Question about lighting for plants

Discussion in 'Aquarium Plants' started by Hilo Bay, Jun 3, 2016.

  1. Hilo Bay

    Hilo BayValued MemberMember

    Want to begin a planted 10 gallon tank. It has fluorescent lighting, is that considered low light?
  2. Schuyler93

    Schuyler93Valued MemberMember

    Can you give us the specs on the fluorescent bulb or what type it is?

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum mobile app
  3. OP
    Hilo Bay

    Hilo BayValued MemberMember

    I just found the package they came in and it turns out they are incandescent bulbs not fluorescent. The brand is aqueon and my hood holds two of them. 15 watts each.

  4. BamBamSorg

    BamBamSorgWell Known MemberMember

    Oh boy that is good enough to have high light plants in ur aquarium.

  5. BhuijValued MemberMember

    Be careful--measuring by watts per gallon is a dangerous way to do things since not all watts are created equal.

    Doing some really rough math in my head, your 30 total watts of incandescent light is probably equivalent in brightness to something like 7 watts of fluorescent light. That would be considered less than low lighting. You may be able to grow something like Java Moss (albeit very slowly), but you'll need more light if you want to grow much of anything else.

    The cheapest way to get enough light for plants, especially with a smaller 10gal tank, is to buy some cheap clamp "work lights" from the hardware store and put compact fluorescent (CLF) bulbs in them.

    Edit: In your case, if the hood on your tank will accept CFL bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs, you could probably go pick up a couple of much brighter CFL bulbs and put yourself into medium or high light range fairly easily on such a small tank. Be aware that if you go above low light, you're looking at needing CO2/Excel/Metricide to provide carbon for your plants, and probably adding fertilizers for nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and possibly trace minerals as well. If you have high lighting without added CO2 and nutrients, your plants will either die, or your tank will get infested with algae and then your plants will die.

    If you want to keep things simple, you're probably better off shooting for roughly 1.5 watts per gallon in fluorescent lighting. Your plants will grow relatively slowly, but you could successfully do Anubias, Crypts, Vals, Swords, Java Ferns, etc. without having to worry much about adding lots of fertilizers or getting more CO2 into your water.
  6. BamBamSorg

    BamBamSorgWell Known MemberMember

    Oh im sorry I didn't see that they were incondesent lights.
  7. BhuijValued MemberMember

    No worries, I almost did the same thing and told the OP he had medium/high light and should only use one bulb to get down to low :D
  8. OP
    Hilo Bay

    Hilo BayValued MemberMember

    So if I'm understanding you guys right, the lights I have now we be ok to do basic plants? I'd rather stay with low light and not worry about the CO2 and fertilizers anyway.
  9. BhuijValued MemberMember

    The lights you have right now are less than you probably want, even to do basic plants. I would consider it less than "low light." If you absolutely can't change your lighting, you MIGHT be able to grow Java Moss or Java Fern, but not much else. Even if you can locate the aquarium near a window so it can get some hours of normal daylight, that will help.

    If you can go buy fluorescent bulbs and use them instead of the incandescent bulbs in your fixture, you can probably fairly easily get to low light. Shoot for about 15 watts total of fluorescent light.
  10. OP
    Hilo Bay

    Hilo BayValued MemberMember

    Ok, thanks for the advice!
  11. OP
    Hilo Bay

    Hilo BayValued MemberMember

    I might be able to get my hands on an LED light. Would that increase my options? I think its a marineland brand, and looks like this...

  12. Grimund

    GrimundWell Known MemberMember

    Shoot for lighting in the 5500-7000k range. It's the color temperature and is important to plants
  13. Dondomingo

    DondomingoWell Known MemberMember

    You should be able to find the light spectrum range by going to the various websites and checking under their specs. "most" manufactures will list this.

    The planted tank variety of Marineland lights do have 1 watt 6500k white and I think 3 watt 460nm blue, 660nm red, and green. Which although it looks the same as their non planted tank version. Carefull which one you get.
  14. OP
    Hilo Bay

    Hilo BayValued MemberMember

    Grimund Sorry, I know next to nothing about tank lighting. What does that mean? How would a LED compare to the numbers you were talking about.
  15. Grimund

    GrimundWell Known MemberMember

    There's a few things about lighting and they apply to all lighting types. It comes down to research in the end.

    Color temperature- measured in Kelvin as K. It's the band of light spectrum in its output. Plants require around 6500K to grow. Higher temps have more blue and less red, like most marine and office lights, generally 10,000K. It's quite easy to find online or on the box somewhere.

    Lumens- the intensity of the light, how bright it actually is. Higher lumen leads to more light on the bottom of the tank.

    Watts- how much energy the light uses from the outlet. More watts generally leads to more lumens, which lead to the watts per gallon guideline.

    PAR- Photo Activating Radiation, current measurement for lighting. PAR values indicate the lighting for the plants. These can be obtained by googling the light fixture and PAR ratin. It's a much better guideline than the Watts per Gallon. Ideally, the 30-40 PAR range at the substrate is the best for low light to medium light plants, and those are the numbers to shoot for a non CO2 injected tank.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2016
  16. OP
    Hilo Bay

    Hilo BayValued MemberMember

    Thanks for your patience
  17. Grimund

    GrimundWell Known MemberMember

    Lol, that's not patience. It's just the bare bones for lighting.

    I'm honestly thinking of writing primers on the subjects I've been researching for aquariums. A "lighter" version of the very technical stuff, so it's easily digested. Gotta have time for that though
  18. gms63Valued MemberMember

    You could keep lots of marimo moss balls. They require little light.
  19. dcutl002

    dcutl002Well Known MemberMember

    To start a planted tank consider the following:
    1. Substrate - Don't just buy some cheap rocks and expect the plants to do well. I would suggest at the least to layer your tank with about two inches of EcoComplete and cap it with about an inch of either fine gravel or sand. If your budget allows consider ADA Aquasoil, the most popular is Amazonia. With Amazonia allow about 2-3 weeks for the ammonia spike to lower to zero. This ammonia spike helps cycle the tank giving BB food to break down.
    2. lighting - I would recommend a Finnex fixture, but other options are available depending on your budget.
    3. Micro Nutrients - this is in the water column. products like flourish are available commercially. Follow dosing instructions on the label.
    4. macro nutrients (high tech use):
    KNO3 - target is 5-10 ppm
    phosphates - target is 0.5 - 1 ppm
    K2SO4 - target 20 ppm
    5. substrate fertilizers - sold commercially and pushed into substrate for plants like Crypts and Swords
    6. CO2 (only for High tech) - target range is anywhere from 20-30ppm. Either get a drop checker (cheapest) or use a pH controller to regulate CO2. A pressurized system is best and the most expensive, but you may want to look at a DIY system.

    If you are doing a LOW TECH tank, consider using a DIRT substrate(Organic potting soil or ADA Aquasoil) and an occasional substrate fertilizer with low light.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2016
  20. Grimund

    GrimundWell Known MemberMember

    dcutl002 -while the information is nice, the thread was about lighting.

    Just about any substrate can be used, there isn't an actual need for special ones, although they may be beneficial in some way.

    Micro nutrients can be fertilized into the water column as a liquid or dry fert or in the substrate in the form of root tabs.

    CO2 injected tanks and non injected tanks are up to the person and the plants wanting to be grown as there are CO2 substitutes available.

    Finnex is only one brand and carries a wide variety of fixtures that fit different purposes from low to high light, programmable and not.

    Macro nutrients are indeed important, but they can be found in different forms than those and different plants require different amounts of them.

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