. Might be why your ludwigia didn't do so hot.

As for the light... well the one I linked is designed specifically for aquatic plants. Even supposedly has the correct wavelengths for the RGB and hot pink lights with aquatic plant growth in mind. It's doing very well growing/healing the crinums in my 20 long. Crinums are a root-feeding, moderate light requirement plant, much like ludwigia (obviously they are a bulb-like plant, not a stem, but the requirements for care are about the same).

I still prefer it to my finnex planted+ . While finnex is a superb brand, their lights don't contain the hot pink bulbs which some googling/talking to plant fanatic people tells me is the light color best absorbed by plants. Even so, the green and white lights in the one I linked will likely still bring out red in ludwigia, assuming it grows tall enough.

I had heard good things about the beamswork lights, so I did some research on them. I liked them a lot less after I was done reading about them... they don't appear to contain light in the correct spectrum and corresponding wavelength for optimum plant growth. My conclusion was that they would be no better than my fluval fixtures (that are kind of "meh" in terms of plant growth) and probably would be a bit worse than those, so I didn't end up buying any.
 
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kidster9700

Member
junebug said:
Stop using carbon in planted tanks... that completely defeats the purpose of doing ferts. Might be why your ludwigia didn't do so hot.

As for the light... well the one I linked is designed specifically for aquatic plants. Even supposedly has the correct wavelengths for the RGB and hot pink lights with aquatic plant growth in mind. It's doing very well growing/healing the crinums in my 20 long. Crinums are a root-feeding, moderate light requirement plant, much like ludwigia (obviously they are a bulb-like plant, not a stem, but the requirements for care are about the same).

I still prefer it to my finnex planted+ . While finnex is a superb brand, their lights don't contain the hot pink bulbs which some googling/talking to plant fanatic people tells me is the light color best absorbed by plants. Even so, the green and white lights in the one I linked will likely still bring out red in ludwigia, assuming it grows tall enough.

I had heard good things about the beamswork lights, so I did some research on them. I liked them a lot less after I was done reading about them... they don't appear to contain light in the correct spectrum and corresponding wavelength for optimum plant growth. My conclusion was that they would be no better than my fluval fixtures (that are kind of "meh" in terms of plant growth) and probably would be a bit worse than those, so I didn't end up buying any.
I only just started using ferts, so that wouldn't have anything to do with the ludwigia haha. and I don't really know what to use in that filter instead. a cut sponge thing? idk. also I asked on a planted tanks thing of fb and someone was saying they had that one from eBay and it didn't help at all. so that's why i'm torn now. I don't want to buy the fine because its far too expensive for me right now because i'm about to buy a TON of plants (petco aquatic sale next weekend) as well as the SDTFS auction. :/
so the eBay one you think is definitely better? I like it more I think anyways. cheaper too. but yeah, let me know what I should use instead of the carbon. its in the aqueon quiet flow HOB or whatever. I just buy the bio bag cartridges (basically sponge like bag with carbon inside, you know the ones). my fluval I just use the plain sponge and i'm going to add crushed coral in a bag in there as well since my GH is super low.
EDIT: just wanted to add that I am hoping to purchase my new lighting tomorrow so I think I am going with the LED you first suggested.

oh, also, my 55 has carbon filters but i'm not going to use ferts on it. and its just going to be really easy plants since its technically under the care of my boyfriend who is still fairly new to keeping a fish tank.
EDIT: oh, and my 10gal shrimp tank, I am giving it CO2 to help get the moss wall growing, but it just has a sponge filter. that's fine right?
 

junebug

Member
Well I like my light That's all I can say lol.

As for the filter issue, any biomedia would be okay, or mechanical filtration. As a general rule, you don't want to use carbon in any planted tanks unless it's to remove medication. Carbon removes the stuff the plants feed on, whether you're adding ferts or not (carbon removes ammonia AND micro/macronutrients). These are present in fish waste as well, so unless your tank is very lightly planted, carbon is counterproductive.
 
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kidster9700

Member
Okay. So I'll probably have to make my own filter cartridge for the Aqueon. I'll get some filter bags and fluval bio media I guess. Blah. Does the bio media just get rinsed like you would a sponge or does it need to be replaced/refilled eventually?
Personally I like carbon because it helps with algae (IMO, but maybe not!) so I think I'll leave it in the 55. It's really just anacharis in there and some moss. Oh, and two ferns and two anibias.


 

junebug

Member
A piece of filter sponge would be fine. If you don't want to buy media bags, you can also use undyed nylons to hold the biomedia. If you want to do ceramic rings, I'm not sure if they'll need to be rinsed during water changes. I don't use them anymore lol. But I assume it wouldn't hurt anything.
 
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