Low light plants: how much is too much?

Discussion in 'Aquarium Plants' started by DaveofTN, Mar 18, 2010.

  1. DaveofTNValued MemberMember

    I currently have a bunch of java moss, java ferns and anubias in my tank. When I upgrade to 48" T5 HO's (2-4 bulbs), will my low light plants be able to handle it?

    If not, could I condense them to a corner and then put floating water sprite over them so they don't burn?

    I find infinite info on how much light they need, but I can't seem to find how much is too much.

    Thanks as always!
  2. NutterFishlore VIPMember

    I can't say how much light is too much. Especially without specific details on the tank dimensions & how many watts of T5HO you will have over it.

    I don't think you can really have too much light. It's more a case of clever aquascaping. You can group your low light plants together & grow them under a floating plant like Water Wisteria (also low light), or you can simply plant your low light plants under the leaves of taller, higher light requirement plants that will provide them with some shade. Use co2 & fertilisers when you have high light intensity or you will run into algae problems pretty quickly. Especially on the leaves of your Anubius plants.
  3. DaveofTNValued MemberMember

    Well, my tank is a 55g long with the typical 48" width. I plan on going with a fixture that will sit about 2 inches above the glasstop with a 48" T5 HO actintic blue bulb and a T5 HO Daylight 12000K bulb.

    I am really wanting to avoid having to go all out with CO2 and fertilizers, so I am trying to go with a low/medium light setup. I'm still very confused though when it comes to T5 HO what constitutes Low/Medium lighting.

    Any help? Will those 2 bulbs fit the low/medium light category?
  4. harpua2002Fishlore VIPMember

    Yes they will. The HO T5's can make things pretty confusing, huh! They pretty much render any wpg guideline useless. LOL :p

    Keep in mind that your actinic bulb isn't going to do any good for plant growth. Normally I'd suggest replacing it, but in your case I'm going to say leave it as is. If you were using 2x 54W 10K bulbs, you'd be in solid medium-light territory IME, and thus getting into CO2 and ferts. :)
  5. DaveofTNValued MemberMember

    Thanks for the advice Harp. Yeah, I am surprised that the T5 HO industry has not gotten together and standardized everything for clarification on what is light/medium/high. Would make it a lot easier on people starting out, especially since the lfs'es seem to really be pushing T5 HO's.

    So using the actinic and just 1 daylight bulb, will it basically be trial and error to see which medium light plants will survive?
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2010
  6. _Fried_Bettas_Well Known MemberMember

    My tanks are all just over 2w/gal Compact Fluorescent and low light plants do very well, as well as some mid-light plants. I use 1/2 dose Excel and low doses of dry ferts (KNO3 & MKP, outrageously cheap less than $10/year) daily and periodic doses of Flourish Comprehensive to make sure I have the trace elements. I experimented a lot to get to my current regime. I have tried higher doses of excel (kill some plants) and eliminating it (slow growth + algae), higher doses of ferts (no effect on plants, grow algae), eliminating ferts (slow growth, holes in leaves, and other problems). From my experience once you go over 2w/g you need to add something to your tank for the plants and many people have success with all kinds of different strategies. I have also tried DIY CO2 and found it too much trouble and went back to the Excel. Your situation may be very different depending on the light level/amount of plants/substrate/fish load etc.
  7. harpua2002Fishlore VIPMember

    Yeah, the T5 HO's make it confusing, lol. I used to work for a LFS that used 2x 54W 10K bulbs over the 55 gallon planted tanks. Medium light plants grew easily and we had a ton of algae problems; we really should have been running CO2 and ferts for plant health. On the other hand, I had a 55 planted at home with 2x 65W 10K PC bulbs, and the tanks at the shop were NOTICEABLY brighter than mine, even after I changed my bulbs.

    Using the actinic is just something I suggested to keep you at a light level where you wouldn't have to use CO2 or ferts. I'd suggest starting out there with some low light plants, and see how you like it. Once you master those, you can make an informed decision about whether you'd like to try some higher light plants with your actinic bulb removed and replaced with something in the 6500K-10000K range. You could look into adding CO2 and ferts at that point if you want. :)
  8. DaveofTNValued MemberMember

    Cool, that's what I'm gonna for sure do. Now if I can just divert funds from the landscaping fund into the aquarium fund. Girlfriend's and their silly priorities, bah. lol
  9. NutterFishlore VIPMember

    As is established T5HO lights make a mockery of the WPG rule. So it is easier to work out for you, T5HO lights give off roughly twice the intensity per watt than standard T8 lighting. In other words a 48w T5HO is pretty much the equivelant of 96w T8 lighting. Rather than use the actinic, I suggest removing one of the tubes altogether so long as the fitting still works with just one tube in it.
  10. harpua2002Fishlore VIPMember

    Often times they don't, which is why I recommended using the actinic. But I think the tank would look better with only the daylight bulb. The blue looks odd in a planted tank.
  11. NejiValued MemberMember

    Low light plants should be able to handle strong lights since in my 10 gallon I have 2 15 watt lights and they are pretty intense and bright since I can grow a lot of amazon swords without them dying. The only thing is that your low light plants will grow a lot faster.
  12. DaveofTNValued MemberMember

    The countdown has begun!

    12 more hours and I'll have my very own T5 HO lights delivered by my friendly local UPS guy. THEN, 24 hours after that, I'll have some amazon swords and slender leaf java ferns to soak up some light.

    I was wondering, instead of using the 12000k and Actinic, is there a way to use two bulbs for lowish medium but crisp clear light?
  13. anunez91Valued MemberMember

    i take that offensively!!! haha :p

    i just so happen to have a 50/50 bulb in my tank and it looks just fine thank you!



    my low light crypts seem to be a little slow to grow compared to my other monster plants, the jungle val and my melon swords, the swords are the ones that surprised me the most, how fast they took off, but i think all crypts take a while to adjust, or so ive heard anyways, so, basically, as long as you have t5ho, the amount of watts it has is irrelevant as far as high, medium, low lighting, following the traditional scale of the wpg, it that makes any sense?, hahaha bear with me, to bad my gf isnt here to translate....
  14. Nate McFinWell Known MemberMember

    I had a 50/50 in my tank when I first set it up. I hated the way it looked. I have one 10K and one 6500K now and it looks great.
    Most low light plants will handle higher light levels fine. I like Nutters advice about planting strategies.
    Were I you, I would keep an eye on various swap and shops on forums like this one (plantedtank.net and aquaticplant central), ebay, and craigslist for Co2 components. They can be had cheap if you are patient. Do some research into what you will need. Regulators, tubing,bubblecounters,, types of nipples to attach everything etc.
    Once you get everything together turn that other light on, dose a few ferts (not hard or expensive!) and watch your plants turn into a jungle.